Coming to PC and Xbox consoles on 10th November, The Falconeer is an aerial combat game unlike no other.
You see, rather than piloting a jet or being behind the control panel of some other type of aircraft, The Falconeer sees you riding on the back of a giant falcon. With the action taking place over a number of levels, each has an open world for you to explore. You’ll be fighting off enemies, protecting towns and settlements, and taking on side missions as you fly around.
Playing at 4K, The Falconeer a very nice looking game indeed. The sky, where you of course spend the majority of your time, is rich and realistic. Textured with clouds and stars, it’s a joy to fly through. The rest of the world – including your own falcon and those of enemies – is brought to life with a bold, polygonal art style. It’s striking, and a day/night cycle ensures the world feels dynamic as you pass through it. You’ll encounter plenty of storms as you fly, too, each being a spectacle to witness.
There’s a great deal of character injected into the game thanks to its fully voiced cast of pilots and officers. A range of regional accents are on display, from a thick cockney accent to an over-the-top Irishman and pirates with all the charm of the West Country. It’s just a shame that most of the lines you hear from your opponents are repeated again and again, so you’ll quickly get sick of hearing the same thing.
But what about actually playing The Falconeer? Well, we’ve been hands-on with a couple of levels, and for the most part, piloting your falcon is enjoyable, if passive. Your bird is responsive, moving to your inputs with grace. You can easily change direction, gain height or fly closer to the ground, and it’s a pleasure to control.
It’s not quite so easy when in combat, however. Keeping track of your opponents in aerial battle can be a challenge. You’ll find yourself constantly rotating around to try to keep them in your view, and it can be quite disorienting. You can tap a button to centre on an opponent, but when they’re already behind you, it’s not so useful. On-screen markers that signify the position of enemies would help a great deal.
Shooting grounded enemies, or those at sea, is less frustrating as your target is of course much easier to keep track of. A unique weapon system means the environment can charge you with either electric or fire-powered ammo, and as you play you’re able to upgrade your weapons and your bird for even greater firepower. Various mutagens can be purchased, adding useful perks to your loadout such as improving your agility and speed.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about The Falconeer is its epic soundtrack. Tracks are grand and bombastic, setting the mood and the tone for each battle you engage in perfectly. It’s striking, even in quieter moments. The audio seamlessly morphs from epic battle music to atmospheric sound effects. Roars of thunder and the crackle of lightning makes for one heck of an emotive backdrop.
The Falconeer isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy air combat and dogfighting games, it offers a pleasant twist on classic gameplay. Its beautiful visuals and wonderful soundtrack are easily the standout attractions, though, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else its world has to offer us.
The Falconeer is available on PC and Xbox consoles from 10th November. It’s a day one launch title for Xbox Series X/S.