Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown‘s release date is a little over a month away, but I was recently invited to test out my flight skills against other gamers in two multiplayer modes, as well as allowed to try out the first three story missions and a couple of VR missions. It was a very eventful flight session with a few branded Hori Ace Combat 7 Hotas Flight Sticks available for use, but I brought my own trusty Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas 4 to dogfight with.
Battle Royale and Team Deathmatch
Our first multiplayer match was a timed, eight-person battle royale, set in the daytime skies over a flat part of the fictional game world. As a free-for-all dogfight, any target was fair game and, while utilizing the advanced flight controls, I fared pretty well and finished with an overall second place. Scoring is not only based on shooting folks down, but also landing shots from your cannon and missiles. The reason I point this out is that we were informed that your weapons are weakened a bit in multiplayer so as to make the battles more intense and longer. Hitting a real world F14D with a couple of missiles should be more than enough to splash them down, but in multiplayer mode for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, that’s always not the case.
After a couple rounds of battle royale, we were then teamed up for a 4v4 deathmatch. This mode was a little less chaotic, and it was pretty cool to take out a guy that was hot on the tail of one of your teammates. It probably wasn’t too cool for the guy that ate my sidewinder, but my teammate was very grateful and later returned the favor. Missile dodging flares are a very useful tool, but your supply is limited so be prepared to loop, duck, dodge, and dive to get away from those homing missiles. Flying into the clouds can be helpful when dodging a sidewinder, but at the same time flying through the clouds can cause your wings to ice up, so beware of using that technique too much.
I played through the first three missions of the game and was introduced to several key characters. The main storyline is pretty intriguing and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. The small part of the story I played through was well written and gave me a glimpse of how deep the campaign might be. We have about eight minutes of in-game footage from mission 3 for your viewing pleasure, so hit the play button (1080p should be available), go full screen, and enjoy the flight.
Usually when you think about airplanes and trees, it’s generally not a good thing. In the case of Ace Combat 7, these are different types of trees. When you first launch the game, you’ll have a limited number of aircraft at your disposal, and even those are limited and are in need of upgrades. As you play through the different modes of the game, you’ll earn MRP, or in-game currency. New aircraft and aircraft upgrades can then be purchased using the MRP, unlocking new aircraft for you to fly and/or for making your aircraft perform better. These unlocked and upgraded planes can then be selected for use in both multiplayer and story modes.
Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Multiplayer Hands-on Preview
Upgrades for better de-icing gear, increased velocity, and better handling in the form of upgraded tail sections are just a few of the available items. I did unlock my personal favorite war machine, the A-10 Warthog, but it didn’t really fit the missions I played, so I didn’t actually use it. The F14D and F16C were the two I used and both handled well using the flight stick and advanced controls. There is an option for standard controls, which don’t require turning on your side in order to bank, but I found that they limited the aircraft in maneuverability.
PlayStation VR Missions
In between multiplayer and single player modes I was able to put on the PlayStation VR headset and try out a couple of the PlayStation exclusive VR missions. Taking off from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier using the VR was a trip. Looking around you can see all of the cool and functional gauges and gadgets, with a level of detail I wasn’t fully expecting. VR and I don’t always get a long well, and I had a bit of mixed results with Ace Combat 7. As long as I looked forward, focusing on a point ahead of me or an aircraft I needed to target, the sense of motion was minimal, but the second I decided to look around at the environment passing by outside, things got a little wonky for me. I found that if I just focused on the task at hand, and cut out the tourist crap, the VR experience was pretty damn good.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has been on our radar for quite some time, with a few delays here and there to give the developer more time to improve it and add more bells and whistles. It’s launch date is set for January 18, 2019, so stay tuned as we get closer to launch for our full review.