Ace Combat 7 : Skies Unknown Review, Gameplay And Multiplayer 2024

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is the latest installment in Bandai Namco’s long-running Ace Combat aerial combat simulator franchise. First released in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, Ace Combat 7 continues the series’ tradition of delivering an exhilarating combination of realistic flight mechanics and accessibility to both new players and genre veterans alike.

With photorealistic visuals, intense dogfighting action, and an immersive storyline, Ace Combat 7 offers an unparalleled combat aviation experience that has only gotten better since its initial launch. Now in 2023, does Ace Combat 7 still have what it takes to soar in a crowded airspace of flight simulators? Let’s take to the skies and find out!

An Engaging Storyline That Satisfies Series Veterans

Ace Combat 7 features an engaging single-player campaign that manages to satisfy long-time fans of the series while remaining accessible to newcomers. Set in Strangereal, the alternate futuristic Earth that serves as the setting for the Ace Combat games, Ace Combat 7 sees you take on the role of an Osean Air Defense Force pilot tasked with a critical mission to help turn the tide of a brutal war.

Fans of the series will recognize recurring nations like Osea and Erusea as well as references and connections to previous Ace Combat narratives. However, the story stands firmly on its own, centered around an interesting cast of characters and the desperate struggle between enemy nations vying for power and control.

The cutscenes are exceptionally well-directed, giving weight and emotional impact to the human drama unfolding amidst all the air combat. The story may not reinvent the wheel, but it hits all the right notes to satisfy fans invested in Strangereal’s lore while also not leaving new players feeling lost.

Thrilling Flight Mechanics That Make You Feel Like An Ace Pilot

Of course, compelling storytelling alone doesn’t make a good flight game. The gameplay has to make you feel like you’re actually in the pilot seat scoring air-to-air kills and pulling off death-defying maneuvers. Fortunately, Ace Combat 7 delivers an exhilarating flight combat experience that strikes a perfect balance between simulation and accessibility.

The flight mechanics feel authentic without being overly complex. Vital aspects like aircraft weight, wing loading, airspeed management, and engine power are modeled realistically. But developers of Project Aces wisely avoided bogging things down into a true study-level sim, keeping the focus on fast fun rather than systems mastery.

There’s a great variety of licensed real-world aircraft too, from agile F-16C Vipers to hulking A-10C Warthogs. Each has its unique handling that you’ll need to master. The dogfights are consistently white-knuckled showdowns where splitting-second timing on releasing flares, landing shots, and pulling elaborate maneuvers is the difference between victory and defeat. It’s an addictive aerial ballet where you truly feel like an ace pilot flying by the seat of your pants.

Jaw-Dropping Visuals That Immerse You In The Skies

A huge part of what makes Ace Combat 7 so immersive is its graphics. Both air and ground details are rendered with photorealistic quality, really giving you the feeling of inhabiting a living, breathing world. The aircraft are intricately modeled inside and out, with peerless attention to animations, damage modeling, and weapon textures.

Those sky-high standards carry over to the scenery too. Whether it’s the glint of sunlight off glass skyscrapers, waves rolling across crystalline waters, or wispy cloud formations, Ace Combat 7’s environments are utterly breathtaking. Combined with dynamic time of day and weather effects, you feel fully immersed and aware of the rich atmosphere of each mission.

The PS4 and Xbox One versions were already impressed with their visuals at launch. But playing Ace Combat 7 on modern gaming hardware like PlayStation 5 or PC with ray tracing enabled takes the realism to a whole new level. If you have capable hardware, playing with graphics maxed out is easily the definitive way to experience Ace Combat 7’s spectacle. There’s simply no better-looking flight combat game around right now in 2023.

Thrilling Multiplayer Engagements

Beyond the excellent campaign, Ace Combat 7 also includes the fan-favorite multiplayer mode where you can test your skills against real opponents. There’s a co-op mode called Team Deathmatch where you and up to 3 wingmen face off against an enemy squadron. It’s great fun coordinating with teammates to ambush rivals and gain aerial superiority.

But the heart of multiplayer lies in Battle Royale mode, an epic 8-player free-for-all. This is where you’ll truly put your combat maneuvering expertise to the test against human adversaries who can think and adapt in ways AI can’t. The large maps combined with reshuffling teams after each match keep battles unpredictable and intense.

While multiplayer player counts have settled down from launch, there’s still an active Ace Combat community keeping the online dogfights fierce and competitive. The online battles give multiplayer the feeling of those climactic warring skies campaign missions but with the satisfaction of vanquishing real opponents with your skill and strategy. For flight combat aficionados, it doesn’t get much better than this.

VR Mode Provides an Unparalleled Immersive Experience

Easily one of Ace Combat 7’s standout features, especially on PC, is the ability to play through the entire campaign in virtual reality. VR support allows you to directly look around the cockpit using a VR headset and intuitively aim weapons with your gaze. It’s the ultimate way to feel like you’re sitting in the pilot seat, fully immersed in the aerial dogfights.

Being able to track bandits with your head movements while pulling crazy maneuvers by physically shifting your body is indescribably thrilling. The cockpits are also fully modeled in VR, letting you realistically interact with switches and controls. This is the closest any game has come to putting you right in a futuristic fighter jet.

