From its reveal, Redfall had me curious about what unique elements it brought to the table. On the surface, it’s a multiplayer shooter where you fight against vampires. Now, I know that doesn’t sound all that exciting, but developer Akrane Austin really knows how to break this down to deliver a compelling narrative with deep RPG systems.
I was able to play around 2 hours of Redfall during a preview event where I experienced the open-world town of Redfall, Massachusetts, and a story mission. The first act of business is choosing one of the four characters. Each has a unique ability that aims to fit your playstyle, but they are all capable of managing the vampire threat. I spent most of my time playing as Jacob Boyer, who has access to a Cloak, a freakin psychic Raven. So yea, it was an easy pick on my part.
Heading out into Redfall was pretty overwhelming. The game points you in a direction for the current mission, but getting there is tough when you want to explore all the various areas the game world offers. Aside from vampires roaming the streets, some cultists turn hostile when they see you.
However, I didn’t find it smart to take on every group of baddies I saw. Sometimes, taking a different route was better based on the ammunition I had left and my health reserves. There’s a decent balance of challenge here, as running and gunning usually got me killed, but you’re free to take on encounters as you see fit.
Vampires require a different approach than simply shooting them. Once they’ve staggard, you need to stake them in the heart, but not all guns have this attachment. So it became essential to plan out the loadout around this system. You can equip three weapons at a time, each having a few customization options. I don’t think I experimented enough to find a favorite weapon, but they each packed a punch.
Character abilities are also needed to get through challenging encounters. Each character brings their own skills, which could benefit in a multiplayer setting. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play the cooperative mode, but I imagine teamwork goes a long way.
What I enjoyed most of all was the dedication to crafting a narrative within all of this chaos. I mean, it’s vampires, this has been done before, but the developer has crafted a grounded story that has you caring about the characters and their goals within a short time. It borrows the tone of a 90s action movie such as Gremlins or The Lost Boys. The writing is overly dramatic for all the characters, but it makes it fun to hear how they react to specific story beats.
The open-world nature of the experience makes you want to explore off the beaten path, which led to unique events during my time with the game—breaking into a house and hearing an alarm go off cause the surrounding enemies to swarm in, giving you seconds to prepare for an attack. Other interesting aspects have you discover landmarks that allow you to spawn near in case you die. This has me excited to explore more and see exactly how many unique events exist in the world.
Redfall may not stand out being pitched as a vampire-hunting action game. However, it’s a sum of many parts brought to players by Arkane Austin’s approach to game design. The character customization and action elements are some of the best I’ve seen in the genre, and the strategic approach to vampire hunting makes the encounters all the more thrilling.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters grow throughout the campaign and how the multiplayer elements affect general enjoyment.
Still, even playing in single-player, Redfall is bloody exciting.
Redfall is coming to Xbox Series X and PC on May 2, 2023.
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