Redfall was released yesterday, May 2nd, and it quickly set to disappointing fans the world over. With countless issues present in the game being lumped on top of bad press that was being circulated before the title even launched, it’s being seen far and wide as one of the most underwhelming and overhyped launches to hit Xbox (and PC) Game Pass ever.
It’s already being regarded as Arkane’s worst-rated title, and while I personally approached Redfall with an open mind, I couldn’t help but notice countless glaring issues with the game – from the get-go, there are tangible problems that immediately throw a player off.
This is everything I found wrong with Redfall (before I gave up on it).
Oh, We Are Disappointed
Following the news that Redfall would be locked to 30 FPS on consoles and require an always-online connection even when playing solo, some prospective fans began getting cold feet, feeling wary about the product that was about to be delivered.
It turns out that those ominous feelings were well-placed, as ultimately, Redfall isn’t a good game.
For the record, I was playing Redfall on an Xbox Series X console.
Your Enemies Are Irritatingly Dumb
Let’s start with one of the biggest problems – the in-game AI. It’s bottom-of-the-barrel stupid, and even on the toughest difficulty, the enemies in the game fail to present any kind of a challenge, despite being terrifying, bloodthirsty vampires.
Not only that but the ‘minion level’ enemies are all identical, and you’ll notice that, in a group, they’re impossible to tell apart. From them getting stuck in running animations to not noticing when their comrades have been gunned down inches from where they stand, the AI in Redfall is a long way from being polished.
For the most part, the world of Redfall feels too empty, too wide open, and too undetailed. There are plenty of buildings, but the vast majority of them cannot be accessed, and the map itself feels too small overall. I ran almost from side to side, covering several hundred meters, and I found nothing to pique my interest, nor did I come across any enemies roaming the world.
From houses to stores and from factories to schools, there are so many buildings that could have been opened up, even if they were only there to serve as opportunities to scavenge some loot. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and you’ll quickly find that Redfall doesn’t cater well to curious, exploration-minded players.
Movement Is Awkward And Icky
There are painfully few animations in Redfall that feel as though any real thought was put into creating them. When you’re running around the open world of Redfall, you’ll notice how the movement mechanics feel as though they were ripped from a game at least a decade old.
If you sprint, you simply burst into a faster pace -there’s no animation separating the transition. When you jump, you’re merely bouncing ad infinitum, and there’s no weight to your character – you’ll ping-pong around the map until you hit some jarring, invisible wall. There’s a sliding mechanic, but it’s impossibly long, as though you’re moving on wet ice.
Other animations are lacklustre, to say the least. For instance, ‘stealth kills’, which consist of elbowing an enemy in the butt and instantly killing them. There’s an consistency present in vaulting and mantling, too, with some obstacles that seem climbable being totally impassable.
The Visuals Aren’t It
I’ve always had a problem with still-frame cutscenes, and Redfall is full of them. I understand that it makes it easier for multi-language dubbing, but it always feels lazy and ill-thought-out. In Redfall, every cutscene is a series of images, and even conversations with NPCs are nothing more than unskippable, bland dialogue scenes with no real engagement.
There are texture bugs, with certain surfaces failing to render effectively, even on an Xbox Series X. For the frame rate issues, the lock at 30 FPS is noticeable and can be quite jarring. I found myself clipping through scenery more times than I’d care to admit, and effects like smoke, fire, and explosions have a noticeable impact on the running of the game.
As I went into Redfall with that open mind, I was fully aware of the fact that it was an online-only game, but I didn’t fully appreciate how awful that would be until it threw me under the bus. I travelled several hundred meters from my ‘safe house’ and cleared out a location. Then, I ‘paused’ the game, and stepped away for a moment.
Minutes later, I saw from across the room that my character was taking damage, and before I could get back to the console, I was killed by a vampire that had miraculously appeared. I was then reset to the safe house several hundred meters away, losing a little progress. If I want to play solo, I should be able to play solo.
Not only that, but the online-only feature means that Quick Resume, one of the best features of the Xbox Series X|S platform, isn’t functional. I had objective progress and had to step away, turning off the Xbox Series X as I did so. When I returned, my progress had been reset, because the Quick Resume function just didn’t capture it – online only, right?
It’s not entirely fair to just rip on the game without pointing out the positives, right?
Firstly, while the world is relatively empty and there are some issues with the visuals, it isn’t an inherently bad-looking game. There are some really nice environments in Redfall that are a pleasure to look at, and the quintessentially American neighbourhoods surrounded by autumn trees and forest paths are right up my street.
It may be quite generic, but combat isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s easy to find weapons that seem overpowered, and some of them look very interesting. For some reason, you’ll find yourself picking up high-tier weapons almost from the moment you start picking up weapons, which is a weird detachment from the norm but it makes combat entertaining enough.
As a cooperative title, Redfall isn’t terrible. There are some unique characters on offer that are dramatically different from one another, which does encourage differing playstyles to blossom. I assumed the role of Jacob, a stealth-focused character with a spectral Raven used to scout areas and the ability to turn invisible, which suited me just fine.
And I guess the lighting isn’t so bad.
There are some redeeming qualities to Redfall, but ultimately, there really is just too much wrong with it for it to be regarded as something ‘worth buying’. It’s free on Game Pass, so give it a go and make up your own opinions, but I do feel for the people that paid full price to secure their copy.
Maybe I’ll be swayed more in one direction or the other after playing a little more – who knows?