Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Hands-On Impressions at E3 2017
During E3, I got the chance to play a whole mission from Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown at the Bandai Namco booth, so I took to the skies and tested the controls. First off, you could play in advance mode or normal, which was for the first timers to the game. The main difference in advance mode is that the player has more controls to worry about, such as in tilt, acceleration, and targeting, vs normal, which the AI helps you in controlling the plane and lock-on targets. The level started with the standard mission briefing screen where I got the details of the mission and a view of the 3D map. The map seems more detailed than in previous games and feels like you are getting more information because of this. During the mission, you have your three views: outer view, cockpit view, and HUD view [1st person view]. The cockpit view looks more detailed than previous games.
In this demo mission, the objective was for me and my squadron to destroy a series of targets. The next part of the story illustrates the importance of the environment. Since the targets kept flying or hiding inside clouds, it was easy to lose sight of them. Also, as I flew into the clouds to chase them down, the cockpit window developed water droplets, which would freeze and thaw depending on the altitude. If I didn't fly out of the cloud in a reasonable amount of time, I would lose visibility which could mean the difference between crashing or getting hit by a missile.
The next detail I noticed was the damage that the plane took from bullets or missiles. It added an element of suspense, but I didn't notice any loss of control once I took the hits.
The level began with a take off from the carrier where I had the choice to skip it or play through for an added layer of realism. Once airborne, I joined my team with the objective to destroy our targets. Midway thru the stage, a message popped up on my heads-up display stating that a bigger aircraft was approaching with more targets. This is where the playable demo ended. Overall, the game feels like previous Ace Combats yet with a bit more polish. This should please veterans but still feel welcoming to players that will pick this up for the first time. From what I saw in this demo, the environment plays a big part in building a strategy which can help or hurt you.
If you are a returning player expecting a completely new experience, there won't be any from the looks of this demo. The game is just another updated version with more story, which for some players is what they expected. Since I only tried the PS4 version and not the PSVR, I can't comment on the VR experience. I just hope that it brings what veteran players want for this series, a deeper emergent feel to the game. The release date is set for sometime in 2018.