Perennial flight-shooter Ace Combat returns in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Producer Kazutoki Kono takes up the story.

On the current generation of consoles choices are limited for fans of flying in games, and grabbing an airborne fix usually comes as a side diversion in the open worlds of a Far Cry or GTA V.

However through thick and thin, the Ace Combat franchise has stayed the distance, with the latest in the series, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, in stores now.

Ace Combat hasn’t been without turbulence over the years, but a higher than average safety record has ensured it has accrued a loyal – and indeed vocal – community.

Kono-san has been working on the series since Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies (2001).

“The long history of the franchise is proof that many fans have supported. We have always tried hard to make games where satisfying our fans is the goal. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything without their support.”

Strangereal is once again the setting for Skies Unknown‘s single-player, and centres around a conflict between the Osean Federation and the Kingdom of Erusea, that plays out in 2019. Players can expect a new array of aircraft and weapons to fight with.

Ace Combat

Kono-san describes the aircraft design process: “It normally starts by gathering information and this is continuously updated.

“We had to change the design of a HUD in this game due to the actual aircraft receiving a modification; the designers always struggle with how to depict real aircraft.

“However, when we create fictional aircraft, we ensure that they’re designed for maximum fan enjoyment and excitement.”

Satisfying our fans is the goal

Weapon systems are based on both existing and projected, near-future weapons.“We design [weapons] with elements that people will believe are true and can exist,” says Kono-san. “On the other hand, if the weapon actually exists, if it’s hard to imagine where and how to use it, we won’t bother.

“As I said previously, the game is created for the players, so we won’t adopt something if those players cannot easily understand it.”

Is there a weapon that stands out in Kono-san’s mind?

“I don’t want to mention the weapons that I think are really cool because I don’t want to ruin the surprise for fans, but if you’re talking just visual, the ‘Stealth Pod’ looks great.

“There is a scene where the Stealth Pod opens and many missiles are launched at once; it looks very dramatic.”

Kono-san adds that the post stall manoeuvre will allow players, when being targeted by an enemy on the tail, to stall and drop in behind and destroy it. Although featured before, this is the first time players will have full control.

“The post stall manoeuvre will bring a sense of adventure to all pilots,” he says. “It’s a challenge to master once you’re used to the basic controls and can handle an aircraft, but when you do use it, it might just get you a target in a dogfight.”

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is available now for PS4 and Xbox One.

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