Ace Combat 8 Release Date, News, Leak, & Rumor 2023

Ace Combat is a long-running combat flight simulation video game series published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. First released in 1995, the series has developed a devoted cult following and garnered critical acclaim for its immersive gameplay, engaging storylines, and soundtracks.

Fans have been eagerly awaiting details on the next numbered entry in the series, Ace Combat 8. While no official announcements have been made yet, there have been some leaks and rumors that give us clues as to what we can expect from the upcoming game.

In this article, we’ll break down everything we know so far about Ace Combat 8, including potential release dates, settings, stories, gameplay features, platforms, and more. We’ll also analyze the credibility of leaks and rumors and make some predictions about what surprises might be in store.

Whether you’re a longtime fan hungry for news or someone looking to get into the series, read on to get up to speed on the latest intel on Ace Combat 8!

When Will Ace Combat 8 Release?

The biggest question on every Ace Combat fan’s mind — when can we expect to get our hands on AC8? Let’s break down what we know about the potential release date window.

No Official Release Date Announced Yet

First and foremost, Bandai Namco has not made any official announcements regarding a release date or even the game’s existence. All information we have so far is based on leaks, rumors, speculation, and reading between the lines.

Fans were hopeful that Ace Combat 8 would be revealed at big gaming events in 2022 like E3 or The Game Awards. However, those events came and went without a peep about the next numbered Ace Combat.

Unless Bandai Namco surprises us with a stealth announcement, it’s unlikely we’ll see AC8 in 2023. Major titles are usually promoted well in advance of their release, so the lack of concrete details suggests that 2023 is improbable.

2024 Release Looking Most Likely

The most credible leaks have pointed to 2024 as the current target for Ace Combat 8’s release.

According to a post on the r/GamingLeaksAndRumours subreddit, internal Bandai Namco documents from 2021 had AC8 slated for early 2024. This timing aligns with the typical 2-3 year gaps between previous Ace Combat game releases.

Notable industry insider Tom Henderson also corroborated 2024 as the planned release window in a tweet. With two separate sources leaking similar info, 2024 seems like our best bet for AC8’s launch.

A 2024 release would mark 9 years since the last numbered title (Ace Combat 7) arrived in January 2019. While not quite matching the 10+ year wait between AC6 and AC7, 2024 still feels agonizingly far away for fans hungry for the next chapter.

Delay to 2025/Beyond Possible

Of course, just because initial plans pointed to 2024 doesn’t guarantee that will stick. Game delays have become increasingly common, even for major titles like Starfield, Gotham Knights, and Breath of the Wild 2.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many development timelines as studios had to transition to remote work. Supply chain issues with consoles and computer components have also hampered game production.

There are no signs of delays yet specific to Ace Combat 8. But fans should temper expectations in case 2024 doesn’t pan out.

Hopefully, Bandai Namco will officially unveil the game soon so we can get a better read on their release target. For now, staying optimistic for 2024 but preparing for potential delays into 2025 or beyond is prudent.

Ace Combat 8 Platforms: PS5/Xbox Series X Likely

Ace Combat 7 first arrived on PS4 and Xbox One, eventually coming to PC as well. We can safely assume Ace Combat 8 will follow a similar pattern.

PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S

Given the lengthy development timeline, Ace Combat 8 is assuredly being built specifically for current-gen consoles. Based on the series’ history and Bandai Namco’s typical platforms, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S seem like locks.

The jump to PS5 and Series X will allow AC8 to tap into those systems’ impressive technical capabilities. Ray tracing for enhanced lighting and reflections would be a natural fit for aerial combat. Higher framerates can provide smoother, more responsive controls. The DualSense controller on PS5 also opens opportunities for immersive haptic feedback.

While no longer cutting edge, PS4 and Xbox One versions could still happen. Bandai Namco will want to maximize its customer base, especially with supply challenges still affecting the latest consoles. Scaled-back ports to last-gen seem likely.

PC Version Likely Eventually

Modern Ace Combat games have typically come to PC 12-18 months after debuting on consoles. That was the case for Ace Combat 7, which hit Steam in early 2020 following its PS4/Xbox One launch in early 2019.

