With games like Dishonored and Prey under its belt, Arkane Studios has, by now, firmly established itself as one of the best developers of immersive sims in the industry. The studio has a very distinct style and flavour to all of its outings that set them apart from almost anything else we see these days, and it’s continued to build on those design sensibilities with each of its new games. With the upcoming Redfall, Arkane says it’s still doing a lot of what it’s always been known for, but while it looks like player expression and emergent mechanics will still be at the center of the experience in the upcoming vampire shooter, it’s also clear that it’s going to be probably the most different game Arkane has made to date when compared to its past outings. Here, we’re going to talk about a few things that look like they’re going to set it apart from past titles by the developer.
From Dishonored and its sequels to Prey, Arkane has always been about crafting experiences that are solely single player and meant to be played alone, but Redfall is going down a different route. 2021’s Deathloop introduced some multiplayer mechanics into the proceeding, and Redfall is taking that several steps further. Though the entire game will be playable start to finish as a purely single player experience, it’s been clear from the off that the focus this time around is very much on co-op, and allowing 2-4 players to go through the shooter and its offerings together.
World and level design is something Arkane has built its reputation on over the years, from the city of Dunwall to the city of Karnaca to the space station of Talos I, and each of those has had a very unique personality, to the extent that spending even a short amount of time exploring their environments makes it abundantly clear that they were crafted by the masterminds at Arkane. Redfall, however, is taking a different approach. While past Arkane worlds were non-linear and had plenty of room for exploration (to say the very least), they were far from open world. Redfall, however, is going to be Arkane’s first ever fully open world title. Whether the studio will be able to translate its immaculate design skills into an open world map remains to be seen, but we’re certainly curious to find out.
Redfall is going to be a much more structured experience than past Arkane games, which sort of comes with the territory of being an open world game. The map will be divided into multiple locations, with safe houses spread throughout the titular island town where players will be able to accept missions from friendly NPCs. Meanwhile, your primary objective of taking back Redfall from the vampires will also require you to take down a unique, powerful enemy in control of each of the map’s several locations, which is something else that has been commonly done by open world games.
In fact, interestingly enough, creative director Harvey Smith has even made direct comparisons to other open world games when talking about Redfall’s structure. Speaking to GamesRadar, he said, “Redfall sometimes feels like what you’d get if you blended the Arkane creative values with Far Cry 2 or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. That’s the kind of thing that we have wanted to do for a long time.”
4 PLAYABLE CHARACTERS
This is something that feels more of a natural step forward for Arkane, even if it does feel very different from the studio’s past efforts. From Dishonored 2’s Corvo and Emily to Deathloop’s Colt and Julianna, Arkane titles have allowed players to play as more than one character to varying degrees. With Redfall, that’s being blown further open, with the game having four playable characters. There’s no one central protagonist in the game, and players will be able to go through the entire experience as any one of the four characters- though similar to Dishonored 2, once you’ve decided which one to play as, you’ll be locked in, and won’t be able to swap to a different character mid-game. The focus here, of course, is on co-op, so a party of four playing together can conceivably have each of four characters- or, alternatively, it can have four variants of just one of them.
Where progression in the likes of Dishonored and Prey was focused first and foremost on acquiring new fantastical abilities and then powering them up, Redfall is going to take a much more structured and traditional approach to those systems. Upgrades and abilities will, of course, still be part of the equation thanks to the game’s RPG mechanics, but just as important, if not more so, will be the loot that you find and equip along the way. While it remains to be seen whether Redfall will be an out and out looter shooter, from all the gameplay we’ve seen of it so far, it’s become clear that finding new loot and weapons and then powering up and customizating your equipment will be integral to how you build your character.
MORE OF A SHOOTER
One of the best things about the likes of Prey and Dishonored was how much freedom those games afforded to players in how to approach any given challenge or obstacle. Out and out combat, stealth, creative use of tools and abilities, or something else entirely- players were free to tackle objectives however they pleased. Arkane says that’s still going to be an option in Redfall– though at the same time, the developer has also said that it’s going to be much more of an out-and-out shooter than any of its past games, to the extent that the game even received development assistance from id Software, who, of course, are masters of shooters. We already saw a little bit of this transition into a more action-focused approach in Deathloop, so it should be interesting to see what sort of a balance Redfall strikes.
SETTING AND TONE
Another area where it looks like Redfall is going to differ from past Arkane titles is its setting and the general aesthetic of the experience. Dishonored and its follow ups and Prey all took players to completely fantastic locations, and while Deathloop was relatively more grounded in reality, it also felt like it was cut from the same cloth where its setting was concerned. The titular island town of Redfall is, of course, a fictional location, but unlike past Arkane settings, the town, which is off the coast of Massachusetts, is very much grounded in its reality. There will, of course, be plenty of freaky, supernatural, and sci-fi stuff happening, thanks to Redfall’s central premise (as evidenced by the psychic Nests scattered throughout the game’s world, among other things), but playing in a much more realistic and grounded American town in an Arkane game is going to make for an experience with a very different flavour.
Here’s another area where Redfall is taking cues from more traditional game design practices in the modern era, even if it a somewhat smaller one in the grand scheme of thing. Cosmetic customization is something that the game is apparently going to put plenty of focus on, in its bid to allow players to customize their characters however they see fit. Arkane says there will be no microtransactions, and all cosmetics will be earned through gameplay, all of which is something that the studio’s past titles haven’t ever really concerned themselves with all that much.
Given Redfall’s focus on co-op, its loot mechanics, and its semi-live service model, it’s no surprise that the game is also putting a much greater emphasis on post-launch support than any of the developer’s past games. According to Arkane, in fact, Redfall is going to be its most supported post-launch game ever, even though we don’t yet know exactly what that will entail. Speaking recently with Wccftech, creative director Harvey Smith said, “Redfall will be our most supported game post-launch. We went with a server model, so we can update the game constantly. If we see a lot of people falling from ladders and dying, we can update the ladder code. If we see that nobody is playing this character, we can tweak this character and make them more appealing. We have plans for additional guns, costumes, monsters, characters, and more that we can’t talk about right now.”
Let’s wrap this up with a bit of an obvious one- Redfall is going to be Arkane’s first ever Xbox console exclusive title. Dishonored, Dishonored 2, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and Prey were all multiplatform games, while, thanks to an exclusivity agreement between Sony and Bethesda, Deathloop launched as a PS5 console exclusive (even though it is now available on Xbox as well). However, with Arkane now a fully Microsoft owned studio and under no exclusivity agreements with Sony, Redfall is going to launch as a first party title for Xbox Series X/S and PC only, and is very, very unlikely to ever come to PlayStation at any point in the future.
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