Redfall ($69.99) has a lot to do with its success. Not only is it a top-flight PC game, but it’s also one of the few exclusive games coming to the Xbox Series X/S soon. Co-directed by famed immersive sim designer Harvey Smith, Redfall is also the next franchise from Arkane Studios, creators of Deathloop, Dishonored and Prey. We played a large chunk of the vampire-smashing title ahead of its May 2 release date, and enjoyed its fun twists on looting-shooting action – though it doesn’t deviate much from the shooter norm.
Isle of the Damned
Redfall’s greatest strength lies in its setting and atmosphere. Redfall is an island in Massachusetts teeming with sinister vampires. These vampires were created by science like the Umbrella Corporation zombies in the Resident Evil series. The most powerful vampires refer to themselves as gods, and human cultists worship them with religious fervor. You have to choose one character and blast them all.
The northeastern coastal location gives the island a strong vibe, like something out of a Stephen King book. The characters have slightly over-the-top, cartoonish designs that emphasize their big personalities. The vampires may be man-made, but some of them resemble ancient devils like Nosferatu. And in a cool mix of old and new, the game’s soundtrack blends classic creepiness with contemporary hip-hop beats.
The more you explore the city, the more you see Arkane’s touches. The studio loves to design intricate spaces that you will increasingly appreciate as you examine them from all angles. Despite being an open-world game, Redfall features interiors that display the same meticulous craftsmanship. For example, I fought my way through a cinema, from the balcony to the lobby to the garage; shot down vantage points atop a haunted house before encountering a room full of floating books; and woven through food aisles at a convenience store. Your fire station has enough detail to feel like a real home.
Redfall’s open-world structure gives you the motivation to explore these locations. During my 90 minute gameplay session, I cleared out enemy vampire nests and unlocked safehouses. I even found some hidden collectibles. When I got tired of one goal, I just picked up another. It’s easy to compare Redfall to the classic supernatural co-op shooter Left 4 Dead, but the actual experience so far seems much more varied and rich.
Redfall’s loot and shoot gameplay
Redfall’s style and freedom can’t hide the familiar core gameplay. If Deathloop married Arkane’s quirky ideas to a mainstream first-person shooter, then Redfall is simply a mainstream co-op shooter that happened to be developed by Arkane.
You choose between four playable characters with different special abilities. I chose Remi de la Rosa, a combat engineer who throws explosives and distracts enemies with a small robot. Character special abilities work on a cooldown, similar to Apex Legends or Overwatch. Over time, you can activate an ultimate ability, like Draw’s Healing Field. As you level up, you earn points to unlock more perks in the game’s skill tree. Arkane has been making first-person shooters for a while, so the team knows how to make weapons that feel good and how to make melee attacks that land with power. However, this solid moment-to-moment mechanic is used to motivate you through unrewarded game loops.
Redfall’s Preview Event build only let me play solo, but I could tell there are abilities that should excel in co-op play. While I managed to pull off a few neat tricks, I didn’t feel like I could use the gameplay’s full potential without collaborating with other players controlling other characters, such as: B. the magic wielding Jacob or the telekinetic Layla. Additionally, the game was surprisingly tough (even on the easiest difficulty) with no teammates to help spread the enemy load and ease the tedium of surviving aggressive hordes.
Redfall uses his vampire hook to introduce fun gameplay twists. Vampire enemies will attack with appropriate malice, draining your blood from afar, or relentlessly pursuing you if you cause enough havoc. Although regular bullets damage vampires, you’ll need to impale the undead with melee attacks to finish them off. You can roast vampires with extremely damaging fire when your bullets ignite nearby oil slicks, or turn bloodsuckers to stone with a powerful UV light. The same light can also penetrate mists of noxious Blood Mist.
You’ll also blow up regular human cultists with pistols, shotguns, and everything else you’ve come to expect in a shooter. You will scavenge for gear and level up until tougher enemies stop being bullet sponges. Rinse and repeat.
We might finally see a backlash to live service games as Redfall won’t be offering microtransactions on top of its $70 price tag. However, the demo build is clearly influenced by Destiny and The Division, which is a bit draining.
dead and loving it?
Redfall may not be as daring as Dishonored meets Castlevania, but Arkane Studios puts some nifty vampiric twists on well-known co-op shooter action. Vampires may live forever, but we’ll see how long Redfall can last when it launches on May 2nd on PC and Xbox Series X/S (including Xbox Game Pass). Then be sure to check back for our full review.
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