VR does come with some caveats, like lowered graphical fidelity compared to monitor gameplay. There are also moments where rough maneuvers can induce motion sickness. Still, if you have an Oculus, HTC Vive, or other SteamVR-compatible headset, playing Ace Combat 7 in VR is an unmissable experience for fans of air combat games. There’s simply nothing else like it.

Accessible Controls That Welcome New Players

Ace Combat 7 smartly balances simulation elements with accessibility, letting even total newcomers to flight games have a fun time. The controls are intuitive and responsive on the gamepad while also supporting more realistic setups utilizing flight sticks and throttles.

There’s a great amount of gameplay assist options too, like auto-leveling when your aircraft stalls and steering assistance for tracking enemies. Players more familiar with arcade-style air combat can enable these options to jump right into the action. But veterans can turn them all off for a full-on simulation challenge.

The game does an excellent job of easing you into its flight mechanics through early campaign missions focused on fundamental controls and maneuvers. By the time you’re pulling off tail slides, Immelmann turns, and racing over terrain at near speed of sound in the later missions, it feels like second nature rather than overwhelming.

Ace Combat 7 lets anyone strap into the virtual cockpit and feel like they’re ruling the skies, whether you’re an aviation enthusiast hungry for realism or a casual player looking for accessibility. That welcome invitation to all audiences has been a hallmark of the series and serves the game incredibly well here.

Excellent Sound Design That Completes the Immersion

One aspect that often gets overlooked in-flight games is audio design, but it’s a critical ingredient for immersion. Ace Combat 7 excels in this area with top-notch sound effects that completely sell the experience of soaring through the skies in a supersonic fighter jet.

The roar of the engines provides such depth and bass that you can almost feel the vibrations through your controller. Missiles whoosh by your cockpit and explode with booming force. Even subtle touches like the clicks of switches or thuds when retracting landing gear contribute greatly to making you feel ensconced within your aircraft amidst the maelstrom of combat.

The soundtrack complements the action perfectly as well. The mixture of rocking electric guitar riffs, orchestral bombast, and driving percussion captures the perfect tone at every moment. It’s a soaring, energetic score that makes taking the fight to the enemy feel truly pulse-pounding. Ace Combat 7 represents audio design done right and shows how vital it is for immersion.

DLC Adds Compelling New Content

Since launch, Ace Combat 7 has added optional DLC packs that extend the experience with worthwhile new game modes and missions. Included are new Team Deathmatch multiplayer arenas that provide some alternative environments not found in the base game.

The DLC also adds a host of original missions including opportunities to pilot other unique aircraft beyond your starting roster and take the fight to new AI adversaries. While only die-hard Ace Combat fans may want to splurge for the DLC, they provide fun ways to get more mileage out of the game after completing the main campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ace Combat 7 in 2024

Considering picking up Ace Combat 7 in 2023? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about this excellent combat flight simulator:

Is Ace Combat 7 worth playing in 2023?

Absolutely. With excellent graphics, tight flight mechanics, and an engaging campaign, Ace Combat 7 has aged wonderfully since its 2019 release. The active multiplayer community also gives it great ongoing playability.

Does Ace Combat 7 have a good storyline for new players?

Yes. The story stands completely on its own so newcomers won’t feel lost. At the same time, it satisfies series lore fans with connections to previous titles.

How realistic are the flight mechanics in Ace Combat 7?

They strike a perfect balance between simulation and arcade-style action. You have pitch/roll/yaw physics but without overly complex systems to manage.

Does Ace Combat 7 support flight sticks and other controls?

Yes! The game was designed to support flight sticks and throttles for added realism but also plays great with a standard gamepad.

Is the VR mode for Ace Combat 7 worth trying?

Absolutely. VR provides an incredible sense of immersion and perspective within the cockpit. It’s a must-try experience if you have a compatible headset.

How is the multiplayer in Ace Combat 7 these days?

Robust and competitive. While player counts have settled since launch, there’s still an active core group keeping team battles and dogfights intense for new players diving in.

Is downloadable content worth getting for Ace Combat 7?

The DLC provides some solid new modes, missions, and aircraft that add even more value for big fans of the franchise. But the core game itself is packed with great content already.

So strap on your flight helmet and take to the skies! Ace Combat 7 is the full aviation combat package offering an unmatched thrill ride in 2023.

Conclusion – The Definitive Combat Flight Sim Experience

In summary, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown earns its wings in every way for air combat enthusiasts in 2023. The thrilling flight mechanics, wonderfully realized story campaign, jaw-dropping graphics and intense competitive multiplayer come together to provide the definitive modern combat aviation experience.

New players will appreciate the accessibility while series devotees have an authentic Strangereal story to sink their teeth into. Even with added DLC content, the value proposition is extremely high for the base game itself considering the quality and quantity of gameplay. If you love the thought of becoming an ace pilot and ruling the skies, look no further than Ace Combat 7. It’s an utterly sublime combat flight simulator that has only gotten better with age since its 2019 debut. Strap in for a white-knuckle thrill ride that will have you punching air patrols and bombing fuel depots with the best of them in no time!

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