Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles

Posted:  Jul 03, 2024
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Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles was provided by Wired Productions for review. Thank you!

This review used an LCD Steam Deck. OLED details will be coming later.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is a strange one. It gives me all the vibes of a game that should have an "Early Access" label on the Steam store page, but it doesn't. When you boot the game, you're told it is a "development build," there seems to be quite a lack of variety in things to do, yet it's released as a full-release game.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles tasks players with designing a fortress on a water planet.

In short, the game is a sandbox where you command an airship and can construct outposts and settlements on a water-filled planet to gain resources and, well... construct more outposts and settlements.

This is my issue with Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles. It's billed as a "Creative Sandbox," where the game has no actual objectives other than expanding but building and expanding your base wasn't very satisfying. There's a limited selection of buildings, and the game decides where to place them to some degree. Most of the world is water and can't be built on, and the whole thing feels rather empty and directionless.

You start the game by placing an outpost. You then place walkways from this outpost, leading to "towers" or checkpoints. There are a few resource points around your outpost where you can build extractors, and you have to hook the outpost up to these extractors via walkways to generate resources.

Sadly, I think the issue is that you're just placing "roads" in a space. A lot of the satisfaction of building roads and logistics is working around or with the landscape and designing efficient systems and pathways. There's none of that here. You will always be building straight walkways; there's never a reason not to build as the crow flies other than aesthetics.

While designing fortresses can be interesting to some degree, the specific placement of buildings is handled for you, and it's quite a simple system.

Even when starting a game, there is a severe lack of content. On a new game, you are given the choice of 3 "Scenarios," which function as save slots. You can select your starting faction, position, and a few things to make the game harder or easier, such as disabling hostiles or starting with more resources.

There's a "free build" mode on the main menu, which is even more sandbox-y than the game's normal mode, with no limitations applied to what you can do. But you can't save in this mode, so anything you build is lost once you leave the game and re-enter. For a game about "designing" and building your fortress, it seems crazy that the mode focused on doing exactly what you want is intentionally ham-stringed by the inability to save.

There's also only 1 pre-made map in the game with no random generation. It's 90% water, with the odd island here and there and about 7 NPC settlements that essentially will do nothing unless you interact with them to trade or declare war.

Every game of Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles takes place on this map.

Random events happen but are triggered by the player as and when they want them. These can range from a new ship to conduct trade or war, a new faction joining your settlement, or hostiles that attack. The game purposefully does not force any way of playing upon you, meaning you can decide when and if you ever want to engage in combat or trade.

Combat is also pretty basic: once, or if, you declare war on a settlement, your units will automatically fire at any enemy units within range, likewise for the enemy. A bar goes across the top of the screen when you're in combat, which details the health of your fleet versus the enemy fleet.

Combat is fairly basic, with any ships you have firing when an enemy is in range and vice versa.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is a decent-looking game. The clouds and fog look nice, especially when you're at the sunrise/sunset time of day. Although it's a bit dreary and rainy often, this is an apocalyptic world. The water also looks pretty decent. The islands themselves and the buildings aren't quite as pretty as the rest of the game, mostly made up of fairly low-poly assets.

Progression is achieved by gaining population in various factions, with higher populations unlocking new tiers, allowing you to recruit more captains and expand further. Still, it's all the same, and the progression doesn't unlock any new gameplay mechanics.

Progression is achieved via the Soultree, with bigger populations unlocking more captains and commanders to run your settlement.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is a purposefully aimless game. There's no reason to do pretty much anything in it. You design a base for the sake of designing a base, not to protect yourself, not to earn more resources, not to climb a leaderboard, just because it can look impressive at the end of the day. You can build a base in 5 minutes that will, from a gameplay perspective at least, perform just as well as one you've spent hours on.

That isn't really why I play games, especially single-player ones where I can't share my creations with friends, but if you are into that, this might be the game for you. It's certainly a unique approach.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles - Steam Deck Performance

Let's start by saying that Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles does a pretty good job of working well on the Steam Deck. It has 1280x800 resolution support, so there are no black bars around the edges of the screen, and the controller support is good, too, with different control schemes depending on your preference. You can't fault how Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles handles itself on the Steam Deck.

I'm offering two presets today: one for visual quality and framerate and the other for saving battery life.

