With the sun blocked out, the island town of Redfall has become a haven for vampires.
There’s still a day and night cycle in the game Redfall, however, so you don’t spend all your time playing it submerged in darkness. And just as inexplicable, any of the four survivors you can choose to play as have their own assortment of supernatural powers. Perhaps there’s just something about this town that’s a little out of the ordinary.
In any case, with an attempt to escape gone awry, it’s up to you to try and free Redfall from the dark forces that have mercilessly taken it over. That means helping other survivors, investigating the cause of the vampire infestation, and of course, combating the nasty bloodsuckers as well as their mindless cultists. Easy, right?
Redfall is the type of game that we should love. We’ve longed for a game that lets us explore a detailed open world, hunting down vampires before plunging wooden stakes into their cold hearts, putting them out of action for good. And in many ways Redfall does indeed fulfil this desire.
Across its campaign, you’ll undertake a wide range of missions, some as simple as visiting a gravestone for a friend in order to leave a valuable possession; others much more meaty, requiring you to complete a string of objectives while engaging in bouts of combat. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there are side missions, recurring activities and more to complete as well.
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There are Vampire Nests, for example, that emit a sphere of influence, powering up all those vampires you encounter within it. Venture into the nest to destroy its dark heart, and not only can you obtain some powerful loot, but also make the area safer for a short while. But quests and activities in Redfall are not all created equally. While some are fun and engaging, others are frustrating or quite simply dull.
Sometimes you also get the feeling that certain aspects are underdeveloped. There are opportunities to free random strangers being held captive by vampires from time to time, but there’s absolutely no reason to do so. You’re not rewarded in any way. In fact, you don’t really feel like you make much impact in this world at all.
Considering much has been made of Redfall‘s co-op features, ultimately it awkwardly straddles the line between being a single-player and multiplayer game. There’s no matchmaking for one, so your only option is to play with those on your friends list. And with only the host player making story progress, some may be reticent to invest too much time helping others without furthering their own campaigns.
It’s also sometimes hard to know just just how much time investment a mission is going to demand, and how story-driven they’re going to be. Some can be completed in minutes; even quicker if you make use of the game’s fast travel system. Others can take much longer, especially if they include facing off against a powerful boss. Playing with others is certainly better overall though, especially as Redfall doesn’t always feel particularly well-balance when playing alone.
With each character’s skill tree having some skills and upgrades that generally benefit the whole team, if you don’t play in co-op some of these will feel like a waste, too. Though the skill trees overall don’t seem all that impactful. It’s nice improving the trio of unique skills that each character has, but they’re rarely necessary. And other upgrades, such as extra ammo capacity, are entirely superfluous.
Get stuck into Redfall, then, and you’ll discover a game that’s uneven in most regards. Sometimes the magic that Arkane is known for is clear, and in those moments you’ll love what’s on offer. But when you’re tasked with something mundane and have to run a long distance across numerous empty areas, you’ll just be bored.
However, what really hurts Redfall the most is the dismal shape it’s in. We’ve been playing the PC version via Steam, and have encountered a whole cacophony of issues. Stuttering and sharp dips in the framerate are just the beginning here. Graphical anomalies are pretty much constant, with textures failing to load, shadows flickering and a whole lot more.
We’ve had some pretty serious bugs, too, with one quest requiring us to return to the main menu and reload our save three times to get it to allow us to progress. On top of that, enemy AI is sometimes ludicrous. We’ve had vampires get stuck in loops and cultists seemingly forget we exist mid-battle. Redfall simply feels like it isn’t ready for release.
A day 0 patch landed just before writing this review, and it seems to have improved Redfall quite a bit, but it’s still very rough. And unfortunately, the state of the game really does affect your enjoyment of it. An unstable framerate is one thing, but when combined with brainless AI and other issues, it’s hard to get fully immersed.
After some updates, Redfall may well become a Game Pass must-play, whether you like to play alone or with others. But right now, while you can have fun with it if you grit your teeth and give it some leeway, it’s very hard to wholeheartedly recommend. While some issues here are likely to persist even once the title has been polished up a little, such as the world feeling too empty at times and skill trees being underwhelming, it’s the technical problems that are the stake to Redfall‘s heart.