How do I describe Redout?
Then again, perhaps a more accurate question is, “How do I describe Redout without drowning this review in more buzzwords than the average E3 press conference?” The thing is: doing so would require me to pour hours and hours of time and energy into a single paragraph instead of just playing more Redout. Not exactly ideal. With that in mind, allow me to indulge.
Redout is one of the most delightfully high-octane, edge-of-my-seat racing games in recent memory. It’s a thrilling adrenaline rush of an experience that caused more emotional outbursts from me than a House of Cards season finale. It’s a finely-tuned joyride that’s been polished and balanced until it shines in a cornucopia of flashy colours.
What I’m saying is that Redout is really freaking good.
“Redout made me laugh, scream, and shout in disbelief, but all the while, it never stopped being fast, beautiful, and absolutely delightful.”
Drawing inspiration from titles like Wipeout and F-Zero, Redout’s frenetic races involve colourful hovercrafts blasting down futuristic highways at something like Mach 25. The world whizzes by in a blur as you slam the control sticks left and right to strafe and drift around corners, grinding against walls in a shower of sparks and boosting out of turns with a roar of your engine. It’s a visceral thrill, with races down winding roads punctuated by loops, corkscrews, huge jumps, and massive drops that threaten to make you redout.
While the actual hovercraft models are relatively simplistic, varying shapes, sizes, and stats give each a unique feel tailored to a different playstyle. Each fictional manufacturer in the game produces four classes of stylistically-similar vehicles that tend to excel in some category (e.g. speed) while lacking in others (e.g. structure/health). Additionally, bright colours and intricate patterns (customisation through unlockable palettes and liveries, respectively) make identical models feel unique while also helping them stand out from the gorgeous tracks.
Read more: Two Wipeout Alternatives Available Right Now
Snazzy rides can only get you so far if there’s nothing interesting to drive them on, and the tracks end up being the real stars of the show here. Redout’s track list offers a diverse array of locales, each of which acts as a theme for a selection of courses. From the icy caverns of Alaska to the undersea environs of Europa, all of them are beautifully realised, featuring impressive lighting and vibrant colours that manage to be visually impressive without distracting from the race.
The individual racetracks can occasionally feel a bit samey, but they all have enough unique elements to ensure that the first time around (and then some) involves laser-sharp focus and screams of delight.
If you’re not too busy trying to keep your eyes in your head, there are several options at your disposal while barrelling down the track. As it turns out, Redout is a surprisingly technical racer, with mechanics that can be harnessed to squeeze every last bit of speed out of a vehicle. The craft can be pitched up or down to avoid nose-grinding on inclines and redouts on sharp drops, respectively. They can also strafe; strafing into a turn will make it sharper, while strafing away from it will put the craft into a light drift. While drifting may not seem like an ideal option in a lightning-fast racer, drifting in advance of a corner and then strafing into it allows the hovercraft to corner even more sharply than it can by strafing in normally.
“Redout is a surprisingly technical racer, with mechanics that can be harnessed to squeeze every last bit of speed out of a vehicle.”
This is just one of many such techniques that aren’t specifically required to enjoy Redout, but are definitely required to excel at it. It’s a shame, then, that most of these aren’t explained in-game; I didn’t find out about techniques like drifting until I looked at a community guide. Considering how much more fun I started having once I learned about the advanced skills, Redout could have benefited from obfuscating less information.
The career mode in Redout is no slouch, sporting over 100 different events spanning all manner of race types. Solo time trials, regular and “pure” (no powerups allowed) races, and survival runs are just a sample of the 11 race types present. There are even “boss” races that take all the tracks from a locale and mash pieces of them together to form a lengthy, unpredictable track; these are a great way to “remix” any tracks that end up getting stale over time.
Completing career challenges awards you with credits, which can be spent on ships, powerups (each ship can have a passive and active equipped), and upgrades to each. There are also optional contracts that add extra conditions to races with substantial payouts if you succeed. There’s something here for even the most casual of racing fans, and the level of challenge ramps up naturally as you advance through the racing classes.
It’s great that the career mode is so lengthy, considering the overall lack of value the multiplayer provides. To its credit, the game makes a point to clearly show the “viability” of online matchmaking at any given time, with the main menu displaying the number of online players and the number of games currently being hosted. However, while the population isn’t dead, it’s definitely dwindling. The one time I hosted a game, I had a single person join, then immediately leave once I trounced them in a race. While that was obviously a nice boost to my morale (I’m clearly a pro at this game; fight me), that was also the only race I could get into that day. I was eventually able to get into a full 12-person race, though, and it was great fun. In my brief exposure to it, the community seems relatively friendly, and there are lots of tips and tricks present for newcomers.
You can even play unowned DLC maps in matchmaking as long as the host owns them. Serious props for that one!
Two-player splitscreen is also available, though the level of technicality in Redout works against it. Say what you will about “casual” racers like Mario Kart, but they’re great for having a friend over, hopping into a few races, and having a good time. Sure, there are opportunities for skilled players to gain the upper hand, but newcomers are still bound to enjoy themselves. My experience with Redout was not so pleasant. Now, it certainly wasn’t bad, but playing against a friend was discouraging and uncomfortable for them. Every race, I was surging ahead into first, and every race, they were coming dead last after spending far too much time watching their ship explode against walls.
“Redout is one of the most delightfully high-octane, edge-of-my-seat racing games in recent memory. It’s a thrilling adrenaline rush of an experience. It’s a finely-tuned joyride that’s been polished and balanced until it shines in a cornucopia of flashy colours.”
Now, I’m not trying to say that the game needs to be toned down to be more casual-friendly; I’m okay with a slightly higher barrier to entry if it also means there’s a high skill ceiling. However, for those that are looking to get some friends together for some local multiplayer, it’s worth noting that you may want to allocate some extra time to allow them to practice first.
I really love Redout. While it feels lacking in the multiplayer department, its extensive career mode more than makes up for it with its addictive, bite-sized races. The first time I played the game, I had to make a serious effort to stop; beating one event just made me want to try the next one, and with so many tracks and cars to unlock, things never got stale. It made me laugh, scream, and shout in disbelief, but all the while, it never stopped being fast, beautiful, and absolutely delightful.
…Okay, so, I’m done now, right? I can go play more Redout? What, I still need to edit this? UGGGGGG-