Recommended Settings - 60 FPS

In your SteamOS settings, set an FPS Limit of 60 FPS / 60Hz. We won't be setting a TDP Limit here.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles has fairly simplified graphics settings, so for this preset, you'll simply want to set Visual Quality at around 90%, disable Anti-Aliasing, set Post-Processing to Max, set Shadows to High Quality, and keep your resolution at 1280x800.


The game always held 60 FPS for me on these settings, with occasional dips to 58 or 59, depending on the weather. Expanding my settlement seemed to have little effect on performance, so you're probably safe to keep these settings. I didn't expand to a "mega-fortress" such as the ones shown in the game's trailers, but expanding my own and visiting large NPC settlements didn't drop the framerate from 60, so you should be safe unless you go crazy with your fortress.

This preset draws a lot of power, though. You should expect anywhere between 18W and 24W from the battery, meaning Steam Deck LCD owners can expect around 1.5 hours of battery life from this preset, and Steam Deck OLED users just above 2 hours.

Temperatures are high, around 80-85C, so expect some fan noise, and your Steam Deck will be hot to the touch.

Frame Drops During Certain Weather Conditions:

I once noticed that the frame rate dropped considerably on the Quality preset when the sun was rising or setting, causing an orange glow to light up the clouds or fog. This seemed to cause considerable stress on the Steam Deck's GPU, making the frame rate drop into the 40s. Lowering Post-Processing to the "Low" setting fixes these drops, but they don't occur often.

With the world lit up orange, this weather scenario causes the Steam Deck's performance to suffer.

Battery Life Settings - 40 FPS

If you want more battery life and less heat, this preset might be your favorite.

We're locking the framerate to 40 FPS in the SteamOS settings and then applying a TDP Limit of just 6W.

For the graphics, lower the visual quality to its lowest, disable anti-aliasing, put post-processing to minimal, and no shadows. We keep our resolution at 1280x800.


With these settings, we can hold 40 FPS. Even with the lower visual settings, the game still looks decent on a handheld. The low-poly nature of the game helps it hold up without as much shading. However, we sacrifice some nice post-processing effects on things like fog, clouds, and lighting.

By making these sacrifices, we see the power draw at just 10-11W, meaning we can easily get 3-3.5 hours from a Steam Deck LCD battery and a good 4-4.5 hours from the OLED model.

Temperatures were also much cooler, hovering around 65C during testing. This meant there was minimal fan noise, and the Steam Deck stayed comfortable to hold.

The framerate drop experienced on the Quality preset doesn't apply here, as our Post-Processing is low enough already.


Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles isn't very accessible, but all voice lines are subtitled, and the UI can be scaled, although I found that it is scaled quite well by default. There are also adjustable controls and camera sensitivity options.


I'll be honest: Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles wasn't my type of game. The whole purpose of the game is to design an aesthetically pleasing fortress. Still, the gameplay is very shallow, and there's not much to do but continuously place walkways for your citizens to build along. The closest thing I can compare it to would be Cities Skylines or SimCity, but if all the zoning and placement of buildings was done for you, and you just had to build the roads.

It's a unique game; I'll give it that. And if you are looking for something like this game, it's probably your only choice, as I'm unaware of any other game that focuses purely on designing a town/fortress and nothing else. The closest game I can think of might be Townscaper, which, funnily enough, was in the "Games like this" recommendations at the bottom of the game's Steam page.

Having said all that, the Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles does run well on the Steam Deck, both in terms of performance and controls. There's enough flexibility in settings to get the game just how you want it, whether with visual quality or a long battery life. I went with the visual quality preset because the game is about aesthetics.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is a unique game that wasn't to my taste, but there's no faulting that it works well on the Steam Deck.


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Oliver Stogden
Oliver began playing video games at an early age, starting with the SNES console and Commodore Amiga computer. Nowadays, his interest is in the future of portable technology, such as handheld gaming systems, portable power stations/banks, and portable monitors. And seeing just how far we can push these devices.
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Battery Saver Settings



Refresh Rate




TDP Limit


Scaling Filter


GPU Clock


Proton Version

No Forced Compatibility

Game Settings

Framerate: V-Synced

Visual Quality: 0%

Anti-Aliasing: No Anti-Aliasing

Post-Processing: Minimal

Shadows: No Shadows

Resolution: 1280x800

Projected Battery Usage and Temperature

10W - 11W

60c - 65c

~3.5 Hours

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