Redfall was released on May 2nd of this year for Xbox Series X/S and PC. Developed by Arkane Studios, who worked on the Dishonored series and Deathloop, Redfall was one of the most hyped-up video games in development. A first-person shooter where you deal with vampires who have isolated and taken hostage? Yes please.
Sadly, what should have been a unique and horrifying first-person shooter has become the most disappointing release this year. Yes, it’s arguably worse than Cyberpunk 2077 or Diablo 4′s beta launch. Both Metacritic and user scores are very low.
Surely this has to have been a mistake, right? This is the same studio that has made great games with wonderful art direction and storytelling. How did this game get such a bad reputation? How did it leave such a bad taste in so many players’ mouths?
Let’s dive right into it and discuss all about Redfall.
Another Day With Vampires
Vampires have completely taken over the fictional town of Redfall, Massachusetts. You play as one of four people who escaped before a wall of water sealed off the city. Now, you are tasked with hunting down the vampire leaders of the island and escaping with the remaining survivors.
Story-wise, this sounds like a decent premise, right? However, Arkane stepped away from their usual artistic approach to gaming. Arkane gives us a modern setting. This would be fine, but the town of Redfall feels empty and barren most of the time. Yes, it’s a deserted town, but there’s nothing interesting to explore or take in.
In this, Redfall draws comparasons to Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. However, the story and gameplay in Vampire more than made up for the lackluster setting. Not so here.
The playable characters of Redfall are by far the most interesting part. A telekinetic college student with her vampire ex. A supernatural sniper. A combat engineer with a robot dog. A cryptozoologist with a lot of gadgets. They have so much potential.
Redfall Is Soulless
Redfall‘s technical graphics stick to pretty average, at best. This would be fine for a Fortnite map, but this is Arkane we’re talking about here. Both Dishonored and Deathloop may not have high-definition graphics either, but their art direction really made them stand out. Here though, the art feels more soulless and lifeless than the vampires you hunt.
Even though the characters you play as have some unique abilities, their designs look very generic. What’s also generic is that you attack small groups, hunt for certain items, fight a mini-boss, and… repeat. That’s not even getting into full detail about the poor PC optimization and the number of bugs and glitches.
For a game that doesn’t look like it has powerful graphics, Redfall is not the most stable game to play. Redfall is stuck on 30 FPS, both on Xbox and PC. Not ideal. Turn DLSS on? It makes no difference. Still shots that feel like placeholders for an actual cinematic comprise the cutscenes.
Redfall: Not Arkane’s First Struggle
Has Arkane Studios lost their touch when making games?
Well, Deathloop also garnered rather polarizing opinions, particularly with certain quirks of the AI and gameplay. However, over time people gave it a chance, and even found something unique.
Plus, let’s consider Prey (2017), Arkane’s hidden gem. Prey also got shot down fast because fans of the 2006 Prey mistakenly thought this would be the sequel to the surreal sci-fi game. What they got instead was something that was outside of what seemed promised. In fact, it even went against the first game in every way. Yet shockingly, after some time passed and a change of game engines, Prey received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Redfall’s issues aren’t the same as 2017’s Prey. Still, this shows that developers can fix mistakes and the very same games that disappointed people eventually end up liked. Hence, Redfall‘s got a chance to bounce back, if and when Arkane fixes any of the game’s issues.
Redfall’s Decent MomentsRedfall can still be a fun time despite its issues. Since the game has a four-player co-op option, you can play with friends like it was Left 4 Dead with vampires. If you do, however, note that the host alone gets progress, not the other players.
The shooting is nothing special: you aim your weapon and shoot. It’s not impactful or chunky, but it works as intended. The characters you play with their special abilities make them feel more unique than your typical FPS. There are even sections of the game that have this surreal nightmarish look. It’s as close as possible to the Upside-Down from Stranger Things.
In addition, many of the vampires carry some very unique designs. They take more of a monstrous and mutated look: long arms, pale skin, pointy ears, and large claws. Plus, variant vampires built like bruisers fly and drain blood, and create their own energy shields to protect themselves from oncoming damage.
Redfall: Little To No Challenge At AllOne of the most baffling parts of Redfall is that it’s a strange combination of being both too easy and overly tedious. All characters access the same weapons as everyone else. Hence, you could play as any character and use any pistol, shotgun, or assault rifle. Nothing differentiates among them.
Speaking of weapons, the game teaches you very early on that killing vampires only happens with specific circumstances. Either stake them with the heart or attack them with fire or electrical attacks to reduce them to ash. For the latter, flare guns are everywhere, and you can easily shoot a vampire with two flares until it dies.
Even more baffling, you get two very overpowered weapons, the Stake Launcher and the UV gun. The Stake Launcher is a powerful railgun. The UV Gun turns vampires to ash in just a few seconds. Players receive them very early in the game too. Thus, the game quickly removes any real sense of challenge. Let’s not even talk about the human cultists, who go down with a simple headshot. Not to mention how they leave much to be desired when it comes to their AI.
Asking Too Much For Too LittleIs it even worth paying the 70-dollar asking price for this game? Well, that all depends on the individual. Redfall is far from worst game in the market, but it might well be deemed the most underwhelming. Considering Bethesda and Arkane’s previous works, the game’s poor quality is almost jarring.
Co-op does make the game that much more entertaining. However, it can’t make up for the amount of bugs and poor performance that Redfall has. Still, if you can wrestle your way through that, some fun awaits.
Hopefully, the game will be patched out and given a much better performance on PC. Until then, Redfall is just a curiosity… and a strange example of how even a company with a great reputation can occasionally make something that just doesn’t meet its potential.