The Falconeer is an astonishing work of art, built solely by the super talented Tomas Sala.
It’s incredibly satisfying to play, really enjoyable to watch, and full of variety top to bottom. It’s a really good showcase launch title, by all accounts.
This is a game that’s had to deal with some unexpected pressure due to Halo Infinite’s delay, of course, and is now serving as one of a few console exclusives at the launch of Xbox Series S and X.
What Wired Productions have helped produce and bring to life is a stunning title that does both a wonderful job selling some of the new console’s best features, while still looking absolutely glorious on older hardware. 4K Resolution, silky frame rate, quick resume. There’s nothing else like it at launch of either system.
In truth, though, The Falconeer feels like a game that could look, run, and play absolutely wonderfully anywhere. Sala and Wired Productions have done an expert job of making the whole experience almost seem effortlessly fluid, but having tried it on both Xbox One and Series X, I can comfortably say it is best placed on Microsoft’s newest addition to the family.
The vibrancy is all the more striking, responsiveness is razor sharp, and everything is completely crystal clear. It still runs wonderfully on Xbox One and you’ll have a fantastic time there, but make no mistake, The Falconeer is at its best on Xbox Series X.
Of all the next-gen games I’ve played, Falconeer feels among the most smooth at 60FPS and is one of the few games out of the gate supporting 120FPS. Your graceful bird just glides so delicately against the winds, hovering just above the water, swirling through the skies. There’s no hiccups or judders in sight, just sheer swift elegance.
Sure, it can be frantic during firefights, and sometimes it feels like the aiming is a bit off or you can’t get around fast enough to lock onto an enemy at times, but the flow during flight takes me back to my Panzer Dragoon days in the best possible way, darting and weaving with the slightest feather of a thumbstick.
You’re not picking up ammo clips here, though, so have to dart through thunderclouds to recharge your weapons, which drain pretty fast honestly with enemies shooting at you from all angles. Fortunately, it’s not all relying on nature’s bullets as you can also pick up mines from the water and drop them on top of unsuspecting pirate ships beneath.
Make no mistake, this is a tough game. One you’ll take a lot of time to get to grips with, learn how to position yourself, and the best way to avoid taking as much damage as possible. After the initial hurdles, though, I found myself whizzing through the skies like a pro.
The Falconeer is set across a series of sprawling levels filled with landmarks and colonies for you to land at. Each colony has its own missions and shops where you can purchase upgrades and consumables to help with your quests. Mission types include escort and rescue based quests, as well as bounty hunts, and treasure collections. You’ll be spending most of your time earning a reputation which will eventually spread throughout the land.
But as cool as that sounds, this is the game’s other failing. The Tutorial really is an overview of the basics and does little to actually acclimatize or prepare you for the game you’re about to play. I’ll be honest and say I found myself quite aimless and overwhelmed going into the first level.
I knew how to fly and fight, sure, but beyond that I was greeted with walls of text, random missions and plenty of death screens. It was more than I was expecting, even if I appreciated the game was refusing to make it easy on me. You need to be prepared for the fact that you’ll be doing a lot of the work yourself – figuring out the basics, where to go and what to do. As long as you acknowledge that from the off, you’ll have a great time with The Falconeer.
It’s by no means the best launch title for the new batch of gaming systems, but it is among the most experimental and refreshing. Between its soothing score and scintillating swoops and turns, all brought together by a series of stunning and breathtaking worlds, you’ll find yourself continually in awe that one man was able to put it all together.
The Falconeer is a remarkable achievement in more ways than one, and, rightfully, should be celebrated for what it does accomplish rather than what it doesn’t.
+ Absolutely dazzling lands
+ The movement of your bird is so graceful
+ Beautiful music
+ Great variety
– Aiming in combat can be frustrating
– Tough difficulty curve
The Falconeer is now available on PC and Xbox
Tested on Xbox One and Xbox Series X
Code kindly provided by Wired Productions