Redfall preview - Where are my friends?

Redfall's Layla stakes a vampire. Sparks fly out of it as it dies.

Redfall's Layla stakes a vampire. Sparks fly out of it as it dies.

I got the chance to play Redfall, the new vampire-hunting FPS from Arkane Austin. I'm fully aware that Arkane's games haven't drawn me in as much as they have others, and it's hard to put my finger on quite why.

It's interesting to see the co-op shooty vibe come about, though. A change like that and the chance to jump in and hunt vampires with a few pals does excite me somewhat.

This preview wasn't about that, though. Keep in mind that this was Arkane trying to prove that despite the move to co-op play, Redfall is still a boutique single-player experience, perfect for fans of its previous work. It's fine. I'll live. Those bloody vampires won't, though.

A first-person shot in Redfal in which a raven regards the player. The words 'she can hear you' are scrawled on a water tower.
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Choose your hunter

There are a few characters to choose from, each with their own special abilities. I chose the most annoying one (probably). He's a vlogger. Any other questions?

No for real though, Devinder Crousley is an influencer in the cryptozoology sphere. He's always quipping to his fans and saying things like, "did we get that on camera?". What a guy. He has some fun abilities, though. Each vampire-slayer can do different things, and Dev's background in the vampire-hunting game means he's developed some pretty snazzy weapons including (checks notes) a big staff that makes all the enemies in the vicinity disintegrate.

Each character does have enough about them to keep things interesting, but I'm gutted that I didn't get to try them out in a squad. Imagine a horde of vampires coming at you and utilising Devinder's technology combined with Layla's telekinetic powers, or getting Remi's robot pal to act as a decoy, drawing the enemy out while Jacob's improved sniping abilities pick them off at a distance.

I'd have loved to try that sort of thing out, but that'll have to wait for the next time I can take a trip to sunny, sunny Redfall Massachusetts.

Players fight enemies in Redfall - a beam of light whizzes past one of them.
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Fighting and slaying

Vampires are harder to kill than normal humans. In classic vampire fashion, you have to stake them through the heart. I really hope you have to invite them into your house for them to be able to enter as well.

The combat is pretty standard shooty bang bang stuff. Your abilities and ultimates give it that Overwatch feel, but you have to be careful to avoid raising the alarm and getting surrounded. It's often better to take on a stealthy approach, heightening tension and leaning a bit more into the horror vibe of Redfall.

The infiltration of a manor with a Vampire Lord inhabiting it needed a bit of work, I thought. At first it felt great - creating a sense of terror and attempting to either avoid or silently destroy the vampires while searching for my objective. However, once things went awry, I soon realised this wasn't exactly a problem. Sure, maybe I'm just a Fantastic Pro Gamer, but when the house full of baddies raised the alarm and came at me, it wasn't too hard to deal with. This made the rest of the mission (and my time with the game) a bit less tense.

The difficulty increases with the number of players in your team, though, so I'm interested to see just how balanced the Redfall’s combat ends up being. Will I need to corral my squad into a tight-knit hunting party, or will we just be able to go in all guns blazing like it's Call of Duty Zombies? We'll find out soon enough.

Layla from Redfall uses her telekinetic powers.
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The world of Redfall

So far, I'm liking the look of Redfall, the town. I was able to complete most of the main mission, infiltrating a mansion and slaying a Vampire Lord, without the need for the ol' video game map markers. The signposting was there, but not to a ridiculous degree.

I've been told there's something in the mansion, which I can see in the distance because it's huge. On the way, I can get distracted by a lair or some vampire-worshipping humans, but I can always find my way back. In the house, any issue I had with solving the puzzle required to unlock the next step was my fault rather than the game's, which is a nice way to position challenge in a stealth section. The mistakes I made were disincentivised, at least before I learned I wasn't in any actual danger, because I didn't want to faff around and get caught.

Sure, you can use the map markers and all the UI bits and pieces that show up on the screen, but I was impressed with how little I needed it, at least in this mission. It'll hopefully be a satisfying task to learn the lay of the land, figure out where're the most dangerous places, map out resource locations in my head, and get me that sweet, sweet vampire-killing loot.

Redfall could be a great co-op experience, even if to me it's only a decent single-player one. Sometimes, though, all you need to make something better is to add some clueless pals with itchy trigger fingers.

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