Ace Combat Infinity (エースコンバット インフィニティ Ēsu Konbatto Infiniti) was the 16th entry in the Ace Combat series. Infinity was the first free-to-play game in the series, with a heavy focus on online cooperative multiplayer missions. It was officially released in May 2014 exclusive to the PlayStation 3.
Infinity is the third Ace Combat game to explicitly take place within our universe rather than the Strangereal universe. However, the game's plot mirrors many elements of previous Strangereal-based games, especially Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. The game also reused the same engine and many assets from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
Bandai Namco held three public betas prior to the game's launch. Despite mediocre critic reviews, Infinity has been very successful with fans, and remained online for three years. Its success is believed to be a contributing factor to the development of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.
On December 8, 2017, it was announced that Infinity would be shut down on March 31, 2018.
In the late 1990s, a large group of meteors began to approach Earth. In order to defend the planet, the world's nations banded together to create six anti-air railgun networks, named Stonehenge, that would engage the meteors. Many meteors impacted the Earth, and while the Stonehenge networks prevented an extinction event, the loss of life and infrastructure was still devastating.
During the subsequent economic and societal chaos, a defense contractor, Wernher and Noah Enterprises, stepped in to assist the world's nations in rebuilding. Refugee zones were set up, and over the 20 years since the Ulysses Disaster, Wernher Noah made advancements in producing aircraft, opening the doors for many pilots to become mercenaries. The player, Reaper, is one of these mercenary pilots who joins the private military corporation Arrows Air Defense and Security (under United Nations command) in 2019. Reaper is assigned to the Bone Arrow Squadron.
Kacper Cohen, the lead weapons developer at Wernher Noah, becomes disillusioned with the United Nations and their handling of world affairs and begins attacking UN forces with the assistance of the terrorist organization, the Sons of Troia. Reaper, who is unaware of Cohen's role, joins fellow Bone Arrow pilot Omega in shutting down a UAV attack in Tokyo. They then join Bone Arrow leader Viper and fellow pilot Bronco in investigating a lead at a rocket launch facility in the West Indies, followed by rescuing top executives kidnapped by the terrorists, where they are joined by the United Nations Forces and the elite Ridgeback Squadron. However, the rescue attempt goes awry when the executives are not found and the air units are fired upon by a nearby Stonehenge network that was hijacked by the terrorists.
Bone Arrow, the Ridgebacks, other UNF squadrons, and UNF ground forces are brought together in a joint operation with the aim of destroying the Stonehenge facility, where Reaper single-handedly destroys the entire network. Kacper Cohen then publicly announces his plan for a unified world without the UN, creates the USEA Federation, and launches a worldwide offensive against the organization. The Stonehenge strike team, including the Bone Arrows and Ridgebacks, perform a counter-offensive operation in Tokyo. They encounter a QFA-44, a UAV variant of the CFA-44 Nosferatu, supported by MQ-90L Quox bis units. The MQ-90Ls kill the leader of the Ridgebacks, Slash; Nagase, second-in-command, takes control of the squadron. Reaper shoots down the QFA-44. The remaining air units attack and destroy an Aigaion-class heavy command cruiser that launched the QFA-44, and Tokyo is liberated by the ground units.
Following these events, Viper retires from Bone Arrow, and Reaper and Nagase are promoted to the flight lead positions in their respective squadrons. The United Nations assimilates all of the world's well-known mercenaries, including Bone Arrow and Ridgeback, into Task Force 118 to defend against the USEA Federation and eventually shut it down. As part of this effort, Task Force 118 disables Avalon Dam, an ICBM launch facility; engages USEA squadrons and another QFA-44 in Area B7R in the United States; and performs a landing operation against USEA in the Adriatic Sea. Partway through the landing operation, the OLDS, a weapon that can redirect asteroids intended to keep Earth safe, attacks the UN forces with asteroids. The remaining units press on with the assault, eventually causing USEA to retreat and allowing the UN to establish a beachhead.
At this point, the plot is left on a cliffhanger. Players are given more details on the OLDS and the QFA-44 units (and their pilot, the Butterfly Master) in a cutscene following the final mission, but Kazutoki Kono has confirmed that there will be no further campaign missions.
