Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown returns to its core principles. Instead of the setting of Assault Horizon, its predecessor, Ace Combat 7 returns back into the world of Strangereal, an alternative universe with real-world weapons but a different history. Fans who loved the genre will be happy to know the game has returned to its roots, an action-packed, dogfighting-intensive, combat flight simulator with an immersive story. This game is the first in the series to use innovative weather effects utilizing the middleware True Sky Technology and an advanced rendering engine, allowing a game that mimics realistic weather that lends itself to the gameplay. Both the nostalgic gameplay and new graphical effects will create a more immersive Ace Combat experience.
The fanbase for the Ace Combat series won’t feel isolated. The mainstays of Ace Combat will continue with its Campaign Mode, a VR Mode (specifically for the PS4), Multiplayer Mode, Training Mode, and online capability. Gamers who crave intense cinematics and the adrenaline rush of action packed-battles will fit right into this series and consumers looking for an immersive VR title will find their head in the clouds surely enough.
The demo opens up with the selection of two aircrafts, the F/A - 18F Super Hornet and the F-140 Super Tomcat, and the selection of two missiles for their respective aircraft, the QAAM (Quick Maneuver Air-to-Air Missile) and the LAAM (Long-range Air-to-Air Missile). Regardless of your preference for close or long-ranged combat, either missile will become your main source of damage in the upcoming dogfights. As the demo reaches its first set of enemies, you’ll gain a familiarity with the system, the lock-on reticle will release a more accurate missile depending on a steady aim, an adept sense of altitude will be your ally in your escapes, and a personal favorite, avoid staying in the nimbus clouds for too long--definitely avoid this.
David Bonacci, Brand Manager of the Ace Combat Series, clarifies that there are real world weather effects that influence how the game is played. As you fly into these Nimbus clouds, “Condensation will begin to form around your canopy. This has an impact of being able to see the battle unfold in front of you.” Playing the demo, it was pretty obvious when using the first-person camera, but couldn’t you just simply change the camera to third-person, I wondered. However, there is “turbulence if you stay in a cloud, you’re going to get bumped all around and have an incredibly hard time maintaining your altitude and heading.” And certainly, if the aircraft overstayed its welcome, a descent into an oncoming missile might spell a quick doom.
Lastly, there was one more problem, condensation. Ice will form on your wing, reshaping the aerodynamics. In short, you fall like a rock. But, despite these negative effects, there was a silver lining, David clarifies, “because of all the activity in the clouds like moisture vapors, updrafts, and turbulence that plays havoc on your air-to-air radar.” Meaning, just as you can’t find your enemies in certain clouds, neither could they. Sometimes the most dangerous decisions can play out to your favor, and this balance between risk and safety makes for an immersive simulation game. This focus on graphical representations creates real synergy with the gameplay. Simulation games, known for their realism, can take note of this, especially with VR gaining momentum in the consumer market.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
I think for a game like this, new audiences will definitely be looking into the VR capabilities. The game’s synergy with its graphics definitely scores well in my book and as a fan of action, I loved the thrill of a well-timed missile. As more information is revealed, I also believe that players looking for a competitive arena might find a preference for the future online mode. Whether online mode reveals a competitive scene or not, only time will tell, but a competitive VR flight simulator sounds like a huge step forward for the market and a great inclusion into the Ace Combat series.
Strategic elements that synergize with real world physics.
An interesting first-person view that promises an interesting VR experience.
Action-heavy gameplay never leaves a dull moment.
Player communication with allied aircraft would be helpful for newer players or veterans on higher difficulties.
Precise aiming is a bit difficult with a standard controller.
Honey's Final Verdict:
I’m normally not a person who buys games based on VR capability, but I think that with simulation games, VR is such a promising extra layer of immersion. So many details go into recreating a real world environment that I believe, more than any other genre, simulation games will be a role model for other games to follow. I hope technology experiments with this new idea, and I’m certain Ace Combat 7 will flourish as it develops.
Got it in you to be a pilot or just want to fire a comment below? I’m ready to hear your opinions on this piece and would love to hear about your experiences with the Ace Combat series!
Author: Sean "Coopa" Hoang
A motivated writer hoping to share his passion for video games, literature, and visual media. I'm the main streamer of FinestKO, a variety game stream with roots in the fighting game community. Whenever there's time, you can usually find me broadcasting or writing for the next article.