Across 20 years and four generations, the Ace Combat series has been a fixture in the PlayStation ecosystem, and that’s a trend that Ace Combat 7 will look to uphold.
Part of the team bringing that vision to life is Producer Kazutoki Kono, who shed some light on the sequel’s scope and PlayStation VR support during our interview at Jump Festa 2016.
Like all of our interviews that will be rolling out from Jump Festa, our all-too-brief discussion with Niino was held in conjunction with the lovely folks over at Geek Culture.
Ace Combat as a series has been with PlayStation for 20 years now and has a rich history with the platform. How exciting is it for you to develop the game with support for PlayStation VR, and can you talk about how the new medium opens up new possibilities?
Kono: I’m very excited about making a new game for the franchise, and also the fact that after the announcement at PSX 2015, we got a lot of good feedback and we’re very excited to see this vision come to fruition.
And of course, PlayStation VR brings a lot of new challenges for the team. [The device] has become a big thing after it was first announced, and even though it’s a very difficult thing to do, we’re very excited about developing [for the platform].
Ace Combat 7 has been billed as a “true sequel” to Ace Combat 6, can you talk about the new features and mechanics that PlayStation 4 affords?
Kono: Yes, we’re developing the true sequel after Ace Combat 6, and we’re trying to concentrate on making a game that the core users will want on new hardware.
Do you feel confident that the sequel will be able to attract newcomers to a series that’s so far into its history, all the while delivering an experience that will please those who have been with Ace Combat from the beginning?
Kono: As this is the true sequel, we’re building an experience that the core audience will enjoy. And for the newcomers, as you’ve seen from the trailers, we’re making a real sky covered with real clouds [via Unreal Engine 4] and we want the newcomers to experience what it’s like to fly in the real world, along with the world that is above the clouds.
With PlayStation VR, is Ace Combat 7 going to be exclusive to VR? Or will there be a PS4 version, too? For instance, if I don’t own a headset, will I still be able to play the game?
Kono: We’re designing the sequel as a packaged game. As for additional content, there’s going to be a PlayStation VR support.
For the VR part, what can fans expect that will be special, and what are the key features of the virtual reality version?
Kono: For the PlayStation VR, the users can experience what it’s like to be inside the real cockpit. We’re still making the cockpit part, but afterwards, users are able to see freely around themselves inside the cockpit. They will need to think about how to take down enemies while looking behind them, and react on the fly.
Finally, have you experimented with PlayStation Move during development of Ace Combat 7 at all? For example, players could manoeuvre the plane with Move as though it were a joystick. Or is the plan to stick with the DualShock 4?
Kono: Basically, we’re making it fit the controller. We’re not planning on [supporting] PlayStation Move because it’s motion sensor, so the machine doesn’t need to recognise the position of the [Move controller]. But, for flight sticks in general, if there’s a chance, we would like to talk to companies who manufacture the flight sticks in the future.
A special thanks to Bandai Namco and in particular Kazutoki Kono for answering some of our questions. Ace Combat 7 is in development for PS4 and will feature PlayStation VR support. Currently, it’s without an official release date.