- Reaper is the silent player character. He joins Bone Arrow Squadron as Bone Arrow 4, but following his accomplishments and Viper's retiring, he is promoted to Bone Arrow 1. His "Grim Reaper" emblem becomes an inspiration for UN forces and a fear tactic against USEA forces.
- Viper is the flight lead of Bone Arrow Squadron through the first act of the game. He's a veteran worldwide mercenary; his emblem is that of a snake with its tail making an infinity symbol, signifying his innumerable kill count. He retires following the Tokyo counter-offensive.
- Omega is the second pilot in Bone Arrow Squadron. He supports Reaper in many of their sorties, and flies as Reaper's second-in-command when he becomes the flight lead.
- Goodfellow is the commander of Bone Arrow Squadron and their liaison to the Arrows company. The United Nations hires him as commander of Task Force 118 during their offensive against the USEA Federation.
- Slash is the flight lead of Ridgeback Squadron. He sticks close to formation tactics, usually preventing the Ridgebacks from making reckless decisions on their own, and looks down upon the Bone Arrows. He is killed by an MQ-90L over Tokyo.
- Nagase is Slash's second-in-command in Ridgeback Squadron. Following his death, she becomes the squadron's flight lead. She carries a vendetta against the QFA-44 for killing Slash, and refuses to let the Bone Arrows surpass her squadron.
- AWACS Sky-Eye is the UN-affiliated AWACS unit supporting Ridgeback Squadron. Sky-Eye provides tactical support to Bone Arrow Squadron during their joint operations, and all UN units following Sky-Eye's assimilation into Task Force 118.
- Kacper Cohen was the head of weapons development at Wernher Noah before he is kicked out of the company following his potential link to terrorist activities. He is the de facto leader of the USEA Federation.
- The Butterfly Master is a young woman who controls the QFA-44 and MQ-90L units from a low-orbit satellite developed under the mysterious Papillon Project. Few other details are available on this mysterious character.
References to past games
Infinity contains more references to past Ace Combat games than any Ace Combat game before it. Many elements from past games underwent a process known as retconning to embed them into the Infinity universe.
For a list of references to past games present in Infinity, see Ace Combat Infinity/References.
The gameplay of Infinity is noted for staying true to the "classic gameplay" of the Ace Combat series, most notably Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. Close Range Assault, an integral component of gameplay in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, is not included in Infinity - otherwise, the game utilizes the same engine as Assault Horizon with minor modifications specific to Infinity. These include the following:
- The targeting boxes for an enemy gets larger as the distance between the player and that enemy decreases, and vice versa. This feature was only previously seen in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere.
- All enemy units feature a health bar underneath their targeting box. This was a feature notable on Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, but Infinity moved the health bar from the top-left of the HUD to directly underneath the enemy targeting box. Additionally, a red line perpendicular to this bar indicates how much damage the currently-equipped weapon will perform on that enemy unit.
- Tactical Datalink is a new feature that builds on the Friendly Assist System of Assault Horizon. When the player flies close to a friendly aircraft that they are linked to, their aircraft's performance is boosted. The exact boost is selected while editing an Aircraft Settings (see below). This also functions in single-player as well as multiplayer. The targeting box for the closest friendly unit to the player, when Datalink is idle and ready, will indicate how much closer the player needs to be to that ally to initiate the Datalink.
- The head-up display shows the traditional radar and aircraft info (ammo, health, reloading) along the bottom of the screen; allotted score, remaining time, and the score of the targeted enemy are located on the top-left of the screen; and any checkpoints are noted in the top-right of the screen as they are encountered.
- Oil and shrapnel will splatter on the screen when an enemy close to the player's aircraft is destroyed, similar to Assault Horizon.
Superweapons and original aircraft appear multiple times throughout Infinity, in both multiplayer and single-player. The superweapons include the Aigaion-class heavy command cruiser, the Scinfaxi-class submarine, and the Stonehenge railgun network, while the original aircraft include the QFA-44 Carmilla and the ADFX-01 Morgan.
Ace Combat Infinity features a multiplayer experience alongside the single-player story campaign. Online Co-Op Missions is the primary new mode of the game, which is a 'competitive co-operative' experience where "skilled aces will form two teams and compete to inflict the most damage on a common enemy." Playing multiplayer allows the player to earn experience towards further aircraft and parts through a technology tree, where further tech on the tree must be unlocked by purchasing prerequisite technologies.
