It wasn’t too long ago that people seemed to think that Microsoft and Xbox could be in for a banner year, thanks to the surprise hit that was Hi-Fi Rush. Finally, there was a bit of a reason to be excited about Xbox’s future beyond “hey, Game Pass is good value, huh?” It hasn’t even been a week, though, and it already feels like Xbox have decided to shoot themselves in their own kneecaps, killing any hype some players might have had for Redfall by announcing that it’s an always online game.
Redfall, the open world FPS game about reclaiming an American suburb from the clutches of some evil vampires, supports both solo and co-op play. However, if players are hoping to play the game solo, they’ll still need to ensure that they’re playing online the entire time, otherwise they can’t play the game at all. It’s beyond a joke, but we really shouldn’t be surprised given that this is the direction that Xbox have been positioning themselves in for a long time.
This always online idea of Xbox’s has been around since before the launch of the Xbox One back in 2013, and players hated it so much then that they kicked up a huge fuss, forcing Xbox to make a few changes ahead of the console’s launch. Still, with the success of Game Pass, the DRM problems that practically turned the Xbox into a doorstop if it’s offline, and the decision to make a console like the Xbox Series S, which only allows for digital games, it feels like Xbox have slowly been pushing towards that always online goal anyway. Redfall is just those chickens coming home to roost.
This news about Redfall seems to be coming at a time when the prospective community for the game isn’t quite sure if they’re sold on the gameplay. Some on Reddit have made threads discussing how they’re not entirely impressed with what they’ve seen so far, while the reaction to the gameplay deep dive on YouTube hasn’t been all that positive. Right now, it feels like Arkane could do with a win regarding Redfall’s public perception, and this always-online news is the exact opposite of that.
Either way, being always online is a move that practically kills physical sales of Redfall dead in the water. You may as well not bother buying the game physically, because not only are you going to have to be online to download the day one updates and all that nonsense that isn’t on the disc, but you’ll need to be online to even just play the game on your own. Maybe I’m just clinging to the idea that gaming consoles should be able to stand on their own without becoming all singing, all dancing, always online multimedia machines, but if someone can go out and buy a single-player game they can’t even play, what’s the point of selling it in the first place?
On top of that, there’s the whole preservation aspect to consider here. There’s going to come a time in the future after Redfall launches where Xbox decides it’s no longer worth keeping the servers online, and when that happens, everything goes. Not just the co-op mode, but the single-player mode too. Why should we even bother investing in this new IP when its very survival is going to be on a countdown timer as soon as it launches?
This news comes alongside the fact that Xbox will be delisting a host of games from their Xbox 360 Marketplace, including a few backwards compatible titles like Lost Odyssey and Daytona USA. For games like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, which were JRPGs published by Microsoft that never saw a release on other platforms, this is a huge preservation blow that seems kind of senseless. Unless some kind of HD re-release is in the works, or the rights are being reverted elsewhere in lieu of a new project, it’s hard to justify why this might be happening. Then again, it’s perfectly within Xbox’s wheelhouse given how often Forza games are sent to the slaughterhouse.
It feels like all the goodwill that Xbox might have earned with their Developer Direct and Hi-Fi Rush has been thrown out of the window and we’re back to square one again. Part of me wants to say that it’d be great to see Xbox and Bethesda reverse the online-only status regarding Redfall, but looking back through Xbox’s past 10 years, it’ll only be a matter of time before they try to make something else always online.
No wonder I’m having more fun playing PS2 games on my Steam Deck.
READ MORE: Digital vs. Physical Games: The Pros and Cons
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