0

    Flight games are a niche genre in the PC gaming market. There are some which focus on high-tech dogfights in space, and there are others which have a more modern or near-future take on the action. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is the latter with planes that resemble their real-world counterparts. Of course, since the game would be for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One, there are going to be some comparisons. Naturally, since we’re a PC gaming site, we’ll focus on our lovely rigs and Ace Combat 7’s performance.

    First, let’s examine the system requirements which you can find in the game’s Steam store page here:

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark

    System Requirements

    Minimum

    • OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 (64-bit OS required)
    • Processor: Intel Core i3-7100
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750Ti(2GB)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 50 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound card

    Recommended

    • OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 (64-bit OS required)
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-7500
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 50 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound card

    Reviewer’s Specs

    • OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-7700k @ 4.2 GHz
    • Memory: 16 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti (8 Gb)
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Fiber-optic Internet connection
    • Storage: 50 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound card

    Well, it looks like I’m well above the recommended requirements which means the game should run smoothly, right?

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark Graphics 1

    Graphics Comparisons

    You’ll see the usual graphics settings in the options. You can (and should) turn off Vsync since framerates are uncapped. I have a 1080p TV and the game only allows me to choose up to 1920×1080 resolution in any case. No 21:9 ultrawide support as well, apparently, going by online discussions. For those who’ve got 4K displays and hardware, don’t fret because Nvidia has confirmed that there will be 4K support.

    Meanwhile, going into the advanced settings you can tweak AA, textures, effects, post-processing, and reflections. Feel free to customize or just choose a preset that suits you.

    Next up, let’s look at some comparisons between two presets using juxtaposed images. Sliding over from left to right will show you what the graphics look like when everything’s set to high. Sliding right to left will display low settings. Fair warning, you don’t want to use the low preset unless you want to have a game from the 90s.

    The first one has the F-22A Raptor in the hangar:

    This next one is a screenshot from the beginning of Mission 7 – First Contact:


    I’ve also added a video of Mission 7: First Contact using the high graphics preset. For eagle-eyed viewers, you’ll notice the Steam FPS counter at the top left-hand corner of the screen. With uncapped framerates and Vsync turned off, my rig can manage around 160-200 FPS without any stuttering or tearing.

    Controls

    Of course, it wouldn’t be a technical review without looking at the various control schemes supported by the game. You’ve got your gamepad, keyboard and mouse, and, naturally, flight sticks. You also have the option of using Normal or Expert flight controls. The latter uses roll and pitch adjustments just to get your aircraft to turn. Apprently, it’s more realistic that way. Given that I don’t usually play flight games, I just chose the former.

    Gamepad

    Please note that I used a gamepad for most of my playthrough. You can only switch between control types and you cannot fully rebind each action. Still, the controls were smooth and tight. I don’t have any complaints at all besides the targeting system which can be a bit janky if you’re not used to it (since accidentally switching targets means mashing the Y button again and again until you pick the right one). However, maneuvering your plane using a gamepad is easy as pie.

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark Controls Gamepad

    Flight Stick

    For those willing to spend a little extra for immersion purposes, flight sticks or Hands-On Throttle-and-Stick controls (HOTAS) are supported. Thrustmaster and HORI wares are noted to be compatible for PC versions of Ace Combat 7 (and even for other flight games).

    As for me, given that I live in a corner of Southeast Asia, those HOTAS weren’t available in a nearby store. Likewise, I generally loathe spending that much extra cash. I had to make do with a cheap flight stick which only cost $8. Surprisingly, it worked, although poorly and not without a little fiddling and having to disconnect my gamepad. For $8,  I’m also assuming it’d break by next week.

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark Controls Flight Sticks Hotas

    Update: I also ended up buying a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro flight stick just to see if other “branded” peripherals work. That, and the fact that the officially-supported HOTAS from Thrustmaster and HORI weren’t readily available in shops here in the Philippines. The Logitech flight stick actually took a while to get set up since Steam would not even let me bind controls (under Settings -> Controller).

    After more fiddling, including downloading programs such as X360CE and vJoy, the prompt to actually save my control binds finally appeared. I doubt those programs were what saved the day; it could’ve just been a technical hiccup. I’ve since uninstalled those programs and the flight sticks continue to work with one caveat — the flight stick won’t work if I plug my gamepad again. I have to unplug my gamepad, restart the game, and then save my bindings once more via Steam’s settings.

