The Falconeer hands-on preview: Sea of Beaks

Wired Productions' latest release is an RPG heavy on feathers and aerial combat. I had a chance to preview the game, here are my thoughts.

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The Falconeer is set to be one of Xbox’s Marquee titles when the Series X and series S launch this November. Developed entirely by Tomas Sala, The Falconeer is being published by Wired Productions. The game puts the player in the feathers of a bird soaring the open seas, battling against ships, weavers, airships, and other Falconeers. I got to play the game on PC and preview the upcoming Xbox release. 

Do a barrel roll

The Falconeer feels like a love letter to classic aerial shoot’em ups like Star Fox. As a bird warrior, the player will engage in fights with a variety of foes, firing upon them while quickly maneuvering around the open air and sea. The combat itself is one of the highlights in The Falconeer. 

Getting into huge dogfights with airships, and dragon-like creatures feels epic. I was constantly spinning and dodging enemy fire, while letting out a barrage of my own attacks whenever the opportunity presented itself. I played using a controller, and was able to use the X button to quickly change focus to different enemies during battle. Since your Falconeer is constantly moving, you need to put yourself in the right location to line up a good series of attacks.

During combat I found an issue with the picking up of mines and bombs in the water. A Falconeer can dive downward, grabbing a mine from the ocean’s surface. They can then drop it onto ships below. I found the actual process of grabbing a bomb and successfully dropping it to be a bit wonky. It’s hard to have the right sense of depth needed to know specifically where to dive, as the ocean is causing objects to constantly move. The same goes for dropping the mines onto the moving boats, it would’ve been great to have a reticle that showed exactly where a dropped object would land.

Open water living

The majority of The Falconeer’s world is set in the vast ocean of Ursee, with occasional outposts and bases taking up the small chunks of land. Ironically, the game's visual style reminded me a lot of another major Xbox title, Sea of Thieves. From the super detailed and gorgeous water, to the cartoonish locations and characters, the art style is beautiful.

Outside of the dogfights and combat, The Falconeer encourages exploration of its open world. There’s plenty to stumble upon, such as unique landmarks and treasure. I enjoyed adventuring through the open world in The Falconeer, though it would benefit from a more detailed way to mark certain points of interests on the map. 

Bird up

The Falconeer also leans into core RPG elements. Players can earn soulshards, the currency in Ursee and use them to purchase different armor and upgrades to keep your Falconeer in fighting shape. Soulshards can also be used to acquire new weapons and make cosmetic changes.

Another major RPG element in The Falconeer are its factions. In Ursee, there are several different factions at war, and you’re free to align yourself with whoever you choose. Partake in missions for a particular faction, and their control over Ursee will rise. The missions you take and the faction you fight for are reflected in the game’s open world. Dominant factions will have control over more locations, and those that you oppose may attack on sight. 

Nesting

The Falconeer is an impressive take on aerial shoot’em ups. With a two months left until release, there are still a couple of small issues to be ironed out on the user interface and quality-of-life front. With a solid and exciting combat system coupled with a constantly changing world, Microsoft looks to have a solid Series X launch title on their hands.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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