Review – The Falconeer (Xbox Series X)

In fact, it’s refreshing to see indie games in the spotlight when the next generation of consumer hardware comes out. Personally, I think it’s a great idea because of the extra attention it got when it was launched and the ability to use new equipment. The Falconer was made by one man, Thomas Solas, and that’s impressive. However, this is one of the few Microsoft exclusives at the launch of the Xbox X|S series, which causes some pressure. Is the Falconeer fulfilling its important role as an exclusive launch vehicle? Or have the wings of the hawk been cut?

When I first saw Falconer, it reminded me of the Panzer Dragoon. The massive flying creature controls, as well as melee combat and dragon fire dodging, are more like the air arcade games that I have enjoyed in the past. I’ve never been a big fan of games like Ace Combat, but fantasy-themed aerial combat games are much more intriguing. However, unlike Panzer Dragoon, Falconeer is a game that is open to the world. Unfortunately, I think that might have harmed the results.

A sailor tells the story through different memories.

Some of the most interesting things about Falconer come from his world. The history, customs and even the visual design are all influenced more than the battle or the missions. I’m not saying the fight is bad, but that’s not why I’m continuing. Still, it takes a while to get the story going. Although there are a few basic missions for the story, the images kept me glued to the television.

Now there’s no chance Falconer will visually deflate you. The game doesn’t even use a single texture for any of the models, and the characters look like polygonal PlayStation 1 dolls. However, the artistic direction and the general conception of the world and the flying creatures are very striking. It also helps that the lighting is so colorful and that with a good HDR the game explodes. I’ve often done more in photo mode than some AAA titles. I was fascinated by the contrast between the simple polygonal images, the detailed design and the amazing lighting.

There’s something charming about this look.

The first hours, when the sun rises and sets, are a feast for the eyes, creating all kinds of nuances in the sea. It finally came to an end, but fortunately the story began to touch me. Falconer takes you through the prologue, the four main chapters and then the epilogue. All this from the different points of view of one of the most important factions living on the Great Primordial Lake, which helps to keep the interest alive. Everyone has their own place and their own world view, and it was interesting to get to know each faction from the inside.

It also means that the story may seem a little incoherent because you have to choose a new character in each chapter. However, this does not mean that your total experience level will be reset or that some things that you have unlocked will be locked again. Without stepping into spoilers, the story is told by a sailor trying to cure the empress. As she approaches death, Sea Lord plays it through the memories of the key figures who led to her death. This allows you to maintain your level of experience and certain elements between the characters.

The classes change your starting stats, but once you have unlocked and improved other falcons, it becomes less important.

The main story did a great job and saved my investment. The legend and history of these factions and the world itself are very intriguing, but apart from that the content is missing. Secondary missions include obtaining quests, defending ships and participating in major battles. As soon as flying from point A to point B becomes annoying, the side missions also become annoying. Unfortunately, escalating the difficulty often made me feel like I needed a helping hand to buy upgrades for my Falcon.

There also seems to be a small problem with the balance in the economy. Lateral quests can range from 300 to 1,600 shards, depending on difficulty, and weapon upgrades can cost up to 20,000 shards. You also need to buy mutagens to update your falcon statistics, and there are also thousands, depending on the quality level. All in all, I think there could have been a better balance to keep me from shredding boring content. This would create a more organic experience to continue investing in history. It seems that Thomas was worried about the length of the game and added standard open world quests and a bloated economy to increase game time.

The cost of a new weapon is too high. It’s gonna be viable late in the game.

In addition to the main and side missions, there are also races that can be completed to unlock the ability to buy a new Falcon. I would have liked to focus on this earlier, because the basic statistics for the new Falcons are much higher. Of course this means that you have to save enough money to buy them in each chapter. The rest of the content is dedicated to exploring and discovering sanctuaries that reveal more of the history of Lake Ursee.

