In 2021, Microsoft hosted the first-ever Xbox, and Bethesda games showcase packed with a ton of game announcements. We got our first-ever look at games like “Starfield” and “Stalker 2” while getting glimpses of new titles from both Microsoft first-party and other third-party publishers. The show was great, and Xbox ended with a first look at a new game Arkane Studios was working on, celebrating their acquisition of Zenimax. If you know me, then you know how much I love Arkane, and their name alone was reason enough for me to get excited. What is it going to be, I thought to myself, a sequel to “Dishonored” or “Prey“? It can’t be “Deathloop,” I told myself. The trailer began with new faces we had never seen before, sitting inside a convenience store doing their own thing. Things were in shambles around them, and there seemed to be skeletal remains of something laying there, steaming. As the trailer progressed, or should I say regressed, we got a better look at our heroes and learned how they got into this mess. The long and short of it was these four characters got into a fight with a cult, and then vampires showed up, and there was a ton of shooting and screaming. As they walked out of the store during daylight, the sun got covered in darkness again, and we got the name for the game titled “Redfall” with another line that read “Bite Back.”
Despite it being a CGI trailer, it gave a lot away, and the game was due for the Summer of 2022. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, stated that this game would be an open-world co-op experience that could also be played solo before the trailer was revealed, and that prospect is very exciting, considering this is Arkane. We didn’t get much other than that, but what little we got was enough for me to make this my game of the show. I am a sucker for open-world games and Arkane games, and this game promised to be both of those things in one package. What more can I ask? Speculation was rampant already, with people comparing this to the likes of the “Left 4 Dead” series while others believed it’d be a different kind of experience. The months that followed were silent, with no new details or information that followed. A delay was inevitable. In June 2022, Microsoft held the next Xbox and Bethesda games showcase, and this time, they opened it with “Redfall.” What did we get now? A full presentation features nearly 5 mins of gameplay for “Redfall,” and it looked good, to me at least. In 5 mins, they showcased how the game will look, feel and play, what kind of tone it’ll have, how the open world will work, how weapons, upgrades, and customization will work, and a lot more, all the while dismissing all the “Left 4 Dead” with vampires comparisons it was getting. It was an Arkane game featuring co-op, and it showed. What about the release date, though? Nothing solid, but it is set to arrive sometime in the first six months of 2023. More trailers and gameplay followed that we would discuss but for now, allow me to give you the reasons to be excited about Arkane’s “Redfall.”
Arkane Studios are known for their impressive immersive sims since they released the first “Dishonored,” then its sequel “Prey,” and more recently, “Deathloop.” Each game is better than the last in one way or the other and brings with it its own art style. The thing to note here is none of the games are open-world but linear affairs set across somewhat open areas. That’s a good thing because despite the games being linear, the streets of Dunwall and Karnaca from the “Dishonored” series or the district of Updaam, for instance, from “Deathloop,” always felt like real, lived-in places rich in detail and visual variety. If Arkane can manage to make these areas feel so lived-in and believable, then imagine what they can do with an actual open world. “Redfall” will take place in the quaint fictional and coastal town of Redfall, Massachusetts, where a crazy cult has taken over the town, and they wish to be turned into vampires while the actual vampires have blocked off the sun and pushed the water away, cutting this place away from the world.
The premise itself is interesting, but because it follows the dark fantasy of vampires, it’d be interesting to see what Arkane can do in terms of populating the world and making it feel believable. A few things we can say for certain are that the town of Redfall will be rich with environmental storytelling and will be jam-packed with secrets to find. It will be divided into two halves, and the campaign will take you across town in a linear fashion, after which you’ll be free to explore every nook and cranny of this world and find what lurks within it. The world will also be filled with cultists and different types of vampires for you to dispose of. The sights to see already look promising, dense, and interesting, and I am eager to get my hands on this game, so I can finally visit the town of Redfall and see it with my own eyes.
Co-op in video games is not a big deal, but here it is because Arkane is not known for co-op, and this will be the first time we’ll see their take on co-op. They’ve already confirmed that only the host of the game will make progress, so anyone who joins them will only take away the skills and weapons they gathered in that run and will have to progress the story separately in their own game. A crutch, but at least all the experience gains and weaponry will stay. There will be four playable characters, namely Jacob, Layla, Devinder, and Remi, and each will come with their own skills and powers. For instance, Layla has weird telekinetic powers, while Remi has a robot buddy who’ll assist her. The best part? Each of these characters can be spec’d differently, with a vast skill tree available and a ton of experimentation allowed. So, your Jacob can be vastly different from mine, and yes, we can run around town using the same character.
