STAFF REVIEW of Redfall (Xbox Series X)

Monday, May 29, 2023.
by Brent Roberts

Redfall Box art Sometimes there are games that are best left alone. Sometimes there are games that offer so much potential yet fail to deliver on even half of it. Sometimes there are games that without question haven't a clue what they are supposed to be. Redfall is all of these and so much more. If you've been living outside of reality for the last few weeks, Redfall has released on the Xbox platform and almost instantly became absolutely legendary, but not for the reasons you may think warrant success.

Imagine Arkane Studios (the people behind games like Dishonored, Dishonored 2, Prey, Deathloop etc.) is given the task of developing an open world adventure that dives into the world of vampires, the occult and magic, that also packs a lot of firepower through the use of tons of weaponry. Already you're thinking, this sounds like it's going to be amazing, and you'd be right. Now take this same thought and give it some reality when you see it for the first time in 60 FPS and you're ready to mark the date on your calendar. Now imagine you wake up and you rush to your Xbox and fire up the console and you jump into Redfall only to be catastrophically disappointed.

Originally the uproar of Redfall was that the console versions were going to release at 30 FPS rather than the displayed 60 we saw when the game was running originally. However, as you dive more and more into Redfall, you'll quickly see that there are more faults than just that underneath the skin. To kick things off, the story behind Redfall offers tremendous potential. In a Massachusetts town, they have been overrun with vampires and cultist fanatics. During the day these radicals patrol the neighborhoods and work on cultivating the areas for their vampire masters who come out at night. Basically, you go throughout the game on a never-ending cycle, cultists by day, vampires by night, rinse and repeat. While the cultists can be killed with your weaponry, vampires cannot. Instead, you have to either hit them with a stake through the heart or attach one to your weapon and drive it into them to eradicate them permanently.

While this may seem mundane as all you do is try to clear the vampire infestation from your town, it's made more challenging by the sensitivity of the gameplay. When you start out, there's a phrase I like to use called "Portal Twitchy", and it applies perfectly here. I approached this mechanic with the feeling that you literally need to keep your head on a swivel, otherwise you'd lose it. Doing this however has naturally over-complicated the combat mechanics making shooting and aiming while moving incredibly challenging, almost to the point of unplayable. Thankfully you can dial down the sensitivity to something more manageable.

During the game you will rinse and repeat the same process over and over again while working your way through the vampire hierarchy, but I started to ask myself, if this game HAD 60 FPS at launch, would that really have made a difference? Would it have made the gameplay mechanics more solid? Would it have fixed the boring overall story? Would it benefit the game in any way outside of the graphical presentation? Sadly, the answer to this is a resounding no. From games like Deathloop and the Dishonored series, you have a pedigree of quality games under your belt, and this open world is a tremendously disappointing release. I know you've read all the bashing over this game, but some of it actually is justified. However, there is still fun to be found within.

That is thanks to the multiplayer, which provides the game's best redeeming qualities and also some of its worst. It's the aspect of the game that creates the largest dynamic. Without question, traversing the neighborhoods and open world is much more entertaining with friends, but let’s say you have a friend who has been playing for a couple hours, unlocked a safe house and you join in from the beginning. The two of you go through your friend's game, unlocking several safe houses, taking down a vampire boss, completing side quests and having a great time. Now, let's say your friend has to get up for work so they leave, and you go back to your game. You go back to a blank slate. The only thing that carries over is the gear and your character, as the progress you made in your friend’s game only applies to them.

One of the biggest challenges for a game like Redfall is how do you balance the loot, and there's sadly no other way to put this statement gently, but legendary weapons can look like child toys next to a higher-level common weapon in Redfall. Your weapons are broken up into categories such as stake launchers (it does what the name says), UV lasers, shotguns, assault rifles, and pistols and in typical loot grind fashion, come in different colors from white/grey to orange. But when you find a legendary weapon and see that your green weapon has better stats, you really get to asking yourself what were they thinking?

The biggest grind for loot in all games is for those epic legendary pieces that you spent days/weeks/months, etc. for. I can't recall people saying, "I did these loot runs hoping to get this white/grey weapon". Once I went from epic weapons to normal tier just to get the increase in damage and performance. The issue though isn't the grind (because it'll be a long one), it's answering the question, why bother?

To go along with the gear, each character comes with their own "special abilities" on a skill tree. While this is alright in some games, this aspect doesn't carry well into Redfall. When you team up with friends and combine abilities, you can really enjoy some moments, but again regrettably they are going to be too few and far between to gain any real substance of the game. Unfortunately, one of the most major downfalls is the difficulty of the enemies being unevenly scaled. This means while you may join a game, you'll be up against impossible enemies for you.

If that weren't enough, the bugs in the game almost make the game not worth playing. Bethesda has been known for legendary bugs that produce some startling results, and Redfall checks all those boxes. One time my character got downed, then I got revived but kept going into the 'downed' animation on my friend's screen while everything seemed fine on mine. I'd just crumple over, then pop up, crumple over, and this went on until we quit the game and restarted. Then my friend ended up with a sniper scope... on every single weapon he had. This colossal scope on a pistol? Sure. How about a UV laser? Why not? It became the Oprah of scopes where "You get a sniper scope, and you get a sniper scope, everyone gets a sniper scope!".

I just have to say this again, From the Dishonored series, Deathloop, Prey and now this? A boring story with un-innovative characters that leave you with literally little to no attachment or concern for. Sub-par gameplay mechanics, which are hypersensitive and make gameplay incredibly challenging. The only multiplayer progress that is saved is the host. Pointless legendary weapons in a game where you grind for loot. Game breaking bugs left and right. Oh, and tack on that 30 FPS while you're at it at launch.

Now ask yourself, would 60 FPS have made a difference given all that is wrong with Redfall? No. I, like many others, was so badly hoping that this game wasn't a complete and total failure, but gamers are used to disappointment. Sadly, Redfall had unbelievable potential and a dynamic studio behind this that is known for quality gaming, but under delivered at quite literally almost every facet of the game. Redfall, unfortunately, should be avoided, and in fact, I hope that the industry starts taking a look at these games and starts evaluating its processes, because if you're only as good as your last game, then Arkane isn't looking good at all.

**Redfall was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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