    As for the controls, I just re-mapped them (via Steam’s settings) to act much like the Xbox gamepad I had. There was no way for me to re-bind them via the in-game settings at all. Here’s what I did:

    • Right stick bindings were unnecessary since the right stick was just for moving the camera around. The left stick controls were more important (turn/pitch).
    • I kept the normal flight system and ignored the expert one, although I did change my High-G Turn control to Type B (Decelerate + move flight stick).
    • I bound the Thruster, Switch Target, and Switch Weapon commands (right trigger, Y, and X respectively) to the buttons on the top of the flight stick as well for easy access.
    • I had Xbox and Generic Gamepad Configuration Support active.

    Overall, the classic Logitech Extreme 3D Pro still works fine. Maneuverability was acceptable, although I still preferred the gamepad. This good ol’ HOTAS was simply for an added level of immersion.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that you’d encounter the same problems I did if you’re using HOTAS that aren’t officially supported. It’s just that this is what I’ve personally experienced. Maybe it’s just technical bad luck and your HOTAS would work fine. Here’s to hoping that Bandai Namco iron out any possible issues prior to launch.

    Keyboard And Mouse

    If you don’t have a gamepad or a flight stick, then your last recourse is to use a keyboard and mouse. Yes, the game is still playable with a KB/M setup, although you’ll probably get thrashed in multiplayer. Most missions are doable and you’ll just need to tweak your mouse sensitivity accordingly. It’s worth noting that keyboard binds can be fully customized.

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark Controls Keyboard

    Audio, Subtitles, Gameplay

    The other available options are your standard fare in any game really. You can toggle the volume for music and sound effects, as well as change from English to Japanese VA. Subtitles, meanwhile, have more options from English, Japanese, Spanish, French, and the like.

    For display options, you can change the game’s brightness, enable radio comms subtitles, and change the distance unit from metric to English. You can also disable the HUD to give you a more cinematic feel.

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark Subtitles And Audio

    Online And Denuvo

    Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown does have Denuvo. I can’t be certain if you need to be online the first time you start the game — I was, but that’s because it just finished downloading and I was still connected to the internet.

    I’d note, though, that the single-player campaign is playable even when Steam is offline, so no worries there. I set Steam offline for a few missions without any issues. You’re not required to be online the entire time you’re playing unless you want to do multiplayer.

    Also, even if you play the game offline, you’re still getting your MRP (points/credits) to unlock planes and parts in the Aircraft Tree. Something that might worry (or excite) PC players is the possibility of cheats/trainers to give you a massive number of points to unlock everything easily, including upgrades that can be used online.

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark Multiplayer Score

    VR And Exclusives

    Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown does not have VR mode for its PC version. That’s exclusive for the PS4 version for a year. The deal between Bandai Namco and Sony has led to around three PSVR missions.

    Please note that single-player and multiplayer can’t be played in VR either, and this feature is only relegated to those three missions. What we don’t know yet is if VR support for the PC version will arrive once the Sony-exclusivity deal ends.

    The PS4 pre-orders come with a digital version of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. Meanwhile, the Xbox One version’s pre-orders will net players with Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation. What do PC users get? Well, for the most part, it’s graphical superiority and high fidelity (I’ll chuckle in the background as well while muttering for Bandai Namco to give PC players something extra).

    Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown Pc Technical Review Performance Benchmark

    Final Thoughts

    The PS4 version is superior in terms of extra content (PSVR missions and an extra game if you pre-ordered). The Xbox version comes next since it also has an extra game. However, if you don’t care at all about the previous offerings in the franchise, and you’re looking at something that looks visually superb without any slowdowns and stutters, then the PC version provides that in spades.

    Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown releases on February 1. If you’d like to know more, you can check our official game review as well.

    Jason Rodriguez
    I'm a small business owner who's also writing on the side, contributing in various websites under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella -- Destructoid, Flixist, Daily Esports, PlayStation Enthusiast, and PC Invasion. My Steam library has 1,131 games at the moment so we definitely have a lot of things to talk about.

      You may also like

      More in Features