mysterious has a problem. It’s a great game by all accounts. The Dishonored series, Prey, Deathloop — they’ve all been well-received. Arkane has been a favorite of critics and fellow developers for generations. But that acclaim and reach didn’t translate into sales (or player numbers, if you factor in services like Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus). Deathloop’s sales at launch on PS5 were the lowest of any Arkane game, at least on the physical market. Prey did a little better – and a multi-platform version at that.
Redfall, then, is in a unique position. Arriving on Xbox Game Pass, date and date, means around 29 million people will be able to boot up the game and immerse themselves in its vampire fantasies at launch. Without a £60+ buy-in, and without gamers betting their likely quarterly gaming budget on new, yet-to-be-proven IP, Arkane can finally show the mainstream what it’s capable of.and red dropand from what I’ve played so far, it seems to have everything it needs to capture your imagination.
First off, the shooting feels better than Deathloop. This is what Harvey Smith, Studio Director at Arkane Austin, chatted with me before getting started. The development team only recently figured out how to make a variety of different guns–pile launchers, UV shooters, magnums, large-caliber sniper rifles, and more–and it feels really, really good. Every class is in your hands, whether you’re flapping the hammer of a revolver or leveling your rifle back before another headshot, that’s what shooting feels like – not the paper-thin ones we have in Deathloop water gun.
At the end of my hands-on, I managed to unlock the equivalent of “exotic” weapons by killing some unscripted super-bosses that hunt you down if you kill enough famous vampires. The barbarian – the kind of boss you’ll encounter in later Resi – takes a lot of hits, but by cycling through weapons, managing my skill cooldowns, and getting one last cheeky headshot before I bleed out , I managed to come out on top. my reward? An assault rifle not unlike Destiny’s “Bad Juju,” all adorned with occult symbols, skulls, and bones.
This is a taster of the risk/reward that Redfall seems to revolve around. I didn’t play the story, I explored. Through my exploration, I slayed famous vampire heroes and some of the city’s more famous ghouls. my reward? The vampire gods tried to eliminate me with one of their more cunning thugs, but I won. I got a killer gun for that—a gun that feels incredible in the hand, and takes just a few bullets to take down even the most hardened undead bastard.
This is important because in Redfall you are underpowered. This game is hard, and that’s where I see Stalker’s influence. Your enemies are faster, stronger, and noisier than you – unless you play well – and they’re probably smarter than you, too. And you can’t just shoot them. The game encourages fast-paced, adventurous gameplay by letting you execute enemies when their health reaches zero. If you don’t get there in time, they’ll revive, and you’ll need to spend more precious ability points and ammo to take them out. This can be done by shooting a stake into their heart, or using a weapon with a stake in melee range. But these finishers add another level of instant decision-making to the mix. It felt unbelievable to be in the midst of this gory mess, clinging to life, jumping from body to body, driving stakes through the heart.
You probably won’t be able to deal with all vampires at once. So you need to plan. There are four main characters in the game: Jacob, a remote expert and a talking crow friend; Devinder ‘Dev’ Crousley, a cryptozoologist and tinkerer; Remi De La Rosa, a robotics engineer with a clever little an AI friend; and Layla Ellison, a biomedical expert w ith telekinesis. Given that this is an arcane game, each of these characters possesses a very specific set of powers that you’ll need to harness to carve a path through the vamp.
Clearing the map and killing everything is not the way to play here. you can not. You will be overwhelmed. Instead (like in the Far Cry games), you need to fight for your goals. Need to go to a mansion to empty it out and kill the mad scientist who lives inside? If you’re playing as Jacob, you’ll need to use your crow to spot enemies acting as lookouts, snipe the sentry’s head, and sneak in stealthily. Getting into a 5v1 fight won’t go very well for you, even if you activate your special move and automatically perform headshots on all undead charging towards you.
Play Remy? Your little robot friend, Bribón (“bugger” in Spanish), will be your eyes and ears. It acts as a decoy that draws fire and gets you into better positions, like nuking the vamp with a giant UV cannon, petrifying it and smashing it with melee before you get in. Or, send rogues into the mob and sneak up behind vampires to assassinate them.
I didn’t get to play the co-op mode, but this is where Redfall really shines. Even the two characters outlined above create fantastic synergy – using Bribón to attract attention with Remi, disguise as Jacob, and plot a double assassination raid on a group? Catnip! – Smith admits in the preview prologue that at the moment, “testers are figuring out synergies that we haven’t even considered”. For many players, this is the heart of the game – think of all those crazy Dishonored runs you’ve seen, and imagine the chaos magnified several times over.
I see Redfall as Arkane’s attempt to appeal to a wider crowd. While echoes of Dishonored and Deathloop rage throughout the design, this isn’t an immersive sim. Honestly, it’s closer to Left 4 Dead. Arkane has gotten to the bottom of what it’s really, really good at — the game’s hero is the eponymous coastal town, and the short stories woven into its various locations are already calling to me after just a few hours of play. The promise of diverse, satisfying weapons and a deep and complex story adds to mainstream appeal, and by stripping away some of the systems that made previous games intimidating and unpopular, Arkane could end up being a real mainstream winner.
red drop Releases May 2 for PC, Xbox, and Game Pass.
Leave a Reply