The Falconeer is an open-world, aerial based combat game that brings some epic dogfights to the player’s screen. Developed by Tomas Sala and published by Wired Productions, the player takes control of a Falconeer, a master of aerial combat that controls the reins of an enormous bird of prey. Explore the history and secrets of the beautiful aquatic world of The Great Ursee and fight for each faction, all the while growing a stronger pilot and amassing a stronger arsenal of abilities and weaponry.
Upon loading The Falconeer, the player is thrown in to a prologue that acts as the game’s tutorial. The controls are simple enough to learn, however mastering them definitely takes some time. There are five chapters in total and when focusing on the main quest line, can be completed in less than two hours each. Every chapter is set within a different faction, each with their own deep history, goals and political agendas. Within each chapter the player has the options of completing the main quest line, partaking in many side missions and escort missions, or simply to explore the beautiful seas. Each quest line is unique to its faction, but is all set within the same timeline and its always-exciting bumping heads with a faction that has previously been sided with.
Missions do not differ greatly from one another and due to this it can take the excitement out of flying. Generally, they consist of flying to multiple waypoints, with some aerial battles in between and although I do not like to make a generalisation of any game, it is easy to do so with The Falconeer due to a lack of variations to enemies and mission objectives. I began my journey on the Normal difficulty but with no mission checkpoints, falling to an enemy and getting sent back to the beginning of a mission became tiresome very quickly and shortly after I changed to Easy. I cannot fathom how easily the player falls on the Hardcore difficulty setting.
The combat is fun, especially once upgrading the ride and while it can become disorienting it is extremely satisfying performing a quick manoeuvre and setting up that final killing shot. Some larger enemies also have weak spots that can be targeted by locking on with “X”, followed by then hitting “A” to select a sub-target. Ammo is mounted upon the falcon’s back and is regenerated by flying through a lightning storm, which are never too hard to find. The player will often have a “Wingman” flying by their side which they can direct to attack a target or guard themselves, although I never found myself fully utilising these mechanics, the Wingman often did a good enough job on their own.
Each fallen enemy will drop an array of Splinters, which are also earned by completing missions. These can be collected by the player and spent at different locations spread across the map where they can purchase:
- Upgraded ammo pots
- Mutagens that increase the bird’s stats
- Upgraded weaponry
- Chants that can either deliver strong single use buffs or small permanent buffs to stats, for example, health regeneration or larger speed boosts in jet-streams
- Passes that allow the player to trade with different settlements or factions
For all it is worth, this is a very pretty game. A vast expanse of sea, teaming with sea life both large and small and ocean storms that light up the skies, it is easy to get lost in; and in a way somewhat therapeutic to explore. The Falconeer is beautiful, not in a realistic sense, but with a cartoon art style that is supported by fantastic lighting. Burnt orange sunsets, night skies encompassed by stars and ancient other worldly structures surrounded by sea are just a few of many things that keep The Falconeer’s world mesmerising to look at.
There is very little in the way of a soundtrack in The Falconeer. Outside of a battle track when entering combat, the ambiance of the seas takes the forefront of sound but is made somewhat insignificant by what I can only describe as a constant humming sound when exploring. The dialogue can become a little grating, perhaps from some over enthusiastic voice actors and a vast majority of weapon rounds offer the same sound.
I feel The Falconeer can be played in front of the little ones but by the player’s discretion. While there is no real gratuitous violence, perhaps some of the darker themes and enemies being shot from the sky could be discomforting to some children. The exploration, however, can be enjoyed by all ages; if anything does startle the little one’s it is very simple to press pause and jump back in to it soon after.