Game Reviews

Redfall Review

Redfall has a simple premise: kill vampires and stop the threat they pose to a small town in Massachusetts. This simplicity runs through every aspect of the game, whether that’s the story or gameplay. Arkane Studios games are typically known for their indirect storytelling approach, their meticulously detailed locales, and generally flexible game and level design, but Redfall foregoes a lot of these elements for a mostly straightforward story, a simple open-world town, and more rigid quests.


That’s not to say Redfall doesn’t have that identifiable Arkane art style, general aesthetic, and overall vibe, but it’s more of an “Arkane-lite” title than something akin to Deathloop or Prey. It’s not without its own mysteries either, but whereas Deathloop left a lot of questions up in the air, players will feel like Redfall checks every box by the end, leaving nothing to the imagination. Prior to launch, the developer described Redfall as something more like Far Cry than Left 4 Dead, and that rings true.

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Redfall is split into two, smaller open-world maps, and it’s worth knowing that players cannot return to the first map once they leave until they start a new game. Each is filled with interesting landmarks, safehouses, side quests, and lore bits, and perhaps the best part is that players will always find something at every turn. Whether exploring the exposed seafloor at the edge of Redfall or delving through a neighborhood, there will be something worthwhile to find. Several locations are locked by keys that players must find and there’s perhaps a little too much rummaging around in the dark looking for these, but it’s a solid open-world design nonetheless.

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Of course, players are going to encounter enemies at every turn. Redfall‘s enemies are largely split into three factions: cultists, Bellwether operators, and vampires. The first two groups can be challenging with their weaponry, but they are largely forgettable. The vampires are not, however. Weapons like Stake launchers can make quick work of a lot of vampires, but they each pose new interesting gameplay challenges, especially when facing off with more than one. Basic vampires are more melee-oriented and much quicker than human enemies; some will drain players’ health if they are too close, others will black out the environment, and another can drag a player across the map, forcing players into close-ranged combat. Not to mention, players will need to stake (or use certain abilities) to finish a vampire for good, and the cost of not doing so in hectic encounters can be dire.

When faced with large groups, players will certainly be fighting for survival. There’s also the Rook in Redfall, an enemy that spawns from an electrical storm whenever players incur the wrath of the watching Vampire Gods. Facing them when fully kitted out with supplies is a challenge, but doing so when low on items is terrifying. That first lightning strike can feel far more claustrophobic than a vampire sneaking up on a player in a house. Redfall is not a horror game and there’s nothing particularly scary in the game, but some encounters are downright chilling. Meanwhile, players will also come face to face with four Vampire Gods in the game, and while they vary in complexity, each one will test a player’s skills.

The gunplay is where Redfall‘s overall gameplay shines. Each weapon can feel distinct, and every shot feels punchy. Players will likely find which weapon type works best for them and stick to them, but going in guns blazing, approaching an encounter tactically, or desperately fighting back hordes of vampires never get old. Combine this combat with the vampires’ AI that is top-notch, and there’s no denying that Redfall is a ton of frenetic fun. There’s no walking away from the game without a smile on one’s face.

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However, the biggest problem with Redfall is that players will end up walking away sooner rather than later, thanks to how shallow its mechanics are, giving players very little to bite into for the long term. There’s nothing wrong with a short game, they can actually be better than games that take dozens of hours, but Redfall’s content has as much depth as its vampires have souls.

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For example, the gunplay may be remarkable, but Redfall‘s weapons are not. Legendaries aside, there are only a handful of weapons in the entire game. Players will loot the same pistol, rifle, stake launcher, sniper, and so on in the opening hours as they do in the final ones; the map shift mid-game doesn’t even change this. Players will find Morrigans, Strigas, Yokai rifles, and so on all through the game, with the only differences being their level, their weapon mods, and their rarity. But the level of a weapon doesn’t change the fact it’s the exact same weapon, not to mention the weapon mods are incredibly basic, and the rarity of the weapon has no real bearing on their quality.

Furthermore, Redfall sees players take on the role of the telekinetic Layla Ellison, cryptozoologist Devinder Crousley, combat engineer Remi de la Rosa, or former Bellwether operator Jacob Boyer. Each character adds a little perspective to the story, and each has their own abilities. Layla can use an umbrella to block shots, for example, while Jacob has a ghostly sniper rifle. Remi can create a healing point with her ultimate, while Devinder can throw a shocking javelin. However, none of them feel entirely unique; the skills of each character are largely the same, if differently flavored across the board. Players spend skill points to upgrade these abilities’ damage, length of effect, and so on, or they can increase ammo capacity for certain weapons and the like. These abilities ultimately add very little to the game.

Redfall Line Up

Layla and Devinder, for example, have movement-based abilities that are incredibly situational. Remi can distract enemies and Jacob can use a raven to track them, but the benefit of doing so is minor. Damage-dealing abilities are the most useful of the lot since the game doesn’t really cater to many approaches other than see vampire, shoot vampire. Multiple times, we found ourselves forgetting we even had abilities in the game. They are useful, but never clutch. And that highlights the game’s biggest fault: Redfall could be stripped bare, and the game would feel the same. The level system, the various skills and abilities, and the looter-shooter elements add so little to the game that engaging with these systems is not as rewarding as it could be.

Many console players were upset to learn that Redfall wouldn’t be 60 FPS at launch, but from a technical standpoint, it is a refined experience. We encountered very few issues throughout our time with the game. Of course, some bugs are to be expected, but the worst we encountered was a slight issue where our ping wouldn’t appear where it was supposed to (on the map and it’s an easy fix) and some occasional stuttering when staking enemies. The polish of Redfall shines through its rare, shaky moments.

Redfall is ultimately a fun experience thanks to the world, the enemies, and the gunplay itself, but as a whole, it’s an incredibly shallow one too. Because of this, some may question whether it’s worth the price tag, but it’s noteworthy that Redfall is launching on Xbox Game Pass. It feels like the game is designed for the service, with an experience that is easily digestible, is full of simple mindless fun, and is easy to move on from.

Redfall launches on May 2 for PC and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant was provided an Xbox Series X code for the purposes of this review.



Redfall is a new single-player and multiplayer first-person shooter from Arkane Studios and Bethesda. The premise sees players battling against vampires, supernatural entities, and other humans in the town of Redfall, Massachusettes.

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