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A new Ace Combat 7 trailer swoops out on E3's final day

I’ve got a soft-spot as big as an AWACS plane for the Ace Combat series. Alternate-earth settings, military melodrama, rousing music and the occasional sci-fi superweapon to shoot down in your unrealistically well armed jet. It’s all good stuff, and today’s Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown trailer ticks every box. While there’s no release date confirmed, it’s nice to see that it’s development is still zooming along and looking lovely, and that it’s still coming to PC.

While the Ace Combat games are a much-beloved series on consoles, the only game in the series to make it to PC so far was Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Honestly, it wasn’t much cop – not only did it drop the fun alternate-earth setting in favour of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Tom Clancy boilerplate, but it tried to simplify dogfighting into a pseudo-QTE where you locked your flight path behind ‘ace’ enemies and shot at them while the camera zoomed around and tried to look cinematic. Fortunately there’s none of that here.

One thing we do discover in the trailer above is the plot hook of the game: You’re part of a penal squadron (guess you’re not a flight risk, heh), attempting to pay off your debt to society by blowing up as many multi-billion-dollar pieces of hardware as you can. The trailer is mostly gameplay, and gives us a few tantalising peeks at both regular fighter combat, and tussling with larger aircraft, bristling with weak-points to gradually pick off.

What I find really striking about the trailer is that there’s honestly not much difference between this – a multi-million dollar production from mega-studio/publisher Bandai Namco – and the upcoming Project Wingman, a currently-crowdfunding, low-budget indie take on the formula by a team of three, two of which are the musician and voice director. As far as I’m aware, the two games even share an engine (Unreal 4), which is solid proof that the better tools get, the narrower the gap becomes between AAA and indie.

There’s no release date for Ace Combat 7 yet, but it should land sometime this year. In the meantime, check out Project Wingman; there’s even a demo.

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Dominic Tarason

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