The difficulty will also be automatically adjusted based on how many people you have in your party; the game supports up to 4-player co-op, by the way, with enemies scaling to your levels and maybe even spawning in increased numbers. It doesn’t look like all enemies will be bullet-spongey, if any, so that’s not something we’ll have to worry about, hopefully. There will be human enemies in the form of cultists, and then there will be a ton of variety when it comes to vampires, each being distinct and attacking you in different ways. The game also has a little bit of a horror vibe to it from the looks of it, which will be interesting to see. Overall, the addition of co-op to a game like this is always welcomed, and it’ll be fun to see how Arkane handles all of that, considering this will be their first time.
Current Gen Only
The Xbox Series X|S came out all the way back in December 2020, and we are finally starting to see games that take full advantage of the hardware two years later. I know it’s not something to celebrate when a lot of players get left behind, especially considering that these consoles are still hard to come by, but as they say, the show must go on, and now is the time for these consoles to get their time to shine in the sun. Being current-gen only, Arkane can leverage a lot more horsepower from the box and deliver a more believable and rich-in-detail world than we have ever seen before. I loved the Void Engine they used for “Dishonored 2” and “Deathloop” as it was able to render incredible visuals that looked like they were ripped out of a painting, but unfortunately, the engine wasn’t a very good tool and wasn’t easy to develop on, or so I’ve heard. So it’s sad to see it go, but it’s being replaced here by Unreal Engine 5, and this could be a big deal for the game. They are still retaining their artistic charm here, to a degree at least, and with the toolsets like Lumen, Nanite, Metahumans, and more that UE5 provides, the lighting, textures, face models, and everything in between are going to look stellar. From the previews we have seen so far, the game looks really good, and while we don’t know what resolution and framerate the game will be aiming for or if it’ll use ray tracing or not, it’ll be one of the first first-party Xbox games to launch on Xbox Series X|S exclusively, and I am confident that it’ll be a “next-gen” experience in some ways at least.
Arkane, Just Arkane
This is just a small and somewhat unnecessary point I wanted to add here as the article is called “reasons to be excited for Redfall,” and my biggest reason to be excited about this game is Arkane Studios. They make really good games, some of the best the industry has seen, and to see them take on multiple new challenges with the inclusion of an open world and co-op just fills me with glee. The levels in their previous games are so thorough and detailed, the stories and lore so interesting and rich, and the gameplay so satisfying that I can’t help but be in awe of how all of that will be bolstered in so many ways and get elevated to new heights with this bigger and more open approach they are going for with “Redfall.” It may seem generic to some, but it’ll be refreshing, thoughtful, creative, and new in ways we can’t imagine and will have to see to understand and believe. Arkane Studios are so underrated, and they deserve all the love and support they can get, and while “Deathloop” definitely got them a ton of mainstream support, here’s hoping that “Redfall” takes them to new heights.
I think I’ve covered pretty much everything we ought to know about this game so far, and you can’t tell me that at least some, if not all, of it, doesn’t excite you. An open-world, first-person, co-op, immersive simulation with vampires and a unique art style, all of which are being made by Arkane Studios, is shaping up to be a recipe for brilliance in my eyes. The craziest part is that we don’t even know anything about the story or the lore for this game, and if you know Arkane, you know they go all out in that department. For a lot of people, “Redfall” may be a generic “Left 4 Dead” clone with vampires in it despite it not even being anything close to that, but for me, “Redfall” is the evolution of Arkane Studios taking their smart game design and “play your way” freedom of choice to their next, meaningful destination. This game will bring advancements for the immersive-sim genre as a whole, and future Arkane games will also benefit from the innovations made here, which means we’ll get games that are even better. I am extremely excited about “Redfall.” There are a ton of games coming out in 2023 that I am looking forward to, like “Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League,” “Starfield,” “Marvel’s Spider-man 2,” “Dead Island 2,” and a lot more, but “Redfall” is at the top of the list for me, and I can’t wait to get a release date for the game and get it in my hands when it comes out sometime in the first six months of 2023 on Xbox Series X|S and PC. The game will also be part of the Xbox Game Pass, as is the tradition with every first-party Microsoft game, which gives you all the more reason to play it. See you in Redfall.