If the point of virtual reality is to create exhilarating experiences that leave your palms sweaty and heart rate thumping, then Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is the gold standard.
Climb up the step ladder, take a seat in the cockpit of a fighter jet, blast down the runaway and soar into the skies. Do all of this, and so much more, in the incredibly immersive Ace Combat 7 VR experience. Though criminally short on content, it never fails to be a pulse-pounding, sensational, high-octane assault on the senses. If you have any means to play through this VR offering, I highly suggest you do so.
Handles Like A Dream
Whether you’re slicing through clouds while water droplets splatter your windshield, blazing past enemy fighters at mere inches, or gently landing on an aircraft carrier, every single detail is amplified through the lens of virtual reality. Few VR games have managed to truly disorient me, but Ace Combat 7 has achieved that in the most beautiful way possible. Scorching across the sky at high speeds while trying to track enemy movement is, in a word, jarring. But strangely, despite feeling disoriented and a bit shaken at points, I never felt nauseous. Whipping my head around while inverting my fighter jet or making a sharp left while looking right to spot a missile heading towards me continuously left me feeling wholly engulfed in this world.
VR or not, Ace Combat 7 is best experienced with the expert control scheme. This allows for more fluid, natural movement of your jet and a far greater sense of control while manoeuvring. If you are looking for a much larger feeling of immersion and seamlessness within the game world, VR with the expert control scheme is damn near a must for you. You won’t feel cheated out of any aspect of the experience this way, and you’ll feel more connected to your aircraft and to the world around you.
An Audiovisual Triumph
With the PSVR lenses cleaned off and the headphones strapped on and cranked up, Ace Combat 7 VR shines from an audiovisual perspective. The sounds of the afterburners churning away, the slow crumble of a massive jet falling just in front of you on the runway, the fear and ecstasy of bursting through the smouldering cloud of a recently downed tango. It’s all impressively detailed across the board. VR, or at least PSVR, still fails to truly remove the veil most times, but Ace Combat 7 is undoubtedly the closest I’ve felt to actually being in the action.
The radio chatter coming in from your squad mates simply adds to the feeling of total immersion. Sure, I do understand that immersion can be used, both in practice and speech, as more of a gimmick than anything else when it comes to VR. But an expertly crafted virtual reality experience creates a sense of immersion by building a solid foundation around you, making sure not to sully the base of the game for cheap VR thrills. Ace Combat 7 maintains its core strengths and simply throws you into the cockpit. The sense of thrill and attachment to the action derives from the fact that the VR experience does not divert from its core game.
Much Too Short, Too Much Fun
With just a paltry collection of three missions, the ability to free-fly any completed mission, and an airshow, it’s just upsetting that the Ace Combat 7 VR experience is over so soon. When I first read of the virtual reality capabilities coming to this game, I was absolutely ecstatic at the premise of a full length VR campaign within my beloved Ace Combat series. Needless to say, I am less than pleased with the length of the VR portion of this game. But regardless, every second of immersive aerial VR action that it does offer is more than worthy of praise. Strap into the cockpit of your fighter jet of choice and get ready to experience something truly remarkable.