The long-lived Ace Combat series of games is finally making its return after nearly 10 years, with the all new Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. After announcing with a shiny new trailer last week, the game is now on display at the Bandai Namco booth at E3, offering up demos on both the standard PlayStation controller and in PlayStation VR. I got a rare chance to try both, and compare the two.
I first tried the standard controller and TV setup, and found the game to be enjoyable. The last Ace Combat game I personally played was Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies on the PS2 back in 2002, and to be honest, the controls and gameplay for this new one felt about the same as I remembered; fly with the joystick, shoot missiles with the circle button, accelerate and decelerate with the triggers, and you’re set. I did appreciate, though, the massive graphical overhaul the games have undergone over the years to look as beautiful as they do now, and the game’s implementation of clouds and weather to affect visibility and other gameplay aspects was also welcome. And, from what we’ve seen in the trailers, it looks like the game will bring much more depth in its campaign story, as well as in the variety of futuristic jets and weaponry available to the player, which were not parts of the brief E3 demo.
I tried the PSVR setup second, and I have to say, I think this is where the game truly shines. The VR setup puts you right in the pilot’s seat, surrounded by a fully-detailed cockpit complete with tons of dials, knobs, displays, a joystick, and your own knees in front of you. In the fully open glass cockpit, you have access to 360 degrees of view, letting you swivel your head around to keep track of enemy jets beside and behind you, which I actually found to be more intuitive than the standard display controls. Motion-sickness was also not an issue, which I was relieved to discover after some initial apprehension, although I did find myself occasionally getting disoriented as to which way was up.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is scheduled to release in 2018.