Hands-on: ‘Ace Combat 7’ Campaign Not Playable on PSVR, Separate Mode to Offer ‘Several Hours of VR Gameplay’

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Stepping into the Bandai Namco booth at E3 in Los Angeles, I got a hands-on with Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown’s PSVR mode. Far from being just a single mission, the VR mode is apparently going to offer “several hours of VR gameplay” according to David Bonacci, Brand Manager at Bandai Namco Entertainment America.

Announced back in 2015 as a PSVR exclusiveAce Combat 7 has seen several delays, the latest of which has pushed the release of the iconic dogfighter back to sometime in 2018. Delays notwithstanding, Bonacci maintains that Ace Combat 7’s PSVR mode will have “100 percent the same mobility” as the non-VR campaign, meaning every bit of speed and topsy-turvy fun of the flat screen game will be available on PSVR.

Going hands-on with the demo using a dualshock 4 controller, I launched off the aircraft carrier at high-speed, raising the nose of the fighter at the steepest pitch it would allow me. Prompted by an authoritative voice over the radio telling me to watch out for the game’s vaguely slavic-sounding enemy, I start a 10-minute bout of acrobatic stunts that would have likely emptied my brain of its precious bodily fluids and left me blacked-out and on the floor had it been real life. If you’ve ever played the arcade dogfighter, you know what I mean.

image courtesy Bandai Namco

The vista was graphically impressive, with the sun glinting off the ocean and lighting everything with a warm hue. Clouds obscured the green islands below at points―the sort of weather for a pleasure cruise. Condensation formed on my glass canopy as I sped through the middle of a grey-ish rain cloud―all at mach ‘whatever’.

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Despite tons of high-flying twists, the experience was exceedingly comfortable. As a fast-paced flight filled with some serious potential for Top Gun (1986) moments, the demo threw a couple of types of baddies at me, ranging from normal fighters to smaller, more agile drones. Winding like a corkscrew, I never once felt the dreaded flop sweat and nausea of simulator-induced sickness.

Spoiling some of the fun, enemies seemed like an eternal jumble of tiny pixels in front of me, fuzzing into a blueish background. This issue can be blamed on two main factors: PSVR’s limited resolution, and the unavoidable problem of being literal miles away from enemy fighters. You can’t really knock Ace Combat for being Ace Combat in that department, as you almost always rely on the plane’s targeting system to keep an eye on distant baddies, VR headset or traditional monitor. While lower perceived resolution doesn’t effect the gameplay at all, highlighting a singular, low-resolution object that you’re constantly straining to see is a bit of turn-off visually.

Bandai Namco is playing it pretty close to the vest on exactly what “several hours of VR gameplay” really means too, so we can’t say for sure yet. Rest assured, we’ll at very least know by the time we publish the review (in 2018) to find out if PSVR owners should drop the big bucks on a game that may or may not offer value specifically to the VR-conscious buyers out there.

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  • Steve Johnson

    Why there hasn’t been a flood of aircraft sims for VR? And where the hell is War Thunder for PSVR? It’s one of the main reasons I bought the system.

    • Drake Tempest

      What? There’s already a bunch of flight sims for VR. DCS, IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad/battle of moscow and battle of kuban, War Thunder, Aces high, X-plane, P3d, VTOL VR, Aerofly FS 2, FSX, Combat Air patrol 2, Ultrawings etc etc. If you meant PSVR..well there’s ultrawings lol.

      • J Smith

        PSVR

  • It sounds like our complaints about the limited VR content from the first showing may have had an effect. As much as I really badly want to play this, I’m glad to see it pushed back to ensure that it delivers a solid experience –end to end in both traditional and VR mode. To me, this is good news, because it tells me that the VR mode will certainly be much more engaging than what was put together for Star Wars –which is beautiful, but so short it’s shameful.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Still waiting for a remaster of the x-wing (vs tie-fighter) games as one big game with full VR support and current day state of the art graphics.. my god, I’m already wetting myself….

  • W… T… F… Out of all of the games out there, making a flight sim completely playable in VR seems like the most easy and simplest of additions. This separate VR mode BS seems insane! Why would they bail on making the whole thing VR compatible?? I’d really like somebody familiar with the game to shed some light on why they wouldn’t. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • Gus Bisbal

      No what you want is to have no understanding of how VR is technically built different to Flat screen games and still understand why they did it. Like,”why can’t Ford just build a faster car for cheaper… I just don’t get it” If it was that easy they would have. Its not easy to do and the VR market is still small. Any questions? But you probably already new that.

      • First, RUDE. Second, have you made any VR games? I have. I’m telling you from experience, VR in a flightsim is a no-brainer. Switch up some menus, that’s it. VR is a DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY. The biggest issues are locomotion, which isn’t a factor in a seated game.

        • Gus Bisbal

          First, your opening statement was What the Fuck. Do you call that polite? Perhaps something is only rude when you’re on the receiving end of it. Not when you’re dishing it out. Second, yeah I have done some coding and I can telling you getting a Flatscreen game and making it VR requires a completely different relationship to scale and position to the player. That can mean a virtual re-write of the environment. It depends on how it was write in the first place.

      • Toby Zuijdveld

        “Bonacci maintains that Ace Combat 7’s PSVR mode will have “100 percent the same mobility” as the non-VR campaign”
        Which means they have no excuse for not supplying that same VR functionality to the campaign.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    What are they thinking? why isn’t the normal campaign playable in VR?

  • Chris Crowley

    Aces High III now supports VR for Oculus and Hive.

  • Jean-Sébastien Schotté

    I can understand that the developers of AC7 do not want to (or cannot) create all the cinematics and the menus of the game in VR but we should be able to put on the PSVR for every phases of gameplay in the aircraft (as a pilot put on his helmet when he enters the cockpit …). I really do not understand the logic of proposing only VR missions outside the main campaign !?!

  • Toby Zuijdveld

    “Bonacci maintains that Ace Combat 7’s PSVR mode will have “100 percent the same mobility” as the non-VR campaign”
    Which means they have no excuse for not supplying that same VR functionality to the campaign. I don’t understand these companies.

  • Gazmeister

    VR got canned because the campaign wasn’t progressing satisfactorily. True Story – trust me.

  • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

    meno giocabile in vr sarà,meno avranno i miei soldi!