The Falconeer Review, A Cool And Unique Air Combat Game
Take to the skies and control a formidable Warbird as you experience a story from different faction’s points of view. The Falconeer, developed by Tomas Sala and published by Wired Productions, is an indie open-world game that takes place in a Steampunk-inspired archipelago called the Great Ursee.
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The Falconeer is available on Xbox as an console exclusive, and also available on PC. However, the game requires you to use a controller even on PC as a mouse and keyboard setup is not supported. Flying controls have not always been great on mouse and keyboard, however, it would be nice for this to be included to not exclude players who don’t own or use a controller on their PC.
Warbird Combat is Super Fun! Fetch Quests Not so Much
Taking control of a giant warbird you will be dogfighting, barrel rolling, and diving your way across Great Ursee. Combat feels great and challenging on harder difficulties. Warbirds have a good variety of mechanics available in combat and movement.
As the Falconeer you will be able to equip your warbird with different kinds of weapons and mutagens to improve stats such as agility and health regen. Along with a ranged attack, warbirds can pick up mines from the ocean surface and drop them on ships. Warbirds are nimble, players can barrel roll and dive break. You will be supported by a wingman who you can order to target enemies.
Early chapters of the game excluding the prologue feature slower and weaker warbirds. Completing time trials and chapters grants you superior warbirds. Unfortunately, you cannot customize the appearance of your Warbird which would be a great addition to the game. However, the Warbirds vary in appearance depending on their breed.
The Falconeer suffers from busy quests, these can be avoided however, if you are interested in upgrading your Warbird then you will need to accept some of these missions. Tasks such as delivery quests can get tedious fast as you will encounter little resistance. On the other hand quests such as Defend quests pit you in large dogfights that are rewarding and fun.
A Wide Variety of Enemy Types
The Falconeer‘s air combat never gets dull as you will be going against many different kinds of enemies. Furthermore, this keeps you engaged in combat as you will need to be prioritizing enemies. A big airship can do a lot of damage but is slow and fairly easy to dodge. However, when supported by Warbirds or Razor Beetles, Manta Rays, or Weaver Dragons you’re going to have a tough time weaving in and out of the fire. The creatures are unique and have different characteristics from one another.
Manta Rays are medium-sized and have powerful sweeper attacks along with a secondary Magnet while Weaver Dragons are huge and spit fire at you. Razor Beetles are fast but are weak, but getting hit by their acid will slow your Warbird down.
The Falconeer World Map Activities
Story missions give you the option of flying ahead if the mission is far away, however, you cannot teleport when doing side missions. Highlighting that the huge size of the map can sometimes be a detriment to gameplay.
Players have the option of a few activities outside of the main story and side quests, such as Time Trial events that by beating them, gives you access to new breeds of Warbirds. As well as hidden monuments that give information on the world. Furthermore, the map has some powerful bosses to defeat that will require you to extensively upgrade your weapons and Warbird for you to beat them.
The Falconeer World Feels Alive and Interactable
You’re free to fly anywhere you like on no matter your chapter progression, so as I started the prologue I began to explore this interesting world. There are many settlements to discover as the map is huge. There is also a beautifully designed day and night cycle. Which does an excellent job in showing off an extensive color palette. From the warm reds for sunrise and sunset to the cold blues of a misty sky. And soft Aquamarines as the stars light up the night sky. It looks great!
There are series of underwater caves and temples to explore that offer even more variation in scenery and gameplay as these areas are tighter to maneuver in.
the weather does a great job in bringing the world alive not only visually but mechanically. As you will want to avoid flying into lightning storms or navigate carefully through them to avoid getting your precious falcon struck by lightning. However, Lightning storms serve a purpose. As you deplete your ammo you must recharge your weapon via lightning storms. On the other hand, lingering too long in the storms will overcharge your weapons and begin to hurt your warbird.
Additionally flying into updrafts on the ocean surface grants your warbird quick speed boosts. While flying through jet streams at high altitudes will boost your warbird through a tunnel of wind. Alongside this warbirds can dive into the ocean to catch fish to replenish health.
A Sleek and Minimalistic Look That Delivers
The graphics are minimalistic but sleek, it’s a great aesthetic. Playing this game on a high frame rate looks nice as you fly through clouds. There is a dynamic weather system. The game looks vast as there are many wide-open spaces and as to be expected, there is verticality to the map allowing you to fly extremely high.
However, The Warbird models and character models could be improved to have more detail. The animations are great and Tomas Sala has done a brilliant job of bringing the Warbird to life as well as creating a steampunk world that feels unique. If the Warbird model was improved it would elevate this game substantially as the player will be constantly looking at the Warbird and thus you will notice that lack of detail.
An Incredible Score for any Occasion
Credit has to go to Benedict Nichols for creating such a fitting and beautiful score for The Falconeer. The Nordic enthused soundtrack is great for soaring through the skies and taking in the sights. While the combat music gets the blood pumping for some epic maneuvers and firefights.
In my time playing the game I noticed an incredible amount of detail to sound effects. Fly close to a windmill and you will hear it in operation, skimming across the ocean surface and you hear and see whale sounds and fish jumping from the ocean.
However, voice acting is very hit or miss as it varies in quality. While I found the narrator’s voice the best. Other characters such as your wingman and island inhabitants fell flat. Although I appreciate that most descriptions and NPCS are voiced.
In conclusion, The Falconeer offers a unique air combat open-world experience. The world feels lived-in by the many factions. However, it can be overwhelming at times. The soundtrack suits the game well and delivers a score that captures the world of Ursee. There is a diverse set of enemies to go up against.
The Falconeer is also far from being perfect, as while the minimalistic graphics look good, they could do with a little bit of TLC as NPCs are by far the weakest looking models in the game. Additionally, while I appreciate the amount of voice acting in the game, it varies in quality.
There is a lot of value here for gameplay, however, the story lacks a little as the quests feel more like jobs than major events. Tomas Sala has already released an update adding a Kraken Boss to the game. However, while there is great value here I’d recommend waiting for the price to drop as the game can sometimes get tedious. You can get The Falconeer at 40% off here)