Redfall is the next big game from Bethesda and Arkane, makers of immersive sims like Prey and Dishonored. It opened last weekend’s Xbox showcase event. And a lot of the trailers and footage shown so far make it look a lot like Left 4 Dead. Bethesda, it seems, is not pleased about those comparisons and has spent the last week pushing back whenever and wherever they can.
As mentioned already, last weekend, Redfall was the big game that Xbox and Bethesda used to kick off their large video game showcase event. The upcoming vampire-filled Redfall is being developed by Dishonored creators Arkane and is a first-person co-op open-world shooter-RPG-more-genre-buzzwords hybrid that was first announced last year. Almost immediately after it was announced, people compared it to Left 4 Dead. And following last weekend’s new gameplay reveal, more people compared it to Valve’s popular shooter.
It now seems that all these comparisons may have prompted Bethesda and Arkane to make it clear that Redfall isn’t actually like Left 4 Dead or the countless other co-op shooters that have been released or announced in the past year or two.
In an interview with GameSpot, Arkane Studio director Harvey Smith admitted that Redfall gets compared to Left 4 Dead every “once in a while.”
“But this is a big campaign that is persistent,” Smith told Gamespot. “And you play through the story and level your character up and you can do that alone or with other people. We love Left 4 Dead, but [Redfall] is not Left 4 Dead in any way really, other than colorful characters. When you play alone in our game, you have one character, there aren’t bots. We don’t have the whole party together.”
In a different interview with Polygon, Smith was hopeful that after the weekend’s gameplay demo, folks wouldn’t make the L4D comparison anymore.
“It should, unless I’m mistaken, it should put all the Left 4 Dead comparisons to rest,” said Smith.
Well, he was mistaken, because plenty of outlets and random people online are still using Left 4 Dead as a point of comparison when talking about the game. And while Smith says it’s not really Left 4 Dead “in any way,” the game is a co-op first-person shooter with hordes of creepy paranormal enemies set in a contemporary world that feels much like our own. Sure it might be open world, but it seems—based on what has been shown officially—that Redfall shares a lot with Left 4 Dead and Back 4 Blood.
And yet Bethesda really, really wants you to know that Redfall ain’t at all Left 4 Dead.
In an interview during today’s Xbox Extended Gameplay event, Bethesda’s SVP of global marketing and communications, Pete Hines, once again made it clear that you should all stop comparing them, okay?
When asked how Redfall was different than Left 4 Dead, Hines offered up a lengthy, somewhat rambling explanation:
Ummmmm, again… it’s one of those things like, like if you just watch combat footage, you might look at Left 4 Dead or Back 4 Blood or any of these things and go “Oh I see multiple characters facing a bunch of enemies and so like, it’s the same game.”
But I think that would be doing a disservice, that it’s all of the things that take place in between the combat, as well as the combat itself, sort of combining different skills and abilities and the way that you do, you know like, Layla dropping down an elevator using her powers that Jacob can use to get up on top of a roof and provide cover.
Y’know you have characters who play roles really well, how you choose to use Re-bone, the robot. All of those things come into—again—allowing the players not to say “here’s a set of rules and you can only use-” like no, here’s just…some stuff and you can go off into this amazing, sort of dynamic, ever-changing world and sort of experience and explore for yourself and you come back the next day and it’ll look and feel like a different experience, even though you are in the exact same part of the game.
I think those are the kinds of things that Arkane does that really bring that sort of extra-special element that makes their games so compelling.
However, while it’s likely true that Redfall will be distinctly different from Left 4 Dead in some important ways, demonstrating that probably should have been something Xbox and Bethesda focused on during one of these recent live streams. Before a game is released, it’s usually the job of marketing to help explain and…uh, market the game! If this really ain’t Left 4 Dead, I’d suggest showcasing more of the in-between moments that Hines described, instead of just sharing another action-heavy trailer.
We just saw Sega try to explain that fans don’t understand its new and different take on Sonic that many players have been disappointed with. But again, it’s the job of the publisher and developer, before a game comes out, to explain and demonstrate just what your game is. Especially if you are taking pre-orders for it.
And if a bunch of people still think your game is Left 4 Dead or that it looks bad or boring—like something quickly tossed together by a fan in Unreal engine—that’s probably something you should have a few meetings about with your marketing folks instead of playing PR clean-up weeks after showcasing a new game or trailer.
Redfall, which I hear is a lot like Left 4 Dead, will be released next year following a delay earlier this year.