Redfall – First Thoughts

We’re a few weeks past launch now, so you’re probably wondering why we’ve labelled this a Redfall first thoughts.

The last few weeks have been an interesting time around these parts, between our coverage of Jedi Survivor and just recently, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. We’ve changed up the way we do things a little bit as we’ve kind of had to. While games like Dead Island 2 and Resident Evil 4 have been really tight before a Day One patch drops, others have been less reliable.

In the case of Jedi and Gollum, both of these games came to us in a really rough state, bad enough that we couldn’t really gauge them on their own individual merits. As it turned out, Jedi Survivor did a lot better for itself once it got some patches under its belt, but even through the scrappiness, the potential was clear for all to see.

While we’re not quite as optimistic about the fortunes of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, we’re quietly cautious about Redfall and don’t think it’s the complete write-off some have labeled it.

We saw all the coverage that landed earlier this month and having now played it for ourselves thanks to the good folks at Bethesda, we hear a lot of the issues people raised. But it would be remiss of us, at this point, to give the game a review, especially with subsequent comments made by the team that they’ve got patches on the way to address those problems.

When those will land is anyone’s guess, I wouldn’t bet against at least one being in time for the Xbox Showcase in June, maybe a little before, so we can certainly wait to pass a final judgment until then.

But I did want to provide some initial impressions now to use as a point of reference when we inevitably get to that point. It’s important for perspective. And what I will say is, through the rough textures, the juddery frame rate, semi-repetitive missions and kinda dull environments, there is fun to be had here.

Redfall definitely benefits from being played by friends, that much is clear. As a single-player game, it will get samey because there’s no real story to sink your teeth into. Sure, there’s vampires and people to save but between that, gathering safe houses and getting more powerful, that’s about it. For a vampire slayer, story is never really going to be a priority. I get that may not sit well as that’s a staple Arkane have become renowned for.

Add to that, the mission structure often is as simple as kill x creatures or escort A to B, and without that story filling in some blanks, the routine and repetitiveness can shine through pretty sharpish.

That being said, if you do have to play alone, it can be a fun game to dip in and out of, doing a few missions at a  time, then going on to play something else. Inbetween the likes of Jedi Survivor or Tears of the Kingdom, sure, this can actually be a blast. But if you try to blitz Redfall in a sitting, you’re going to burn out pretty fast.

It’s an adjustment from what we’re used to from Arkane, especially after the magnificent Deathloop and Dishonored were such deep experiences. And considering how much I loved both of those, for me personally, this won’t be the game I remember them for. But when you get into the game’s combat, you dabble in the level up system, look closely at the art, you do start to feel their fingerprints all over the product.

There’s some of that classic humor hidden in here. There’s the bread and butter focus on stealth, evading enemy detection, and using unique character powers to gain an advantage in tight closed quarter situations.

I guess the more I played Redfall, the more I began to see the vision and respected Arkane for at least trying something different. They could very easily have just made Dishonored 3 or Deathloop 2. Maybe they should have. Maybe they are, but at least they’re not resting on their laurels.

Still, as was the case with most reviewers, things started getting in the way the more I played. The frame rate hiccups became irritating and distracting. Up close, textures looked rough and unfinished. The oversensitivity of the camera made it hard to line up my shots at times and I always felt like I was overturning corners, or was unable to keep an enemy in my direct line of sight.

You always feel like you’re walking on the edge of a knife because enemy shots can come from all sides – snipers are particularly common in Redfall – and your health doesn’t really hold up in the face of it with a few blasts. There’s some strange, unfortunate design choices here, no doubt.

But I actually feel some patch changes, rebalancing and further polish and tweaks can really help create a bit of a comeback story for this one. And I’m already seeing some of that potential having played on Steam, which is definitely the sharper and more refined version of the game at this point.

So, yeah, this was just an outlet to get some initial thoughts across, but I’m really looking forward to revisiting Redfall when those updates come in. Xbox and Bethesda seem determined to get this right, so I’m excited to see how the developers respond to the initial challenges.

Redfall is a GamePass title and that’s not changing anytime soon, so there’ll always be a community base there for Bethesda to tap into. We know there’s future content updates scheduled and I don’t doubt there’ll be more support to come in the weeks ahead. We’ve seen how games like Grounded have changed their fortunes and even Sea of Thieves.

If there’s one thing Xbox has proven over the past two generations, games on their label are long-term experiences rather than throwaway afterthoughts. Redfall can still benefit from that and I truly believe it will.

What’s playable right now is certainly not terrible, and is actually enjoyable at times. So it’s worth checking out if you’re intrigued and fancy something to dip in and out of or you’re looking for a new game to play with friends. It’s the long game I’m excited for, though and what comes next. We’ll be right there when it drops.

Redfall is out now on Steam and Xbox Game Pass

Code kindly provided by Bethesda for review purposes.

Played on Steam and Xbox Series X (based on post day one patch)

Full overview to follow

About the author

Jay Jones

Jay is a massive football fan - Manchester Utd in case you were wondering - and lover of gaming. He'll play just about anything, but his vice is definitely Ultimate Team.
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