Having never played an Ace Combat game before, I was intrigued by the opportunity at playing Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown at E3 2017. I actually was able to play in two parts: with and without a Virtual Reality headset. Let me start off by saying – VR makes a difference.
I know a lot of people who really enjoy the Ace Combat series. After playing Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown for just a short time, I can see why. The controls – even using a controller – are extremely tight and responsive. The game does such a good job at making you feel a seamless transition from your visual screen inputs to your brain and to the commands on the controller and the screen. It gives the impression the plane knows what you’re going to do before you do it. This is especially important to a newbie such as me, who cannot tell the difference between missile types armed on my aircraft. Playing without the virtual reality was fun, and for anyone that is a fan of the Ace Combat series or combat flight sims in general – what I’ve seen thus far will pleasantly surprise you.
I thought that is where my time with it would end. Then I was convinced to put on a PlayStation VR headset and truly get inside the cockpit. That is where the vision of Ace Combat 7 is realized. You put the headset on, and it just feels like you’re sitting in the cockpit. Then, in the sky, everything – from the controls to the visuals to the sounds are quite immersive. The best part is how the game uses the head tracking for targeting. Separating the plane from the pilot does not seem like a huge difference-maker until you are flying at hundreds of miles per hour desperately trying to cut the distance on an enemy who isn’t directly in front of your plane. Being able to visually track aircraft just took my experience to a whole other level. The best part was that at no point did the VR experience cause me any discomfort or nausea. Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown was easily the best VR experience I’ve had yet.
Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Preview Final Thoughts:
Overall, Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown is shaping up to be an excellent flight combat sim. I still think the game will likely have difficulty escaping its niche audience and going mainstream, but you never know considering its inclusion of PSVR support. If Bandai Namco can get Sony to feature Ace Combat as a function of their PSVR platform, I think the partnership will boost unit sales of both Ace Combat 7 and Sony PlayStation Virtual Reality headsets.