Ace Combat Infinity (Japanese: エースコンバット インフィニティ Ēsu Konbatto Infiniti), officially released in late May of 2014, is the latest entry in the Ace Combat series. Infinity is the third Ace Combat game explicitly taking place on Earth, the first free-to-play game in the series, and the first digital-only release in the series. The game is exclusive to PlayStation 3 and, while it is free to download, it is restricted by the Sortie Fuel system.
The game begins in 2019, 20 years after the world was impacted by the Ulysses Disaster. The player flies as Reaper, a pilot in the Bone Arrow Squadron operating under the United Nations Forces to keep the world safe from a terrorist threat brought on by the events of the Ulysses Disaster. When the terrorists create a united federation of nations, Bone Arrow joins the UN permanently as Task Force 118 and begin to fight back against the federation.
A public beta testing phase for Japanese PSN accounts was attempted in November of 2013, followed by a successful Japanese beta in December and a worldwide beta in February of 2014. Feedback from these beta tests were implemented into the full release of the game, including Team Deathmatch and Challenges.
BackgroundIn 1994, an asteroid named Polyphemus collided with the 1986VG1 Ulysses, which resulted in a mass of over 10,000 meteors that were expected to impact the Earth in five years. In response, the world's nations banded together to create Stonehenge, a network of eight anti-air railguns that would fire ballistic rounds at the meteors to prevent damage to the planet. Six Stonehenge facilities were built around the world.
Unfortunately, in July of 1999, many of the asteroids crashed into the Earth regardless of Stonehenge's support, causing a devastating loss of life in what was later known as the Ulysses Disaster. The economy and society of the world began to fall apart, but a company by the name of Wernher and Noah Enterprises stepped in and assisted the world's nations in rebuilding efforts. Refugee zones were created to help those that were displaced by the meteors and the wars, and regional conflicts that had sparked began to settle down.
The refugee zones that were created post-Ulysses still exist by 2019, economically supported by Wernher Noah. However, Kacper Cohen, lead weapons developer of the company, had gained a hatred for the United Nations and their handling of world affairs after Ulysses. He launches an attack against the UNF Pacific Fleet stationed in Tokyo using upgraded MQ-90 Quox UAVs. Due to the reduced military budgets as a result of Ulysses, the UNF hires the Bone Arrow Squadron, a mercenary squadron owned and operated by the private military company Arrows Air Defense and Security. Bone Arrow is tasked with defending Tokyo during the attack.
The UN investigates Wernher Noah following the incident and discovers plans for an orbital weapon. Cohen is fired from the company as a result. Meanwhile, Bone Arrow Squadron tracks down a UN lead at the Comona Base in the West Indies concerning the orbital weapon plans. Soon after, a group of nine high-powered executives known as the Greymen are kidnapped in Russia by the Sons of Troia. Bone Arrow Squadron joins Ridgeback Squadron - an official UN squadron - and UNF Marine commandos in attempting to rescue the Greymen from their captive location. However, the Greymen have already been assassinated, and Stonehenge Type-3 is used to attack all of the units attempting the rescue, who all manage to escape unharmed.
Bone Arrow, the Ridgebacks, other UNF squadrons, and the UNF commandos are brought together in a joint operation with the aim of destroying the Stonehenge facility. Reaper single-handedly destroys the entire network. The Sons of Troia, revealed to be led by Kacper Cohen, announce their plans for a unified world without the United Nations and launch an offensive across Eurasia, creating the USEA Federation. The United Nations perform a two-front counter-offensive in Dubai and Tokyo, the latter of which is being performed by the same units fighting at Stonehenge. They encounter a new CFA-44 variant backed up by MQ-90Ls, one of which kills Slash, leader of Ridgeback Squadron, in mid-air. Reaper eventually shoots down the CFA-44, and the remaining air units attack an Aigaion-class heavy command cruiser. Reaper deals the finishing blow to the heavy command cruiser as well.
Following these events, the United Nations assimilates all of the well-known mercenaries around the world, including Ridgeback Squadron and Bone Arrow Squadron, into Task Force 118 codenamed Arrowblades. 118's main goal is to defend against the perimeters of USEA and fight the federation's armed forces, hoping to eventually shut it down.
In March of 2020, Arrowblades receives a deployment request at the Avalon Dam facility following information concerning a possible ICBM launch. All Arrowblades forces assist in destroying the facility, and Reaper, now the leader of Bone Arrow flight under the Arrowblades squadron, successfully destroys an ICBM that had managed to launch. The ICBM was attempting to strike Washington, D.C., in order to drag the weakened United States of America into the USEA war.
Two months later, USEA fighter squadrons take off from South America and head towards the United States in a second attempt to drag them into the war. The Arrowblades's air squadrons were scrambled from a base in San Diego to intercept the USEA forces over Area B7R in Nevada. During this engagement, an elite squadron attempts to aim exclusively for and shoot down Nagase, the new lead of Ridgeback Squadron. Reaper and all other units are forced to support her and shoot down all Ater units. The Butterfly Master then makes a return with more MQ-90Ls, but Reaper makes quicker work of the aircraft this time. The UNF interrogates their prisoners, and they learn that the Butterfly Master uses a QFA-44 Carmilla which utilizes a low-orbit satellite communications network for navigation. A space treaty, very much supported by South American countries, currently prevents the UNF from being able to just destroy the satellites.