About halfway through most multiplayer missions, players will experience an emergency mission update that will interrupt their current objective and direct them to a new one. After this emergency objective is taken care of, the original mission will continue. The specifics of the update are random and range from engaging transport fleets to fighting a Scinfaxi-class submarine.
In a first for the series, Infinity allows players to customize and set up to four different Aircraft Sets, which include the aircraft, special weapons, aircraft parts, Tactical Datalink effect, and emblems that the player will be flying with during that sortie. Aircraft Sets can be selected in all gameplay modes, but Campaign mode provides free "Rental Sets" for each mission, intended for new players.
Similar to Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, Ace Combat: Joint Assault, and Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, Infinity also has a tuning system which, after unlocking an aircraft, allows the player to upgrade that aircraft through the Aircraft Tree. Players can tweak their aircraft by swapping out and upgrading their aircraft's armor, missile power, gun damage, engine power, power of certain weapons, and more. Further aircraft and parts on the tree can only be unlocked if all of the aircraft and parts that show up previously on the same branch are unlocked and purchased.
The player can also customize the plane's color scheme from a limited set of colors, which can be earned through various means such as random drops, challenges, and ranking tournaments.
Emblems can be applied to the tail, wing, and nose. Some emblems features special effects, such as unique MVP music themes or colored missile smoke. Emblems can be earned through various means such as random drops, challenges, and ranking tournaments.
When booting up Infinity for the very first time, players will start with 3 Supplied Fuel and 0 Stocked Fuel. Supplied Fuel replenishes at a rate of 1 unit every four hours at no cost, while Stocked Fuel is purchased for real-life money from the PlayStation Store or earned through some other means. It is not possible to have more than 3 Supplied Fuel, but Stocked Fuel is unlimited. Players will have to choose one of the two fuel sources when playing a co-op mission or a single-player mission.
Immediately after the announcement of this system, fans online expressed a distrust in the game and believed it would end up becoming a "pay-to-play" experience. The developers urged the players to keep their minds open and hold their judgments until the beta test began to provide constructive feedback. After compiling the feedback from the Japanese beta, Mr. Kono acknowledged that they would consider modifying the fuel system in some way. The game has been modified with a Challenges system to allow players to earn fuel for free.
While playing Ace Combat Infinity, two separate "contracts" can be enabled. Each one, when activated, will last for 12 hours and award the player either extra credits for completing a mission or gaining extra research for the Aircraft Tree. Contracts can only be purchased through the PlayStation Store for real-life money or earned by completing challenges.
According to Kazutoki Kono, Ace Combat Infinity had been in development since early 2012, immediately following the release of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy and Ace Combat: Northern Wings. It was developed from the start to be a free-to-play game.
The game was first teased on June 14, 2013, when Kono tweeted a photo of his Japanese passport and his laptop, which displayed a revised version of the Project Aces logo with what appeared to be several objects approaching the ground from the sky. Until September, Ace Combat fans would be constantly teased with images and videos giving information on the game little-by-little. By September, Project Aces had announced that Ace Combat Infinity was due to release in the Fall of 2013.
On September 19 at approximately 2 PM Tokyo local time, Namco Bandai began the free-to-play segment of their Tokyo Game Show 2013 event, including Ace Combat Infinity. Here, while First Flight and a remix of Comona played, Kazutoki Kono discussed the details about Infinity after showing the new "Ulysses Disaster" trailer. Later in the day, the video was uploaded to the official YouTube channel. The release date announcement was postponed, to allow for a beta test of the game before its official launch.
Beta testing phase
On October 17, Project Aces announced that the public beta testing would take place between November 7 and November 13, would require 2GB of free HDD space on the PlayStation 3, and would be Japan-only. Regions outside of Japan would partake in a second test, which was to follow the Japanese test but had no confirmed date at that time.
The Japanese beta contained the following:
- Test Flight, a tutorial mission for new players where players can partake in tutorial exercises
- Lost Butterfly and Great Migration, the first two missions of the story campaign
- Tokyo Martial Law, Pipeline Destruction, and Moby Dick Pursuit
The Sortie Fuel System, while active, was essentially irrelevant as the beta automatically granted players additional fuel. However, save data during the beta did not carry over to the game's full release. Players who signed up for the beta received a special "2013 Beta Test Pilot" emblem, which released simultaneously with the game.