There’s no reason to expect Bandai Namco will abandon the PC crowd for AC8. PCs offer advantages like higher framerates and the option for joystick flight controls preferred by aviation enthusiasts.

Don’t expect the PC version to launch day and date with the console, but it should arrive a year or so later if history repeats. The additional development time gets a polished PC port instead of a rushed one.

Nintendo Switch Unlikely

While the Switch has gotten ports of some last-gen Ace Combat games, its underpowered mobile hardware would likely struggle to run a new, from-the-ground-up AC8.

The Switch simply may not be technically capable of delivering the level of visual fidelity and performance expected for AC8. Compromises in resolution, effects, textures, draw distance, etc would be required.

Bandai Namco could still attempt a “cloud” version streamed to Switch à la Kingdom Hearts. But until we get confirmation one way or another, Switch prospects appear doubtful.

PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S should be where AC8 shines brightest.

What Do We Know About Ace Combat 8’s Story and Setting?

Ace Combat games always weave ambitious, cinematic stories to give context to the aerial action. While plots vary between titles, they frequently involve high-stakes wars, futuristic superweapons, and geopolitical tensions.

Details are scant so far, but leaks have given us clues about Ace Combat 8’s potential story direction and setting.

Real World Setting Rumored

Many Ace Combat games use fictional universes loosely inspired by real countries and events. For example, Ace Combat 7 was set in the fictional continents of Usea and Osea amidst a war reminiscent of contemporary geopolitics.

According to insider leaks, Ace Combat 8 may return to a real-world setting last seen in Ace Combat 5 and Zero. Those fan-favorite PS2 titles were set amidst familiar nations and geography.

If true, this could let AC8 tell a more relatable story rooted in real-world politics, history, and locations. Leaning into authentic aerial combat theatres could make for a grittier, more provocative plot.

That said, Bandai Namco may opt to fictionalize nations and events to avoid controversy. But a real-world foundation seems to be the current direction.

Cold War Era Rumored

Along with a real-world setting, leaks point towards a Cold War-era backdrop for Ace Combat 8’s plot. This could pit familiar Cold War powers against each other in proxy wars and geopolitical machinations.

Potential aircraft could include mainstays like the F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and MiG-29 Fulcrum. Iconic Cold War skirmishes could provide mission backdrops.

A Cold War setting mirrors the original Ace Combat’s 1990s release. Revisiting this era would let AC8 segue smoothly from AC7’s near-future timeline while indulging fans’ nostalgia.

This backdrop also opens storytelling potential not just for aerial combat, but also for subterfuge, espionage, politics, and drama.

Ace Combat 8 Gameplay: VR, New Modes, and More

Ace Combat 8’s release on PS5, Xbox Series X, and high-end PCs will empower huge graphical leaps and new gameplay opportunities compared to past entries. Let’s speculate about potential new features and improvements.

PlayStation VR 2 Support Possible

Ace Combat 7 was one of the most prominent titles to support PlayStation VR, offering immersive cockpit action. The upcoming PSVR 2 headset for PS5 will take VR fidelity and immersion to new heights.

Leaks suggest Ace Combat 8 could support PSVR 2 either at launch or eventually. This would let players experience AC8’s aerial combat like never before. PSVR 2’s enhanced resolution, field of view, and eye tracking could make players truly feel like pilots.

The only catch is that PSVR 2 releases after AC8’s tentative 2024 window. PSVR 2 support may have to come later as DLC or a patch. But getting to fly Ace Combat in modern VR on PS5 should be an incredible experience whenever it arrives.

Multiplayer Expansions

Ace Combat 7’s multiplayer was somewhat limited, with only deathmatch and co-op modes. For Ace Combat 8, fans hope more robust competitive and cooperative options are in store.

Expanded team-based modes, objective missions, ranked playlists, and tournaments could all up AC8’s replay value. More customizable matches and playlists catering to both casual and hardcore crowds would be ideal.

The foundation is already there from AC7 — AC8 just needs to build on it with modern multiplayer features expected from premium titles.

