The progress of virtual reality is coming along slowly but one of the genres that works well with the technology is flight games. The technology and content are miraculously in sync.
With VR, the player and the avatar are usually both in seated positions and that means there's a lesser chance of motion sickness. The framed perspective of a helmeted pilot meshes well with the headset strapped to a gamer's face. The feeling of flying and acceleration works well with virtual reality.
Despite being a nearly perfect fit, there haven't been that many great flight games for virtual reality. The genre doesn't inundated the technology in the same way shooters do consoles. "EVE: Valkyrie" drew fans to virtual reality, but aside from that, other titles have yet to move the needle. That's where "Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown" comes in.
It's one of the more popular flight games in the market, and it's a title that's grounded in reality, letting players fly real-life aircrafts. I had a chance to play "Ace Combat 7" on the PlayStation VR at E3 and I played the regular version at a pre-Gamescom event. From what I played, this feels like a modern take on the genre. Bandai Namco's Project Aces team gives players a detailed world to fly through and dresses it up with arcadelike action.
They also added another element to the game. Players not only have to deal with battling enemy aircraft, they have to focus on the environment as well. More specifically, the team highlights the effect of clouds in combat. On offense, they can be used as a way to ambush foes without being seen. When it comes to evasion, players can take to the clouds to lose their enemies creeping up on their six. There is a major caveat when flying through clouds though -- spend too much time in them and ice begins to build around the plane.
This phenomenon called icing distorts the aerodynamics of the plane. If players don't heed warnings to leave the cloud, the jet could become uncontrollable and crash. Another issue is that being in the clouds can disorient players. Without seeing the horizon, they may not know which way is up and which way is down. When the cloud cover is especially low, it could mean a horrific nose dive into mountains.
That disorientation factor shows up again with PlayStation VR. It's a challenge that players will have to face. Because "Ace Combat 7" takes place in a world similar to our own, there are no asteroids or floating island that can be used as landmarks to give players their bearings. Fighting in the sky often means losing sight of the earth for long periods of time. It can make players slightly queasy, especially in an intense dogfight.
But that's one of the issues that players have to overcome as they delve into virtual reality. Players have to get their sea legs for the technology, and when they do, the experience becomes easier to take and more immersive. It's an adjustment that all VR players make, and the timing is different for everyone. With that said, the title could be one of the better games that shows off the potential of the technology.
"Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown" is scheduled for release some time in 2018 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. ___
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