On November 8, one day after it began, the beta test was shut down to solve server issues that had been encountered. The largest problem was multiplayer missions terminating as soon as they started. The beta was expected to resume sometime near the beginning of the week of November 10, but by November 12 it was not up yet. Strangely enough, by November 12, fans began to notice that certain official Ace Combat Infinity media was being pulled from the internet. The Game Information Page was removed, and the official trailers from Namco Bandai's international YouTube account were made private. No word was provided from Project Aces on either Twitter or Facebook concerning these changes.
On November 13, the date the beta was originally planned to end, Project Aces tweeted an apology for the elongated maintenance period, and assured fans that a second beta test would commence soon to make up for the first one having been closed so long.
New beta and changes
On December 4, 2013, Project Aces reported through Twitter that a new beta would take place starting on December 12 and ending on December 18. The next day, they released a new trailer confirming the new beta date and indicating that the beta would, in fact, still be restricted to Japan. A second new trailer was released on December 9, and fans later made a comparison between this second trailer and images from past trailers. They confirmed that changes were made to the story cutscenes. For example, the red portion of the Sons of Troia logo is a much lighter hue of red, and the map of Iyuli does not show any of the other cities or region lines around it. The reason for these changes remains unknown.
The beta was re-released (under the same file) a few minutes before 11:30 AM Tokyo time on December 12. Simultaneously, a mandatory patch was released for everyone, regardless if they already had the beta installed on their PS3. Besides the minor changes to cutscenes as mentioned above, very little was modified from the November beta and players were assured to still earn the 2013 Beta Test Pilot emblem. A few hours after its release, the New Title website completely changed to make it more of a "central hub" for news on the game. Of note is that a survey section was opened, asking beta participants for their opinions on the game, which awarded anyone who completed the survey an exclusive desktop wallpaper. The beta ran for a few hours longer than originally scheduled, and was closed on December 19. Later that same day, the release date was officially changed to 2014.
On January 8, 2014, Kazutoki Kono confirmed to a fan through Twitter that a beta was still scheduled for western markets before the game was to release. On the 30th, simultaneously on the PlayStation Blog and Facebook, Bandai Namco announced the dates for the worldwide beta (excluding Japan), which would begin on February 4 and conclude on February 11. An exclusive emblem for participating and the same wallpaper for providing feedback were confirmed to be a part of this beta as well. The content in the worldwide beta was exactly the same as that featured in the Japanese beta.
After the end of the betas, up until the end of April, Project Aces reported through Twitter and Facebook every so often that they were working on responding to the feedback and polishing the game as best as they could. On April 22, 2014, the Mission Notice Trailer was leaked early by Eurogamer; the trailer set the game's European release date as May 28, 2014, and showed off all of the missions in the game. The trailer was then uploaded to Bandai Namco's YouTube channel, which announced the Japanese release date as May 20, 2014. Additionally, Infinity was added to the PlayStation Store in Japan as a "pre-order" complete with two exclusive emblems and two exclusive nicknames. Joystiq later published an article using a press release from Bandai Namco confirming the North American release as May 27, and revealing that plans for a "Player vs. Player" mode was planned to be included with the game at some point.
- See the gallery for this article at Ace Combat Infinity/Gallery.
- In January 2015, the official Ace Combat Facebook page implied that the campaign would be expanded in the future but it has yet to be updated as of May 2017.
- The Butterfly Master repeatedly hums the Mappy theme song, and Mappy himself appears as a silhouette on a pair of wireless headphones. Interestingly enough, Ace Combat Infinity was originally intended to be launched in 2013, which was the 30th anniversary of Mappy's release.
- Infinity is running on the same (or an upgraded version of the) engine that Assault Horizon utilized, as evidenced by the oil splatters on the screen and the explosion effects.
- The game continues the trend that began in Assault Horizon in regards to the depiction of experimental aircraft. Designs like the F-15 S/MTD, F-16XL, or PAK FA retain their test equipment. Extended antennas to gather flight data are faithfully modeled for a more accurate depiction of the planes. This is opposed to earlier games such, which incorporated a more "what-if" rendition.
