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The Falconeer: Warrior Edition is a Smooth and Immersive Aerial Combat Experience

The Falconeer: Warrior Edition Review on PlayStation 5

Over the past few days, I have had the pleasure of playing The Falconeer on the PlayStation 5. Having not played the game previously on the Xbox Series X|S this was my first time diving into this action-heavy aerial combat game. I was cautious to play the game and managed my expectations despite hearing about the many accolades the game had accrued in the last year as an Xbox exclusive, including a BAFTA nomination, because flight games and flight missions in games have always been a weak point for me. That being said, I was excited to see what The Falconeer had to offer and to my surprise, it was a deep narrative experience with smooth gameplay.

Let's start with the narrative. The Falconeer thrusts you into a dark setting with beautiful, if somewhat simple, graphics that immerse you in a world where people ride giant Warbirds into battle. Perhaps it was just because I expected no real story, but when I booted up the game I was surprised at what depth the game was conceived. The expansive ocean, dotted with islands, is the base for a somewhat politically complex feud between factions. You, as a Falconeer, are the timber being used to fuel that feud and hold the line against opposing factions. There is a lot of lore and backstory in The Falconeer and as you play you will start to get more and more of it revealed to you. The story up to where I have played contains nothing too powerful, however, it always remains engaging.

My only negative about the game's narrative is the voice acting, which is a shame considering the fact that a new voice-over was recorded for this rerelease of the game. The rough vocal performances, which Twitch chat was quick to pick up on when I streamed the game, are highlighted even more due to the fact that the game doesn't have convincing lip-syncing. I would have honestly preferred that the game took the visual novel approach and simply had static sprites on the screen to represent the characters talking and not an animated character. On the note of audio, that is my only gripe with the game, the rest of it, from sound design to score, is well produced.

The Falconeer: Warrior Edition Photo Mode

If the story does not interest you, you will be happy to know that the gameplay is really the star of the show. On the PlayStation 5, the game runs butter smooth in ways that watching videos does not do justice. The response time and sensitivity of the controls make the whole gameplay experience better. The controls themselves take a bit to get used to, but after that, it's easy to just get lost in the map as you glide, dive, and flap your way around. This is great because this allows you to soar through the game's stunning world without a hitch. The Falconeer's strength is that it doesn't go for hyper-realistic visuals. Its stylized approach to its art style allows for the not-as-detailed textures to blend right into the overall aesthetic and I found myself frequently pausing to take screenshots in Photo Mode.

I do want to bring attention to the fact that the combat in the game has a noticeable learning curve. This could just be my personal lack of experience in this genre, but while flying is intuitive and fun, the shooting frequently ends up being chaotic. Oftentimes, I would only manage to get a few shots in before getting disoriented and by the time I gather myself, the accompanying NPC has finished the job. This is not awful by any means and perhaps sinking a few more hours into the game could help master the combat mechanics, but it still acts as a small hurdle during the opening hours of the game even with the new streamlined prologue. In short, don't expect to start the game up and immediately be able to pull off Maverick-like maneuvers in your warbird.

Playing on the PlayStation 5, there is also the DualSense controller to talk about. The Falconeer takes advantage of a lot of what Sony's new hardware has to offer from accurate rumble support to punchy adaptive triggers. Every shot fired from your Warbird of choice is met with a kickback that feels like a real trigger. And for players who want full immersion, the game also uses the in-controller speaker to deliver dialogues during gameplay which is a nice touch. All this paired with the smooth performance makes the game an incredibly polished experience. And, if not for the voice acting, I would say it's a near-perfect package.

The Falconeer: Warrior Edition Gameplay Screenshot

Before I wrap up, I want to mention one last thing about the game. Probably the most impressive thing about it in fact. The Falconeer, with its deep lore, gorgeous world, and well-optimized gameplay, was developed by one person. Tomas Sala, whose name you see right at the start of the game has crafted a unique and immersive game, an accomplishment I put close to ConcernedApe's Stardew Valley, and I applaud Wired Productions on taking the risk of publishing it. And lastly, although it is easy to point out a game's shortcomings, acknowledging the game's development goes a long way in putting things into perspective.

I have not yet seen all that The Falconeer has to offer, but this sums up my initial thoughts on the game based on the first few hours. The Falconeer: Warrior Edition is out for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch on August 5 and the game is already available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. If you are a fan of aerial combat games with a healthy dose of narrative, I definitely recommended you check it out. Though, based on my experience, I suppose you don't even need to like games in the genre to enjoy this game. A review code for the PlayStation 5 was provided by the publisher. The Falconeer: Warrior Edition is still available for pre-order and it comes with all previously released DLC including The Kraken, The Hunter, Atun's Folly, and Edge of the World, an all-new expansion that comes out on release day.

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