Redfall is having a rough launch week. It performs poorly on PC, its AI for human enemies is almost nonexistent, it has none of the immaculate level design that Arkane is known for… but you know what it does have? Loot, gear scores, and a hero pass.
I streamed the game for just under two hours on launch day for The Escapist audience, and that’s all I could be bothered to play. I’m actually shocked that the Xbox and Bethesda leadership teams thought this game was in a state that was ready for release, and I’m left scratching my head at who played this game and said — yeah, people will like this! Not to mention, the game was even delayed out of 2022 and still released in a poor state, but the tech issues are the least of its concerns, in my opinion.
In my two hours with the game, I spent most of my time running from one empty location to the next laughing at the game because so many enemies just weren’t reacting to me. We have clips on clips of me just walking behind enemies, not even crouched mind you, and then comically smacking them in the back of the head.
If they’re not walking away from you, they’re running towards you in a straight line waiting to be shot down. I guess they forgot they were also carrying guns, or maybe the game’s awful controls affected the enemies as well and they figured they had a better chance of taking me down by just smacking me with their guns.
None of what makes Arkane unique as a developer is in Redfall. Dishonored 1, 2, Prey, and Deathloop were well known for their wonderful world design, allowing the player to take all sorts of routes, play around with the environment, and skillfully take out their targets or complete objectives.
There’s no such thing in Redfall as the game is stripped back to the basics of shooting an enemy till their red health bar is empty. From two hours of play, it was just run from one bland and flat location to the next, shoot the enemies, collect an item, and then hold a button to return to your “hub” to select the next mission and do it all over again.
Hell, the very first mission of the game has you run across the map to two different downed helicopter locations in the middle of fields that were basically copy-pasted from one another. I hate to use the word “lazy” to describe any game, but I really can’t think of any other word to describe how the first 10 minutes of the game feels.
Redfall has all the elements of the current AAA design trend to be a live-service game, and much like Gotham Knights, it feels like along the way they realized people didn’t want that and then had to throw something together quickly to get it ready for some sort of release. There are gear scores, customizable characters, a hero pass, and ugly menus. On top of this, the missions have little in the way of any story and are basically copy-pasted over and over again.
Redfall is embarrassing for Arkane Austin, and it’s an embarrassing big new IP launch for Xbox. This feels like the type of game you get from an underfunded, overly ambitious, early-access title on Steam. And I’m specifically frustrated here because Arkane has a great track record, and this game represents none of that and all of the worst trends the AAA industry currently has to offer.