In 1995, the face of gaming was changed forever with the North American launch of the PlayStation, the first video game console developed by Sony. Bandai Namco Entertainment’s Ace Combat series is rooted in the Air Combat series of arcade machines in the 90s, but the first true Ace Combat game was released on the PlayStation the same year it was released. 20 years later, the history of Ace Combat is a storied one. Spanning the first three PlayStation systems plus appearances on the PSP, Xbox 360, and even PC and Ouya, combined global sales of Ace Combat games total over 14 million copies. If you are a gamer, chances are you have heard the name “Ace Combat” or played at least one of the games.
At PlayStation Experience 2015, the next installment of the series, Ace Combat 7 (working title), was officially revealed to the world. It had previously been leaked due to a data mine of Ace Combat Infinity, a free-to-play PlayStation 3 game that is still running today, but the trailer and some subsequent interviews revealed some key details.
First and foremost, Ace Combat 7‘s story is returning to Strangereal, the name of the fictional universe where the first few games took place. The trailer presented an F-22A Raptor with roundels of the Osean Air Defense Force (featured in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War) engaging and destroying an Su-30M with roundels of the Federal Erusea Air Force (featured in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies), confirming some sort of conflict between the fictional countries of Osea and Erusea. There will also be a major focus on a space elevator that reaches 100,000km above Earth, although it is unclear what part it plays at the moment, as well as a massive aerial warship codenamed FAS that can launch UAVs to defend the space elevator. To many, this is a welcome return, since the last console release involving Strangereal was Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation in 2006 on the Xbox 360. Producer Kazutoki Kono has confirmed that Ace Combat 7 will be a sequel to Ace Combat 6, just as 6 was a sequel to the games on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
Secondly, Ace Combat 7 will be releasing exclusively on the PlayStation 4, making it the first “next-gen” Ace Combat game. It will also support the as-of-yet unreleased PlayStation VR, but it won’t be a requirement to play the game. For the first time, a proprietary Bandai Namco engine will not be used; instead, Project Aces, the internal development team at Bandai Namco responsible for Ace Combat games since 2004, will be using Unreal Engine 4 to render the game. They will also be utilizing trueSKY, a rendering plugin developed by Simul for creating photorealistic cloud cover and weather effects in the sky.
Finally, the staff working on Ace Combat 7 is a dream team of Project Aces members and Ace Combat veterans. As mentioned above, Kazutoki Kono, head of Project Aces, will be producing Ace Combat 7. Yuta Hamanaka, Lead Game Designer of Ace Combat: Joint Assault, will be directing Ace Combat 7 . Masato Kanno will serve as Art Director. Kanno previously worked on numerous art designs for the series, including the superweapons Stonehenge and Arkbird. Keiki Kobayashi, previously a composer for numerous Ace Combat games, will be the Sound Director. Several other Project Aces team members will be continuing in their roles for the new game, including Screenplay Director Sunao Katabuchi (Ace Combat 04, Ace Combat 5), and Scenario Writer Kosuki Itomi (Ace Combat Infinity)
For all the latest information on Ace Combat 7 and the entire Ace Combat series, check out Acepedia, the premiere wiki for all things Ace Combat!