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Redfall's Open-World 'Halloweentown' Was Inspired By Actual New England Locales

The events of "Redfall" unfold in a fictional island town in Massachusetts. The FPS marks Arkane's first foray into offering players an open-world environment to explore. To prevent the options from ballooning out of control, Arkane Austin Studio Director Harvey Smith explained to IGN, the developers divided the available missions between two districts.

The first district encompasses the streets of Redfall, while the second spans the surrounding area with an emphasis on more rural landmarks. As they make their way through each section, players will encounter locations that range from general stores and lobster shacks to a campground and cemetery. "It's not an open world based on the scale of vehicles, it's an open world based on foot," Smith highlighted during a video feature. "Traverse the place. Go into mom-and-pop grocery stores, apartments. Get on the roof of buildings."

The developers took a different approach to creating the setting of "Redfall" than with past Arkane games. They wanted the open world to feel more inhabited and everyday. "Normally we pick something a little wild, like a space station or a steampunk city," Co-Creative Director Ricardo Barre told Venture Beat. "This time we flipped that script. We picked something familiar ... a small town in New England. It's very tied to American folklore around horror stories. It's the location of the Salem witch trials. It's very Halloween."

To accomplish its goal and bring Redfall to life, the team hit the road in search of the elements that define autumn in New England.

The devs travelled throughout New England to create the titular Redfall

Karen Segars, the Arkane Austin art director, shared a few facts with IGN about how the studio created the town of Redfall. During the month of October, the developers set out for New England, making stops in Maine and Massachusetts. Based on her account, the former seemed to contribute the most to the design of the game's "Halloweentown." Segars spotlighted Camden and Acadia National Park, among other Maine locales, as key influences.

This information-gathering excursion aided the developers in putting together landmarks for the "Redfall" districts. "One of the challenges is helping the players know where they are. [We] wanted to have various points of interest around the map so that they can orient themselves from wherever they are." Segars explained. In keeping with the Maine and general New England vibes, the list of "points of interest" includes lighthouses. Segar also pointed to the trio of churches scattered across the map as storytelling standouts thanks to what she called "a juxtaposition of what's supposed to be a calm and safe space."

But just what drew the team out of the office and to the Northeastern United States in the first place?

Why New England captured Arkane's interest

Settlements like Camden, Maine seemed like the perfect medium for combining the mundane with the astonishing. "We love small, well-detailed towns ... the familiarity of corner stores, bars, baseball fields," Smith elucidated in a guide on the Bethesda website. "What if we located something extraordinary there, enhanced by the powerful impact of regular people living their lives? What if you could sift through all that detail, exploring this new place, so much like where you live, and yet so different, and come to feel like the island of Redfall is a real place in Massachusetts?"

Beyond this everyday feel, the developers felt New England possessed the kind of historical legacy and spooky vibes that they sought to convey in "Redfall." "Whereas a lot of states feel like they tear everything down and rebuild it every 10 years, New England has that sense of history," Smith told Digital Trends. "You can't help but walk around and feel the gravity of how many lives have been lived and ended here. Generations of families with hopes and problems, rising and falling, and no one even remembers most of them. It's kind of inherently haunting."

In the same vein, environmental details will provide a glimpse of Redfall's own haunting history. According to Production Designer Ben Horne (via IGN), players can use "thousands and thousands of lines of readables" to piece together what happened in the coastal town before the vampires turned it into a blood-soaked battleground.