Is Redfall a bad game or not? Yes, it’s a bad one! Is this the worst Arkane Studios game in the studio’s 23-year history? Yes, it is! Is it possible to play Redfall? Ahem… yes, it is. But there are nuances.

Genre FPS, action/RPG
Windows, Xbox Series X/S
Languages English
Developers Arkane Austin
Publisher Bethesda Softworks

What happened?

Redfall disappointed everyone. The game has very mediocre 56/100 (PC-version) and 59/100 (Xbox-version) ratings from critics and devastating 31/100 from Steam players. The latter can be understood, if you paid $69.99 / €69.99 or even 1399 UAH for the game, you would like to get a quality product.

Redfall even managed to get into the list of Top 100 worst Steam games from the Steam 250 website, where it currently ranks 14th.

The head of Xbox Game Studios, Phil Spencer, was forced to take responsibility for the release of a raw game with a $70 price tag. In addition, he said that the launch of Redfall is “disappointing,” but the studio is committed to continuing to work on the project. The only question is, can Redfall be fixed at all?

Whose guilt is it?

Perhaps someday Jason Schreyer will write the second part of the book Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry, and then we will know all the details of Redfall development and will be able to understand what went wrong and at what stage. How did a studio that has been delivering high-end, intelligent immersive simulations to players for more than 20 years manage to screw up like this?

Of course, we can say that Redfall was developed not by the main French studio Arkane Lyon, but by the clumsy Americans from Arkane Austin. However, Arkane Austin has been around since 2006, and, for example, the teams worked together on the first Dishonored (2012), and the first solo game Arkane Austin released was Prey (2017), which was still liked by the media and players.

It’s also strange to point at the project’s leadership. Redfall was handled by Harvey Smith himself, the lead designer of Deus Ex (2000), Thief: Deadly Shadows (2004), and creative director of Dishonored (2012) and Dishonored 2 (2016).

Maybe Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Media are to blame, as they pitched Microsoft a potentially attractive cooperative project that Arkane Studios didn’t really want to pursue before the sale of Xbox Game Studios in 2021.

Let’s wait for Jason Schreier’s investigation. Postmortems of epic failures are always the most interesting.

What we were promised and what we got

According to trailers and announcements, Redfall looked like a kind of Left 4 Dead in an open world with vampires. A small town, hordes of bloodsuckers, tiny groups of survivors, the constant twilight of the Black Sun, powerful opponents, and even some detective elements.
Well, there is an open world here, but in fact, the game is more like a very slow and empty Dead Island (the first one), from which most of the enemies were removed, replacing the crowd of zombies with single cultists and vampires.

What’s bad about it?

The easiest thing to say is that everything in Redfall is bad, but that would be a lie.
As for me, the main problem of the game is the terrible AI opponents or rather the almost complete absence of any AI. Enemies in Redfall can’t see you at a distance of 2 meters, get stuck on stairs and in each other, poke into walls, freeze in fright, and so on. At best, they just run towards you, right under the bullets.

Vampires that can teleport, turn invisible, and even have energy shields (what?!) which are supposed to pose a significant threat to the player, just hang there or run towards you, trying to get under your skin. It’s just a shooting gallery, and it kills the lion’s share of interest in the game.

Also, enemies will occasionally respawn right in front of you, which further reduces the immersion in the game.

At the end of the game, in the second large location, the enemies seem to start acting more diversely, but this does not save the game. Redfall AI should be thrown in the trash and rewritten from scratch.

Another big problem with Redfall is the uninteresting loot system. There is a real problem with loot, which the authors tried to make similar to Diablo loot. Although purple and gold guns differ slightly from blue, green and gray guns in terms of characteristics, they do not differ as much as guns of different levels. And you can always get even purple weapons at the armory on the base for relatively little money, so there’s little point in looking for caches in the hope of getting a new barrel. As for the design, only the unique golden weapon has a special look, everything else is almost the same. There is some customization, but you change weapons so often that there is no point in customizing them.

Redfall also has very uninteresting and repetitive tasks. To defeat the main bloodsuckers, you must first find the sacred thing of each of them, then find the door to the personal dimension of each. However, to open the door, you need to kill three vampire mini-bosses who “hold” certain neighborhoods. To do this, you first need to complete the tasks of the local checkpoint (uninteresting), and then find and kill the mini-boss. And so on nine times… Yes, the search for sacred items and locations of the main bosses’ hideouts is interesting, but the preparation…

What’s good about it?

In fact, Redfall is not so bad. Some things are even done well. For example, the shooting. My particular favorites are the SMG, the flare gun (and there’s something to light), and the assault rifle. And remember, a vampire can only be killed by a stake or bayonet in the chest.

And there is a good open world here. Two large maps with a lot of interesting places and stories told through the environment. Some locations, especially those associated with vampire bosses, have a unique design and are even pleasantly surprising. For example, a doll’s house, a tunnel between maps, or the labyrinths of an old hospital.

There are also many small personal stories in this game. And these stories of life and death, which can be found in notes and mental echoes throughout Redfall, are perhaps the best thing about the game. They are creepy, touching, and sentimental. But I’m well aware that few people will read documents in a vampire shooter, especially since there are a bit too many of them in the game.

To play or not to play

It all depends on the platform and format. There’s no point in buying Redfall at full price on Steam or any other platform. But you can try the game on Xbox or PC Game Pass, and get it along with 400+ other games for 190 UAH per month – easy.

Maybe not right now, but let Arkane Studios fix at least a few glitches, as Phil Spencer promises. That is, in about a month.

The author of the review played Redfall for about 20 hours and almost finished the storyline until the skull of one of the mini-bosses got stuck in the floor boundaries, making it impossible to complete the game. But I still got my portion of pleasure from the game. Thanks to PC Game Pass.
Yes, Redfall is the worst Arkane Studios game in the studio’s history, but it’s still playable.