Arkane’s not-Left-4-Dead co-op shooter Redfall is set to arrive in less than three weeks, and the closer it gets, the more concerned I become. The latest bit of bad news arrived earlier today, when developer Arkane Studios revealed that the Xbox versions of the game will be limited to 30 fps at launch.
“Redfall is launching on Xbox consoles with Quality mode only,” the studio said via the official Redfall Twitter account. “60 FPS Performance mode will be added via game update at a later date.”
In practical terms, that means Redfall is trading speed for looks: It will run at 4K, 30 fps on the Xbox Series X, while Series S consoles will handle it at 1440p, 30 fps. There’s no indication as to when the “later date” for the performance mode option will be.
I’ll stipulate that videogames are perfectly playable at 30 fps—if you’ve been around as long as I have, you’ve almost certainly played at least a few of them at even lower framerates. But in this day and age, with the capabilities of modern game consoles being what they are, there’s really no good excuse for a game not to run at least at 60 fps—and especially not an FPS, where framerate has a far more pronounced impact on gameplay than it does in, say, an RTS.
Needless to say, the reaction to the news has not been good. “First impressions are everything,” ExpertPenguin tweeted. “This is not going to be a good first impression for an online, co-op shooter to launch with hard coded latency issues.”
“Nobody wants to play a slideshow shooter on a gamepad in 2023, nobody,” Foxhoundn said. “This is not a souls game where every attack takes 25 seconds, it’s a fast paced game and needs 60fps minimum.”
“Always, always, always, prioritize frame rate. I was never someone who really cared about specs on a game, but as time went one, 60 fps sorta became a standard of what should be a smooth experience,” MobstrMatt tweeted.
And yes, there’s a pretty ugly ratio. Look at the number of replies:
Despite the proximity of Redfall’s release—it’s set to launch on May 1—there are also widespread calls to delay the game until the 60 fps mode can be implemented. But Redfall has already been delayed once: It was originally supposed to arrive in the summer of 2022, but in May of that year it was delayed into the first half of 2023, which was nailed down to May 1 in January. At this point, there’s no indication that Bethesda is considering another delay.
This isn’t the first significant knock against Redfall. In February, an FAQ revealed the game will require a “persistent online connection,” even in singleplayer mode; game director Harvey Smith later said Arkane was “looking into” dropping that requirement, but like the 60 fps mode on consoles, that won’t happen until after the game is out.
Our pre-release impressions of Redfall weren’t great, either. We called it a “sad stumble” from Arkane in our March preview, with “limp combat and a lifeless world,” and very little that appeared interesting in any way. It’s possible that we didn’t see the best it had to offer during our hands-on time with it, but it’s definitely not a great start.
Even the launch window looks a little iffy: Redfall will arrive just a few days after the highly anticipated Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which will likely cast a long shadow, and less than two weeks before The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Arkane hasn’t released the PC system requirements yet, so we have no way of knowing what hardware will be needed or how we can expect it to perform on different loadouts. I think it’s safe to assume that Redfall on PC will be capable of achieving 60 fps, and that it will be the optimal platform to play it on at launch. But these last-minute stumbles have left a hint of justifiable nervousness in the air: Is Redfall being sent out to die?
I’ve reached out to Bethesda to ask about Redfall’s performance on PC, and the possibility of a delay, and will update if I receive a reply.