When the opportunity to check out The Falconeer came up, I was immediately intrigued – here is a day one launch title for the Xbox Series systems that has quite a buzz around it. While I sadly didn’t get to try it on an actual Series console – my demo was via PC – it still showcased both some potential and my apparent lack of ability at flight combat!
What we have here then is a semi-open world RPG, with several distinct, large areas to explore per chapter. I got to play the first two of these and came away intrigued, though in all honesty not overly excited.
Taking the role of a Falconeer, we can fly around the areas completing missions for rewards or simply explore and discover new areas and quests. The initial presentation is lovely; each chapter has it’s own colour palette and look to it, with some boldly presented characters that sit between flat shaded poly models and high detail intricacy’s. As most of the game takes place above an ocean special mention must go to the water effects; again, it’s balanced between a realistic look and something akin to Wind Waker in it’s bold, chunky waves and patterns. Occasionally we come across fish that can be scooped up or a giant humpback whale as they breach the surface before splashing down again. Islands are dotted around to find, each with some lovely looking designs that fit the old world-style presentation, rickety wooden structures complementing more modern technology at work. The whole thing looks lovely.
It’s not a fast paced game, so there’s plenty of time to admire the scenery. Controlling our bird is pretty straight forward, and comes with a couple of extra abilities to help us along. Diving downwards towards the ocean charges a meter that can be used to both boost and dodge, though ascending also drains it so it can be a push and pull of trying to fill it up at times. Pulling the left trigger hits the brakes and can also be used to make our bird dive into the ocean in order to pick up fish, bombs, or parcels to be delivered.
There’s also plenty of aerial combat to take part in, though I struggled here to be honest. I think I’m just a bit too gun-ho, but it was hard to keep track of the enemies as well as swing around to target them. There is a lock on feature, and holding B let me keep the camera focused on them, but we can only fire directly in front of us (with a little aim assist when we get close enough). I found myself getting confused and disorientated often in battle. Again, this is mainly due to my playstyle I think, but I would have preferred to be able to aim with the right stick while controlling the bird with the left rather than aiming and movement fall under one control.
I started off with a lightning based weapon; this let me shoot bolts out ahead of me (when I could get my aim straight!). On the back of the bird are the energy supply valves that deplete as I fired. In order to recharge I needed to find an electrical storm to fly through, being mindful as to not let them over charge and explode, depleting my total ammo count. I did like this aspect as visually it was pretty stunning to be mid-combat during a storm, lightning crackling everywhere. There are also fire and acid weapons to use though I didn’t manage to get any time with these.
There is a main story to follow, with lengthy missions to complete, as well as a fair number of optional side missions for extra currency and rewards. I must admit to not being overly drawn in by the story being told, but then that was more due to the over the top accents being thrown around putting me off. These missions can be long too, with no mid-mission checkpoints. One saw me battling (poorly, I might add) for around 30 minutes only to be killed abruptly at the climax. This then meant I had to start from the very beginning once again. This was probably my biggest frustration with my preview of The Falconeer; the leisurely pace is nice for a while, but when it comes to having to repeat sections it soon became quite tedious. Of course, things are being worked on and can change by launch, but for now I struggled to really get into the game, especially in the aforementioned scenarios.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is the work of a sole developer – Tomas Sala – so some concessions can be made. But for me, despite its gorgeous looks and potential I came away underwhelmed with The Falconeer.
After being drawn in by some lovely artwork and setting, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by The Falconeer, at least from this preview. The leisurely pace is nice to begin with, letting us take in the view, but long missions with no mid-checkpointing and overly thick voice acting turned me off by the time I was done here. Here’s hoping come launch some of these things can be smoothed out.
This game was previewed on PC (via Steam). All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.