“Redfall” played: Bloodless co-op excursion by the Prey developers

An isolated island, occult phenomena and lightning-fast vampires: With this mixture, Arkane Studios (“Deathloop”) want to inspire more subscribers for the Xbox Game Pass. Up to four vampire hunters roam the relatively small open world with all sorts of guns, stake launchers and supernatural abilities. In main and side missions, not only bloodsuckers, but also their allied cultists are waiting for a beating. Instead of vehicles, there is fast travel early on to avoid unnecessarily long walks. At first glance, the areas offer nice opportunities for sneaking and flanking. After the outbreak of a vampire virus, even the sea and other bodies of water have dried up, making craggy riverbeds a good cover.

Story degenerates into a minor matter

It’s just stupid that the technology doesn’t always play along and the weak AI reacts erratically. Sometimes I run past a camp almost unmolested, elsewhere not even the dense bushes offer me enough privacy from a patrol when sneaking. Some of the cultists are apparently so taken by surprise that they contort themselves in wild glitches. In the basement of the clinic there are even some vampires hanging completely motionless in the air to be impaled by me in peace and quiet. Perhaps they are still suffering from the consequences of the human experiments that obviously took place here. The hideous secrets of the Aevum Group and the “Bellwether Security” commissioned by it are at the center of the story at the beginning. The omnipresent “Hollow Man” also seems to be connected to it.

Although Roundhouse Studios (“Prey”, 2006) and Arkane Austin (“Dishonored” series) are storytelling studios behind the game, the story here degenerates into a minor matter. It is mainly told in drawn still images or found documents. The focus is on the action-packed excursions undertaken by the survivors holed up in a fire station. The choice between four customizable characters was not difficult for me. I immediately chose co-ed Layla Ellison for her story connection to biomedical studies. And of course because of their cool abilities like a ghost elevator. He can be pimped up early in the manageable talent tree and even throws teammates up in the air.

Her glowing umbrella is also useful, protecting against attacks and effectively throwing back threatening groups of enemies. Alternatively, there is the sniper Jacob or the paratechnologist “Dev” with his crackling lightning and teleport tricks. It’s a shame I haven’t had a chance to try out these team-friendly perks in co-op. There is no public matchmaking, and a friend was always too busy with work and family commitments when I was free. The implementation is really weak for a co-op after-work carnage. Thanks to the Bethesda accounts, cross-play between PC and console is possible, but only the host keeps the story progress. Guests just take home things like gear and hero levels.

Stake throwers in particular will be useful in the fight against the rapidly advancing blood drinkers. After being weakened by shotguns, assault rifles and the like, a pointed object is always required for the finisher. In itself a nice idea that could make for dynamic fights. But in practice, the level of difficulty that can be set varies. In open terrain, individual night creatures hardly offer any resistance, in narrow alleys or on mountain paths they sometimes overrun the player. In such a crowd, the time-consuming energy injections quickly run out.

There are supplies, for example, in the base. However, a crafting system is missing. Instead, looted loot is invested directly in new weapons, which can at least be customized a little with cosmetic stake variants. Their handling is okay, even if the aim assist helps a little too much when playing with the controller. By the way, the tested PC version suffers from some graphic errors. Treetops flicker and some textures take a long time to reload.

Some vampires with AI quirks can be roasted without resistance.
(Bild: Bethesda)

Here and there there are beautifully lit panoramas between wrecked ships and the supernaturally piled up sea. Otherwise, the often rough slopes, buildings and textures are not exactly reminiscent of a current game. So it’s strange that a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti occasionally struggles with performance at the highest settings. This is especially true in open, foggy scenes with many enemies. In resolutions between 1080p and 4K, it usually remains fluid – but only if Nvidia’s tensor cores help a little with upscaling via DLSS. Incidentally, the RTX cards of the 40 series also support DLSS 3 here.

After all the roar on Microsoft’s showcases, “Redfall” seems rather toothless in actual play. So this is Arkane’s vision for contemporary co-op vampire action? Without any public matchmaking and with this weak graphical performance? After a few hours, neither the thin story nor the mixed mission design motivate me to continue playing. There are a few exciting battles with the unusually fast breed, but even the mediocre “Dead Island 2” seemed more well thought-out and entertaining – and as is well known, it was stuck in development hell for around ten years.

“Redfall” is available for Windows, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox Game Pass. The price for the standard edition is around 70 euros.


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