The Ace Combat series is a varied one, with many enjoyable mechanics and some not-as-enjoyable issues. There’s still a notable lack of information on the upcoming Ace Combat 7, but its developers have a history of over 15 prior games to improve upon. What can – and should – this next installment learn from the previous games in the series?
Fixing Recurring Bugs and Issues
As obvious as it may seem to suggest fixing bugs, some Ace Combat games have had the same consistent, annoying bugs. One of the most popular bugs plaguing all of the games is the AI’s ability to fly through the ground. Even Ace Combat Infinity, the latest console game in the series, has this problem. Some fans joke that this shouldn’t ever be fixed, given how common it is.
Another long-standing bug has been the lack of accurate enemy target selection. Sometimes, a player will find the game selecting an enemy halfway across the map when they’re trying to target one that’s right in front of them. The hope is that, with Unreal Engine 4 powering Ace Combat 7, these and other long-standing bugs can finally be laid to rest.
When Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation released in 2007, it featured a paltry selection of 15 aircraft for the player to choose from. The largest selection in the series is in Ace Combat Infinity, which features 68 stock aircraft as of the publication of this article. The world of air combat has led to the development of numerous aircraft, so there should be no shortage from which to choose and include in the new game.
In addition, fans in smaller countries continue to look forward to the inclusion of their country’s main aircraft in the series. In an interview with a Taiwanese gaming news website, Ace Combat 7 producer Kazutoki Kono was asked if the team would consider adding Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Fighter, or IDF. No Taiwanese aircraft has been featured in an Ace Combat game, and Kono-san was surprised to find out that Taiwan has an indigenous fighter in the first place. He said he would look into the feasibility of adding the IDF into the game for worldwide availability.
The last thing that should befall an air combat game is a lack of aircraft. Fans are hoping that the time spent adapting to a new platform and game engine won’t result in a smaller selection of aircraft. The Su-30M, a Russian fighter aircraft, was one of the first aircraft confirmed for the game, and it has never before appeared in the series, so hopes are high for more new aircraft like the IDF to contribute to a larger list of aircraft.
More Focus on Antagonists
While the player needs to be portrayed as a highly skilled pilot, and it is important to tell their story for the player to identify with the game’s protagonist, Ace Combat games are known for dedicating an equal amount of storytelling time to the antagonists’ points of view. Usually, the games that give more story to enemy aces and squadrons are the ones that have been more successful. However, in recent releases, the importance of enemy aces has somewhat lessened. Those characters still exist, of course, but not enough time or attention is given to properly develop them.
In comparison, the cutscenes in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War solely focused on the enemy characters and their relation to the player. Ace Combat 7 can take its script into many directions, including a focus on the player’s allies, but more attention on the enemy aces would definitely benefit the game. According to Kono-san, all of the scripts are just about finished, so fans can only hope that the writing will focus on developing all of the game’s characters properly.
More Superweapon Importance
Finally, what’s an Ace Combat game without superweapons – the huge weapons that defy physics and economic stability? These monsters used to be legitimately scary because of what they were capable of doing. Sometimes, the games would describe how a superweapon was the catalyst for an entire war, and then asked you to destroy it single-handedly. It was one of the best ways to make the player truly feel epic.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Superweapons have barely received an introduction in recent games, and when they become a threat, the player is expected to act as if it’s “business as usual” and get it over with. Ace Combat Infinity especially has this problem, though other games are not off the hook.
Ace Combat 7 needs to make its superweapons feel larger than life, making the player feel small and intimidated. This is what always led to the feeling of accomplishment when these superweapons were destroyed; that feeling needs to be tapped into once more.
Of course, these are simply the major issues – no video game comes without its flaws, and there’s certainly a lot more the Ace Combat series can improve upon. Ace Combat 7 will likely be many players’ first foray in the series, so it will be important for the game to make a good first impression. If the game can learn from these elements of its past, it should have a bright future.
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