Ace Combat Fan has completed a full day of hands-on experience with the demo for Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown at PAX West 2018. He delves deeper into his experience with the game in this post-event interview with Project: Lighthouse.
On August 27th, 2018, Bandai-Namco America announced that it would have a booth at PAX West 2018 featuring demos of four games. One of these games being Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Shortly after buying his ticket Ace Combat Fan agreed to attend the event as a Lighthouse public relations correspondent. With his gameplay checklist complete and new video footage being prepared for his YouTube channel, he took some time shortly after returning from his road trip to PAX to answer some questions.
How did the flight physics react when you were hit by the wind? Did the plane react differently depending on the angle in which the wind was gusting? i.e: Crosswind, Tailwind...
You can definitely feel the impact of the crosswind on your aircraft since it will drift to the side. The 3rd person camera helps you identify this drift because the aircraft will go to one side of the screen unlike in no-wind conditions, where it remains in the centre. On one occasion I remember being in a narrow ravine and I had to pull out because the wind was pushing me to one side. Of course the player should be able to apply the rudder to correct for this situation but since I still wasn’t used to the aircraft response in AC7, I took the safest option of climbing out of the narrow passage. I believe I also felt some headwind/tailwind but that is much easier to deal with since you can control it with your power setting/throttle.
During the landing sequence, how did the physics react? Can you compare them to any previous game or do they feel completely different?
I’ve only done one landing and was mostly focused on recording the airbase and the aircraft parked there, thus my approach was horrible. Still I noticed that when you get closer to the ground your aircraft gets a slight nose up tendency unlike previous games. So you can perform a smoother landing. The takeoff transition is also smoother since your aircraft doesn’t just “jump” straight into the air like past games.
During Mission 7, how did the weather feel whenever you were flying? Did you think that it was realistic or that it was a little too harsh on the player?
As someone with some flying experience in real life, I’ve really enjoyed the turbulence because it feels authentic. You get a considerable feel of your aircraft shaking but at the same time it is not overwhelming to the point you would panic. As for visibility, some areas where quite good and others quite poor so there’s some diversity on the environment. Overall, Yinshi Valley is a challenging map due to the combination of both the weather and the terrain. I’ve seen many nuggets* playing the demo and many crashed because of a wrong turn, clouds in front of the rocks and wind shear/crosswind. Even more experienced players had some difficulty in that map and I had my own share of close calls!
*Nuggets: aviator slang for pilot trainees / new pilots.
During the landing sequence, did you got the chance to see if there were any other parked aircraft in the base? If there were, what were they?
When I was landing I was able to see three black transport aircraft. I believe all of them are Osean C-17 Globemasters (so a new confirmed aircraft!).
Were you hit by lightning strikes when you were playing on Yinshi Valley? What were the severity of the effects on gameplay?
I was never struck by lightning but I talked to another player who was. He mentioned that most of your HUD (armament, damage indicator, speed, altitude, timer) is effected but comes back to normal quickly. The mini-map/radar on the other hand takes a while to come back to normal.
Clouds look amazing on Mission 7 but in terms of gameplay, did they become a frustrating mechanic?
Yinshi Valley had few enemies that used the clouds as cover, so I wasn't bothered by the clouds which were relatively thin and more like a mist. The major problem in the valley was the low visibility. Taking the wrong turn into a cloud to later find a wall of rocks waiting was the leading cause of deaths among the nuggets playing the demo. I can only try to imagine their frustration! With that being said, even making a turn will require some consideration, especially when clouds are present.
Was there any plot related radio chatter in mission 7?
There were no major spoilers in neither mission 6 or 7. Thanks to the demo's countdown, the mission ends before the mission update happens. Even experienced players at the event were unable to reach these mission updates.
Was the wind in Yinshi Valley easier to deal with at lower or higher speeds?
I think this depends on the skill of the player, since I was still getting used to AC7's controls I preferred to keep a slow speed while flying through the valley. The downside of this is that you spend more time under the effect of crosswind. On the other hand, I think a experienced player could speed up and deal with the crosswind with the rudder/yawing, though I was not very confident and was afraid crashing due to under or over application of the inputs. I never flew slow enough to be close to the stall speed but I think it would be interesting to see if your plane could stall due to a change from headwind to tailwind.
What can you say about the High-G maneuver game mechanic?
There's no visual indicator of the High-G maneuvers unlike Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. When performing them I felt that in AC7 the maneuver is a bit slower, less aggressive. The same can be said about regular acceleration and deceleration.
Were all of the game consoles available PlayStation 4 only or were there some Xbox Ones available as well?
There were only PS4s at the location.
We saw the primary AC7 demo area in your Twitter video. How was the rest of the area?
That was the only area with four set ups. The remainder of the Bandai booth was dedicated to other games.
Did you meet any other hardcore Ace Combat fans? Have any interesting discussions?
Yes, actually I met quite a few of them and I wasn't the only one with a flight suit! We had some really good discussion about AC7's gameplay and story. We all agreed that according to the demo AC7 has the right stuff to succeed as the sequel we've been waiting over 10 years for. Of course we discussed some theories about the story, how some previous games could connect to AC7 but that would be a very long response if I was to mention everything said!
In addition to some hardcore fans I’ve talked to a mechanic from the US Marines who works on the F/A-18 and he said he’s excited for the game!
Was Bandai-Namco working the booth this year?
Yes, the crew there was from Bandai and thanks to that I was able to get some information about the game. For example, they said they’re considering a bundle consisting of the game and the special edition flight stick. They also told me they’re planning to bring the VR demo to New York Comic Con in October - so if you are in New York or the surrounding area this could be your chance!
Did you score any merchandise for attending the event and trying out the Ace Combat 7 demo?
I got a lanyard from Bandai’s Jump Force but that was it. There was no Ace Combat merch, though I wasn’t expecting any due to how niche the genre is.
You were giving out some business cards and other stuff on your own while at the convention. Did you have anyone say "Belka Did Nothing Wrong" to get a keychain from you?
Yes! As a matter of fact those were the first words I heard when I was met by other fans who knew the channel! Guess that Belkan propaganda is working nicely. Haha!
What are your current feelings on AC7? Did anything surprise you or exceed your expectations?
Playing the demo is the final piece to the puzzle after getting samples of the story, graphics and music via the trailers. While I will admit that my hype has fallen due delays in the game, I am very pleased with what I have seen, heard and played in the demo. The gameplay is similar to what we have played in the golden days of Ace Combat but with innovations that merely compliment but do not disrupt the core of the gameplay. I believe the end result will please the fans who have been waiting for so long yet still be challenging enough to entertain them while attracting new blood to the series.
September 4th, 2018
Ace Combat Fan