The Falconeer heads to PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch as the Warrior Edition on August 5th, 2021. Before then, I’ve been fortunate enough to play one of my favourite games again, but this time with a DualSense and its symmetrical sticks rather than my beefy Xbox Series X|S controller.
There’s not really a lot that I can say about The Falconeer that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. The game has been out for a while on Xbox and PC, and I’ve played it on Xbox Series X|S, and I really like it. But there’s not a whole lot new in this PlayStation version of the game. At least not on the screen. It’s more about what goes on in your hands with the DualSense controller, and even then, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before in other games.
Bear in mind, these are my early impressions of the game before the full release, so things may change, but I can’t see myself getting any more excited for the DualSense and its features. In fact, I’ve kind of gone off them – the gimmick has run its course already. But it’s nice to see the game taking advantage of the features available all the same – I guarantee that if the trigger didn’t flap when I shot, or the controller didn’t rumble at the appropriate times, I’d be moaning about the lack of support. That’s just how we humans are though, isn’t it?
The Falconeer is an open-world aerial combat game set in one of my favourite worlds in all of gaming. It’s beautiful, honestly, and it almost seems a shame to do anything untoward in something that feels so pure and good. It’s got those Disney vibes and I could totally see this being the setting for a Disney movie or series. It’s a world of wonder, for sure, with the inhabitants living across the huge map on many different islands. There are factions and they’re all working for and against somebody. Nobody is completely without fault and it’s a story I’m happy to sit through a second time. But I won’t spoil that here. You can, if you so wish, find the game’s lore elsewhere on the internet, but it’s something I’ll go into a bit more detail when it comes to the full review.
The Falconeer earns its praise from its simple but enjoyable gameplay and its excellent presentation.
I’ve played a lot of aerial combat games and I’ve disliked many of them. A problem that the genre has is that it’s not very inviting to newcomers. The Falconeer is because it doesn’t demand any kind of knowledge to get started. A few quick tutorials and you’re soaring over the oceans, doing missions, fighting pirates, and so on.
Controlling the great big falcon you sit upon is really easy, and so is the game’s combat as it’s all locked to just one stick. You use the right stick to move the camera around, but not for aiming, while the left handles movement and aiming.
I always appreciate simplicity in games. It opens it up to as many people as possible and the more people enjoying games, the better. But The Falconeer is a little too simple with its combat. You pull the right trigger to fire off blasts from your weapon, and you have triangle to fire your special ammo, but that’s it. Locking on to enemies is simple and then you can follow them by holding circle. It takes away some of the challenge – the thrill of the chase – that I would have liked and what I think the game needs. I enjoy it all the same and I do appreciate that the game takes pains to keep it open, accessible, and most of all, fun – which it is.
It’s not a thrill-a-minute kind of game, though, and half the enjoyment comes in the peaceful periods between hectic shootouts in the clouds.
I’ve spent ages gliding around the map, checking off secret islands and generally just having a bit of a wander. Between missions, you’re free to explore the world and even go to other settlements to see what they’ve got for sale, or maybe take on some of their missions for extra cash rewards that can be used to upgrade the birdy wagon and the weapons. There’s plenty to do but as with any game that hangs its hat on one core mechanic – in this case, aerial combat – repetition will set in. It’s inevitable. But the game’s story is told well enough – even if it’s through talking heads – that there’s always an incentive to keep on flying. That and the numerous upgrades, because that’s how modern games hook players these days – numbers and upgrades.
The Falconeer: Warrior Edition releases on August 5th, 2021 for PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. The game is available now on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.
Disclaimer: This preview was carried out using a preview build of the game running on PS5.