Geek Review: Redfall

Video game genres have often served as a guiding post for many players hoping to find their next gaming fix, and there are also plenty of studios that have found their niche, refining their work and honing their craft over the years to become key leaders in a particular space. For Arkane Studios, it has been first-person action adventures like the Dishonored series, Prey, and Deathloop that have made indelible marks, but in Redfall, that streak has unfortunately been staked in the heart.

Geek Review: Redfall

A co-op loot shooter published by Bethesda Softworks, Redfall transports players to the town of the same name in order to fight back against the vampires that have taken over, as well as the cultists that have switched teams. There is potential for really interesting takes on the source material of vampires and their followers, and as a setup, it should make for an entertaining affair backed by the genius often displayed by Arkane. But in practice, that is hardly the case.

Advertisement ▼

Instead of the intricate worldbuilding, excellent level design, or providing a playground of tools for players to improvise with when it comes to combat like other Arkane games, Redfall retreats into familiar squad-based shooter fare, plagued by poor AI implementation and, frankly, too many bugs to make the gameplay a smooth enough experience. 

It does kind of make sense as this is hardly within the studio’s wheelhouse, but that is not to say that the developers are not able to venture out of their comfort zone. In this instance, though, it feels like a misstep of giant proportions.

Venturing out from the safety of a base, players will embark on various missions and quests throughout the two maps found in Redfall, and while they may be the biggest play areas that Arkane has created, there is an obvious focus on quantity rather than quality. Areas can often feel lacklustre and barren, especially in the town, and having nothing cool to look at or interact with makes for a boring time outside of combat encounters.

These combat scenarios hardly get the blood pumping too, where killing is the end goal and creative problem-solving becomes more of a distraction rather than a selling point. Vampires in this world may be the villains, but surely there can be more entertaining ways of dealing with these bloodsucking threats?

And when things do get hectic, the enemies in Redfall are not the sharpest stakes in the bunch. Oftentimes, well-coordinated teams can easily take down gangs of enemies without breaking a sweat, with cover seemingly a foreign concept to them. Even the stronger foes like the vampires can be easily dealt with once you have learned their patterns, never throwing something new to catch players off guard. 

Geek Review: Redfall

Stealth should usually be a huge advantage for players, thinning the herd before full-on combat commences, but when you can pick enemies off at a distance while no one else reacts, it really does not make any discernable difference in the end. At least the underbosses and regional bosses offer more of a fight, that is, until you get your hands on the overpowered Stake Launcher, which stacks the odds against the enemy rather than even them.

The balancing issues don’t just stop there, with Redfall also capable of overwhelming players with sheer numbers at random parts, making it hard for teams to understand just what went wrong. There is always a need to be wary when venturing into vampire nests or facing the destructive Rooks, but not for the reasons that one would usually associate with a balanced gameplay experience.

A beacon of hope comes in the form of the four heroes that players can choose from in Redfall, all unique personalities that shine while boasting abilities that provide a healthy synergy in teams. The way their relationship grows, as players work together more, is a great way of fleshing them out without deviating from gameplay, and it helps that there are some really cool moments that are only possible with the right characters.

Geek Review: Redfall

Player agency is most apparent here through the various combat and traversal abilities, such as teleportation or cloaking, and can set things up nicely for a combat encounter to start in your favour. Yet, as mentioned earlier, these moments are often let down by what follows after the guns go off.

Another area where Redfall falters is the nature of its loot and progression. In similar games, players will be accustomed to obtaining loot that gradually gets better and rarer in nature. Yet, in this vampire hunting adventure, there is a generous dose of randomness that nullifies the pleasant surprise of finding something that can be a true game-changer. Although it’s certainly fun to get rare items early on, following that up with a deluge of common items transforms the loot hunt into a slog. 

Such inherent problems are only exacerbated by the general lack of polish that further pushes Redfall from the highs of Arkane’s portfolio and into the dark depths. Crashes are common, items can go missing, and texture pop-in can be too glaring to overlook, and while it’s missing the performance mode of 60FPS, the game can struggle to even maintain 30FPS in its quality mode on the Xbox Series X. Players buying the game might just find it a regrettable decision, and those on Game Pass will struggle to even justify the state of things.

Ultimately, Redfall could have been a great way for Arkane to branch out in its development philosophies and strategies, but the final product leaves too much to be desired. Instead of turning players into willing thralls of exciting combat and teamwork, dropped into an engaging world full of treasures, what we have got is the opposite. Everything fans love about the studio’s work is sorely missing in this nightmare, and that is but a stake through the heart of a risk not worth taking.

Redfall is available now on Xbox Series X.



Deeply flawed with nary a semblance of redeemability, Arkane has plenty more work to do on Redfall if it wishes for the co-op shooter to dominate the night.

  • Gameplay - 6/10
  • Story - 6.5/10
  • Presentation - 4/10
  • Value - 4/10