Oh boy, here we go. Bloomberg's Jason Schreier has just dropped a report on the inner workings of Redfall, detailing multiple aspects of development that seemed to go south at Arkane Austin - the team behind Bethesda's new Xbox exclusive IP.
Neither Xbox nor Bethesda provided comment for the report, but Schreier spoke to multiple developers at Arkane Austin who provided some interesting anonymous comments about how the whole thing shook out.
Apparently, internal testers at the studio were 'shocked' to see how little the game changed over time, namely between 2021 and its eventual release in May 2023. Here's a chunk of the report that touched on these details:
"In the end, Redfall never coalesced. Several people who played the game in 2021 were shocked to see how little ultimately changed. The final glitchy product felt to some critics like a poor compromise between single-player and multiplayer ideas that failed to please fans of either type of game."
Elsewhere, the report indicates that there were some major staffing issues at Arkane during the development of Redfall - so much so that "by the end of Redfall’s development, roughly 70% of the Austin staff who had worked on Prey would no longer be at the company".
It's said that these sorts of problems in retaining employees were down to the game's lack of direction. Basically, the balance between classic Arkane single-player and the push for multiplayer was never truly figured out, it seems.
"Since Redfall wasn’t yet announced, the studio couldn’t describe its details to prospective employees — a predicament that exacerbated the staffing issues, sources familiar with the process said. Arkane wanted to hire recruits with experience on multiplayer shooters, but the people who applied were by and large looking to work on single-player immersive sims."
Even Microsoft's acquisition mid-development reportedly didn't help proceedings. Bloomberg says that internally, some employees "hoped that Microsoft might cancel Redfall or, better yet, let them reboot it as a single-player game". Ultimately, neither happened - and Redfall shipped the way it did in May 2023.
The full report is well worth a read if you want to check it out, even if it paints a pretty bleak picture for the Xbox title. It remains to be seen how much Redfall will change in the coming weeks and months - all we know for now is that a 60FPS update is planned for sometime in the future.