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Why it matters: Fans of Arkane's previous work, like the Dishonored games and Prey, were disappointed to discover that the developer's latest title, Redfall, would require an internet connection, even while playing alone. Now, the studio is trying to offer an offline mode but can't guarantee anything.
Amid a new round of previews for Microsoft's upcoming open-world action game Redfall, developer Arkane told Eurogamer it's working to address its requirement for an internet connection. However, making such a significant change a little over a month before launch could be difficult.
While many big publishers have swung toward online service-oriented games, Bethesda is known for mostly making games to be enjoyed entirely without an internet connection. Subsidiary Arkane, in particular, only developed offline single-player games for over 20 years, that is, until it added an optional player-versus-player mode to the 2021 Deathloop.
So fans of the company's previous games have harbored reservations about Redfall, which appears to prioritize its four-player co-op mode. Arkane insists solo mode can deliver a complete experience but still needs an online connection.
This week, game director Harvey Smith said the company is responding to negative feedback regarding the internet requirement and will try to find a solution despite the online mode being a core component. While some might assume Redfall is forcing players online to sell them microtransactions or enforce DRM, Smith said the sole reason is telemetry.
Like other Arkane titles, Redfall lets players use its tools in various ways, and the studio wants raw data on how users respond to gameplay. Smith promises it won't feature "games-as-a-service" features beyond cosmetic DLC.
Smith acknowledged that some people have slow internet or outages. However, it isn't clear whether Arkane can shimmy an offline mode into Redfall. The company needs to retool the user interface and develop a method to encrypt save files, thus preventing cheaters from tampering with the co-op mode.
In a separate interview with IGN France this week, Smith let slip that Arkane originally planned a PlayStation 5 version of Redfall. However, after Microsoft acquired ZeniMax, it instructed the developer to focus on Xbox and PC. It isn't clear whether a PS5 version reached active development or was simply in the planning stages, but Smith says Microsoft unambiguously canceled it.
The revelation can potentially undermine Microsoft's argument for its $67 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard. PlayStation manufacturer Sony has continually raised fears among international regulators that Microsoft will restrict Activision Blizzard properties like Call of Duty to Xbox and Windows just as it has with Bethesda titles like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI.
Microsoft has repeatedly responded by proposing and inking deals to bring Call of Duty to other platforms. However, the US Federal Trade Commission recently requested more information regarding Microsoft's earlier acquisition of Bethesda's and Arkane's parent company ZeniMax, arguing that making Bethesda's upcoming Starfield exclusive to Xbox and PC violated an earlier agreement.