The Falconeer: Warrior Edition – The Higher You Fly, The Further You Fall
The Falconeer had the unenviable job of serving as an exclusive tentpole launch title for the Xbox Series family of consoles at the end of 2020. For a team with AA sensibilities, and AAA ambition, it was always going to be an almighty challenge with hungry gamers desperate for their first taste of what new console technology could bring to their games. Ultimately The Falconeer launched to little fanfare, both from critics, but also the community, but it didn’t stop the game’s developer, Tomas Sala from doubling down hard on post-launch support. In the months since the game hit physical and digital shelves, The Falconeer has been the recipient of several pieces of DLC, and now, with its launch on PS5, and Nintendo Switch, the biggest slice of content has arrived. The original game, despite being full of heart, had numerous mechanical and narrative failings. So with that in mind, can the new Warrior Edition, loaded with additional content, right the wrongs of the original launch?
In an apocalyptic future, the Falconeers are the bridge between isolated islands, delivering goods, keeping the peace been the disconnected citizens of the world. The result of this is a fairly by-the-numbers series of mission types, from deliveries, to escort missions, that then feature combat sequences scattered along the way. Pair this with a story that underwhelms, in large part due to the grizzled old dudes who’ve got one too many stories to tell, and you’ve got little to keep you motivated in either the gameplay or storytelling senses. The story feels like an afterthought, something hastily cobbled together to give you a reason to travel from point to point around the map, as a result, it never really connects with the player; it’s just there.
What should be a highlight of the game, the moment-to-moment gameplay also fails to soar to the altitude that the Falconeers themselves exist in. Handling is clumsy, your aim when shooting is imprecise, with a targeting reticule that is incredibly unreliable; this makes combat sequences into frustrating affairs with many of these mid-air dogfights taking place in congested spaces, placing further pressure on flight and shooting systems that simply aren’t up to the challenge. RPG systems are present but are not overly balanced, but these tend to throw up barriers to progression, rather than facilitate it.
The Warrior Edition features all of the DLC released for Xbox so far, as well as a new piece of DLC called the ‘Edge of the World’, which totes a small selection of new side-quests, as well as new bosses. While it was nice to get some extra content, none of it feels additive to the initial experience and serves to bloat out a game that already would’ve been better had it shaved a few hours off its run time.
Where The Falconeer does shine is in its presentation. Though not a photo-realistic powerhouse, The Falconeer leverages the best that the new-gen consoles can offer (so obviously the Switch less-so) to create some truly eye-popping landscapes. The world looks sensational, The Maw, an apparent canyon mid-ocean is as striking as you’d imagine it to be, while the force of mother nature is well realised too as you fly through, or witness electrical storms in full force. For everything you see that stuns, you’ll be equally stunned by the way the world sounds and feels to engage with. The Dualsense has been put through its paces for the PS5 version of the game, from the speaker being used for dialogue, to the trembling of the controller as a thunderstorm rages above you. The clapping of waves, the rolling storms, and the howling of the wind also sound exactly as they should.
It’s hard not to think of The Falconeer as failed potential. There’s a nugget of something great here, the concept is well thought out, but its execution leaves a lot to be desired. It looks and sounds the part, but in the key area of gameplay, The Falconeer: Warrior Edition, fails to inspire. It’s a game that says its piece in the first hour but then meanders on for another dozen hours without saying anything more.
The Falconeer: Warrior Edition was reviewed on the PS5 with code kindly supplied by the publisher.