Redfall brings Arkane Austin’s immersive sim DNA to a compelling, co-op open world
Instead of one hero, Redfall features four playable characters. Can you talk about the process of designing each character so that they feel visually and mechanically unique?Carter:
Individual narratives are foundational for each of our heroes. It grounds them in the world of Redfall and gives them a sense of authenticity that carries over to the team. It’s not uncommon to speak with someone in the studio and encounter strong feelings about what Layla would wear or Jacob would do.
So when we’re designing the look of the characters, it’s almost how sculptors describe chipping away the stone to find the statue that was always there. We’re pushing and pulling elements to find the character and have that sense of recognition when we lock in their design and really see them looking back at us. Their look and their outfits tell parts of their story. That also extends out to other outfits you unlock in the game. We’re always trying to convey a little more of their narrative, or a little more of the story of Redfall itself through what you’re seeing.
That narrative foundation also applies to their abilities. We tried to give them abilities that aligned with who they are. For example, Remi has an ability called Mobilize, which heals herself and other players, it’s an external expression of her being a leader who supports and uplifts her team. She can use her drone Bribon as a distraction, because narratively that’s why she built it: to help cover her in a hot zone while she saves people. As we followed that path in development, the uniqueness of each hero’s playstyle came as a natural result.
Each character also has distinctive abilities, like Layla Ellison’s telekinetic powers or Remi de la Rosa’s robot companion. How does the team handle balancing these varied abilities, while still making them all interesting and meaningful?
Carter: There’s an awful lot that goes into these abilities. The short answer is that we were lucky enough to have amazing systems designers work with us over the course of development. They took all the narrative notes and molded that into a set of abilities we’re proud of, with a skill tree system that allows for a lot of creative player choice.
For the longer answer, all the heroes are completely viable on their own, so a core focus is for each character to have a unique play style that also influences how they interact with the world. If we take Devinder, he’s got a lot of gadgets that never worked before the Redfall incident, but something about the world he’s in is causing these devices to finally work as he intended them to. Then we start to build his abilities around that concept. His Translocate Device allows him to teleport to locations quickly. That can open some alternative paths when you’re playing as him.
With Jacob, he’s an expert sniper with a history in spec ops, but he also has a mysterious raven linked to him and a vampiric eye. We looked at how you differentiate him with abilities that speak to that background in a game where everyone can use a sniper rifle. So, his powers emphasize reconnaissance (the raven), stealth (his cloak), and he’s got his Heartstopper ability to push his sniping over the edge. That’s a completely different play style than Devinder from the get-go.
Since we’re starting from very unique places, a lot of our focus is on making sure they stay unique as players level up and upgrade their abilities in the skill tree. We’re looking at how those very different play styles can come together, how they can benefit another player. There are combat examples like Jacob using the Raven to reveal and mark enemies, which allows Devinder to use his Translocate ability to teleport directly to them. But hero abilities also evolve over time through our skill trees, so we wanted to create options that allowed you to invest more heavily in teamwork. For example, you can upgrade Jacob’s cloak to hide the whole team or do the same with Translocate and allow anyone to teleport through it.
Source: Unreal Engine Blog