Redfall takes Arkane Austin into a vampire-filled open world

Redfall represents a new frontier for the makers of Prey and Dishonored. Shacknews takes a first hands-on look.


There has yet to be a subpar effort from the different development teams at Arkane Studios. While Arkane Lyon is coming off the release of 2021 Shacknews Game of the Year Deathloop, Arkane Austin is about to go in a different direction. It's a direction that involves banding together with friends to ward off an undead invasion, something that appears to be a slight departure from the studio's previous single-player efforts, Prey and Dishonored. Redfall looked like a curiosity when it was first revealed. Shacknews has since gotten a chance to try it out, as well as learn more about the story that players can expect to experience.

Redfall is named after a small town in Massachusetts, which is home to a company called Aevum Therapeutics. Aevum's board is about more than selling pharmaceutical drugs and making boatloads of cash. They're more interested in pursuing immortality and a dangerous batch of experiments has resulted in the board not only unleashing the vampirism within them, but also unlocking incredible powers that have made them vampire gods. These vampire gods have sealed away Redfall, leaving it as a feeding ground for bloodsuckers and a chaotic battlefield for their fanatical worshippers.

The only ones who can save Redfall are four heroes, who have found themselves square in the middle of the vampire invasion. Each of them have their own abilities. Layla has telekinetic powers, Jacob is a sniper who uses a spectral raven to scout his surroundings, Remi has a robotic buddy named Bribon, and Dev is a survivor who's able to craft different weapons.

The main characters' weapons and abilities make Redfall feel similar to a game like Borderlands. In practice, it's a game that feels more focused on mastering whatever weapons are available, as opposed to gathering loot. For this playthrough, I stepped out into the field as Jacob with his sniper rifle and spectral raven. While I occasionally switched weapons out of necessity as I ran out of ammo, I never felt the need to switch away from his sniper rifle. I'm not the type of player to gravitate towards snipers, but I can say that this particular sniper rifle felt exquisite. A full skill tree makes these weapons and gadgets feel even better.

Layla staking a vampire
Vampires can only be taken out with stakes or UV light, both of which can be attached to certain weapons.
Source: Bethesda

Of course, plugging distant targets would only go so far in certain cases. It's great for taking out cultists from a distance, but as for undead targets, remember that they're vampires. While it's possible to stun them by shooting them from afar, ultimately dispatching them requires getting up close and using firearms with stakes attached. While vampires in the Redfall universe are made by science, they can be eliminated through traditional means, whether it be through a Stake Launcher or through weapons that utilize ultraviolet light. However, players should be cautious of how many vampires they're dispatching. Defeat enough of the bloodsuckers and a special variety of vampire called the Rook will be deployed. The Rook is a powerful enemy, one that Bethesda reps on site compared to the Nightmare in Arkane's Prey. It is a creature that should not be trifled with during the early parts of Redfall to the point that if it's unleashed, the best course of action is to lay low.

Storywise, I got a small taste of what Redfall had to offer, but it was an interesting tale nonetheless. As part of the overarching mission to pursue the Hollow Man, this story mission led into his laboratory along the farther end of the city. Upon reaching the area, I was tasked with exploring his old mansion and uncovering the horrors of his experiments. Remnants of his work were evident as certain rooms only contained a mess of discarded items scattered and suspended in mid-air, while the voice of a departed young girl echoed throughout. The girl's tale was a tragic and compelling one and left me interested in hearing what other stories await in the town of Redfall.

The Hollow Man's mansion on the far end of Redfall
The Hollow Man's mansion contains many secrets.
Source: Bethesda

Fortunately, this game doesn't appear to be short on side stories and things to find. The main Firehouse hub is where players can regroup, reload, and begin new missions. It's also possible to explore the open world and find safehouses scattered throughout, which contain extra supplies and occasional side missions. Certain parts of the game will be closed off for down the road when characters are more powerful, though on-site reps noted that because Redfall is an Arkane game, it may be possible to find alternate routes.

By the end of the two-hour demo, I only got a small taste of Redfall. After all, one of the game's big selling points is jumping into this journey with friends. However, from what I experienced, Redfall looks to be a perfectly competent single-player effort, one that I look forward to sinking my teeth into later this year. Look for Redfall to come to PC (via both Steam and the Epic Games Store) and Xbox Series X|S on May 2.

This preview is based on a Steam code provided at an off-site event held by Bethesda.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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