Right, so the first thing to mention about the Falconeer is its development process, almost the entire project stemmed from the mind of one man, Tomas Sala. I bring this up now because it would be insulting not to as it’s an impressive feat, but this will be the only time I bring it up as while it’s no doubt a remarkable achievement I feel the game deserves to be judged on its own merits.
Immediately thrown into a deep world, while new to it I was immediately struck by the obvious depth this world has and was excited to see more.
The only thing more striking than the obvious depth to this new fantasy world is the games visual stylings. The character models, especially of the people reminded me of the clone wars tv series, while the Warbirds have a much softer edge to them. The colours are muted but it all works well together, especially running in 4K and 60fps on my Xbox Series X. The framerate really shows off the stunning animations of flight. The animations of flight also change based on how much weight the bird is carrying, now this may seem like a trivial thing but it hints at an almost Walt Disney level of attention to detail.
Each chapter has faction missions and “odd jobs” you can complete, the odd jobs to earn money to unlock new goodies. These goodies include permits to open up more missions at other outposts within the world, new weapons to mount on your warbird and mutagens to upgrade your bird’s abilities, speed, HP, Agility and what not. Now, here’s where some of that depth comes in. Many a game would have been happy to have the item description merely say “Increases agility” but the Falconeer explains how it increases the bird’s speed, in once instance, it wastes away at the creature. Immediately on reading this I was stunned, such is the graceful nature of your Warbird and my personal joy of flying one that I’d assumed a caring bond between rider and mount, something that this mutagen suddenly called into question. Perhaps warbirds are seen as little more than tools to eke out survival in the harsher parts of this world.
In all honesty, this brutality made me want to forgo upgrading my regal avain altogether, but it’s somewhat necessary if you wish to take on the more difficult missions.
Each time you load into the game and you’re presented with an oracle or shaman who explains (cryptically at best) that you are inhabiting the memories of past denizens of this world and this is how you’ll grow to understand the world and your place in it.
The general vibe of the Falconeer is one of grace, you’re never really rushed to do anything, all missions are undertaken as and when you feel like it. Something I found rather refreshing and I spent a lot of my time just flying around the impressively sized world map. You’d be mistaken for thinking that the world would feel empty, what with its setting being islands in a huge expanse of water, but it doesn’t, while there are huge stretches of unoccupied water this actually serves to underpin just how crucial the Falconeers are to this world.
On one such flight of fancy, I was swooping as low to the water as I possibly could, leisurely gliding just above the surface of the water. Well, my leisurely activity soon came to an end when a storm suddenly broke out, while not overly dangerous for your bird it was very dramatic, quickly I rose away from the now choppy waters, only to be greeted by a pirate attack. A scurvy pirate Falconeer and one of their airships. I dispatch the chap and his Falcon in short order (which is accompanied by an ear tearing shriek) before turning my attention to the airship. You’ll battle many of these during your time with the game, and blimey, it shows off the fun of flying a warbird.
Fights against other Falconeers are similar to any Ariel dog fight you’ve played in other titles, outer maneuverer your foe and blow them from the skies. Airships, however, are basically tanks of the sky, these things dish out damage and take a lot of fire to bring down. A standout moment for me was during the aforementioned sortie, the airship flew into clouds of mist and visually disappeared (the game has a lock on system so I still knew its location even if I couldn’t actually see it) as I dove to reacquire my target a blast of energy suddenly burst through the cloud, barely did I have time to dodge but dodge I did as my warbird performed a barrel roll, wings singed as it did so, for that there would be payback, and it would fall quickly, just as the airship did before being taken by the waves forevermore.
So, everything sounds fantastic right, well there are a few downsides that stop the Falconeer from being perfect and simply put, it’s the variety or a lack thereof. Many of the missions both main and side feel almost identical with only the cutscenes before main missions setting them apart. Delivery missions will almost always end in a little skirmish, bounty hunts naturally end in huge battles. This lack of variety didn’t stop me wanting to play the Falconeer, it just meant I’d play it in small bursts, especially when I was saving for a new lightning cannon and having to repeat many side missions to earn the coin.
The Falconeer has become my go to game when I want to pleasantly unwind of an evening and I whole heartedly recommend it to all.