Ace Combat 7: Everything you need to know

What is Ace Combat 7?

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a dogfighting simulator for the PlayStation 4 that follows on from the other games in the franchise. It has a huge overarching story that elevates from your average flight sim. The Ace Combat universe is similar to ours in many ways though with a lot more advanced technologies for you to play with.

In this installment, you play "Trigger", a former pilot of the Osean Federation who has fallen on some hard times and has been demoted to a penal squadron. We can only assume we will be fighting our way up to being the best, as happens in all these games.

It has a VR mode!

While the whole game is not available in VR, it does give you two different PlayStation VR-only modes. The first mode is called Airshow. Essentially, it's a 360-degree experience where you can watch the game give you an airshow with all the different planes. You can move around anywhere in the show but you can't actually interact with anything, making it more like a YouTube VR video than anything else.

The second mode is the one you want though. Ace Combat 7 comes with several VR exclusive missions that aren't connected to the main storyline but seem awesome in their own right. The gang over at PlayStation Underground have a great video showing what you can expect from the VR mode, and honestly, it looks pretty epic.

The VR mode is said to lose some of its graphical fidelity to keep the game above 60FPS, but from the gameplay I've seen, it still looks amazing.

It's HOTAS compatible

Ace Combat 7 is, of course, HOTAS compatible. For those who don't know, HOTAS stands for Hands On Throttle And Stick, and it's a type of controller that allows you to immerse yourself into flight simulators like never before.

Using a HOTAS in the normal game mode will help you be the best dogfighter you can be, but using it in VR brings a whole new level of immersion.

There a lot of HOTAS controllers out there, but our own Essa Kidwell as put together the best HOTAS you can buy right now. If you have the money, I would recommend you grab one before the release of Ace Combat 7.

Does it have multiplayer?

Good news: Not only does it have multiplayer but it comes in a lot of variations. Not only do they have normal team deathmatch you would expect from a dogfighting game like this, but they have also included a Battle Royale style multiplayer mode for those who like that sort of thing. After all, Bettle Royale is all the rage right now so why not include it?

The multiplayer is only up to eight players, so don't expect 100 plane sky battles. Even so, that should be more than enough to create mayhem in the skies above Strangereal (especially in a free-for-all mode).

Bad news: there is not going to be any VR multiplayer. As an avid VR player, this makes me a little sad. Imagine having 8 player dogfights in VR where you can talk to each of your opponents, it would be amazing. We can only hope that as VR and the PlayStation VR, in particular, become ever more popular, we will see more full VR games instead of just small VR modes and VR experiences.

The clouds are more cloudy

In previous Ace Combat games, the clouds were two dimensional and just there for decorations. In Ace Combat 7, however, the clouds have really taken on a life of their own. Thanks to the Unreal 4 engine the game uses, the clouds are now dynamic and have their own flight paths, turbulence, and even lightning storms to make flying through them more difficult.

One video I saw showed a player fly through a storm cloud. Their visibility reduced to near zero as the rain hit the screen and lightning flashed all around and you could see them struggling with the stick in the high turbulence. This kind of additional obstacle is a great way to make the game more exciting, especially if you can work out how to use it to your advantage when playing against others.

When and where can I buy it?

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is due for release January 18 and is available for PlayStation and Xbox One, though the VR mode is, of course, a PS4 exclusive. The game is available on Amazon for $60 as well as the PlayStation Store as a digital download.

James Bricknell
Since the days of the HTC Hero James has had two or three Android phones stuffed into pockets. James is always on hand to offer advice on phones, apps and most recently, PlayStation, especially VR, It's now something of an obsession. Find him @keridel wherever Media Socials itself.