The backlash from poor reviews of Redfall has been so severe some are calling for head of Xbox Phil Spencer to resign.
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At this time of writing, Redfall has an average Metascore of 58 from critics (across PC and Xbox Series X), while users gave it a far more scathing 2.35 average User Score. Only 31% of users recommend the game on Steam, giving it a “Mostly Negative” rating.
Common complaints seem to be poor graphics, buggy and boring gameplay, terrible story and characters, and all for an eye-watering $69.99. User reviews aren’t just complaining the game is bad, but also that it is completely devoid of fun and unfinished, pointing out it shouldn’t have been released.
This is on top of only the host making progress in Story Mode when playing in multiplayer, needing an always-online connection, and supporting the system-clogging and ever-hated Denuvo anti-tamper DRM.
Youtubers oboeshoesgames, Luke Stephens, CohnCarnage, and Skill Up, all gave scathing critique in their reviews, noting that the quality was not on par with Arkane Studio’s prior works such as Dishonored and Prey. FritangaPlays claimed influencers lied to make the game look better, showing claims in previews that didn’t reflect Redfall‘s final gameplay at launch.
ENDYMIONtv felt it proved Xbox Game Pass was “garbage,” asserting the Xbox platform had no clear direction for it’s future. He also suggested there was a review embargo, as he claimed it wasn’t a good sign how some reviews came out mere minutes before the game launched, or Bethesda allegedly asked reviews to be deleted before the game launched.
Steam user Avarize gave a short and concise “Game is alright at best, port is horrible, constant crashes” — a review that may have gone unnoticed had a Bethesda representative not responded to it. They recommended the user make sure their PC met the system requirements, encouraging to check their troubleshooting article.
However, Bethesda’s reply seemed to be copied from similar they had given over Fallout 76 (another Bethesda title infamous for terrible performance). “If this does not resolve your issues with Fallout 76, please submit a support ticket,” Bethesda recommended, concluding, “Thank you for your review and we hope to have back in Redfall soon!”
Gameplay footage, such as the mocking showcase below by YouTuber Oyff, shows brain-dead AI that barely notice the player is there, what few foes there are being easily dealt with by running around them or going beyond their pathing, the player taking little damage and having generous time to act, cringe-worthy dialogue akin to the average Marvel movie, animation errors, and crashes.
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In short, the game is a five-alarm fire for Bethesda and Microsoft. So much so, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer addressed the outcry in an interview on the Kinda Funny Xcast. When host “Snowbike” Mike Howard asked him how he was, Spencer admitted with a nervous laugh, “Truth be told, I’ve had an easier couple of weeks, it’ll be a good discussion today.”
Howard opened by asking about the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocking the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and the reception of Redfall. Asked for his thoughts (5:22), Spencer replied “There’s nothing that’s more difficult for me than disappointing the Xbox community.”
“I’ve been a part of it for a long time, I obviously work on Xbox — head of the business — have a lot of friends, get a lot of feedback, and just to kind of watch the community lose confidence, be disappointed: I’m disappointed, I’m upset with myself,” Spencer briefly erred, but found the words and continued his run-on sentence.
“Revisit our process. I think back to our announcement of ’60 frames-per-second’ and then we weren’t shipping 60 frames-per-second, that was kind of our punch in the chin — rightfully — a couple of weeks ago, and then seeing the game come out, and the critical response was not what we wanted. And it’s disappointing.”
While stating they would ask themselves what they can learn and how to improve, Spencer defended the idea that Arkane Studios were unable to realize their vision, or that Xbox would force a studio to only make the one style of game they’re best at.
“There’s clearly quality and execution things that we can do, but one thing I won’t do is push against creative aspirations of our teams.” Nonetheless, Spencer admits, “we underdelivered on that, and for that I apologize. It’s not what I expect, not what I want, but y’know, it’s ours to deliver.”
Host Parris Lilly then asked, “What goes into the decision to delay a game, when you launch it feature-incomplete or there’s a bunch of technical issues?” Spencer answered that asking if a game’s “creative vision” had been realized wasn’t a “delay question” if they said no.
Insisting this was not relating to Redfall, Spencer stated Microsoft would build games that review from the the high 80s to 60s, and was part of games publishing. “If you’re afraid of that, you shouldn’t be in the entertainment business, you shouldn’t be in the games business.” He later stressed Xbox does not aim to launch games that achieve review scores in the low 60s.
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He stressed, however, that Microsoft checks their processes when a game failed to meet their “internal expectations.” Rather than rely on review scores — though working to fix the quality issues with Redfall — Spencer explains Xbox looked at the feedback itself, which showed the game had failed to realize it’s creative vision.
Bouncing between various points, Spencer goes onto to explain that delays are imposed so a game can achieve production timelines to meet the creative vision, but said it was “simplistic” to claim delaying Redfall for three months meant the “core creative of the game would have delivered on something that was different than what it was.” He added the crash-rate wasn’t beyond what was expected for a new launch.
Answering questions from XCast co-host Gary Whitta, Spencer also stated that the game’s review scores were “double digits” lower than what they expected based on internal mock reviews, and that Xbox needed to be more transparent (due to IGN’s gameplay preview running at 60 fps, unlike the final game).
Amid the bad news, some began to call for Spencer to step down. The Xbox head even joked, “There’s a lot of Twitter ‘Firing of Phil’ right now, which is fine, I’m way overpaid for the role I have anyway,” tail-ending it by acknowledging the bad press was his responsibility, and that Xbox would remain committed to Redfall and the players.
One of these was YouTuber RGT 85, who felt Spencer’s interview only made the situation worse. “Phil Spencer just sounds like a defeated man with this Xbox interview. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked away from Xbox soon honestly.”
Streamer John Hartsfield was far less sympathetic. “Phil Spencer is clearly emotionally & mentally defeated. He’s ‘lost the lockerroom’ Fire that n—a ASAP.”
YouTuber LegacyKillaHD was yet another voice expecting the axe to fall. “If Redfall is as bad as it looks to be and Starfield later this year ends up being a mess, I think it’s time for Phil Spencer to step down. Maybe a hot take but Xbox seriously needs to get their act together with their first party games.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Phil and his leadership team have done great things (GamePass) but their management over the studios they own has been abysmal. Along with the lack of consistency with exclusives, the reported issues on upcoming titles like Fable & Perfect Dark is troubling,” the YouTuber forewarned.
LegacyKillaHD’s tweet sparked plenty of discussion, leading him to later add, “Muting this as this is just turning into console warrior madness. I’m a big fan of Xbox & PlayStation. Full Stop.”
“Only point I was trying to make is that something may need to change. A leadership shake up. Clearly things aren’t working & really Xbox gamers should expect better,” he concluded.
NEXT: Xbox Head Phil Spencer Praises Video Game Devs Who Refuse To Fear “The Current Culture Of Criticism And Cancellation”, Calls On Industry To “Turn Away From Dividing Players And Creators”