The combat in this upcoming day one Xbox Game Pass release is amazing — but I've still got some questions

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn Enki
(Image credit: Kepler Interactive)

Weaving between monstrous foes, I land a heavy hit with my blade, cutting down one opponent. I follow up to hit the second, but it teleports out of the way, my weapon slicing the air. Jumping up the cliff where the creature has just reappeared, I don't have time to close the distance, but I shoot it the blunderbuss in my off-hand, staggering the screeching monster before a quick slash puts it down for good. 

That's the moment-to-moment excitement I had with Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn, which is being developed by A44 Games and published by Kepler Interactive. First announced back in 2022, I recently had the chance to go hands-on with Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn following a new trailer and release date announcement during the Xbox Games Showcase 2024

Overall, I've come away loving the combat system at play here, and the world is certainly intriguing. I do have some questions remaining however, and I'm curious how a few elements will play out. Here's my thoughts.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn emphasizes fast, brutal gunplay

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn | Release Date Announcement Trailer - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn | Release Date Announcement Trailer - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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In Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn, players step into the role of protagonist Nor Vanek, who (together with companion creature Enki) is helping the Coalition army fight a war against the Gods and the army of the dead. My hands-on demo begins several hours into the game, and while I don't know exactly how far, I'm told by the developers that the section I'm playing is extremely far into the world, with gear and skills close to what the endgame experience offers.

As a third-person action game, Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn provides a number of options in approaching combat, allowing you to leap and jump, parry and dodge. You'll need it, because combat is unrelenting — developer A44 Games explicitly describes the game as a "Souls-lite" — and you can easily die if you're not paying attention. It is worth mentioning that there are difficulty options, but due to only having about 25 minutes hands-on, I didn't have the chance to check the differences these options provide.

Nor Vanek can be equipped with a variety of melee weapons, which are perfect for hacking, slashing, slicing, and cutting through undead monsters. They don't do the job on their own however, as guns are everywhere in Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn — I mean, it's right there in the title — and that absolutely carries over to how you're expected to fight.

Guns are a key part of your arsenal. (Image credit: Kepler Interactive)

Naturally, different weapons fill different needs in your arsenal. A fiery axe might do less damage than other melee weapons, but it'll set enemies aflame and make them take damage over time. Fast and snappy long pistols can be used to stun a foe and set them up for more attacks, while a blunderbuss or primitive grenade launcher can clear your path entirely, at the cost of a long and dangerous reload. 

You've also got some special, magical abilities that can charge over time as you fell opponents. Timing is tricky, but when used well, you can easily clear multiple enemies at once with blasts of energy that are satisfying to unleash. I felt adaptable and capable, but not overpowered, and while I only died once to an exploding enemy that I failed to shoot quickly enough, multiple encounters kept me on my toes.

Overall, combat feels great, and it's made even more rewarding with a score counter on the screen that tracks how well you're doing in an encounter. Dodging or parrying attacks will lead to higher scores, while getting hit and taking large amounts of damage will bring your score down. I will note that blocking felt a bit finicky, as I wasn't able to get the timing right and I'm not sure what the problem was, but this could easily be user error or something I just need to practice in the full game without the stress of being dropped near the end of the experience.

Nor Vanek must challenge terrible monsters. (Image credit: Kepler Interactive)

While combat is the main focus, you're still exploring the world, and there's where your animal friend Enki comes in. This magic creature can be used to surge forward through the air, chaining and leaping to specific rune-marked places that would otherwise be completely inaccessible. Having under a half hour to explore meant taking in the story and world was certainly on the back-burner, but it is an intriguing setting, and I want to find out more about this strange plane of existence with a gunpowder revolution against godly beings.

The biggest questions remaining for me all have to do with the scope and pacing the game as a whole, and how progress feels while playing. Using all these different abilities and weapons is an absolute blast, but I wonder how long it'll take to feel that way in the game proper, and by extension, what the gameplay balance feels like against dangerous enemies when you don't have all of these options available. 

When I asked, the developers mentioned to me that it's not mean to be a super-long game, though naturally players who explore and work on side quests will have more to do than someone just pushing the main path. 

Not too far out

You can soar high with Enki's help. (Image credit: Kepler Interactive)

Fortunately, I won't be waiting long to find out the answers to my queries above. At the time I'm writing this, Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn only a month out from launch, and best of all, because it's a day one addition to Xbox Game Pass, any subscribers can simply jump in and play it on Xbox or PC. 

Hopefully, combat ends up feeling satisfying all throughout, not just toward the end with all of the available mechanics and toys unlocked. If that ends up being the case, A44 Games and Kepler Interactive will have a something that truly stands out this year.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is scheduled to launch on July 18, 2024 across Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PlayStation 5.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.