Redfall preview: Stick it to the (vampire) man

VAMPIRES are not as far-fetched as the concept seems.

In the world of the rich and famous, blood, placenta and all sorts of innards are used in the pursuit of youthful beauty.

Vampire shooting action in Redfall.


Vampire shooting action in Redfall.Credit: Arkane

Redfall fights back against the one-percenters and tries to show that they are as human as us all.

Before the game begins, a massive corporation discovers vampirism while looking to the answer to eternal youth.

Like anyone overcome with power, they then tested the formula on themselves and turned into vampire gods.

You and up to three other vampire hunters are given the task of catching them and giving them the stake.

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At the hands-on preview, GLHF got to speak to director Harvey Smith about Redfall’s themes. 

He said: “You can play Deus Ex, Dishonored, or Redfall just as a fun, surface-level action game, but monsters are always metaphors.

“There’s always a thematic, whether you’re aware of it or not. 

“Prior to starting this game, we had just gone through a bunch of years, from Thatcher and Reagan, of tax cuts on the wealthy. 

“That undermines the infrastructure of the entire country, bridges will be falling apart, and people whose kids get insulin will be f**ked, but let’s do it anyway. 

“It just feels predatory, for the tiny elite to have better lives at the expense of everyone else.”

Arkane is unashamed of giving political commentary. Dishonored mimics the real life case of Martin Shkreli.

Deus Ex plays out the increasing problem of government control over society.

He continues: “[For Redfall] we were thinking a lot about just making a fun, spooky action game, but we’ve just gone through the Trump years.

“It felt like we had all this progress with Obama, and then suddenly we start sliding off toward populism and comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. 

“And you have stories like Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos servicing this billionaire class of people with this unicorn company that was going to test blood and make lots of money – it’s all a scam. 

“You have the Sackler family billionaires making their money off the back of the opioid crisis. 

“Our game is not a disease vector zombie game where I can accidentally give you vampirism. It’s elective. 

“The founders of Aevum Therapeutics, they’re the kind of people that were already vampires. 

“They were the 0.1% feeding on everybody else. 

“And so this is obviously a game where you run around and shoot monsters, but underlying it all, there’s clearly some thought about the relationship between the powerful and everyone else.”

Redfall both is and isn’t a game about shooting down vampires. You can play it that way, but there is a very obvious message woven throughout.

The genre it falls into is hard to define. Watching a trailer showcase monster-based four person co-op could leave you feeling it’s another Left 4 Dead.

But despite these few similarities, it couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Like all Arkane games, it features a rich world, characters, and overheard conversations from the many people you pass.

It features an array of inventive weapons such as a stake launcher, a flare gun, and a UV beam.

You are part of the game’s ecosystem, and factions interact and fight around you.

Playing in single-player we were surprised how different the combat was to what we expected. 

Diving in to combat feels the way you’re intended to play. There is stealth, but without a melee takedown it feels worthless.

However, Smith added: “We hope to add that in. If you walk up and hit them, you get a damage bonus.

“But there’s a whole suite of animations we need to do for synced kills and rifle butts to the back of the head and things like that. 

“We got in trouble with the animation schedule. We had to prioritize the schedule and do everything we could to finish. 

“The beautiful thing about this game is, there are ups and downs to it being online. 

“We can collect data on, ‘Oh, people are falling a lot and dying, let’s reduce damage from falling’, or whatever. We can just patch little things in constantly. So we hope to do that.”

The lack of stealth is likely where co-op comes into play. In our session, we found a nice rooftop vantage point that was perfect for our character.

Jacob comes kitted with a high-powered sniper rifle and the ability to cloak. 

When on your own, the town descends on you as soon as you fire the first shot, but I can already see the potential in setting up all four characters at the perfect angles for an ambush. 

While each character has powers specific to them, they only work effectively when used with others.

It is completely doable on your own, but you will need more of your wits about you, and there is a mix of gameplay styles you’ll miss out on.

Overall, Redfall feels different from the majority of Arkane games. It is closer to Far Cry than Dishonored.

However, the four-player co-op has the potential to bring more players, and encourage more social gameplay.

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We were still finding new things on our third playthrough of Dishonored, and we hope at least this will remain in Redfall.

Written by Kirk McKeand and Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.

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