Dynamic Weather/Time of Day

Thus far in the series, missions have been locked to specific times of day and weather conditions. Ace Combat 8 could add dynamic time and weather that changes during missions.

Fighting through sunrise, sunset, night, rain, thunderstorms, fog, and more would showcase AC8’s graphics and bring more variety to each flight. Shifting conditions would force players to adapt strategies on the fly based on visibility and environmental hazards.

Weather and time of day have been more dynamic in recent games like Microsoft Flight Simulator and Top Gun: Maverick, so AC8 has the chance to catch up in this area.

More Aircraft Choices

Ace Combat 7 featured around 30 playable aircraft — a solid variety but not overwhelming. For AC8, fans hope the aircraft roster expands even further to include new classics and experimental prototypes.

With a real-world Cold War setting, AC8 has an opportunity to include iconic planes not seen in the futuristic AC7. Expanding the roster with new variants and special versions would also be great.

More unlockables and customization options also encourage replayability. AC8 can up the quantity without sacrificing distinctive traits for each aircraft.

Enhanced Physics/Flight Models

Ace Combat straddles the line between pure arcade action and simulations like DCS World. For AC8, though, fans want flight and physics models that push even closer to sim realism.

More realistic stall behavior, lift generation, drag, g-forces, and component damage would increase immersion. Options to fine-tune control sensitivity and physics modeling could appease both casual and sim crowds.

Given that AC8 will probably lack a hardcore sim rival on PS5/Series X, it has room to capture more of that audience with its flight model. The improved power of new consoles should facilitate more complex physics.

Ray Traced Graphics

One of AC8’s most certain features is jaw-dropping visuals amplified by current-gen hardware and ray tracing support. Lighting, reflections, clouds, and explosions should achieve photorealism.

Cockpits, aircraft models, weather effects, and background environments can be rendered in amazing detail not possible in AC7. AC8 will aim to mimic real aerial footage and capture the beauty of flight.

Bandai Namco will want to show off what their proprietary Ace Combat engine and artists can deliver with ray tracing. Expect a visual splendor that grounds AC8’s escapism in realism.

Rumored Ace Combat 8 Leaks and Speculation

Beyond concrete details, supposed leaks and fan speculation give hints at what else Ace Combat 8 may include. Let’s analyze some rumors about potential AC8 features.

Co-Op Campaign Rumored

A common request is a dedicated co-op mode beyond AC7’s limited missions. Alleged leaks suggest Ace Combat 8 may include a 2-player co-op campaign that spans the entire story.

Having a friend ride in the backseat would amplify the fun and cinematic drama of the campaign. Coordinated maneuvers and tactics in challenging missions would add replayability.

The caveat here is that AC8’s campaign structure may have to change to accommodate 2-player challenges, pacing, dialogue, and story beats. But the co-op campaign has been done in other air combat games before to great success.

Cutting-Edge Aircraft Speculated

While a Cold War setting implies a focus on that era’s aircraft, fans speculate that AC8 may include teases of cutting-edge prototypes similar to past superplanes.

Potential candidates bandied about range from 6th generation concepts like the British Tempest to experimental craft like the SR-72. These look to the future while still fitting into a Cold War backdrop.

Their reveal could foreshadow threats to come in post-AC8 titles while delivering awe-inspiring set pieces. Brand new superplanes seem like a strong possibility AC8 will fulfill.

Expanded Customization Hoped For

Customizing planes with special weapons, parts, and cosmetics is a beloved part of Ace Combat. AC8 could take things further by offering deeper cosmetic and structural customization.

Personal squadron/logo painters, livery editors, geometry modifications, and a bigger selection of skins and parts would let players fine-tune the look and performance of their dream aircraft.

Deeper customization options increase investment in each plane and provide incentives to keep progressing. Providing tools instead of just pre-designed content adds exponentially more permutations.

Dynamic Campaigns Speculated

Thus far, Ace Combat has used pre-scripted missions. But fans envision a future “dynamic campaign” mode with procedural objectives, airspace, targets, weather, etc.

With dynamic campaigns, replayability is endless. The landscape of war changes based on player decisions and events.

