During Xbox and Bethesda’s E3 Showcase, Redfall would have the honor of being introduced as the show’s “one more thing“. As rumors spread that Arkane’s new IP would be at the show prior to the event, anticipation ran high for many, as the studio has developed a loyal following for their critically-acclaimed games over the years. A bigger surprise than the game being shown was the mixed reaction by some of their most loyal fans, because on the surface, despite a stylish and interesting look, it appeared Arkane might be chasing the current trend of Left 4 Dead clones. In an interview with IGN’s Destin Legarie, Pete Hines presented additional insights which may quell fears of Arkane’s biggest fans. As Pete talked about what the esteemed developers were attempting to do, a refreshed view of the game with exciting possibilities started to build.
The Immersive Sim
Arkane is best known for the critically-acclaimed Dishonored series, however, the particular team developing Redfall most recently developed 2017’s Prey, which has obtained a cult following on it’s own. The studio is known for building immersive sims, a genre which has a strong ardent following, despite how these types of games struggled to perform commercially last generation. Immersive sims attempt to submerge players into game worlds by emphasizing player choice. Generally, the developer uses a heavy systems-based approach where environments and character progression are designed to allow for different play styles, which create a myriad of ways for someone to progress through each situation. Using intellect and strategy can be every bit as important as accuracy or quick twitch skills to progress. With this in mind, the video we watched during the E3 showcase seemed to indicate anything but an immersive sim.
“I love that Arkane has said we know what we’re known for and we know what we do well but we want to try and take that and go bigger and do something a little different,” Pete says during the interview. He makes it clear that despite the game being a shooter, it’s not going to play like other co-op games. The goal for Arkane was to create something that felt like an Arkane game, yet would also feel like a fresh experience at the same time. The following are some of the things we learned during the interview:
- A scientific experiment has gone horribly wrong and created these vampires and cultists that worship them
- There will be open world exploration
- Can play single-player, or up to four player co-op with drop-in or drop-out
- Four characters each come with different skills and abilities
- Weapons aren’t character specific and players can experiment using different weapons with different abilities
- Heavily systems-based with an emphasis on experimentation
- Player skills can combine to do interesting things. Pete gave an example that a telekinetic can use teleport ability to give sniper the higher ground
- Requires strategy – Pete said that players won’t do well if they go in guns blazing and will need a thoughtful approach
- Dynamic, ever-changing gameplay scenarios
- Never feel like you’re playing the same game twice
- Encourages trying different things and never doing the same things over and over
It’s An Arkane Game
Pete would go on to say “as you play it, you start to appreciate all the things that Arkane is known for and how they’ve woven it into a game like this.” One of the key aspects of immersive sims is the dynamic way in which a game can play out depending on the choices you make, and with this added context, it does appear that the sandbox of options will be prevalent. If Arkane can execute and blend this style of gameplay with a co-op shooter effectively, there’s potential for something original to brew. We’ll get to find out for ourselves when Redfall hits Game Pass next summer.