Redfall (Xbox Series X) Review

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Redfall

By now, you’ve probably seen all the Redfall leaks that came out before launch, stating how broken and terrible the graphics, AI and gameplay are. After launch, the story didn’t change, with plenty of people making even worse claims and Phil Spencer himself apologizing for the state of Redfall.

However, I’ve been playing Redfall for hours on end lately, and I have to say, I came across none of these issues during my entire save file. I am an Xbox girl at heart, so I’ve been exploring the game on Xbox Series X, and I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Diving into Redfall, I was pleasantly surprised with its performance. I know there will be plenty of people disappointed with its 30fps cap on the Xbox Series X, with 60fps being offered for PC. Though that isn’t a deal breaker for me, I can definitely see how in 2023, we are wasting next-gen console capabilities. Launching with 4K 30fps for Series X and 1440p 30fps on Series S seems like a waste. They promised a 60fps performance mode later, but people may be put off already.

Arkane Studios opted for playing it safe with its Xbox variant, but from what I’m hearing from other players (and plenty of reviews), it seems like they didn’t quite hit the mark with Redfall’s PC capabilities either. Since I haven’t played Redfall for PC directly, only spoken to other writers, I can’t speak to its issues with certainty, so that is all I’ll say on the issue. 

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Redfall Storyline

Strangely enough, I tend to ignore the storyline in adventure games, RPGs and especially first-person shooters—let me pew-pew in peace! I tend to hunt for that little hit of dopamine every time I find a collectable or complete a quest, so I usually zoom through the main quest line.

In Redfall, I found that the action really slowed down whenever major plot points were revealed. Whether it was a photographic cutscene, or a seemingly empty building with nothing to loot, if you were about to progress into an important story beat, Redfall would make sure you slowed down and paid attention to it.

The last area was almost empty toward the final boss in the first map, Hollow Man. There were no enemies, nothing to loot, just a long, winding road with eerie sound effects and dialogue. This style choice made sure I was paying attention, even so much as making me remember character names, which I usually fall short of.

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The storyline in Redfall was engaging and, at times, upsetting—I’m a parent, and when kids are involved, it gets me every time—but I can’t say that it was the most unique adventure I’d ever been on. It did enough to keep players moving forward, and that’s all I really need in an FPS. If you’re looking for something a little deeper, you may want to look elsewhere.

There are plenty of characters you meet in Redfall; some you grow with, and some you leave behind. Though each character felt like they were unique in their own right, the story never dives into any of the NPCs more than a quest or two deep, so anything creative is just left on the surface.

There is a unique bond between the four playable characters in Redfall, Dev (who I mained), Jacob, Remi and Layla. Separately, I didn’t care about any of them, though I am a sucker for the brooding Jacob. Together, though, they were entertaining to listen to, at minimum. This all takes place in co-op. More on that later!

Redfall Gameplay & Performance

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With that out of the way, Redfall was an exciting, challenging open-world FPS that brought some excitement back to AAA titles again. Was it perfect? No. Was it broken? Also, no—on the Xbox Series X. The detail that was put into Redfall ended up feeling like little Easter eggs around the map. Collections of peroxide and other health supplies looked incredibly realistic. Notes left at specific locations were interesting, sometimes funny and well thought out. The environment was incredibly detailed, and even though we couldn’t head into EVERY building, nothing ever felt like it was missing.

Small comments from enemies would elude to everyday sayings we know and would add to the atmosphere, “The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue. Huh, that never used to make me hungry.” This eludes to a song we used to sing as a warm-up in theatre “The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips,” which was fitting as the vampire in question was holed up in an old theatre, implying he used to be an actor. Little details like this further the immersion in Redfall and keeps things fresh and fun.

However, small details felt overlooked, especially with the pricing. When buying weapons and items, the cost seemed really unbalanced. A single lockpick and a full weapon would have very similar prices. This doesn’t really matter in terms of how you play the game, but it felt silly to see such detail in dialogue and Easter eggs only to be met with something like this.

