As much as I’d like Arkane Studios to return to the Dishonored series, this talented developer keeps showing that maybe exploring new ventures is better off. Prey and Deathloop support this theory with overwhelming success, and the studio’s next experiment, Redfall, looks just as promising.
I recently sat down with Arkane Austin’s Studio Director, Harvey Smith, and Co-Creative Director, Ricardo Bare, to hear what players can expect from this vampire-slaying experience.
“We’re taking on a huge creative challenge,” says Smith. “We want to stay true to Arkane’s core creative values while taking on an open-world game. It will still have the rich narrative design that accompanies every square inch as we always do.”
The strong focus on storytelling is evident in the first image I see of Redfall, Massachusetts. The seabed surrounding this island has dried up, with fishing boats strewn across the parched sands leading to colonial-style buildings. All this gives the illusion of a thriving society. An eclipsed sun hovers over the city, the result of dark magics cast by vampires to allow them to roam the streets and hunt the living.
Before investigating Redfall, choose your character. Each has unique stories to tell and approaches slaying vampires differently. Layla Ellison is a biomedical engineer who volunteered for a study and woke up with telekinetic powers. Jacob Boyer is a former military sniper who prefers to hunt in the shadows. He can summon a spectral raven. Remi de la Rosa takes on the role of combat engineer and is never alone thanks to her robot friend Bribon. The strangest character is Devinder Crousley, a famous internet personality who traveled to Redfall to prove vampires are real. He brings Tesla-like weapons of his own design to the war.
These characters level up, acquire new skills, and hunt for better weapons. Like all Arkane games, Redfall offers a single-player experience, but for the first time in Arkane, it also supports four-player cooperative play. You and your friends can take all four characters to battle at once if you want to play that way.
“Let’s imagine you and I choose Devinder characters and we team up to play together,” says Bare. “If we’re 10 hours into the game, my devinder will probably be different than yours. I’ve spent my skill points on various things and I’m wearing a firefighter costume.”
In addition to completing missions to advance the story, players must retake the city from the vampires. Redfall is made up of two massive districts, each home to a variety of neighborhoods and player bases.
“We made a conscious decision to use community houses,” adds Smith. “The first is a fire station.”
A special mission allows you to liberate a community and make navigating that area a little safer. Taking territories also brings branching, but Smith and Bare wouldn’t reveal what they are.
In various gameplay clips, set throughout the streets and buildings of the city, I see what all four characters are capable of and how Redfall’s conflicts encourage different approaches, such as: The vampires are not the romantic variety seen in most fiction, but products of science. They hover, quickly lunge at you or out of a hail of fire, and slash at you with their claws. In one clip, I see a tricked pink gun attach itself to a vampire, sparks flying from his body before exploding in a storm of fire and ash. In another, a character cautiously calls out a “Blood Bag,” which is a vampire with huge, throbbing blood sacs on his back. The sacks explode and the smell of blood immediately attracts a vampiric horde.
The visual design of the characters and environments closely resembles Dishonored’s realistic yet subtle comic book aesthetic. The themes are dark, but the world is also colorful at night. All characters can run, jump, sneak, and climb, but each also has unique traversal powers. Layla can build an old-fashioned elevator to reach higher areas. She can also bring a teammate. Devinder has a displacement power.
Arkane has a knack for disrupting genres and delivering innovative experiences. Redfall’s run-and-gun gameplay looks boring at first, but quickly takes on a different vibe as the characters give us a taste of their ferocious abilities.
Redfall won’t strike again in 2022. Arkane is now targeting the first half of next year. Despite the uncertainty in the date, Smith makes it sound like the team is nearing the finish line. “We’re definitely past our start date,” he says, laughing. “I don’t know what to say about that, but we’re moving towards content lockdown. And after that, it’s just months and months of polishing.”
https://www.gameinformer.com/preview/2022/06/15/first-details-on-how-you-take-back-the-city Redfall Preview – First Details On How You Take Back The City