Current hardware limitations may make fully realized dynamic campaigns difficult on consoles. But AC8 could take steps toward more randomized factors altering playthroughs. Dynamic campaigns remain the holy grail for fans.

What Are Realistic Expectations for Ace Combat 8?

Given nearly a decade will have passed since the last numbered entry, expectations for Ace Combat 8 are sky-high among fans. But it’s important to keep hopes in check and anticipate gradual evolution rather than revolution.

Don’t Expect Sweeping Changes to Formula

The Ace Combat series has honed its core identity and strengths over decades. There’s no indication that AC8 aims to dramatically overhaul the template or genre.

The core exhilarating spectacle of piloting iconic aircraft in dramatic conflicts should remain highly familiar. Sweeping changes would likely alienate more fans than they attract.

Instead, a refined version of the classic formula enhanced by technical leaps seems most probable. Gradual improvements over AC7 in areas like VR, physics, and customization appear more realistic than revolutionary revamps to the formula.

Scope Will Remain Focused on Aerial Combat

With AC8’s development confined to the modestly-sized Project Aces studio, dramatic expansions of scope are unlikely.

Staples like story cutscenes, radio chatter, mid-air refueling, and easter eggs will return. But players shouldn’t expect radical new modes or features outside the core combat.

Project Aces knows its strengths and will aim to deliver the most polished and exciting aerial combat experience possible rather than chasing trends. Keep expectations focused squarely on making the skies more alive and perilous.

Next-Gen Immersion and Fidelity Over Open Worlds

Don’t anticipate Ace Combat 8 veering into massive open-world territory à la Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Project Aces will instead focus on leveraging PS5/Series X power to maximize immersion within tighter, carefully constructed levels. Photorealistic visuals, physics, and effects will make individual missions more impactful.

Open-world games require huge staff and resources beyond Project Aces’ scope. AC8’s fidelity and cinematic flair will stay within the series’ mission-based structure rather than stretching toward vast open worlds.

Innovation in Existing Framework Over Reinvention

Rather than changing course, Ace Combat 8 will build on the well-received formula of AC7 with thoughtful innovation.

Expect iteration rather than reinvention. Enhancements to VR, multiplayer, physics, and graphics will modernize and elevate the experience while retaining the classic feel.

Wholesale reinvention risks losing sight of what makes Ace Combat special. AC8 will stay true to the series’ spirit while pushing immersion and fidelity forward within its established framework.

What Questions Remain About Ace Combat 8?

Despite leaks and speculation, many key questions remain unanswered:

  • How will the story connect to previous Ace Combat games? Will AC8 reference the Strangereal canon or craft a distinct real-world tale?
  • Will fan-favorite characters or events from past games return? Are crossover cameos or returning planes/superweapons in the store?
  • How will AC8’s world and missions be structured? An open world seems unlikely, but will the mission structure remain linear or offer diverging paths?
  • Will there be multiple playable protagonists? Will co-op necessitate letting each player embody a distinct pilot with interweaving stories?
  • What innovations or threats await in the skies? How will AC8 up the ante with new aerial combat maneuvers, enemy squadrons, super

Ace Combat 8 Rumors: Analyzing Credibility

Given the lack of official details, fans are hungry for any leaks and rumors about AC8. But how much faith should we put in various claims? Let’s analyze the credibility of some notable rumors.

Real-World Cold War Setting

This rumor has been corroborated across multiple leaks making it highly credible. It aligns with AC’s alternating fictional/real-world settings and lets AC8 revisit nostalgic territory last seen in PS2 classics. A real-world Cold War backdrop seems like a solid bet.

Credibility Level: High

Co-Op Campaign

While exciting, a full co-op campaign seems like a major deviation requiring substantial design changes. The lack of co-op in AC7 also makes this sudden shift questionable. That said, Bandai Namco could be convinced by co-op’s popularity these days. I’d keep hopes tentative for now.

Credibility Level: Moderate

Cutting-Edge Superplanes

This is an easy rumor to buy into since superplanes have been an AC staple since the early days. Adding some next-gen concepts as endgame unlocks to contrast Cold War tech seems highly plausible.

