The Nintendo Switch has a broad library of multi-platform games, but publisher Wired Productions has confirmed one of the more intriguing download titles to transition to the hybrid system. Yes, it was beaten to the punch by an early eShop game page, but The Falconeer: Warrior Edition is announced and officially coming to the eShop; we've been fortunate enough to preview the title ahead of time.
First, the release details - The Falconeer: Warrior Edition heads to Switch on 5th August, it'll be priced at $29.99 / €29.99 / £24.99 on the eShop, with a retail version at £29.99 /€34.99 /$34.99. It'll include the existing DLC from the Xbox version and also an all-new expansion, 'The Edge of the World'; this new content will include "additional sidequests, map locations, a self-contained story, and myriad new items to add even more depth to The Great Ursee".
It's a title that looks impressive to the eye but is clearly led by strong visual design and smart systems
The Falconeer has an intriguing history. It is mostly the creation of one man, Tomas Sala, along with a small number of valuable contributors. It also launched alongside the Xbox Series X/S before coming to Game Pass, making it one of the few new games to arrive on that system day one; as a result it got plenty of focus. It was a showcase on the new hardware, supporting native 4K and 120fps; it's a title that looks impressive but is clearly led by strong visual design and smart systems. As a result it's been able to make a wonderful transition to Switch.
Rather than the usual fuzz-o-vision at 30fps that blights a number of ports that downscale from the newest hardware to Switch, this scalable game comes out looking rather lovely on Switch, and at a steady 60fps. From a purely technical perspective if this was a small download-only title from Nintendo we'd say "of course", as it's smooth and beautiful on the system.
Of course, it's an Indie project so that should be remembered; in-game looks fantastic, but some brief cutscenes in which a mystical woman appears are a little rougher; the stuff that matters, though — soaring around the game's world — looks and feels excellent in motion. It holds up very well docked, and though the resolution drops as expected in portable play it's still an absolute pleasure on the eyes.
Anyway, about the actual game, The Falconeer is intriguing and feels rather unique - in our opinion this is certainly a positive. It can take a little getting used to, at first, as you have to remember you're riding a giant falcon and not flying a fighter plane. Momentum is a factor; if you want more natural speed flapping your wings for a boost drains energy fast, so you need to look for wind currents or do what an actual bird would do - soar high and then dive to build speed. There's a lovely organic feel to movement, as the bird won't simply bank like a jet when you turn, it needs to flow into the move. You can barrel roll, though, so don't worry.
Though you have a map and radar of sorts, combat also feels quite naturalistic, as natural as giant birds firing cannons at each other can feel. Your crosshair is small and it feels more like chaotic dogfighting of early 20th Century than modern combat of computer-driven lock-ons and missiles. It's rather enthralling.
Each landmark triggers a lovely swoosh of the camera as it's marked, and you can take in the surrounds before jumping into missions
We've stuck to early game in our captured footage above, but we're already very much enjoying the world this game creates. For one thing there's very little tutorial-led guidance, to the point that after some early struggles we dropped the difficulty, started again and began to find our feet. After the prologue you pick which chapter to undertake but there's a logical order to follow, and you can simply opt to explore and fly around should the mood take you. Each landmark triggers a lovely swoosh of the camera as it's marked, and you can take in the surrounds before jumping into missions.
It's a beautiful and odd world. Different groups and cultures have unique architecture, there's the 'Maw' in the middle of the map, a strange trench into which the sea collapses, and all sorts of rocky outcrops to find. You can swoop to catch and eat fish, or simply glide through the clouds. The sprawling sea is a marvel too, with impressive wave effects that, delightfully, have transitioned well to Nintendo's console.
In terms of mission structure, there's an element of figuring things out yourself. One seller says you need to complete a race to unlock his wares, but doesn't tell you anything else; exploring the home base and looking for environmental storytelling reveals the path. Story missions, at least early on, are snappy and introduce different mechanics. In some cases you're in dogfights, delivering goods or simply going on patrols. Story briefings are voiced with some entertaining acting, and we've been enjoying the slow-drip of details so far.
There's plenty we're yet to discover, included various upgrades to our feathered friend. Even if much of what to come is more of the same, the feel of the game is so delightful that we probably won't mind. Fly between checkpoints, shoot at things, fly home - the setting is so enthralling that, ultimately, we're happy doing just that.
Don't overlook The Falconeer. It's a fascinating game and, in the best possible news, it does itself huge credit on Nintendo Switch.