Arkane’s upcoming vampire shooter Redfall (opens in new tab) puts a lot of emphasis on co-op multiplayer, but it also supports solo play: The Steam (opens in new tab) page describes it as “an open-world, single player and co-op FPS.” In case you’re not convinced, Bethesda communications chief Pete Hines has also specifically stated that you can “play it by yourself.” Unfortunately, even if you’re playing alone, you’ll still have to be online.
The “always online” requirement was revealed in a Redfall FAQ (opens in new tab), which states, “a persistent online connection is required for single player and co-op.” That’s about as unambiguous as it gets: If you want to play, you have to be connected. You’ll also have to link to your Steam or Xbox user ID in order to play.
It might not seem like a big deal in this era of digital distribution and cloud gaming, where it seems like everyone is constantly connected anyway. But some people still don’t have solid, reliable connections, and as someone who is occasionally in that position, I can tell you that it is beyond frustrating—frankly, it’s absolutely infuriating—to be told you can’t play your singleplayer game because your internet has crapped out.
The situation is better than it was a decade ago, when then Xbox chief Don Mattrick faced massive blowback for saying that people unhappy about the Xbox One’s online requirements were welcome to stick with the Xbox 360 (opens in new tab). (The “candid feedback (opens in new tab)” in response to Mattrick’s dismissive statement was so strong that Microsoft ultimately dropped the requirement.)
But it still sucks for people in rural locations or on metered accounts, or anyone who doesn’t have the luxury to safely assume that their connection will always be there. And that doesn’t even take into account the principle of the thing: There is simply no good reason for requiring me to be connected to the internet in order to play a game by myself.
Redfall will no doubt lean heavily into its social element and that can absolutely make for a better game, but it doesn’t need to be mandatory. I much prefer the approach taken by the game I’m currently playing, Weird West (opens in new tab), which is excellent and, somewhat ironically, designed by a couple of Arkane founders: It offers an online mode that collects analytics data and enables “community events,” but you can switch it all off if you prefer. I play with it constantly connected, for the record, but I very much appreciate having the choice.
Arkane’s Redfall is set to come out on May 2, and will be available on Game Pass at launch.