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Redfall Review :: Sleepy Town Sloopy Shooter - Gameffine

Redfall at its best is a smaller Far Cry, while at its worst it's a disappointing The Division clone. While it shows glimpses of characters in flashes, it fails at almost every important factor that make up a decent game. In all honesty, all the praise that Redfall is getting, is probably more out of pity than actual appreciation. If this is the best that Microsoft/Bethesda has to offer, then it's not a lot.

Product Brand: Arkane

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:

Redfall is Arcane Austin’s first attempt at a looter shooter FPS. It’s not their wheelhouse, and it’s also the first BIG Xbox exclusive coming from Bethesda (the publisher) after their merger with Microsoft. Initially, Redfall opened to disappointing critical reception, with the game panned for its low-end graphics, and bland gameplay. In fact, Phil Spencer made a public apology for the state that Redfall released in. After about a week, though, some outlets started to praise the nuanced story telling of Redfall and its artistic choice. So what is it? A disappointing AAA release, or diamond in the rough. Let’s find out.

Redfall is an always online, co-op capable, looter-shooter FPS. Redfall is developed by Arcane Austin and published by Bethesda. The game launched on Xbox Game Pass and for Windows on May 2, 2023.

Lonely In Redfall

It was frustratingly difficult to find online partners in Redfall. When you start the game, you have an option to either “Host A Game” or “Play Game”. For a game which focuses on co-op gameplay, an option to just “Join A Game” is surprisingly missing. It’s not evident how I can invite my friends, and I had to search online to accomplish this simple task. Once into the game, sessions were plagued by connectivity issues, and it wasn’t long before my friends moved on to something else.

I played the rest of Redfall solo. While it is true, that this is my preferred way of playing these kind of looter/grinder games (since it gives me a better sense of the difficulty in the game), the fact that it was so difficult to start an online session, it felt as if Arcane purposely discouraged it.

At least, Redfall provided a bunch of really diverse characters to choose from. I finally got to pick an Indian guy so +1 for that. 

Small Town Meets Big Evil Inc.

The story in Redfall is surprisingly pretty stereotypical. A big corporation comes to a small town, and the town prospers because of it. But then things start to go wrong, and they finally culminate into something catastrophic. Heard that one before? Yeah, though so.

It’s almost un-surprising that the corporation in question is a pharmaceutical company, and the real big bad bosses are rich egoistical sociopaths whose hubris drive them into becoming Vampires. IT DEFINITELY IS a commentary on modern corporate capitalism, but it’s just not a new one. It’s all something that you had seen, read or heard before if you have consumed any media before playing Redfall.

It also tries to be very Gen Z about its quirky writing, and while it worked in Deathloop (Bethesda/Arcane last outing), it doesn’t seem to fit the world of Redfall. Furthermore, it’s also difficult to tell a story about greed and loss and revenge when your character is busy spurting out nonsensical dad jokes every other minute.

Recycling Is Big In Redfall

This rehash of concepts doesn’t stop at just the narratives in the game. Redfall tries to implement an open-world divided into sections or areas. Each area has a safehouse, a vampire underboss and a bunch of activities and missions. Complete enough and you can take on the Vampire gods. Sounds Far Cry-ish right? It is but in implementing this Arcane also shows its own weakness because all these areas can’t exist and can’t be explored at the same time, instead they are broken into 2 big chunks. Clear one, and move on to the next, but get blocked off from the earlier are until the end of the game.

Redfall also tries to incorporate looter shooter mechanics from games like Destiny, The Division, Outriders etc. You have 7 categories for weapons and 3 slots to fit them in. Some are good for Human enemies, some are better for Vampires. You find better ones and can range from Common to Unrivalled (read White to Yellow). So you loot and shoot. BUT, in such games, the weapons need to be balanced with enemies. There isn’t enough variety and the enemy AI is all over the place. Sometimes they charge at you from halfway across the map, other you can burn something to ashes right in front of them and they wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

The game also features a day and night cycle, but honestly, I couldn’t figure out if it made any substantial difference to the game or how I was playing it.

Even the skill tree that each of the character has, seems pulled right out of Arcane’s earlier games. For eg. can you remember an Arcane game where you couldn’t teleport from one location to another? I will wait. And that would have been fine if the skill-tree itself wasn’t too grindy. I mean I have played around 83% of the game and I am still level 16, nowhere near the game’s ceiling.

Come For The Vampires, Stay For The City

Having said this, Redfall still retains that exploratory spirit that you associate with Arcane. The world, that is available to you, is explorable in any way you desire. There are multiple ways on how you approach a mission, and unlike most other games, the game lets you use your skills against all bosses. All of this leads to pretty hilarious and anti-climatic boss fights sometimes.

Also, the world of Redfall is filled with small stories told in notes, and visuals. The best ones are told through a crumb trail spread across the city. It’s fascinating to see how a parish devolves into a Vampire’s slave, or how a loving family crumbled under the pressure of a Vampire invasion.

The game also doesn’t explain itself a lot. Instead, you use your gaming knowledge to figure out what’s going on and what you are expected to do. This can evoke any emotions between elation, when you discover a bonus use for a weapon, or frustration when the info card about a vampire appears after you have killed them.

At least its easy. That’s probably the best part about this game. No part of the map is technically gated off for you. Sure the enemies in an area might be stronger, but they can’t really stop you from navigating the world. So if you really want to find out how the view is from this cliff that is surrounded by cultists and like 50 vampires, you could, if you can sneak your way past them.

Its also easier to complete missions. Though most of them just offer Xp (not enough), while for better weapons there are other circular activities that you can indulge in. There is a point in the game, where you might feel a difficulty spike but it doesn’t last long and needs about 30 minutes of grinding. I could finish the game solo in about 25 hours, where I defeated all underbosses, and completed all side-missions.

A Quiet Place

Apart from the soul-less bland gameplay that doesn’t offer any depth, the game suffers from multiple performance and gameplay issues. And I am not even talking about the art choice that Arcane chose. I mean there were bugs like mission markers never disappearing from the screen, or you’re clipping through buildings and objects, or ammo just floating in the air, or your character commenting as if he has seen that new Vampire breed for the first time, when you have just killed 30 of them, or the game telling you have discovered a new location every time you go there, when It’s quite literally the location you first spawned in the game.


The one thing that Redfall does nail is the sound design or the lack of it. Redfall can go completely silent in parts. It just amps up the dreads of these encounters and you can feel your body tighten up as you crawl through the corridors of a dark hall, towards that flickering light in the room at the end.

Real Talk

Redfall at its best is a smaller Far Cry, while at its worst it’s a disappointing The Division clone. While it shows glimpses of characters in flashes, it fails at almost every important factor that make up a decent game. In all honesty, all the praise that Redfall is getting, is probably more out of pity than actual appreciation. If this is the best that Microsoft/Bethesda has to offer, then it’s not a lot.

Having said that, Redfall is a $70 game available for $10 (or under). At that entry point, I can’t say that you shouldn’t try it, if you are even a little bit curious. It may be morbid, but it’s curiosity.


Disclaimer: The review code of Redfall was provided by Keymailer without any riders

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