Redfall really is one of the worst games of the year

Redfall - four protagonists all lined up facing forward
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Let’s not mince words, Redfall is absolutely awful. The latest title from Arkane Studios is not only a massive disappointment, but the first black mark in an otherwise flawless body of work in the immersive sim developer’s 20+ year history. It’s available to play now at no extra cost on Xbox Game Pass, but this is one new game that you should absolutely skip as it’s just not worth your time. 

If anyone could make an open-world co-op shooter worthwhile in 2023 then it would be the studio behind Dishonored, Deathloop, and Prey. There’s a lot of potential in the idea for sure, but it’s squandered at every term by unacceptable performance on both Xbox Series X and PC, an uninspired and outdated gameplay loop, and visuals straight out of 2011. 

For every neat touch or interesting idea, there are ten frustrating moments that completely grind Redfall into dust. There’s nothing exciting here, and its best qualities have been done better with the likes of Left 4 Dead and even Back 4 Blood, as Arkane’s latest shares more in common with the ill-fated Evolve than anything with any substance to it. 

Redfall from grace

A player in Redfall expands a purple umbrella shield made of energy

(Image credit: Arkane)

Redfall puts its best foot forward but quickly devolves into generic territory. A team of survivors wash up ashore in a vampire infested town with the ferry they were taking being manipulated by dark magic. Then, you’re tasked with arming yourself with weapons both standard and fantastical, freeing survivors and liberating safehouses which become your bases of operations. From there, you can buy new weapons, launch both main and side missions and stock up on resources between excursions.

It’s nothing new, and you’ve seen this core gameplay loop before in a dozen co-op shooters from Borderlands to the aforementioned Left 4 Dead titles. There’s nothing exciting or innovative here as you plan a route through the rural town of Redfall ready to take on cultists and vampires alike. The former are your standard bullet-sponge goons who typically go down after emptying a fair amount of buckshot or 9mm into their heads and chests, and the latter needs to be staked after being beaten down.

It unearths one of Redfall’s biggest problems for a co-op shooter; the shooting is spongy, loose and unsatisfying. While Arkane doesn’t have the same pedigree for making some of the best FPS games as the likes of Bungie’s Destiny 2, the French developer has included gunplay in its titles for over a decade now. The modern, generic vampire-killing arms (which incorporate shotguns, rifles, snipers, and pistols) feel sluggish and lack the weight that the setting demands. This isn’t the Far Cry series, nor Left 4 Dead, and lags behind almost every contemporary game in its class for over 15 years. 

Serious performance problems

Redfall SGF 2022

(Image credit: Bethesda)

If you can somehow look past the bland and boring gameplay loop then the performance really is the final nail in Redfall’s coffin. If you play on Xbox Series X, you’ll notice the game is stuck at an unsteady 30fps and lacks a performance mode which at this point should be an industry standard. For transparency, three of us on the TRG team played on PC, with machines all far exceeding the minimum system requirements, and all of us had a number of glaring technical issues that spoiled the fun.

It wasn’t uncommon to see the human cultist characters dropping through the terrain or disappearing during firefights. More frequent were the times that my teammates would glide through the map and teleport to different objectives. 

For the record, we were all playing with high-speed wired ethernet connections, and yet Redfall was running like we were trying to get internet access from the spotty Wi-Fi connection of a late night McDonald’s. For a full-price AAA game from one of the most respected developers in the industry, the performance we suffered when playing was absolutely inexcusable.

Redfall isn’t just one of the worst games of the year, it's one of the most heartbreaking and disappointing titles of all time

Worse still are the crashes. Now, Redfall has only been out for around 24 hours or so, but the vampire shooter’s about as stable as cookies dipped in coffee. During our time with the title, crashes were common. One of our teammates was booted out of the game a total of three times in just under an hour, and we all suffered game-ending crashes bringing us back to the lobby. That was the final straw for our experience with a game that’s clearly not ready for prime time.

Redfall is a game that I never wanted to play even from the moment it was revealed. I was afraid that one of the last great bastions of the immersive sim genre would be whittled down to the indignity of pumping out another uninspired open world co-op shooter for the pile. As someone who holds the Dishonored series in incredibly high regard, as well as loving everything the company has done to date, Redfall isn’t just one of the worst games of the year, but also one of the most heartbreaking and disappointing titles of all time.

Don’t bother playing this out of curiosity on Xbox Game Pass, and certainly don’t put any of your hard earned money down on this game. Redfall really is as bad as you’ve heard. 

Aleksha McLoughlin

Aleksha McLoughlin is an experienced hardware writer. She was previously the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming until September 2023. During this time, she looked after buying guides and wrote hardware reviews, news, and features. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of PC Gamer, Trusted Reviews, Dexerto, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.