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Arkane's upcoming team-based immersive shooter Redfall is reportedly launching on consoles with a paltry 30 FPS frame rate "quality mode." That's far from ideal.

Carli Velocci, Contributor

April 17, 2023

6 Min Read
Redfall showdown at sunset with four characters facing a creature

Bethesda’s upcoming co-op shooter Redfall has had an uneven press cycle. Never has that been clearer than last week, when it was announced on the game’s Twitter that it would only be launching on the Xbox Series X | S with a 30FPS quality mode that prioritizes a high resolution. It will be getting a 60FPS performance mode at an unconfirmed later date. 

This was met poorly by many in the video game community. The consensus was that a first-person shooter launching without a 60FPS option on console is unacceptable and that the game should be delayed until the mode is ready. And I have to agree, but not because Redfall desperately needs to run at a higher framerate. It’s imperative that Redfall, one of the biggest Xbox launches of the year, releases in a complete state to counteract the botched launches of other recent games like Cyberpunk 2077, Halo Infinite, and Gotham Knights.

Redfall’s marketing hasn’t been what many had hoped. A delay notwithstanding, in a May 2022 IGN interview, creative director Harvey Smith explained that while the game’s campaign would be playable in co-op, story progression would only be tied to the host. So while players will be able to carry over XP and gear, only the party host will be able to check off that they had completed that part of the story. 

Then, the Redfall FAQ was updated following January’s Xbox and Bethesda Developer Direct to say that a constant internet connection was required for single-player. Not everybody has a stable internet connection, especially in rural areas, so not having an offline mode can cut the game off for many people. Then, there are questions as to whether the game will still work if it requires a persistent connection, and what might happen to Redfall years down the line.

Smith said in an interview with Eurogamer that Redfall’s “always online” requirement was so the team could monitor how people were playing and respond to quality issues in a timely manner, but he explained that the decision could be reversed down the road. There hasn’t been news on that front yet.

redfall downtown area at sunet with creepy moon and move theater

All of these are small details in the grand scheme of things. Video games are a lot more than just a smooth framerate or how it uses your internet connection. However, a lot of these are features that should’ve been available at launch. This is especially the case for the 60FPS performance mode. Previously released footage showed the game running in 60FPS, so why would the game launch without it? 

Redfall harkens back to Halo Infinite's launch

The move to release Redfall without 60 FPS draws comparisons to Microsoft’s Halo Infinite launch in 2021. That game had been previously delayed from 2020 into 2021. Despite Xbox looking towards it as a marquee title for its Xbox Series X and S launch, early footage had been received poorly, and according to Bloomberg, had to make a tough call after years of being in “crisis mode” due to technical issues and a lack of a clear direction.

Halo Infinite did manage to launch in Q4 2021 to great acclaim from both critics and fans, but its longevity has suffered due to a slate of missing features that were added months after release. Early Infinite was missing co-op mode, which allows people to play through the campaign together, and the Forge, which gives players tools to build their own maps. The former is a key part of the Halo brand, so the fact Infinite launched without it was a real mark against developer 343 Industries. All of this, plus the lack of a quality battle pass and rewards for multiplayer, has sunk the game’s longevity.

High-end games are getting more expensive, so publishers need to make sure the new $70 price tag is justified. Let’s look at Gotham Knights, another game that only supported up to 30FPS on consoles. Higher framerates are often important for shooters, where you need much faster reaction times, so its omission wasn’t as derided here. However, considering the game was only launching on current-generation consoles and cost $70, it made people question if that much higher price was justified. The game could hit 60FPS at 1080p on PC with older builds, so why couldn’t it do the same on console? Of course, Gotham Knights had performance issues at launch anyway so maybe it didn’t matter.

redfall lighthouse with purple shield

These are all instances where delays could’ve helped at launch. 

Incomplete game launches are frustrating for everyone

Granted, games launching incomplete isn’t anything new. Day one patches are standard and it’s sort of accepted that large releases will have performance problems and bugs. However, players shouldn’t accept that. Publishers should do whatever they can to ensure games are as close to complete as possible at launch—without resorting to extreme measures like crunch, of course. This is how we get Cyberpunk 2077, which is fine to play now but was virtually unplayable on a lot of platforms when it launched in 2020 and didn’t live up to CD Projekt Red’s lofty expectations. It feels important especially for Xbox after Halo Infinite to release games with all promised features.

The problem is that Redfall has already been delayed. It was pushed out of 2022 so that the team at Arkane Austin could ensure players would receive “the best, most polished versions” of the game. It’s just one of many, many large titles that has been delayed since the COVID-19 pandemic forced myriad development challenges, so the fact it got a delay alongside Starfield, another gigantic Xbox release from Bethesda, wasn’t too surprising. And with Xbox missing a tentpole release in the last part of 2022, it needs a couple of exclusives to compete this year. 

But if Redfall is launching without a performance mode, then it’s not the “best” version of itself. And that can hurt Arkane and Xbox going forward.

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About the Author(s)

Carli Velocci

Contributor

Carli Velocci is a freelance technology and video games writer and editor. They've written for Digital Trends, Windows Central, The Verge, and more. You can find them on Twitter @velocciraptor or at carlivelocci.com

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