Redfall has several difficulties, the easiest of which is called “Daylight.” I jumped into this mode to make the process a little less painful, but let me tell you, the vampires in Redfall are still no joke, even on easy. One or two at a time was fine, even three or four if they were well-spaced out. However, the second a couple of those bloodsuckers hit you at the same time, it was game over…and over…and over.

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I can’t remember the last time I died so much in a game, but I was grateful for it. The lowest difficulty could have been a little easier if it was really meant to make Redfall a little more accessible. That said, each time I died, I approached the mission in a new way, learning new techniques, re-evaluating my weapons, and jumping back in. Going into firefights with human enemies felt easy almost every time, but as soon as I saw “vampire feeding” in the subtitles, I would gear up for battle.

Sometimes, though, the visual cues that let me know enemies were nearby were a bit misleading. Several times I’d set up for a fight and then wander around for 10 minutes, finding absolutely no enemies in the area. I felt like I was going crazy, and I even stopped sneaking around and playing instruments and radios to draw attention to myself, but nothing would come. The anxiety was real.

Redfall seems to be full of issues that are minor annoyances, but they don’t damage the overall gameplay.”

These misused cues also fall into NPCs. A very pregnant Anna will say things like, “I need to get off my feet!” but she is and has been sitting at a desk the whole time. Oftentimes, the audio just doesn’t match up to what is on screen, and it feels like a significant oversight. The same goes for mouth animations while NPCs are talking—things don’t always line up how they should, which can definitely take a player out of the moment.

Redfall seems to be full of issues that are minor annoyances but don’t detract from the overall gameplay. Whether they add up or not really depends on your personal preference. There are many quality-of-life issues. When you take on a quest, the marker is placed on your map but not on your compass. This means that you have to go into the quest and place an additional marker to show you which way to go without having to dive into the map every time to check.

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Weapons don’t tell you what kind of ammo they use until you equip them, and there are many different types. Unless you remember every single weapon, it will take some time to make sure you have what you need to use them. Many of the corpses lying around town are repeats. In the first mission alone, I came across the same woman with the same hair and the same sweater at least twice.

The console controls feel very PC-like when you’re in menus, with a cursor rather than offering the ability to snap between the options. Occasionally the cursor wouldn’t register, or it would be way too sensitive—definitely built for a mouse. And bugs, YES, there are bugs, but I can’t say that any of them really bothered me.

I waited to post this review until I had a little more time to play after the day one patch for Redfall. I wanted to make sure nothing got exponentially worse or better. Not much changed for me. The game crashed twice in all my hours of play, both times in co-op, once before the patch and once after. Sometimes it was a missing bullet to the face, sometimes animations would glitch and trees or guns would go through walls.

I can understand players expecting the best when it comes to their AAA titles, but I can’t say I’ve seen many glitch-free games, and Redfall definitely didn’t display anything game-breaking for me on the Xbox Series X. An occasional missed shot or item I can’t seem to pick up seems pretty standard to me, and though I’d like every game to be perfect, that just isn’t realistic.

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Redfall Menus & Gear

The weapon system in Redfall is fairly straightforward. You have your weapons, Blood Remnant and Vampire God Remnant. Each has increasing levels and varying perks and bonuses. I was pleased with the variation of weapons in the game, with snipers, shotguns, handguns, flares, stake shooters, UV lights, and more being available. I would often fiddle with my loadout, never finding one specific loadout that I felt suited the overall game best. I liked that I would need to switch up my guns when fighting vampires vs cultists and felt that things were always fresh that way.

I made the mistake of falling in love with some guns early in the game, only to realize a few levels later that it didn’t matter if they were gold (Redfall follows the gray-green-blue-purple-gold rating system). I had to move on and find new equipment.

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There isn’t armour in Redfall, but there are other things you can equip, like Remnants, to give you health bonuses and then some. Perks like additional heals when you drop low were life savers. I will emphasize that Redfall is not easy, especially solo, so keeping track of these perks and levels is vital.

