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The Biggest Differences Between Redfall And Past Arkane Games

Arkane has a reputation for delivering games that adhere to core design pillars. The studio has long been associated with the immersive sim genre, which encourages players to explore different approaches for achieving objectives and making their way through the world. As gameplay systems interact with player powers, emergent outcomes naturally arise. Environmental storytelling and carefully crafted settings can make Arkane titles feel even more enveloping.

Vampire-centric FPS "Redfall" retains some of the traditional Arkane DNA. For example, players can uncover more about the setting and its history through hundreds of in-game readables. The title encourages exploration and the titular town boasts lots of little details to help it feel more atmospheric and alive.

"Redfall" also differs in multiple ways from past Arkane experiences. According to Co-Creative Director Harvey Smith, the Austin team wanted to pivot to a different direction after working on the "Dishonored" series for almost a decade. "It's eight years in the same fiction, the same setting. After a while your brain just goes like 'I need something else' you know," he explained to Wccftech. "We needed a change, we needed to take the immersive and stretch it in some way."

Thanks to this new direction, fans of works like "Dishonored" and "Prey" should prepare for some disorientation when jumping into "Redfall." Some of the deviations from the classic Arkane formula stand out more than others.

An open world with a much larger map

Arkane set out to explore fresh territory for the studio in "Redfall": an open-world map. Instead of set encounters, the open world uses a procedural format. Rather than static details, different scenarios play out each time the player traverses an area. This also extends to the loot.

These elements had a significant impact on the developers' process for encounter design. "That scale meant that it was prohibitive to have designers come through and hand craft each enemy encounter you might come across. That sort of approach could also get very repetitive since ... in open worlds you could be crisscrossing through an area multiple times," the team shared in a Q&A session.

To support the open world, Arkane created its largest map to date. "I think the Talos in 'Prey' was five football fields and the size of 'Redfall' is kind of 'hold my beer' on that one," Art Director Karen Segars highlighted during a dev diary. In fact, as pointed out by Smith during the same segment, the "Prey" map only equates to a single location within one of the two "Redfall" districts.

The shooter doesn't boast quite the same scale that open-world aficionados might be accustomed to. Rather than using vehicles, players navigate the various sections "on foot." Arkane assembled the map with this type of transportation in mind.

Arkane's first co-op experience

Instead of a single protagonist, "Redfall" features four: Devinder, Layla, Remi, and Jacob. Arkane had to adjust its storytelling method to accommodate this, shifting the focus from the characters to the world and its primary antagonists, the vampires. "The multiplayer has changed everything," Smith told IGN. "It's changed the kinds of missions we can do. It's changed what kind of physics we can do."

"Redfall" tells the same story no matter which protagonist players pick, though this choice influences the dialogue. The characters respond differently to one another. To add to the co-op experience, the team also implemented a trust system. As the characters interact and forge bonds, they unlock new conversation options and gameplay buffs. "If you play solo, it's a lot spookier, it's a lot more atmospheric, it's more slow-paced. As soon as you add another person, you're not really afraid anymore because you have a friend there, but there's got to be something to make up for that," said Smith.

Both the single-player and co-op aspects come with some caveats that players don't need to worry about in earlier Arkane titles. Once they've made their decision, "Redfall" locks the player into that character for the whole campaign. While in co-op, multiple players can choose to play the same character. Additionally, only the person who hosts a co-op session retains their progress. When the other players load back into their solo campaigns, they have to replay everything.

A setting more grounded in reality

Arkane's most notable previous offerings all feature fantastical settings. The "Dishonored" series transports players to steampunk locales where technology meets the uncanny. "Prey" presents an alternate future that sees its lead taking on shapeshifting aliens aboard a space station. For "Redfall," the developers decided to go with a setting a bit more rooted in the real world. "When we started on Redfall, we wanted to tackle a familiar location for once," Smith told GamesRadar+.

To create the spooky "Halloweenteen" that is Redfall, Massachusetts, Arkane drew on actual New England locales. As they retake the various districts, players will encounter scenes that would feel right at home on a road trip spanning the United States' northeastern coast. Trees crowned with orange, red, and gold leaves grace many of the views. Players can visit a ferry, lighthouses, fairgrounds, a movie theater, and various seafood joints – a list that barely scratches the surface of the locations on offer. Meanwhile, the presence of aspects like the vampires, their followers, and the persistent eclipse add an otherworldly quality more consistent with other games from the studio.

Stealth takes a backseat to looting and shooting

The primary gameplay loop in "Redfall" centers on taking back neighborhoods, clearing out nests, and completing side quests given by survivors. The title leans much more heavily into looting and shooting. Players can take different approaches to missions, however, most situations devolve into straightforward firefights. While speaking to GamesRadar+, Co-Creative Director Ricardo Bare revealed that Arkane even consulted "Doom" developer id Software on the gunplay.

Due to the focus on frenetic combat, stealth plays a much smaller role in "Redfall." The assassination mechanic of "Dishonored" and "Deathloop" doesn't make an appearance. Sneaking up on a target does dish out more damage if they remain unaware of your presence, making silencers useful. Sometimes, this means you can one-shot a foe, but it's not consistent.

This doesn't mean stealth doesn't have its uses. Players can use stealth to get around potentially deadly fights when low on health or resources. It's also handy for moving into a more advantageous position or setting up distractions. This aspect will feel familiar to long-time Arkane fans, as it capitalizes on the same type of AI behavior found in past entries. "Our AI systems being sight-driven, sound-driven, coming to search for you, not giving up, and not having perfect information is very important to us," Smith emphasized to IGN.