Arkane Studio’s Redfall has come under fire since its launch. Mixed reviews leaning heavily towards the negative side, reports of overwhelming bugs and generally a poor collection of mechanics. Plus of course, that whole FPS debacle. People have called the game ‘unplayable’. However, we have played Redfall. And you know what? It’s not that bad.
Redfall is a co-operative vampire hunting FPS. In truth, the vampire ‘hunting’ is more akin to coming across a Hunter in Halo Infinite. It’s not like you’re specifically trying to find them, but they’re often in your way. It’s a fairly generic FPS experience, and this may be why many people had their expectations too high. But just because you were fooled by the marketing hype, it doesn’t mean Redfall is bad.
Getting Started with Redfall
The worst part of the game in our experience so far is actually getting started. We struggled to connect up as a team and get into the game. Menu options were grayed out for seemingly no specific reason. We opted to play solo for the first mission and then – knowing that you couldn’t join other players mid-game – exit out to the main menu and try again. This worked, but we’re still not sure if that’s necessary. Nowhere in the game does it suggest that co-op won’t be available until after the first mission, or a tutorial, or any other such requirements.
Additional irritations come in the form of the tutorial inlays. Taking over the best part of two-thirds of the screen, they are well meaning information updates that surely could’ve been delivered in a better way. It’s obviously good to know when you’ve unlocked a new ability or how the mission structure works. But I don’t want it blocking most of my vision in an active game until I hold the cancel button for several seconds.
Outside of these lackluster design decisions however, Redfall just plays a decent no-brainer co-op FPS.
Redfall’s Open World is Full of Surprises
The game plays a lot like Halo Infinite. Some people may immediately call that a ‘fail’, but in truth it’s a very modern format which a lot of games will follow. You have an open world map and core missions to follow that deliver a story. Along the way, you can unlock new bases – known in Redfall as ‘safehouses’ – which can be fast travelled to, and dish out new side missions. You’ll travel across the world seeking out locations on a map, kill everything there and hit a button/collect an item/talk to someone/other generic objective, then head home. It’s certainly not breaking the mould. Yet, at the same time, it’s not an inherently bad design.
The gunplay is fun. The level system is intriguing. The unique characters and looting are sidelines that work Borderlands style, but are not hugely rewarding. There’s simply too many useless guns. Yet, exploration is still inviting with many buildings available to enter. Redfall is a nuts-and-bolts construction of familiar mechanics. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Don’t Blame the Hype
Where Redfall went wrong is within the hype machine. The game itself, as explained above, is a pretty enjoyable if somewhat generic co-op FPS. However, the men in suits may have tried to convince you it was something else. It’s Borderlands with vampires. Halo Infinite with unique abilities. Destiny with a very basic loot system.
The issue here is that we were all told to expect something different. It’s a game about vampires, wherein the vampires are essentially just generic big bads. Yes, there’s a mechanic for finishing them off, but once you’ve got a stake launcher or similar weapon (around 30 mins into the game) it’s a simple case of ‘use weapon X instead of weapon Z’.
You can use stealth to get around enemies, but this isn’t Dishonored. There are no special mechanics or rewards for doing so. Likewise, melee attacks are about as strong as hitting vampires with a wet fish. Redfall is best played as a run-and-gun, with a few unique character abilities to occasionally spice things up.
But what about the Glitches?
We’re not doing that Redfall has some issues. However, in several hours of play we didn’t encounter anything game breaking. There’s some undeniably poor animation in there and the enemy AI is woeful at times, but these aren’t glitches. At one point, one of our team was playing with their character model halfway into the floor, but the player in question had no issues actually playing.
Redfall certainly could’ve done with a few extra months in the oven, but that’s not for fixing a ‘broken’ game. It’s for polish. It’s to make an enjoyable yet per functionary game shine a little brighter.
We’re not saying that you won’t encounter issues. It’s simply a case of what glitches there are have been wildly overstated.
Redfall Just Isn’t What You Were Expecting
A lot of pressure was put on Redfall to be something it’s not. Redfall is not the ‘saviour’ of Xbox’s lackluster first-party output. It’s not the game that’s going to win over another 10 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers. It’s just a game. And a fun one at that.
The issues surrounding the release of Redfall are not at all aligned to the quality of the game. They’re discussions that exist outside of it, and have no bearing on whether or not Redfall is actually good. Conflating them is in itself an issue that will no doubt be debated on Twitter for many months – if not years – to come. But Redfall itself, taken in isolation, is a fun co-op FPS similar to Dead Island 2 or Back 4 Blood.
Don’t go in expecting a unique experience. Don’t expect the ‘saviour’ of the Xbox brand. Be open to an enjoyable time shooting vampires with friends. And that’s where you’ll find Redfall‘s charm.