- September 19, the day the Ulysses Disaster trailer was revealed, has symbolic meaning to the series. Operations Umbrella and Autumn Thunder both took place on September 19, as well as Andrei Markov and AWACS SkyEye's birthday.
- The Infinity symbol from the trailers bears a resemblance to the Mobius Squadron insignia, adding to the rest of the evidence that this game was heavily inspired by Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.
- Ace Combat Infinity appears to use similar, if not exact, squadron animations from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, as seen in the trailers. For example, at the end of the Ulysses Disaster trailer, an aircraft squadron is seen separating formation in a very similar, if not exact, resemblance to how the Silber Team separated formation after making their entrance.
- Additionally, the scene that shows the MVP in multiplayer uses camera angles and animations that are similar to the ones found at the end of the mission Pipeline from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.
- The Ulysses Disaster trailer also features a few hints to the COFFIN system:
- at the beginning, while loading the elements of the main menu, "establishment of neuromuscular connections" is mentioned as one of the things being loaded;
- as the Ulysses asteroid is being explained a few seconds later, the video zooms in on a hexagonal pattern very similar to the ADF-01 FALKEN's cockpit;
- "COFFIN IN/SYS" is visible in the top right (above an unlit "NORMAL" and a lit "ONLINE" indicator) before the video zooms in;
- and for a split second, closer to the end of the video, the back of a woman's neck is shown with some sort of digital diagram on it, similar to the ENSI ports used by Rena Hirose in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere.
- There are quite a few Trojan references in Ace Combat Infinity as shown by the Ulysses Disaster trailer:
- The terrorist group, Sons of Troia, uses an alternate spelling of "Troy";
- Ulysses is the Roman name for Odysseus, the Greek king who came up with the Trojan Horse;
- Stonehenge is built in Turkey, the original location of Troy;
- The Ulysses asteroid is a Jupiter Trojan.
- During the beta in November, Goodfellow mentioned that Comona Base is known as Area B9K, but the briefing map displayed Area B7K. This was corrected in the beta in December, where the briefing map now shows B9K.
- It was announced that playing the campaign would not cost anything to the player the first time through. This was drastically changed in the final release of the game, where the player is now forced to use both fuel and credits.
- The Bacura, from XEVIOUS series is seen as an easter eggs after the mission update in Tokyo Martial Law at altitudes of 20,000 feet.
- Ace Combat Infinity has 64 playable aircraft as of December 2015, the most playable aircraft of any Ace Combat game. There are over 100 Special Aircraft, adding up to a total of around 200 aircraft.
- File:Infinity Shut Down Fuel PSN.png.
- Lost Butterfly, Ace Combat Infinity.
- Great Migration, Ace Combat Infinity.
- Far Eastern Front, Ace Combat Infinity.
- Rescue, Ace Combat Infinity.
- Stonehenge, Ace Combat Infinity.
- Avalon, Ace Combat Infinity.
- Area B7R, Ace Combat Infinity
- Operation Bunker Shot, Ace Combat Infinity.
- 河野一聡 on Twitter. Published October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "The endless blue awaits in ACE COMBAT™ INFINITY"
- Ace Combat Infinity Interview (with Kono-san)
- Franchise Changes Interview
- @PROJECT_ACES: Japanese/English
- Ace Combat -Official Fan Site-
- 「ACE COMBAT INFINITY」，11月7日にスタートする日本先行オープンβテストの詳細が公開に。「オンライン協同戦役モード」など3つのモードを体験できる
- エースコンバット インフィニティ オープンベータテスト予告01
- エースコンバット インフィニティ オープンベータテスト予告02
- ACE COMBAT INFINITY エースコンバット インフィニティ｜バンダイナムコゲームス公式サイト
- Ace Combat Infinity - Mission Notice Trailer (Eurogamer)
- PS3「エースコンバット インフィニティ」Mission Notice
- Ace Combat Infinity boarding PS3s on May 27
- Timeline Photos - ACE COMBAT -Official Fan Site-. See the page's comment to "Perry Chow". Published on January 15, 2015. Retrieved on January 16, 2015.
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