Credibility Level: High

PSVR 2 Support

PSVR support for AC7 was transformative, so PSVR 2 integration makes perfect sense, even after launch. Bandai Namco will want to capitalize on Sony’s push into next-gen VR. This rumor is credible but unsure if PSVR 2 will make AC8’s launch.

Credibility Level: High

PC Port

History makes a PC port a virtual lock. The only question is release timing. A 1+ year lag again seems likely with console SKUs first.

Credibility Level: Certain

Nintendo Switch Version

A Switch port has not been rumored or leaked and seems extremely unlikely given hardware limitations. Don’t expect AC8 mobile on Switch unless the cloud streaming tech improves dramatically.

Credibility Level: Low

What Do Fans Want to See in Ace Combat 8?

After nearly a decade since the last numbered entry, Ace Combat fans have no shortage of requests for AC8:

More Aircraft Variety

Fans would love an expanded aircraft roster that includes iconic real-world planes from multiple eras along with experimental superplanes to unlock. Variety is the spice of aerial life.

Co-Op Modes

Co-op campaigns or multiplayer missions are on many wish lists. Teaming up with friends enhances the experience and provides safety for newcomers learning the ropes.

Customization and Unlocks

Deeper cosmetic, loadout, and performance customization feeds into the fantasy of crafting your personalized Air Force. More unlockables also increase motivation and replayability.

Dynamic Campaign/Missions

Pre-scripted missions have limitations. Dynamic skirmishes with shifting objectives and conditions provide endless replay value.

VR Support

After AC7 proved VR’s immersive potential, VR integration is now a must-have feature for fans to truly feel like pilots.

Expanded Multiplayer

Competitive and cooperative multiplayer needs to be strengthened with more modes, variety, and incentives to support ongoing player investment.

Civilian Aircraft/Missions

Thus far AC has focused on military fighters. Expanding the scope to civilian planes and missions like rescue, transport, or firefighting could be interesting digressions.

Realistic Physics/Flight Models

Balancing accessibility and realism is tricky, but inching closer to sim-level dynamics allows self-professed “aviation nerds” to geek out.

Dynamic Weather/Time of Day

The time of day has been static in past games. Linking weather and lighting to the in-game clock would showcase new-gen graphics and varying conditions.

Detailed Plane Interiors

AC has focused on externals thus far, but modeling fully interactive 3D cockpits enhances immersion. Let us flip those switches!

What’s Your Favorite Thing About Ace Combat Games?

Ace Combat has captivated fans for over 25 years by delivering an exhilarating blend of flight action, drama, and escapism. But what specific elements make the series magic for you? Sound off in the comments with your favorite aspects of Ace Combat!

For me, strapping into the cockpit and taking off never fails to make me smile. That sense of momentum as you barrel down the runway and lift into the sky captures the raw joy of flight. The feeling of banking around missiles and enemy jets as the orchestra swells in the background is unparalleled. Ace Combat captures the romance and adventure of soaring through the skies.

I also love how Ace Combat contextualizes the action into a larger political drama between nations. The stories are often campy, but give weight and meaning to missions. The soundtracks fuse orchestral music with rock influences to perfectly complement the emotional arc of each game.

Let me know which pieces of the Ace Combat formula resonate most with you in the comments! There are so many elements that come together to form this beloved franchise.

Ace Combat 8: Closing Thoughts and Hopes

While concrete details remain few, the future looks bright for Ace Combat’s return. Ace Combat 8 has the chance to deliver the ultimate evolution of the series’ signature aerial combat, exhilarating storytelling, and musical mastery.

Current-gen hardware will empower incredible leaps in immersion, fidelity, physics, and graphical splendor. Optimized VR support could finally fulfill the fantasy of flying for real within Ace Combat’s universe. And a Cold War setting combines just the right blend of real-world relevance and nostalgia.

Of course, some degree of patience and managed expectations are prudent until Bandai Namco peels back the curtain. But based on the series’ steady trajectory over 25+ years, there’s good reason to trust Project Aces to stick the landing.

For now, join me down in the comments sharing your favorite memories from across Ace Combat’s esteemed history. And stay tuned right here for any Ace Combat 8 news as it breaks! Skies unknown await.

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