In this Redfall Review for both PC & Xbox we’ll take a look at the new co-op FPS developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. How is the story? How long is the game? And more importantly, how is the performance on both PC & Xbox? In this review we’ll answer all those questions and more. If you love our Reviews, check our our others here.
Redfall Review – PC & Xbox
- Genre: FPS, Open World
- Developed by: Arkane Studios
- Published by: Bethesda Softworks
- Release date: May 2nd, 2023
- Platforms: PC (reviewed), Xbox One (reviewed)
- Price at the time of review: USD $69.99
Redfall Review – Story & Setting
Redfall takes place in the town of Redfall where vampires have taken over and killed or enslaved the populace. Supernatural and occult happenings are regular, and survivors of Redfall need your help to not only figure out what is going on, but to also stop the Vampire threat.
Redfall is not a heavily story driven experience, as its open world nature allows you to the freedom to explore and take on other objects besides the main narrative, but nearly everything you do touches upon the main plot in some way. This is because most activities are providing by the same characters that make up the bulk of the main story, and also because even though the game is open world, there are not a huge amount of things to see and do that would keep you interested if they were not in some way advancing the plot.
The story is not the strongest part of Redfall, as most of the characters are uninteresting and dull, and I generally felt the urge to skip all of their dialogues. There are no decisions to be made in this game, it’s not an RPG, so you’re really only listening for listening’s sake, and I was not compelled to do so. Additionally, most of the main story is told through psychic memories which are poorly done, leading to a severe lack of interest in what could have otherwise been a good opportunity to engage with the player.
The story itself is also very derivative in the sense that you’ve likely heard this tale before in some form, and really the reason to play this game at all is almost entirely for the setting and the gameplay.
The setting though is interesting, and could be considered one of the strongest aspects of this Redfall Review. Not only was I getting burnt out on the whole “zombies” concept before playing Redfall, but one can only handle so much blood and gore before they get put off. Luckily Redfall’s take on a similar formula, only with Vampires and more of a “fantasy sci-fi” feel (think Lovecraft) was a breath of fresh air. The certainly didn’t reinvent the wheel with it, but I at least felt compelled to explore and see things that you likely haven’t seen in any game before (and probably won’t after).
Redfall Review – Gameplay
The Gameplay of Redfall is easily its most compelling argument, though thinking back with my time with the game, nothing really stands out as “special” about it. It features a decent open world, with decent exploration and character progression, along with decent gun play that kept me motivated long after other aspects of the game really made me feel like I shouldn’t keep playing.
Redfall has 4 characters to choose from, each with their own unique skills and voiced lines. You’ll improve these skills via their unique skill trees as you level up from defeating monsters and completing quests, improving their functionality, but never really changing their gameplay after the first couple of levels. That is to say, they will more or less pilot the same way all game, which is common these days in gaming, but disappointing nonetheless.
Players will pick up quests at their main base and head out into the open world maps, of which there are two, to complete their objectives while facing cultists and vampires. Cultists are your run of the mill humans with guns and Vampires move quickly, can fly and require a stake through the heart to permanently kill. Unfortunately, you will face these same two enemy types pretty much 95% of the game, with the only real variation being super powerful vampires which show up now and again. This can get repetitive at times, and the AI of these enemies was basic at best, which made matters worse.
Defeating enemies and exploring almost always nets you new weapons though, there are a decent assortment to choose from, and these have your typical rarity system of common, uncommon, rare, epic and legendary that we’ve all come to know and “love” in just about every other shooter out there.
The higher a weapon’s rarity, the more bonuses a weapon has, and typically its damage per shot is also higher than a lower rarity of the same level. As you level up you will find higher level weapons that will eventually out damage the ones you have, so you will have to continuously upgrade them as you progress the game.
There are also slots for Vampire God gifts and Vampire blood which gives you other passive benefits that follow a similar rarity system, and can be quite powerful, though you rarely find them.
