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First Impressions: Redfall | So Much Potential

As I booted up Redfall on my Xbox Series X, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of anticipation and apprehension. I was to play a week after launch and the news I had heard so far was damming. Arkane Studios, known for their creative and high-quality games like Dishonored and Deathloop, had returned with a new title that promises an intriguing world filled with lore and vampires. But there was so much hate out there I didn’t know what to think so the best course of action was to try it myself and make my own decision. After spending over eight hours in single-player mode and two hours diving into multiplayer, I must say that I have enjoyed my time playing the game and Redfall shows some serious potential despite its issues.

Taking the Town Back

Set in the town of Redfall, which bears a striking resemblance to those American towns you see in the movies such as Kingston Falls in Gremlins, Sunnydale in Buffy or Punxsutawney in Groundhog Day. The game plunges players into a battle against bloodthirsty vampires and their army of cultists. Choosing from four unique hunters, each with their own special abilities, you embark on a mission to reclaim the town. The story, while simplistic works fine as a launch story, there are vampires, scientists, cults, government agencies, and private armies. If you swapped out the vampires for zombies you’d have resident evil 2.

Redfall’s missions offer a simple and accessible experience, allowing players to jump in at a moment’s notice. The campaign begins in a local firehouse, serving as your headquarters, where you can choose from a selection of available missions. These tasks usually involve collecting supplies, activating or deactivating objects, or eliminating threats in the area.

Exploring the open world uncovers side content, unlockable safe houses, and collectibles like the skulls of underbosses, which are necessary to progress. However, I can see that by hour 20, the repetitive mission design might make the single-player gameplay feel monotonous.

However, I can’t help but wonder if Arkane missed an opportunity to deliver a more engaging single-player narrative, considering their prior successes in that realm. Potential is the word that I kept coming back to. Redfall has SO much potential it’s ridiculous, go through the Buffy box set, the Vampire Diaries Lost Boys and even 30 Days of Night and you can SO many storylines, missions, and ways this game can go. Similarly, the game can open up local caves, a sewer system, and schools that further expand the game (See my Redfall Content Roadmap Wishlist).

The Highlights: Gunplay and Unique Ideas

Redfall shines when it comes to its gunplay. The weapons are plentiful and unique, and the combat feels punchy and responsive. The looter-shooter mechanics encourage progression through upgraded weapon statistics, constantly pushing players to try out new and more powerful weapons. The tiered system, with weapons classified as common, uncommon, and rare, adds a sense of excitement and rewards exploration and combat. Additional skills and abilities also add to the variety to combat encounters.

The game introduces interesting ideas when facing vampires. For example, freezing enemies to stone with a UV light weapon and shattering them with a melee attack or using two-handed weapons with wooden stake bayonets to deliver the final blow.

The Lowlights: Buggy With AI Hiccups

Redfall’s performance leaves room for improvement, particularly considering the standards set by next-gen platforms. Running at 30fps, the initial frame rate feels adequate until chaotic moments cause occasional drops and stuttering. While not game-breaking, it can be jarring and disrupt the flow of gameplay, especially during intense combat encounters.

AI behavior is another area where Redfall falls short. While the game’s premise revolves around battling vampires, the enemy AI often feels lackluster. Vampires can exhibit odd pathfinding behavior, getting stuck in objects or failing to react appropriately to the player’s presence. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to sneak around the Docks sniping all the cultists but sometimes, the enemy wouldn’t react even if they were standing next to a person whose head just blew up. Then you would get a voice prompt saying that everyone was dead only to get shot in the back by the three people behind you. This inconsistency detracts from the immersion and can make encounters feel less challenging and strategic than intended.

Slaying With Friends

The cooperative play adds an enjoyable twist as you coordinate with friends and prioritize combat to take down hordes of enemies. The open-world exploration is great for gaining XP and leveling up your gear, but only the game host will progress through the story. Again, there is some serious potential here, from the co-op-focused skills you can unlock to the opportunity to build trust between characters through regular play. Vampire nests act as Strikes or repeatable dungeons as they are randomly generated areas in which you must work your way to the ‘heart’ and destroy it to get the loot.

Redfall Looks the Part

Redfall’s art style strikes a good balance between edgy and light-hearted, resembling Buffy’s vampire designs. Character models feature minimal and angular aesthetics, while lighting effects shine during encounters that mostly take place at night. There are lots of weapons skins and costumes locked away for diligent gamers but after 10 hours I unlocked one outfit and three gun skins so I have a long way to go.

I’m Not Giving Up on Redfall

Perhaps it’s my personality to always back the underdog but I am sticking with Redfall and hope that Arkane does to. There is so much potential here, I would like them to dig deep, build upon the game and redeem themselves like No Man’s Sky or Cyberpunk 2077.

Despite its shortcomings, Redfall’s foundation shows promise. With its intriguing setting, unique vampire-themed gameplay mechanics, and cooperative multiplayer potential, the game has the potential to evolve into something truly special with future updates and improvements.

Addressing the AI issues, optimizing performance, and introducing a more varied and engaging mission design could greatly enhance the overall experience. Additionally, expanding on the single-player narrative and adding more depth to the characters and world-building could create a more immersive and captivating adventure.

In its current state, Redfall offers an enjoyable but somewhat flawed experience. Fans of Arkane Studios’ previous works may find elements to appreciate, particularly in the gunplay and cooperative multiplayer aspects. However, those seeking a deep and polished single-player experience or a flawless technical performance may find themselves disappointed.

Ultimately, Redfall shows promise as a unique vampire-themed shooter, but it falls short of reaching the same heights as Arkane’s previous titles. It will be interesting to see how the game evolves and improves over time, and whether it can fulfill its potential as a standout entry in the genre.

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