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Hot Take: Redfall Is Still Fun at 30 fps

Criticism abounds for graphics limitations on consoles, but I’m having a blast playing on my mid-tier gaming PC.

Cole Martin

May 2, 2023

IMPORTANT: This is not a full review of Redfall. The author is six hours into the game at the time of this writing and is playing on a mid-tier gaming PC. These are her initial impressions of the gameplay.

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Originally unveiled at a 2021 E3 showcase following Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax, Redfall– a four-person cooperative looter shooter set on a vampire infested island in Massachusetts– was intended to release in the summer of 2022 and the game was quickly saddled with a laundry list of expectations as the first Xbox exclusive to come to light following the merger. Gaming discourse online began to rumble that there were issues with development last year, and in May of 2022 Arkane Austin announced that Redfall would officially be delayed until 2023. There was no shortage of devlogs, cinematic trailers, and info chunks thrown out to keep players' curiosity satiated as we waited for release. That is up until an announcement was made in mid-April that set the conversation around Redfall on fire.



Redfall is locked at 4K / 30 fps on consoles at launch


Following the launch of the Xbox Series X|S and PS5, there was an unprecedented shortage that made getting the new consoles a challenge. Slower adoption rates for new consoles naturally led to an issue for developers who have—up until this generation—typically had console parity. We’ve seen an increase in games launching with Performance and Quality mode options for players to choose between as a means of bridging this console gap, similar to how PC players could choose their preset settings options from Low to Ultra. Performance modes would often prioritize frame rates over resolution, while Quality focused more on resolution at the risk of frame rate dips. This was an excellent solution when a large portion of the console community was being left behind on last-gen hardware but still wanted access to next-gen titles.


The announcement in April 2022 that Redfall would not be launching with a performance mode and would instead be locked into Quality mode that offered 4K resolution and 30 frames per second on the Xbox Series X along with 1440p resolution and 30 frames per second on a series S became rampant cause for concern among console warriors on forums and social media. On the “Xbox Fans” side of things, they were concerned they had held Redfall up as an exclusive title that was going to change the “Xbox is a weaker console” narrative while Playstation fans in gaming communities saw it as a campy and cartoonish game limited by Bethesda’s acquisition. The 30FPS announcement, unfortunately, threw plenty of gasoline onto those fires, and there were even calls by fans that Redfall should be delayed rather than asking players to wait for a performance mode patch at a later date.



Do higher frame rates make a game more fun, though?


I admit I was thoroughly roped in by the hype train for Redfall. I love all things vampires, I put thousands of hours into The Division as a series and Left 4 Dead hits all my nostalgia buttons. I even liked Back 4 Blood and Second Extinction, despite their janky nature at launch. If there was a target audience for Redfall, it was surely just a photo of me. Try as I may to avoid console wars on the timeline, I inevitably found myself very well aware of how Redfall was going to be perceived. None of the discourse or mockery around the 30-fps fiasco dampened my excitement for this game, however.


On one hand, I chalk this up to my love of indie games who are absolutely not hitting 60 fps on every launch. I’m not going to sit here and type out that frames are not an important metric for gaming, because as an avid Call of Duty player I definitely notice when I drop from 150 frames down to 110. I notice, however, not because the game is more enjoyable at 150 fps but because of the instability of dropping frames. If Redfall was going to be capable of a stable 30 fps, did it really matter as much? I personally decided that for me, it wasn’t going to make a difference. I was ready to hop into the game and take out some creepy vampires with my friends.


Then the leaked reviews started to make their way onto the timeline. Players had set their consoles to a different time zone in order to gain access to the game early, and there were plenty of snarky remarks against the game making their way onto social media. Just a few hours before release, public opinion was being turned that Redfall was “The Worst Game of 2023” and claims of “PS2 era” graphics. The review bombs were swift and following the launch of the Redfall the Xbox and PC storefronts were both flooded with negative ratings. At the time of writing this article, Redfall is currently sitting at 2.1 stars on the Xbox PC app, and there’s no shortage of people complaining the game looks bad on their high-end PC rigs with an Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics card. One specific review event went so far as to give the game one star while stating they had only played the game for 10 minutes “but reviews say its [sic] bad so it probably is.”


This is not a review of Redfall


I’m not reviewing Redfall in this article, despite having been excited for it. I didn’t have access to any early previews, and I waited until launch to get my grubby little mitts on it like everybody else. I spent five hours and 29 minutes in my first Redfall session with friends at launch, and I am happy. I played the game on my PC—a solid ‘mid-tier’ rig with an AMD Ryzen 5800x, 32GB of RAM, and a GeForce RTX 3070TI—to start with and then I moved to the Xbox Series X to try it out there out of sheer curiosity.


To nobody’s surprise, I had a good time. To a little more surprise, my friends also had fun. At least one friend had been a little more hesitant to enjoy the game and was taking the criticisms at face value. It only took launching the game for a few minutes to soften their stance, however. We spent hours running around, reading lore notes and sharing the stories that we were piecing together, taking silly screenshots while sitting on the ride-on toys outside of shops, and just enjoying the experience of staking some baddies.


Online multiplayer experiences often struggle the most at launch. Redfall gave us none of the usual queues and loading problems. Despite having a carousel of friends coming and going, dropping in and out at random as they had time to play, we never struggled with lag and were only hit with two disconnects the entire playtime—both of which were the fault of shaky internet connections and had nothing to do with the game itself. The noise around Redfall’s launch is almost deafening, and I’m disheartened that review bombs and console wars over framerate is likely going to cause players to miss out on an otherwise campy good time with friends. If there’s one thing that Redfall has proven true it’s that the frame counter is not a suitable tool for measuring fun.

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Cole Martin

Cole Martin is a writer and artist living out in the absolute middle of nowhere who has a love for obscure indie games and also Call of Duty. You can find her posting occasionally on Twitter @eternalrhage

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