You will also find that there are plenty of collectibles in the game. Grave Locks are going to be your most beneficial, with 100 of them in the game. The more you unlock, the better the perks. There are also a ton of weapons but limited storage space, so these will be more like fun little facts along the way. Costumes, skins and stakes are all unlockable as well, so completionists have some things to keep them going.

One important note, however—especially for completionists—is that you CANNOT return to the first map once you move on to the second. This means that any side quests, collectables, or unsearched areas must be completed before moving on to the second map. Some people will be upset, citing the lack of endgame content, but I think it’s more of an incentive to not rush through the game and play at a reasonable pace to take it all in.

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Redfall Combat

There is plenty to fight when it comes to enemies in Redfall, but it all depends on where you’re looking. There were plenty of times I’d run wild in the streets, unable to find anything to kill, and other times when I’d be swarmed when I thought there was only one enemy near. I was also faced with the issue of enemies being completely unbalanced.

Of course, each type of enemy has varying degrees of difficulty, but in Redfall I found that humans were incredibly squishy compared to vampires, and it often caught me off guard. If there were more than two, MAYBE three vampires, I was out of there! Ten human enemies? No problem. Different weapons helped in different fights, but in the long run, it didn’t matter; vampires still reigned supreme.

There are also a variety of ways to fight in Redfall. Fishers, Siphons, and more all had different mechanics. Some had shields, and others sucked the life out of you. Human enemies could come at you with guns or swarm you with bombs filled with more life-sucking gas. bloodbags would explode, and streets would be filled with the same red gas. Everywhere you went, something was out to get you.

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You’ll find yourself with two different maps—Redfall and Burial Point—fighting enemies of different names but still similar. In Redfall, you will come across various human cultists, Bloodbags and plenty of vampires, big and small. In Burial Point, it’s more of the same, but right off the bat, you realize there are more factions involved. You have the Miss Whisper, Bloody Tom and Bellweather folks, plus team vamp, all vying to end your life.

Here is where it gets tricky. You’ll often find yourself about to head into a firefight with one, two, or maybe four different kinds of enemies. The weapons vary greatly, your loadout only allows for three choices at a time, and the pause menu does not stop combat. Trying to swap weapons while a vampire is flying full speed at your face is not ideal.

Stealth was vital for me, though some may choose to go in guns blazing. Eying the place up was key for me to see if I needed a UV weapon to freeze vampires, a Stake Launcher to really end them, or maybe a Flare gun to take everyone down at once—so many things are flammable (including you!). There are snipers, ARs, shotguns and more for the more traditional fighter, but there really is something for everyone.

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Levelling up also helps every step of the way, with an expansive skill tree that will let you spec into pretty much anything you want. I started off feeding my skills points into health because I was nothing more than a squishy bloodbag, but eventually, I wanted my special skills to do more—and faster—and needed more ammo basically all the time. There are options to gain more support (currency for items), too, so as time goes on, you should be in pretty good shape if you have a plan in place.

Redfall combat was challenging and customizable, depending on your playstyle. I took on Dev. I was on board the second I saw lightning damage (Arc Javelin). He also offers teleportation (Translocate) and a really helpful light blast (Blacklight) that freezes vampires in place. Jacob would have been my second choice, with great stealth options (Cloak) and a super creepy bird (Raven). He also can summon a spectral sniper guaranteed to hurt (Heartstopper).

Remi has the ability to distract (Siren) or explode (C4 Charge), with her ultimate being a healing ability (Mobilize). Layla can block damage (Umbrella) or lift players/enemies (Lift), and her ultimate is “Vampire Ex-Boyfriend.” She summons her ex…who is now a vampire…to fight with her. That’s all I have to say about that one.

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There is something for everyone, but I struggled to choose when creating my character. First, I’d love to really be able to customize someone, even if they needed to remain in these roles. I can live without it, but I’d rather not. From there, I didn’t love the combinations of abilities. I want lightning and flight or stealth and healing. I wanted to be able to mix and match or perhaps have a variety to choose from to really play the game the way I wanted.

