Set in a small coastal town plagued by a vampire infestation, Redfall’s premise and setting immediately captured the attention of gamers when it was originally announced. The exciting blend of vampire lore and intense action seemed to be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, while Redfall shows promise, it is difficult to recommend due to a combination of bugs, poor AI, and a repetitive gameplay loop.
In Redfall, players assume the roles of four survivors, each possessing three unique powers. Trapped in Redfall during the vampire invasion, their primary goals are to, well, keep on surviving, aid fellow survivors, uncover the cause of the chaos, and put an end to it.
The story follows the standard formula set out by past zombie games but simply switches the walking dead with vampires. Arcane Studios attempted to enrich the narrative by scattering text logs throughout the world, but in truth, the overarching story really isn’t anything to write home about (see what I did there?).
At its core, Redfall is an open-world co-op looter shooter. Players receive main missions from a central hub and encounter side missions scattered throughout the game world. These missions generally involve traveling to specific locations, eliminating vampires and cultists, and returning to the hub. Safe houses, liberatable locations, offer their own missions, comprising the elimination of enemies and mini-boss fights. Additionally, safe houses serve as convenient fast travel points.
Combat is as you would expect from Arcane Studios. It offers combines swift movement and satisfying gunplay. Over the course of the game, it introduces various types of vampires, each requiring different strategies to kill. Regular vampires cannot be defeated solely with gunfire – once depleting their health bar, players must drive a stake through their heart, set them on fire, use UV light, or use a stake launcher. Yes, that’s a thing.
As players progress, more complex vampire types emerge, equipped with enhanced powers. Other enemies primarily consist of cultists armed with guns, offering a less exhilarating combat experience.
As you’d expect when it comes to looter shooters, looting plays a significant role in Redfall Players collect scrap and discover guns of different colors and power levels. This loot system, reminiscent of games like Destiny, emphasizes the service-based nature of Redfall. A notable aspect is the presence of vampire gates—areas where vampires amass power. Players venture into these randomly generated, linear sections to clear out enemies, destroy the heart, and loot the zone before it collapses. Defeating enemies grants experience points, enabling players to level up and invest in a skill tree. Ultimately, there is not enough variety for this element to remain interesting for hundreds of hours.
If anything, you may find yourself moving on after just a dozen hours, as Redfall’s gameplay loop is undeniably repetitive. While the combat zones are well-designed, offering multiple approaches to tackle each area, the overall structure becomes monotonous over time. Missions typically involve traveling to a location, eliminating vampires and cultists, and returning to the base. The lack of variety in objectives and gameplay mechanics becomes apparent, making the game feel like a derivative version of the Far Cry series. In comparison to Far Cry, Redfall lacks additional features such as vehicle usage, weapon customization, hunting, and crafting. This limits the depth and engagement of the gameplay experience.
With that being said, Redfall truly shines when played in co-op mode, which does add an element of replayability. Coordinating with friends not only increases the number of enemies, preventing the world from feeling empty, but also allows for synergistic ability combinations and triggering banter between the characters. Solo play, on the other hand, lacks the same level of enjoyment. I’d recommend that you avoid playing alone if at all possible.
Redfall’s art direction is decent, with its small eastern coast town setting and cartoony visuals. The combination complements the game’s theme, creating an immersive atmosphere while being easy on the eye.
However, the textures often suffer from noticeable popping issues, detracting from the overall visual experience. Additionally, Redfall is plagued by technical problems, including frequent game crashes and AI behavior that ranges from nonsensical to downright absurd. These issues contribute to a sense that the game feels unfinished and unpolished.
Redfall brings to mind the comparisons to another infamous title, Anthem. Both games share the commonality of a single-player studio attempting to create a multiplayer looter shooter experience. In both cases, the end result falls short of expectations, leaving players with a sense of disappointment. It remains to be seen whether Redfall will follow a similar trajectory, with future updates redeeming its potential or falling into obscurity.
Redfall shows glimpses of what could have been a promising co-op open-world experience. The well-designed combat zones, decent art direction, and cooperative multiplayer dynamics provide some enjoyable moments. However, technical flaws, a repetitive gameplay loop, and a lack of innovation ultimately hinder its overall appeal.
If you have Xbox Game Pass and are looking for a new game to play with friends then you should consider checking Redfall out. With that being said, if you still have other games in your backlog, I’d recommend waiting until the developers fix some of the technical issues and add some more content. Redfall does show some promise, but I personally want to see whether the developers have the intention of ensuring that the game realises them before I spent any more clearing vampires out of this seaside town.