Like I said, it’s not the fighting and the general gameplay that fascinates me. The fight isn’t bad, but there are some balance problems and some movement inconveniences. Opponents have an insane power and can often maneuver. You can also have different weapons, as well as many other numbers. The maneuver is what bothered me the most. I took turns trying to stay on their buttocks, but they’re about 180° and we’d end up rushing through the air. It slows you down and leaves you open to the horde to set you on fire.

Don’t stop or you’ll soon be overwhelmed by your enemies.

There is a fairly wide variety of enemies from different types of air and ground. But that means that you first have to stand on your toes and focus on specific types. Enemies on the surface can be dealt with more quickly by bending down and taking a bomb from the sea and dropping it on them. However, I advise you to eliminate the light infantry first, because they can quickly overwhelm you. If the big battles go well, it can be exciting, and it’s certainly fun here. Especially when at the end of the missions in the story something as crazy as a giant crab with a city on its back pops up.

Before and during the fight you have to make sure you have ammunition. Your falcon can carry six cans on his back, which can be filled in different ways. You can buy or acquire them through storms or ammunition drops all over the world. There are three different types of ammunition: Lightning, fire and acid. Each type of ammunition works best on certain enemies, and only acidic ammunition cannot be recovered by a storm. Thunderstorms can occur at any time and in any place. Normal storms fill your eyes with light, while a storm near a volcano gives you fire. If you stay too long in the storm, your eyes can overload and explode, forcing you to buy a new one.

The details of the plot are often worth the other headaches.

During these great battles, the sound design can be significantly affected or missed. The usual scripted dialogue is in fact quite well done with voice. But every now and then gossip about fights can get squeaky. Part of the dialogue is weak, and another part makes me laugh. Unfortunately, the battle chatter can also be repeated too often. In my opinion, sound effects are the weakest part of the overall sound design. Guns don’t sound right, and you shoot all the time. The music is good, but unfortunately nothing stands out. Great battle music would go well with the best rhythms that can be found here, but nothing impressed me on this front.

I’ve also come across a few problems that haven’t broken or ruined the game, but made it worse. Missions didn’t go on, escort missions where NPCs weren’t present, random moments when I failed due to friendly fire without any friendship. Fortunately, that doesn’t disappoint me too much, and all I have to do is restart the current mission. But if this happens towards the end of the mission, and you fly slowly over the sea, you will have to work overtime, which can result in giving up the flight.

There’s a lot of mystery in the Falconer world, and it’s made me addicted.

Falconeer is a fascinating game with a world, a story, habits and a general theme of high quality. The visuals are simple, but clean and bright in their design and lighting. There are some great ideas here that would benefit from a tighter design. Fewer grinding times leading to more frustration due to pitting or other problems would be a better option, even if this means a more economical running time. It is a fascinating aerial combat game with a unique story and setting, but it is hampered by the greyness and monotony of the mission structures.

Falconer has a unique artistic style that can be both beautiful and replaceable. It doesn’t use textures for anything and the human characters are similar to the models in PSOne Final Fantasy, but the lighting, the world details and the design make me make a lot of use of the photo mode. On the whole, the action of the air and the air fighting dogs works well. There are moments in big battles when it gets hectic and exciting. However, hit detection problems, economic balance problems and the timing of your falcon bouncing objects and spinning when it gets too close are all causes for frustration.
The sound design is a bit mixed, although the voice is generally quite good, except for a few awkwardly delivered lines. The biggest problem is the lack of variation in the music, the discussions about the fights and the sound effects in general. What kept me in Falconer was the history and secrets of Great Lake Primal. The mission structures are largely repetitive and monotonous, with the exception of a few central missions. Progress requires a lot of work because of the high cost of the products. It would be useful if this title were more focused.
Last block: 6.5

Falconeer is now available for the Xbox One, Xbox X|S and PC series.

Tested on Xbox Series X.

The copy of Falconer was provided by the publisher.


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