The only benefit I see to the way the character choices are laid out is simply replayability. Redfall really struggles to find any reason to play through this game more than once outside of trying a new character. Aside from that, the only thing that could pull me back into the game is if my squad was loading in, and even then, once you finish the story, it’s game over. You can only do the same thing so many times without variety.

Redfall Co-op Gameplay

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Redfall co-op gameplay absolutely saves Arkane Studios’ AAA title from becoming monotonous and sometimes downright impossible. Take the characters alone. Yes, Remi, Jacob, Devinder and Layla are filled with quips and commentary, but as soon as you host another player in your lobby, the dialogue expands and often made me laugh. I have seen people saying that the game is impossible to solo, and though that may not be true, having someone there not only made it more interesting and less lonely, it created new mechanics—like reviving; we really did die a lot—to consider.

Redfall’s ‘Host Only’ progression can really put a damper on the experience for those who want to complete their own save file.”

Something to note, however, is that if the host and joining player are the same character, there is no banter to speak of. The game seems to remain silent, and we didn’t see any bonds being formed. When I was Dev, and my partner was Jacob, they would talk, build trust and gain bonuses, but when we were both Dev, it was radio silent the whole time. I get why, but with the game’s comedy, even a “hey, you look familiar” kind of dialogue would make sense!

Yes, Redfall co-op is a lot of fun and, ideally, the best way to play, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its problems. Redfall’s “host only” progression can really put a damper on the experience for those who want to complete their own save file. Host-only progression means that the party leader is the only player who actually advances their story. If you beat a chapter in someone else’s game, you still have to complete it on your own.

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The only scenario I could see this working out as maybe a couple’s game or for a pair/squad who can consider the host’s game “their game.” But for anyone who really appreciates a complete save file, you will have to complete the story individually for each player in your game. I don’t see a lot of people being thrilled with that. For those I play with, it works.

What do you get out of Redfall co-op, though, if you aren’t the host? Joining players get to keep their XP, loot, and achievements. That’s about it. In our case, I brought a level 4 player into my level 10 game. Initially, we tried a level 1 character, and he could barely exist without getting pummeled. Level 4 was…better…slightly. The levels don’t scale, so if the host plays solo and gets ahead of the squad, you’re in for a challenge.

“Basically, if you’re jumping into Redfall co-op, be prepared to do one of two things, have a player sacrifice their personal progression for the good of the team, or play the game over back to back so everyone gets a turn completing the main story.”

Players pick up level-appropriate weapons, but it doesn’t match with the host, who can be miles ahead of you in gear, story and abilities. In our case, my team picked up a Blood Remnant, and though he was able to take it, he hadn’t unlocked the slot yet and just had to hoard it in his inventory.

Basically, if you’re jumping into Redfall co-op, be prepared to do one of two things, have a player sacrifice their personal progression for the good of the team, or play the game back to back so everyone gets a turn completing the main story. Though, this could benefit any players who didn’t collect all their Grave Locks etc., in map one, as you can collect them in another player’s game. Either way, I recommend coming to terms with your choices before you dive in. Redfall co-op can be a ton of fun so long as no one is salty about their personal game.

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Articles claiming Redfall is the worst game of the year have surfaced since the game’s release, some telling players not to pick it up. It is seemingly one of Arkane’s lowest-rated games, and I can understand the outrage about PC performance issues and have yet to make sense of why next-gen consoles aren’t getting next-gen graphics.

That said, I would recommend Redfall to anyone looking to wreak havoc with their buddies, especially if they like a touch of jump scares and the occasional creepy feeding sounds. Though this “first-person shooter, open world, adventure game with nonlinear gameplay” (thanks, Google) was not a flawless masterpiece, Redfall has some excellent mechanics, features and nods to humankind that make it a ton of fun to play solo, but especially with friends.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE
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