Redfall, the game that sees players take on the role of amateur vampire slayers has launched and brings with it a wide range of thoughts and reviews right across the gaming community. It is a game that many were looking forward to, and one that many were hoping was the next big thing for Bethesda and Xbox. Many discussions have been had around the latest title from Arkane Studios so let’s get straight into it.
Redfall is a fictional town that has seen nasty experiments turn some of the town’s population into murderous super-human vampires. Most of the population now idolize these creatures and have aligned themselves in cult-like fashion to one of these self-appointed gods. The story does go deeper but this review won’t go into spoiler territory and will allow the player to experience the story for themselves.
It’s now time for the player to select their character, each of which has their own unique abilities and skill trees to unlock, before choosing one of the three initial unlocked difficulties and head into the game.
The game itself sees players take on the role of one of these four characters who have been influenced or affected by the world in one way or another. These characters bring different offensive and defensive skills into the world to help the player survive the constant threat from vampires and cultists alike. These include skills that help traversal, defence against vampires and more that are all upgradable through each players skill tree.
This choice is important as the skills offered by each character are different and these will be the only ones that can be utilized throughout that campaign playthrough.
On top of skill upgrades the characters skill tree provides upgrades for carrying capacities, team support abilities and more. One level increase for the player brings one upgrade point and everything the player does provides experience to level up each character.
It’s not just the players skills that are used to take down the horde either, the game brings guns and lots of them. These include the standard FPS-style pistols, rifles and shotguns but also true vampire slaying tools in the form of UV light beams and stake launchers as well. Each gun has its purpose and those looking to slay vampires and traverse the map should get well acquainted with a decent UV light beam and stake launcher.
The world itself is also one with two sides to it. There is the world where the majority of the chaos exists and where the player takes on vampires and humans. There is also another side to this world and one that will be ventured into from time to time. Let’s start with where the player begins, in a little old town known as Redfall. This town offers two maps, with progression from the first (Redfall Commons) into the second (Burial Point) becoming a point of no return for the player’s game. Once the player leaves, they cannot travel back so make sure to complete all achievements and optional side quests before this point. The game does offer a warning to ensure the player will know when this happens. Each of these maps contains a hub that requires clearing out before it is available for operation. Once clear, this location is central to the players game providing a location to begin all campaign missions as well as a place to pick up items, equipment and ammunition for a price.
To support the hub are safe houses scattered across the districts of the world which function as safe havens, fast travel points and restock locations for those that need to prepare for the challenges ahead. The safe houses are an important part of the game as each offer 2 side missions (a district securing event and then a stronger vampire known as an underboss to take down) which are important to the players progression within the game. Each underboss drops a skull when defeated and these are key to progression within the campaign.
The underboss isn’t the only variety of vampire throughout the game either. Redfall offers a variety of challenging enemies to defend that aren’t your run-of-the-mill vampire or cult member. These enemies include:
Siphon – An enemy that will siphon the players health until they move outside of its range or take it out.
Anglers – These vampires grab the player from a distance and drag them in to take a bite.
Watcher – Watchers will be perched high above the ground and operate from a distance to detect the player. They can be clearly identified by the directional orange beam displaying their direction of view.
Shroud – This enemy’s strength is the ability to shroud the player in darkness, reducing the field of view until the vampire is killed.
Bloodbag – A enemy looking to end itself to take down the player. If it gets close it will explode.
Rook – encountered later in the game and only appears when the vampire gods are truly angered. The player will know when a Rook is to appear based on an in-game meter and then accompanying red lightning storm. This enemy is a beast but offers some of the best loot when taken down.
There is one other passive enemy within the game that takes the player deeper into the story of this game. This enemy is known as a Sin Eater and its death leaves behind the remnants of a psychic echo that provides an insight into many of the main characters.
There is another side of this world that is in the vampire space and is entered via psychic doors during campaign missions and scattered across Redfall as doors to vampire Nests. This space is one of interest and intrigue, presenting players with a warped and wonderful world where vampires exist without the presence of humans. This side of the world is the natural habitat of the vampire and the location of all in-game bosses. The optional entry point to this part of the world are Nests. Nests are scattered throughout the world of Redfall and increase the difficultly of enemies within its area of influence. To remove that influence the player must enter the nest, fight through the vampires, and destroy its heart. The player must then sprint back to the entrance to escape before the Nest collapses. Over time this area of influence expands if not destroyed but I found that this wasn’t an issue throughout my 20 hours of playtime. At the higher levels of difficultly it may be of more concern, but I mostly let them be on my first run-through.
Let’s get down to the business with the scene, the setting and the performance. While I have enjoyed a lot of what this game has to offer, there are also some issues here that need to be addressed. The look of this game and my initial reactions were not solely positive, and it just felt like the game lacked the polish that it needed. The performance of Redfall wasn’t too bad on the Series X where I only encountered a few issues of weird graphical glitches and floating characters here and there. When I jumped across to play this game on the PC to test it out I was met with regular issues, including short regular freezing, and I could definitely see how some players would not push through this title. The AI of this game is also ‘off’. As an example, I could regularly just walk up to a vampire and stand right underneath or next to it and jump around and it would be oblivious to my presence. Another issue came up when I was undertaking a safe house side mission and all the enemies were attacking me from under the ground and I was not able to fight back. There are also some things around the game that lack an explanation as well. As an example, I finished the campaign and its completion triggered a cut scene, credits and then back to the main title scene. When loading in as that character again I was taken straight into a new game, well what appeared to be a New Game + option as I still held all items from the initial playthrough. Now I have no issues with this, but any achievement hunter may need a warning at this point advising of the second point of no return. These are just some issues there that need addressing to build on the solid foundation that the team at Arkane have put in place.
This game does offer an online cooperative option but beware that campaign progression only occurs for the host game and any player joining the game is not scaled up or down in level to meet the host. All joining players do earn experience and keep collected loot which is a positive. Again, like a lot of games nowadays, there is no couch co-op option at all. Plus, the replay-ability is currently based on replaying the campaign which, without friends to play with or achievements to get, there may be nothing there to take the player back into Redfall.
When talking family gaming, this is a first-person shooter and comes with a mature setting and an MA15+ rating so definitely not the first game to pick up when the younger kids ask to play the Xbox.
* A digital code for Redfall was kindly provided to Xbox Gamer Dad for the purpose of this review. Redfall is available now and is included with Xbox Game Pass *
Redfall is an island of adventure that brings with it a solid foundation that needs some work to make it an adventure that many players will want to continue. The issues that were encountered on the Xbox Series X weren’t game breaking, but they did present a challenge at times. The PC version was a whole different experience all together and one that very likely would have seen me leave the game behind which is of concern. There are positives there though as Arkane have created a story that had me interested, varied enemies that brought a challenge and an arsenal of weapons to take them all out. If you are considering playing this one, have started playing, or a keen fan of the game prior to its launch then do yourself a favour and stick it out until the second part of the campaign. If you want to dip your toe in the waters of Redfall then don’t forget that Xbox Game Pass gives subscribers access to this game already. I have faith, based on past games, that Arkane have the ability to improve on Redfall, it will just be on how long players are willing to wait.
- A solid foundation
- A story that is interesting
- A nice variety of weapons and enemies
- It is on Xbox Game Pass
- Many issues with the performance of the game
- Issues with the graphics and AI
- No real reason to return to the title
- A flawed co-op experience