What you need to know
Bulwark: The Falconeer Chronicles, a city-builder with 4X strategy elements from solo dev Tomas Sala, now has an official release date of March 26, 2024.
The game is also getting a demo for players to try out later this month on January 30.
Bulwark is largely aimed towards the casual audience, with streamlined building mechanics and engaging, but ultimately simple, gameplay systems.
Notably, Bulwark is a sequel to The Falconeer, Sala's aerial dogfighting game launched in 2020. It takes place in the same oceanic world as well, with sea stack formations making up most of the game's building locations.
Just like the year before it, 2024 looks to be an incredible year for gaming. Fans of the medium have everything from major AAA releases like Avowed and Star Wars Outlaws to exciting indie projects such as Hades 2 and World of Goo 2 to look forward to, ensuring they'll have no shortage of fun things to play throughout the new year. One such game from the latter category I'm particularly excited to get my hands on is Bulwark: Frontier Chronicles — and now, it's finally gotten a concrete release date.
Bulwark is the unlikely sequel to The Falconeer, the open world aerial dogfighting game from solo dev Tomas Sala released in 2020. Rather than returning to the skies of The Great Ursee's ocean-dominated world, players will instead take to its scattered rock formations to build up colossal sea forts. From these bases, they'll use a special airship as well as forces in the air and sea to search for new locations to expand their territory, trade and negotiate with other factions, and war against hostile empires seeking to claim the divided waters.
The last thing I expected from a follow-up to The Falconeer was a city-builder with clever 4X strategy game elements. I loved what I got to play of the game during a recent preview, though, and have been looking forward to the full experience quite a bit since checking it out. Luckily, I won't have to wait too long for Bulwark, as it now has an official release date of March 26, 2024 on Xbox, PC, and PlayStation. A demo for the game will also be available starting on January 30, 2024.
I can't wait to Bulwark and chill
Whereas most city-builder games I've played can get pretty challenging with all their resource management systems and complicated menu navigation, Bulwark stands out with its simpler, more streamlined approach. Keeping all the wood, stone, and iron you need flowing is very straightforward since sources of it are infinite and all you have to do is make sure your production structures are connected to your bases, and the process of adding new buildings to your citadels is so smooth and responsive it's almost like painting on a canvas.
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Pair these slick mechanics with The Falconeer's gorgeous stylized art direction and detailed, snappy animations that sell the rapid construction of grand fortifications, and you've got one of the most relaxing games I've played in a very long time. There's just something so wonderfully satisfying about the way Bulwark allows you to erect the bastions of your dreams in minutes, and I can totally see myself playing around with its building system for hours while chilling on the couch. That's probably why I'll be getting it on Xbox even though I previewed it on PC.
That's not to say that the game doesn't have any challenge, though. It can get tricky in the mid-game while you're trying to expand, as obtaining new resource-producing structures, military commanders to man your defenses, and ship captains to ferry cargo or patrol the waters requires lots of exploration. The political negotiation half of the game is also fully omnipresent; trying to start or maintain alliances may be tough depending on how you go about growing your sphere of influence, and if you're too aggressive, you might start a war. These factors keep Bulwark engaging, though overall, it's undeniably a game aimed at the casual audience.
The combat was a bit too easy for my taste — in my preview build, you pretty much just fly around the enemy with your airship and watch your units duke it out with theirs — so I'm hoping it'll get some improvements in the full release. Bulwark isn't a combat-heavy game by design, mind, but even so, something to spice it up and make it more of an active experience for the player would be great.
At the moment, I don't really have something I like to play when I just want to relax and not use too much of my (already lacking) brain power, but I'm thinking Bulwark will be one of the best Xbox games for that purpose when it releases on March 26. What can I say — building giant sea forts with low-stress mechanics in a relatively low-stakes environment is great fun, especially for nerds like me that like castles a little too much. Make sure you play the demo when it drops on January 30 if you're interested in checking it out.
In terms of availability, Bulwark: The Falconeer Chronicles is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and Windows PC (check out its Steam page). At the moment, it's unclear if it will be on Xbox Game Pass. The Falconeer was in 2021, but was taken off of it afterwards.