Review – Redfall

One can argue that Bethesda has been one of the best publishers in 2023, when you consider the vast majority of its releases. Hi-Fi Rush is easily one of the best games of the year, as well as its biggest surprise. The remaster of Quake II is one of the best ever made. Their latest Elder Scrolls Online expanson, Necrom, was equally exciting. Finally, even though it was plagued by inconveniences, I really enjoyed Starfield. But they just HAD to drop a massive piece of crap alongside all of those games, just to remind us of the worst aspects of AAA gaming, clout chasing, and forcing developers to make something they clearly weren’t interested on working on. It took us an eternity to stomach it and tackle it, but we’ve finally played Redfall. How I wish I hadn’t.

Redfall visuals

These vampires are so powerful, they are able to conjure cars with octogonal wheels that still work.

Redfall covers all the bases when your role is to come up with the most generic AAA, “live service” kind of game. It is an open-world, first-person action adventure with stealth and crafting mechanics, slight RPG elements, a skill tree, and a focus on looting and grabbing upgrades to constantly deal with artificially levelled-up enemies the longer you play it. It can be played by yourself or with companions, though it didn’t particularly scream as a game made with multiplayer in mind, at least due to the unnecessary barrage of exposition and the fact its enemies are too braindead to require more than one person to kill it.

The game revolves around a group of bored but efficient hunters stranded in the New England town of Redfall, a place ravaged by a brand new race of vampires created after some failed experiments. The survivors now need to deal with the vampires, as well as a bunch of human idiots who just blindly follow their orders, and escape the town. Your typical modern AAA schtick: heavy on lore and setting, pretty weak on actual storytelling, mostly relegating its plot progression to clips and loading cutscenes. Given how it was made with multiplayer in mind (not that you would want to make your friends play it with you, if you still want to call them your friends by the end of it), it knows most of what you’ll hear is mic chats, even if the voice acting and music aren’t terrible per se.

Redfall characters

I’m not sure if your art style was meant to look cartoony or if it’s just crappy and dated. I’m leaning towards the latter.

Despite being made by Arkane, I cannot call Redfall an “immersive sim” like its previous outings (Prey, Deathloop, Dishonored). In fact, there is no need to plan or do anything which would be considered special or thought-provoking in its gameplay loop. Grab an objective, go to said place, kill a bunch of people, be greeted with exposition, level up, unlock a useless skill or perk, rinse and repeat. Additional objectives are plastered throughout the open-ended map, but they are meaningless. As a whole, it is a game you will want to simple go through the motions, as the critical path is banal and uninspired.

It would have just been considered a pretty generic game if it wasn’t for the fact that, nearly five months after its release, Redfall still looks and plays like crap. It doesn’t look particularly better than the vast majority of Xbox 360 exclusives from back in the day, and the framerate isn’t particularly high to make up for that, either. Character models look dated. Textures are cheap. This is Arkane we’re talking about, they know how to make stuff look impressive. Just look at Prey, for that matter. It being stuck to 30fps also makes little sense, given how vastly more demanding games have achieved better performances on the Series S alone, let alone the X.

Redfall vampires

They took the term “vampires suck” to a different meaning.

The controls aren’t great, either. This is really bizarre, because, once again, it’s Arkane we’re talking about. Their previous efforts have all been first-person games, all of them featuring decent camera controls and combat mechanics. The camera in Redfall features an atrocious momentum-based acceleration, hindering you from aiming accurately with the right thumbstick. It just makes you want to simply wield a shotgun, get really close to a foe, and blast them. In case of dealing with a vampire, add in an extra step of finishing them off with a stake.

The AI is so incredibly dumb that you can do that without a hitch. In fact, most of the game was spent just doing busy work without thinking too much. There are Resident Evil zombies with better AI than the so-called “evolved beings” these vampires label themselves. The “difficulty curve” comes in the shape of artificially improving an enemy’s stats with higher levels, just making them spongier, not more intelligent. It is the quintessential “we don’t care, just deal with it” method of making you care about dealing with a game’s progression system.

Black Sun

(Narrating in a Ron Howard voice) “She then walked away from him”.

As a whole, this entire game just reeks of “we didn’t care about making it”. Redfall might not be the worst game released in 2023, but I don’t think I have played something more uninspired. It looks dated, its performance is disappointing, its plot is bland, the controls are glitchy, and the entire gameplay loop is the most generic and passion-devoid AAA schtick you could think of. If Arkane clearly wasn’t willing to make this game, then why would any of us should or want to care about it? Not even the fact it’s on Gamepass makes it being worth downloading it and playing for a day or two.

Graphics: 5.0

It doesn’t look particularly better than the vast majority of Xbox 360 exclusives from back in the day, and the framerate isn’t particularly high to make up for that, either.

Gameplay: 4.0

Some of the wonkiest camera controls I’ve seen in a first-person game in a long time, coupled with just downright average combat, brainded enemy AI, and a ton of “generic AAA / live service” gameplay filler nobody asked for or cares about.

Sound: 6.5

The music is just average enough, and the voice acting is harmless… when it comes to the NPCs. The protagonists don’t sound cool at all.

Fun Factor: 4.0

If Arkane clearly didn’t care at all about this game, why the hell should I?

Final Verdict: 4.5

Redfall is available now on PC and Xbox Series S/X.

Reviewed on Xbox Series S.