Today, Microsoft released Redfall, their highly promoted Vampire-based coop first person shooter onto GamePass, Xbox Series X/S and PC. I was able to spend almost two hours this morning with Redfall on GamePass, playing on Xbox Series S, and the following is an account of my first impressions of the game.
Microsoft and Bethesda have been heavily promoting Redfall since last year, and it is set to be one of Xbox’s tentpole exclusive releases of 2023, along with Starfield.
Before the game even gets started you are asked to choose the game difficulty and choose a character from four different choices.
1) Daylight – “Enemies are weaker”
2) Dusk – “Enemies are moderate” (I chose dusk but I might switch to Midnight)
3) Midnight – “Enemies are tough”
4) Eclipse (hardest mode, but you can’t choose it until you beat the game on any lower difficulty)
1) Jacob Boyer – sharpshooter with a raven to mark enemies, a cloak to sneak past enemies and a super ghost sniper rifle
2) Layla Ellison – telekinetic with a psychic lift, psychic umbrella to block enemy shots and a vampire ex-boyfriend summon who can distract and fight enemies
3) Devinder “Dev” Crousley – inventor who has an arc javelin that shocks enemies, a translocator teleportation device that allies can also use, and a blacklight that petrifies vampires and stuns humans.
4) Remedios “Remy” De La Rosa – engineer with C4 charge, and a little robot companion who can distract enemies and create a rally point which heals allies.
For my initial gameplay I chose Dusk difficulty and started with Remy, but I might start over with Dev on Midnight difficulty. The little robot of Remy’s is distracting (to you the player) and the enemies felt a tad too easy. Just something to consider for your own playthough.
The game opens with a cinematic that attempts to explain the overall story and provide a motivation for the gameplay itself. It speaks of a person coming to Redfall because they wanted to help (it’s unclear what situation they wanted to help with) and then they were experimented on by “monsters” and then evil took over. The intro story ends with your chosen character attempting to escape by boat, but of course something goes terribly wrong and no one is able to escape.
Honestly, even after rewatching it to try and make sense out of it, it really doesn’t provide the “hook” it seems to be attempting to provide, and the whole story going into Redfall is rather nonsensical.
Personally, from the very first trailer, I wasn’t excited about the art style of Redfall, as I felt it looked a bit too cartoony, so I’ll base the majority of my comments on the game’s technical proficiency, rather than style.
Graphically, Redfall is largely competent, at least on the Xbox Series S, with no noticeable pop-in or obvious graphical glitches. However I did notice some low resolution textures on car license plates and in other areas that just seem unacceptable in 2023. Not sure if Series X and PC also have this issue.
The beginning of the game features a very cool (in theory) wall of water that has been stopped by vampire magic or something, and the concept is very cool, but the water itself looks a bit odd. This could be due, however, to the overall art style of the game and not a technical issue per se (but it’s hard to tell at times). The movement of the fish flopping around on the ground was a little jerky and their raytraced shadows looked a bit odd as well, but that could be simply due to the animation movement and light sourcing, rather than an actual issue.
The audio in Redfall is good enough from a technical perspective, meaning there isn’t anything about it that stands out in a negative way performance-wise, but nothing really stands out in a good way either. Most of the sound effects and background music are serviceable but forgettable.
The voice acting though is odd…it really doesn’t seem like it comes from a AAA developer and also seems very half hearted. If this game had been released during the first Xbox generation, or the Xbox 360 generation it might not seem as odd, but it certainly seems like a blast from the past…in a bad way. Frankly I expect more from big developers in 2023.
Also…and this is more a captioning issue than an audio issue, but I’ll often see dialogue from a nearby Vampire WAY before I see the actual Vampire, which kills any surprise I might have had and let’s me prepare to deal with it.
All of this AND the dialogue is generally cringy and poorly written, in my opinion. Not everything needs to be The Last of Us, but I feel the bar for major games has definitely risen, and this game is not up to task.
Most of Redfall plays like a standard first person looter shooter, with a few special powers thrown in to try and make things interesting, but largely the action is anticlimactic and kind of boring. None of the special abilities are as interesting as the plasmids in Bioshock, and my character Remy’s little robot companion was just downright distracting most of the time (I even took a shot at it a few times as it surprised me by coming around a corner headed straight at me).
In terms of environmental details, in some games the journals and diaries you find give additional insight into the story and help flesh out the environment and its characters…but not in Redfall. While it attempts to do this, the writing is so bland and underdeveloped that most of the notes you find aren’t interesting and don’t add any meaningful value to the story.
Also, there is something strange about the aiming of your weapon that makes it feel floaty, which led to me either aiming slowly or simply missing shots altogether. Using the shotgun, the floaty aiming isn’t as big of an issue, but using a more precise weapon, such as a pistol or sniper, it can be a bigger issue.
Overall the gameplay is fine and feels like it should have been more developed, but the game is certainly playable.
Most importantly though is the fun factor. Is Redfall fun? Well… It’s a very mixed bag.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to play multiplayer yet, it does seem Redfall has potential to be fun with some friends on a higher difficulty level.
Playing solo the game is fine, but the exploration and story just don’t seem interesting enough to keep you playing for very long.
That being said, keep in mind that I never thought Redfall looked like it was going to be interesting, so (given the state it launched in) it’s not shocking that the actual experience didn’t change my mind.
From my experience with Redfall I think the game is fine, and if you have GamePass there is no reason you shouldn’t download it and try it out, however…
If you don’t have GamePass, Redfall currently retails for $69.99, and that price seems insanely high for the product that was delivered. Clearly Redfall was planned to be a big AAA release, but the actual game we got doesn’t feel like a $70 experience.
From a platform perspective, if you plan on playing on Xbox Series S or X, it’s likely going to be a fine experience, however I’ve read that the experience varies a lot more on PC, so proceed cautiously if you plan to play it that way.
For anyone who wasn’t already interested in playing Redfall, the actual game is very unlikely to change your mind.
FIRST PLAY SCORE