Microsoft and Bethesda’s E3 showcase was hurling along at a blistering pace with 32 games in total. The show included glimpses of upcoming titles like Halo Infinite and Starfield, while spotlighting smaller titles like Party Animals. Following a lengthy Forza Horizon 5 segment, Phil Spencer summarized the event with a classic “one more thing.”
We sat up to learn more about Arkane’s new game but struggled with a hollow unenlightened feeling after the reveal. In the Redfall trailer, there was no sense of innovation, and the trailer itself made us question the kind of game being sold.
Any E3 showcase is synonymous with booming “world premieres” and the witty “one more thing.” As the Xbox showcase came to a close, fans were eagerly anticipating those three words, because surely, Xbox wouldn’t end with Forza. As with God of War’s announcement and Watch Dog’s reveal, “one more thing” is a big deal characterized by standing ovations and jaw-dropping moments.
While God of War had the power of an established franchise, Watch Dogs had to prove its worth as a new IP. By promising innovative mechanics and showing off stylish gameplay, it delivered just that. Despite Watch Dog’s lackluster launch, the reveal accomplished its job as a “one more thing.” The Watch Dog trailer managed to establish the new IP as one worth watching, but Redfall failed to accomplish the same task, ultimately demonstrating an unexciting trailer.
Considering the minds behind Redfall, Arkane Studios, this was all the more disappointing. Arkane created the beloved Dishonored, which incorporated a fantastic approach to stealth as well as a novel player choice consequence system. As such, it stood out in an industry awash with stealth titles. Therefore, the most anticipated E3 showcase of 2021 ended with a lackluster reveal from a well-established studio.
As a quick public service announcement, developers can only reveal so much at the outset of their work, and the vision may change as the project progresses. Despite the fact that Redfall could be a spectacular game, it wasn’t worthy of Microsoft’s headline reveal. Without further ado, let’s jump into the vampire-infested trailer and see just how it was underwhelming.
In the beginning, four individuals are sitting in a trashed convenience store drinking slushies. Among glass shards and bullet casings, a skeleton lies deteriorating on the dirty floor. This apocalyptic scene does not bother the four protagonists as they go about their business unfazed. One of them is levitating a book with her gaseous powers while another one keeps watch alongside a friendly crow. Two other individuals are speaking to nonsensible creatures like the skeleton previously mentioned and a barely functional robot.
The trailer quickly reverses time to reveal how these strange personalities ended up in such a situation. In what seems to be out of left field, they were fighting hordes of vampires and red masked cultists. In the midst of such a battle, the quartet illustrates a wide range of abilities. One of our protagonists is able to turn invisible and use a sniper rifle with ease. As a result of mysterious power, another character appears in the sky to line up a headshot. Compared to the first two, the remaining characters aren’t as impressive, since one is simply controlling a robot and the other is using a harpoon gun.
They work together to fight legions of vampire grunts and a few tougher enemies that can only be categorized as bosses. The most interesting one is a woman with bright red hair and a long black dress. At one point she tries to impale the sniper with an animated harpoon. The fight was action-packed but failed to illustrate specifics about the game itself, leaving us underwhelmed and confused.
Redfall’s reveal failed miserably to identify the type of game it’s trying to be. The concept of four characters fighting an onslaught of enemies is reminiscent of Left 4 Dead, a survival-based co-op game. At the same time, the description describes Redfall as an open-world experience essentially muddying the genre-defining waters. It could be a co-op shooter, an open-world story game, a live service game, or a turn-based tactics game for all we know.
As a result of this unclear trailer, the discussion is less about how cool the game looks and more about ill-informed theories. One theory suggests that Redfall will feature various bosses and wave-based gameplay. Taking Redfall at face value, this is what it looks like, which isn’t exciting. These types of games can easily grow repetitive and fall into a large crowd of similar shooters. Of course, Redfall could become any type of game, leaving us to make inferences such as this.
The CGI trailer doesn’t do much to aid in clarification. Not only is the game’s genre a mystery so is its art style and graphical engine. Essentially, CGI trailers are never reminiscent of the actual game and do very little to inform viewers and potential customers. If it informed viewers on anything, it would be the uninspired move set of the main cast.
Arkane Studios has never been one to create unoriginal games with the diverse power set of Dishonored and the upcoming time shenanigans of Deathloop. That’s why it was so surprising to see such a basic-looking game from the studio. Each of the characters has a unique identity but their powers don’t set them apart from any other games. There is always a sniper, a gadget-focused character, and a magic-based character, especially in team-based shooters. It seemed like nothing new or innovative was going on except for the umbrella that sent a vampire flying off a rooftop. That deserves some credit at least.
Lastly, the humor and banter between the characters seemed a bit off. The crow character was called “Edgar Allen Bro”, which deprived chuckles and enhanced eye-rolling. An equally overdone joke showed up in another character’s comment, “This reminds me of…”, before launching into a story that didn’t fit the time or place. This is another example of a script that’s trying too hard to be funny.
Redfall may have potential, but the first trailer offered us little insight into the game. As of yet, we only have theories and warning signs, such as the generic character powers and the lazy humor to go on. Due to Arkane Studios’ quality and Microsoft’s backing, Redfall has promise despite the minute details in the trailer. Honestly, it’s difficult to pinpoint the potential good until a more detailed, in-engine trailer graces our screens. Until then, we’re left to question why Microsoft left the stage with such a confusing and uninspired “one more thing.”