Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles offers an abundance of creative and explorative freedom | Hands-on preview

by on December 14, 2023

Tomas Sala was able to create something special with The Falconeer. It was a game that offered up a beautifully haunting world with an environment ripe for exploration, and aerial combat that was both satisfying and exciting. Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles once again gives you that freedom to uncover the secrets of The Great Ursee, albeit in a new way. It’s a city builder of sorts, yet it doesn’t bog you down with resource management and those tiny details that often hold you back from feeling a great sense of accomplishment in the earlier stages.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles wants you to thrive. Your settlements can be a vast network of pathways and resource extractors, filled with homes for your workers and a command tower to protect from external threats. These outposts can be built up vertically across mountains, out into the sea, and made to bring in all the key resources needed to survive following the events of The Falconeer. While it doesn’t go into plenty of detail when it comes to the intricacies of resource management or city building, there’s still plenty for you to keep your eye on.

When I first booted it up, it took me a while to get to grips with how to expand and build, what I needed to do to start filtering iron and stone from nearby hotspots, and what the general flow of the game was. Even before starting, an animated Sala pops up to tell you the tutorial is light, with playing and exploring the best teacher, however, without the fundamentals games don’t always do a great job of explaining. Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles wants to replicate that same sense of freedom from the last title, and while I struggled to grasp the basics at first, exploration really was the catalyst for me enjoying my time with this preview.

Before I get too ahead of myself, your time is spent between building on the ground, and surveying the open world for resources, opportunities for growth, and building trade routes and relationships with other factions. Building offers a simple one-click system. Providing you have the correct resources and enough workers, you can strengthen and improve all of your constructs, moving from wood to stone, and then to iron. Once you’ve got that sorted, you can then send your blimp, or surveyor, to scout around the map for points of interest. Sometimes you’ll encounter a trade outpost that will have a nice supply of goods, or maybe you’ll find a potential commander to hire.

You can build trade routes between outposts to ferry goods back and forth, as well as strengthening your bond with other factions. Choosing who to align with can cause friction among other factions, so it’s always worth choosing carefully as tension can mount, and war can break out. Not only can war break out from your political decisions, you’re also free to wage war on settlements, and this can lead to a big fallout and future attacks on your own outposts. These types of decisions will pop up from time to time, and choosing wisely is the difference from peace and conflict.

Assigning commanders to a tower once fully upgraded will offer some impressive perks to your outposts, making you ready for any incoming attacks if war is waged. You also have to choose the right captains for your ships and harbours to make sure the right type of resource is ferried across your network. There’s a surprising amount of things to manage, but its simplified approach to managing and controlling is a breath of fresh air because it allows you to leave things to run smoothly while you go off and explore the mysteries of The Great Ursee.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is shaping up nicely, offering an abundance of creative and explorative freedom. There are random events that occur as you explore, throwing tough decisions at you from time to time in an effort to find out where your political allegiances lie. Building is straightforward, as in assigning commanders and captains, establishing trade routes, and upgrading settlements, and once you’ve worked out how the basics work, it can be a rewarding experience. It felt great to be back in this world Tomas Sala has created, and I’m looking forward to spend more with it closer to release.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is “coming soon” on Steam.