I enjoy that we’re residing in a time where The Falconeer can be an Xbox Series X/S launch title. Here is a video game made by someone – one! – standing together with smash hits like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and not watching out of location.

More than that, it shines. Check out the screenshots in this short article. They’re a few of the most striking images I’ve taken in any video game. It’s a mix of easy aspects coming together in an effective method, which’s prior to you consider motion. The images do not inform you how it feels to fly a huge falcon around a moody island chain. They do not reveal the calmness of it, the solitude up there in the clouds, wingtips sculpting an airstream as you slide calmly above.

But what I actually enjoy is how particular it feels. There is a pure grand vision to the video game, the kind that can just endure due to the fact that it’s concealed inside one head. A committee would most likely have actually reduced it, focused it, refined it. And in some methods, The Falconeer would be more powerful for it. But it would not be as genuine. It would no longer be an appealing type of individual declaration, and no longer seem like venturing into another individual’s mind.

Taken in the video game’s Photo mode.
Taken in the video game’s Photo mode.

Let’s backtrack. The Falconeer is an aerial fight video game a bit like Panzer Dragoon. You fly a huge falcon around, contending other other opponents in the sky, and in some cases in the sea, and in some cases on the land. And whatever you do focuses on that core.

But it’s not an arcade video game. It’s not action all of the time. That’s due to the fact that a substantial part of the video game is flying around an open map, running different objectives for different settlements dotted around a mainly sea-covered world. Each chapter, you’ll call a various settlement house, and there will be a brand-new primary story to follow. But you can likewise handle agreements, on the side, to make money. There are bounties, mail shipments, base defences – anything you may require an useful falconeer for. And you can accept agreements from your house settlement or abroad.

In by doing this, The Falconeer spreads out the action out. A crucial part of its appeal are the minutes in between, the areas far from the stress of fight, where you’re flying untroubled through the sky. It’s in these minutes where the state of mind and character of the world sinks in. It’s in these minutes where your mind wanders and you question what things are for. You see the huge scar in the middle of the ocean, a sort of trench water puts into, called the Maw, and question what triggered it. You see the unusual stone monoliths poking from the sea and question what constructed them. You hear folklore and question why the video game is informing it. You listen to a mystical woman provide philosophical pep-talks each time she brings you back from the dead and question why. And you start to question the important things you’re asked to do. Are you the baddie?

This is the story the video game gradually informs, both straight and indirectly through the world itself. What is actually going on here? It’s what raises The Falconeer beyond being simply an aerial fight video game. And I’m practically specific it’s this element of the video game a larger group would have sliced. There are a couple of factors for this.

Pictures taken while flying, not in the Photo mode.

It takes too long to inform. Clearly the maker feels they have an essential story so they have actually strung it out throughout numerous chapters. Problem is, you can’t efficiently slide through the chapters due to the fact that of random trouble spikes. There’s one right at the start. No matter what I did, I could not clear it. It wasn’t up until I went off and grinded side-contracts, to make sufficient cash to purchase a brand-new weapon, that I ultimately was successful.

There were advantages to doing this. I was required to read more about the video game in looking for a method to conquer my issue. I discovered mutagens I might purchase for my bird to make it more powerful. I discovered I might purchase more powerful birds. I discovered there were much better weapons. I searched for every benefit I might discover. And I felt extremely pleased with myself when I got rid of the difficulty.

But there were disadvantages too. It took a long period of time. Every retry implied rebooting an objective, not merely retrying the bit you stopped working at from an useful checkpoint close by. It’s both irritating and lengthy. And flying around doing the equivalent of fetch-quests takes time too, and sometimes the actual difficulty of a mission doesn’t tally with the projected difficulty score when agreeing to it.

But a bigger problem is to do with the combat itself. It lacks thump, and it lacks variety. Simply, there isn’t a lot you can do. You have one attack: a machine-gun that you whittle enemies’ health down with (you can also grab mines from the sea, in your talons, to drop on ships, but you don’t really need to). You follow enemies around and putter-putter-putter limp-feeling projectiles at them until they die and plummet into the sea. You can mix in a barrel roll and a dive, maybe an air-break, but that’s it.

It runs silkily smooth on the Xbox Series S, by the way. This video is from a little while ago.

There’s no missile equivalent. There’s none of the thrill of tailing an enemy for a lock-on so you can blow them spectacularly out of the sky. And, conversely, there’s none of the excitement of desperately flinging yourself around trying to shake a missile off. More disappointingly, there’s no kind of falcon attack. There’s no way to savagely lunge with talons the way they birds do in real life. No way to hold a sustained dive as you thunder down from above and tear an unsuspecting enemy to shreds. I might as well be fighting on a giant pigeon. And if what I’m doing isn’t working, there’s nothing I can do. Except grind.

To be frank, it made for a really bad introduction to the game. Combat wasn’t enjoyable, I was annoyed, and the game wasn’t giving me any help or advice. And I didn’t care about the story because it hadn’t had a chance to do anything yet. The prospect of several more chapters terrified me. I wanted to stop.

But when I got a new gun, trivial as it sounds, the game opened up. Combat was still one-note, but at least now it was a pleasant note. I could do meaningful damage and actually kill things. Incidentally, my top tip for playing The Falconeer is ‘get a new gun’. And don’t stop until you have the best gun. I can’t tell you how much more fun I’m having now with what is effectively a canon. Oh, and fly north to Sark’s Hollow to buy the bird with loads of health and health regeneration. But bear in mind, you will have to complete a racecourse in a certain time before you will be able to buy it. It took me a while to work that out.

It took me a while to work a lot of things out, and I’m still not sure I’ve fully grasped everything. And I’m still not immune to difficulty spikes, and they’re still really irritating. But they’re the elbows and awkward bits of a video game that would not be the very same without them. Polish away the flaws and you polish away the mankind. The Falconeer is an exceptional accomplishment, and an individual one.