There is a dissonance in shooting a vampire in the head with a sniper rifle. Open-world role-playing shooters like Redfall are a dime a dozen at the moment, so hiding on the roof with a sniper rifle in search of a viewpoint is as natural for me as spending skill points following a glowing in-game path to my goal or pausing the game to vacuum a whole pack of Tannock cupcakes.
The vampires contained in the newest Arkane title are one of the most striking things about Redfall, and they work a little differently. They are faster than you, stronger than you and can break the logic of the game in a way that at first it may seem unfair. When a vampire learns of your presence, you may have trouble as they move around the world to attack you from behind, teleport into your blind spot, or even just scream and shout until all enemies within 500 meters join the battle. Not everything is so hopeless: As a player, you always feel smarter, waging a guerrilla war against a superior enemy, using stealth, powerful abilities of your character and even, sometimes, a large-caliber sniper rifle.
This makes every encounter with a vampire in Redfall instantly exciting. You won’t just shoot vampires: a few people have joined a vampire cult, no doubt influenced by the fact that many people who don’t subscribe are drained of blood and hung out to dry. These flies are easy to kill. One blow to the head from an assault rifle or even a shot to the body from a rocket launcher will put them on the ground, like turning off a switch, and they will die just like the thugs you have killed in dozens of different games.
Vampires — I won’t go on about them, but they are really very well made — even die differently: deal enough damage and they will enter a fragile state, stunned and needing you to hit them with a stake, electricity or even fire. to get the job done. Redfall is generous here: if you’re roaming the area with a shotgun, you have a stake on the barrel that you can hit them with, but the aforementioned flare gun, explosive barrel, or even a long—range missile launcher – incredibly powerful, but hard to find ammunition for-will do the job with a minimum of fuss.
Shooting is a real surprise. Up to this point, I had struggled with shooting in several different Arkane games, completely avoided combat in Dishonored, and reluctantly agreed that I would have to make a lot of kills in Deathloop, despite the soft shooting. It was always worth it, because the worlds and systems that Arkane creates are always excellent. Redfall’s shooting, meanwhile, is not just tolerable, but actually pretty good, with quick handling of weapons and powerful guns that elevate him far above his stable mates.
Moreover, the same DNA of Arkane, responsible for the incredible worlds in which the stories and characters of the developers live, and the same DNA that turned Prey from an ordinary space station into a place where it was warm and lived, despite the death of all its inhabitants? He’s still here, and he’s turning Redfall from a simple loot—and-flight shooter into a mystery that you’ll be desperate to unravel, even if your only real way of interacting with the universe around you is gratuitous ultra-violence.
The game is not an immersive simulator, and in fact there is a feeling that Redfall is Arkane’s attempt to attract a wider audience. In addition to modern mechanics, such as a collection of loot-able weapons with various characteristics, crafting items, and a mini-map full of icons for exploration, shooting, or vacuuming, there is a strong multiplayer mode.
In the game, this is the smallest Arkane game Arkane has ever made. Otherwise, everything is very similar to Arkane, although with a taste of Austin’s Prey, and not with the sci-fi style of Isle of Blackreef from Deathloop. A few locations seem like short stories, tightly packed environments that tell a story, as long as you’re willing to stop filming long enough to focus. However, the real story in the piece I was playing seemed flat. Neither in the cut scenes, nor in the written notes scattered all over the place, nor in the words of the characters themselves, there was the same mystery. It seems to still exist and it all seems cohesive, but at this stage politics and gradual decline as you transform from a small town to a vampire city are hinted at but not shown.
However, some minor fluctuations should be expected. Arkane is trying to create a game that will suit everyone: Speaking before the game, Arkane Studio director in Austin Harvey Smith said that Redfall is designed to work both in the single-player “classic” Arkane game and in a four-player game. A collaborative single-player shooter that could successfully coexist with games such as Back 4 Blood, The Anacrusis and even Vermintide 2. However, these aren’t exactly suitable touchstones, as they’re both mission-based rather than open-world Redfall, and mostly often unplayable with a single player, but here solo players get an open-world shooter with some oddly detailed environments, something most people will be happy enough with. to experiment.
However, playing together seems like a move: the character I played, Devinder “Virgo” Krausley, had a displacement beacon, which was essentially a throwable teleport. I could climb onto the roof, into closed buildings by throwing it through a window, and even use it for vampire mobs. I never found a weapon that would allow me to really use the vantage points I could find, while another character, Jacob, was a sniper with an undead vampire eye implanted in his head. Considering the rest of the Virgo toys, many of which work best at close range, I’d like to dig into the cooperative mode to see what synergies are emerging.
After my time with Redfall, I think trying to balance multiplayer and single player might work. The Redfall environment probably works as a storytelling space when you’re playing alone or in pairs, but I think if you’re playing as a vampire-killing quad, you probably won’t care about the storytelling, relying on enemies instead. from which it is interesting to fight, and from weapons from which it is pleasant to shoot. We haven’t been able to play co-op in practice, but the mechanical side of the game seems to really hold up.
Then Redfall. This is Arkane, but not as we know it. I hope he finds his audience.
Redfall is released on May 2, 2023.