All in all I enjoyed the gameplay of Redfall more than I disliked it, and it was good enough to keep me going, if only just. I was, however, happy when the game ended because it was beginning to wear out its welcome, and too much longer and it would have overstayed.
Redfall Review – Audio, Visual & Performance
On the audio front Redfall is a mixed bag. The voice acting of the game is not mind blowing, nor is it terrible, and for a game that doesn’t focus too heavily on the story I thought the voice actors did an ok job. I also enjoyed the sound effects of the game, and the vampire voices and “lovecraftian” vibe of many of the enemies really enhanced my experience facing them. Unfortunately the music was terrible, and there wasn’t really much even present in the game.
Visually Redfall looks like a 10 year old game, which you’d think would make the game run much more smoothly, but unfortunately the opposite is true. I had massive performance issues playing this game on PC on my Corsair One Pro i182 system, which features a 2080ti GPU and an i9-9920X CPU, at 1440p on medium settings. I could not hold a stable framerate over 60 FPS for most of the game and in some places (mostly on the second map), it even dropped to single digits for many seconds at a time.
Some places I would get 80-90 FPS, but then they would spike down suddenly, with this happening over and over. These are similar issues that plagued Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which we pointed out in our Review of that game, but one would think them far less likely given that Redfall doesn’t look impressive visually to begin with.
On both Xbox Series X and S, Redfall is capped at 30 FPS with no “Performance” option available, so you cannot get higher than this currently. A 60 FPS mode is expected later on, but no date has been given on when this will happen.
Having played a bit on Xbox for this Redfall Review, I thought it played more smoothly at a constant 30 FPS than my PC experience, it’s just that it was 30 FPS…which is rough to play an entire play through on. I do have concerns about the second half of the game though, as this is where the worst offenders were on PC, but I did not get that far on Xbox to confirm whether this was the case.
Additionally, the settings for your controller are bare bones in Redfall when playing on Xbox, which made me frustrated as the default settings are quite bad. With no real way to correct this, and 30 FPS being worse as a whole than the performance issues on PC, I continued my playthrough on PC instead of Xbox.
Replayability & Pricepoint
Redfall’s replayability comes from the fact that the game does have 4 player co op, and that once you finish the game you unlock a new difficulty that allows you to bring your character into it and keep all your previously acquired gear and skill points. However, I finished the game in about 13 hours, which I probably could have stretched to 15 hours (on Normal) if I did more of the sidequests for this Redfall Review, but I doubt it would have been much longer than that. You’re likely looking at maybe 20 hours on hard because it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with enemies sometimes.
The thing is I’m just not sure how many people will play the entire campaign a second time unless they have some friends to play with who really love the game, of which I don’t think there will be many. On top of that this game is 69.99 USD on both PC and Xbox, which is a staggering amount considering how short and poorly produced this game is. The only saving grace here is that the game is a Day 1 release on Xbox Gamepass, which means you can play it for much cheaper, and you can also crossplay between PC and Xbox.
Redfall is a strange game because I don’t have many great things to say about it, but for some reason I kept playing and (for the most part) enjoying my time with it anyway. Something about the rather unique setting coupled with character progression that was just good enough, compelled me forward through all the issues that I had anyway. BUT, I got the game for free and I didn’t have to pay money to play it.
I cannot recommend this game to anyone paying full price for it, because it’s an unpolished product that, like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, should have been delayed until it was good enough for release. Between the performance issues, the FPS cap on Xbox, and the general lack of inspired gameplay mechanics that we’ve seen many many times, I’d wait until this game is on a deep deep sale before playing or just downloading it if you already have Gamepass. It’s certainly worth a play, I just wouldn’t spend much money to do so.
You can watch the video review here.
Redfall is an unremarkable game with a weak plot, uninspired gameplay mechanics, and ripe with performance issues on both PC & Xbox, but for some reason I still enjoyed it anyway. If you have Gameplass consider playing it with friends on Day 1, otherwise wait for a steep sale and many performance patches first.