Redfall: A beautiful broken adventure

The small coastal town of Redfall has a pretty big problem: a vampire infestation.

Redfall: A beautiful broken adventure
Redfall via Bethesda

The small coastal town of Redfall has a pretty big problem: a vampire infestation. Where they came from is unknown, but they have prevented you and others from fleeing the town. Your only course of action is to destroy them and liberate the city. But it’s not just vampires that you will face, you will also have to take on an armed militia of cultists, who act as familiars for the vampires. They will do their best to impede your destruction of their overlords.

Redfall is the latest game developed by Microsoft-owned Arkane Studios. Influences for Redfall are blatantly obvious, to the point where it feels like they just stole and reskinned assets from other games. One example is the sniper-class character Jacob Boyer, who will look more than a little familiar to Borderlands fans as a reskinned Mordecai, right down to his bird companion. Siren and Mechromancer classes are also obvious. But it’s not just characters. Safe houses are eerily similar to The Division, right down to the regional quests.

The loot and gunplay in Redfall also feel similar to these games as well, but in all the best ways. Swapping and reloading feels quick and natural. Pull up a silenced sniper rifle to deal with a cultist guarding a nearby location without alerting his friends. Or go in guns blazing with a shotgun or machine gun and quickly dispose of the enemies.

When the world gets dark, the vampires come out. You can see them levitating in the distance, or be surprised by one right above you when you leave a structure. Normal guns will do damage and get their attention, but you will need something more to kill them. Stake launchers, ultraviolet weapons or even just a stake on your normal weapon are required to destroy these beasts. Staking a vampire is extremely satisfying, as is petrifying them with a UV gun.

The coastal town of Redfall is beautiful, and fun to explore. You can pop into a random house and find loot and occasionally vampires hiding in the basement. Most of the time, buildings and the environment look amazing. However, what looks like a giant monster in the distance might actually just be a tree that did not fully load yet.

Redfall via Bethesda

While the story in Redfall should be gripping and pull players in, it is one of many areas where Arkane Studios really drops the ball. Cutscenes are the equivalent of watching a slideshow of your neighbor’s vacation. Story missions in the game promise payoffs that never arrive. Side quests feel frivolous in a town overrun by vampires. One quest asks you to bring back scotch and cigars for the clergy who is in charge of the main base. In one instance after completing a major section of the story, you are thrown blind into another section with no explanation or reasoning.

It is not just story and technical issues that make Redfall painful, but choices by the developer. After playing a few missions with friends, I decided to go in the next day and explore a little with my character while I had some free time. Once I logged in, I was shocked and annoyed when the opening cutscene played and I was at the beginning of the game. The fast travel points from the night before were not available, and I was starting from scratch. It turns out advances made in a multiplayer game are only available to the person who hosted or when you play multiplayer again. So if you want to play solo, or the person who hosted the game quits playing, your character will keep their levels, but need to go redo all the previous exploring, story and progress.

Redfall is a conundrum of a game. It takes players to some beautiful highs, but then drops them like a bowling ball to the lowest lows. For everything good Redfall does, it contrasts it with something terrible or broken. Enjoy exploring the beautiful world? Move to a different zone, and everything will be blocky, or you’ll experience frame drops. Like the shooting? Your perfect gun will disappear from your inventory when the game updates. Enjoy the experience of killing vampires? Their bodies will stay on the screen after you’ve staked them, and your friends will wonder why they aren’t dying.

Redfall via Bethesda

Redfall is a game that definitely feels rushed out, and it could have used another year in development. Given additional development time, I think the narrative around the game would be completely different and reviews more positive. If Arkane Studios cleans up the issues, this could be a really fun game. But for those who played it on launch day, the setbacks, annoyances and lost progress may be too much to overcome.

If you are dying to try it now, Redfall is on Xbox Game Pass. But there is no way you should pay $70 for this game. Wait for it to fall under $20 on a Steam sale. Maybe by then the main issues will be resolved and it will be a fun and playable game.

Redfall is available on Xbox Game Pass and PC.

Review Haiku

Very broken game
Vampire killing is fun
Wait for a big sale

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