In September, Task Force 118 and the UNF launch their first offensive campaign against USEA in the Adriatic Sea. Their goal is to secure a foothold on one of USEA's borders in Eastern Europe and begin an invasion of their territory. Partyway through the operation, however, the orbital weapon previously discovered by the UN has become operational and utilizes meteors to kill most of the UNF landing troops and air squadrons. After a few moments, the remaining units decide to continue pressing the assault, and eventually cause USEA to retreat from the beaches. While costly, the operation is deemed a success.
At this point, the plot is left on a cliffhanger. Players are given details on the OLDS, the first look at the Papillon Project and its pilot, Camilla, as well as the red Mobius Squadron emblem featured in Aces At War: A History. Kazutoki Kono has stated that Mission 8 is the end of the Campaign; however, the official Ace Combat Facebook page confirmed that the Campaign will be expanded in the future.
GameplayThe 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 a 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.
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 emblem 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, Joint Assault, and 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, some of which can be purchased with real-life money while others with in-game currency. Enemy units and AWACS Sky-Eye will often make comments about a player's aircraft if it has a DLC skin on it.
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.
References to past games
Infinity is likely the Ace Combat game to include the most references to other Ace Combat games. Some of the past Ace Combat elements underwent a process known as retcon, where set pieces from the other games are embedded into Infinity. The list of retconned elements are as follows:
- The Ulysses 1994XF04 Asteroid - The asteroid is now known as 1986VG1 Ulysses, and the impact event is known as the Ulysses Disaster.
- AWACS SkyEye - AWACS Sky-Eye is the AWACS of the Ridgeback Squadron and during multiplayer.
- The Stonehenge Turret Network - While the name is identical, Infinity brings a couple of changes to Stonehenge:
- There are six facilities built on Earth rather than one.
- The facilities and the cannons themselves are notably larger, at least double the size of the original Stonehenge.
- There are three jammer towers in the center of each facility, rather than one small jamming facility.
- The explosion effects are visually upgraded, and look similar to the explosions of burst missiles.
- Stonehenge's attacks no longer "blanket" the sky above 2,000 feet. It seems to be safe to fly above 2,000 feet, but the unpredictability of where the shots will strike is still a problem at long range.
- The Estovakian Aerial Fleet - The P-1112 Aigaion has been renamed to simply Aigaion in Infinity. The same treatment has been given to the P-1113 Kottos and P-1114 Gyges, which are now simply Kottos and Gyges, respectively. All of these airships are featured in the multiplayer mission Moby Dick Pursuit and during a mission in the campaign.
- The Scinfaxi - A Scinfaxi-class submarine spawns at random during an emergency mission update in multiplayer.
- Slash and Edge from Ace Combat 2 - A man named "Slash" is the flight lead of Ridgeback Squadron, and a woman named "Edge" is Ridgeback 2. Edge is also featured as a main character in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- In the second trailer for the beta test, a red and black flag similar in design to the Osean Federation's flag is briefly visible.
- The ADFX-01 Morgan, from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, is included in the game.
- Commander Goodfellow also makes a reference to the three kinds of aces (Mercenary, Soldier, Knight) in one of the loading screens in multiplayer.
- Taskforce 118 - a reference to Mobius 1 (who was assigned to the 118th Tactical Fighter Squadron)
- The X-02 Wyvern, what seems like a "Block 1" variant, briefly appears in the trailer "Operation: Future Prospect", along the ADF-01 FALKEN and R-101 Delphinus 1.
- The Strategic Orbital Linear Gun, or "SOLG", appears in the ending of the trailer "Operation: Future Prospect", high in the sky.
The majority of the background music of Ace Combat Infinity is taken directly from other games. There is a likely chance that they were remastered in higher quality, but this has not been confirmed. Following is a list of soundtrack references to past Ace Combat games:
|Track/Use In ACI|
|Ace Combat 2||
|Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere||
|Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies||
|Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War||
|Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War||
|Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation||
|Ace Combat: Joint Assault|
|Ace Combat: Assault Horizon||
|Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy||
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.
- Camilla 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 the most playable aircraft out of any Ace Combat game, with 123 playable aircraft.
- See the gallery for this article at Ace Combat Infinity/Gallery.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lost Butterfly. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Far Eastern Front. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ Great Migration. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Rescue. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ Stonehenge. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ Avalon. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ Area B7R. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Operation Bunker Shot. Ace Combat Infinity.
- ↑ 河野一聡 on Twitter. Published October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES
- ↑ "The endless blue awaits in ACE COMBAT™ INFINITY"
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Ace Combat Infinity Interview (with Kono-san)
- ↑ Franchise Changes Interview
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 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
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Ace Combat Infinity - Mission Notice Trailer (Eurogamer)
- ↑ ACE COMBAT 3D: CROSS RUMBLE Original Soundtrack.
- ↑ @kazutoki
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES: Japanese/English
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES
- ↑ 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
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES
- ↑ @PROJECT_ACES
- ↑ 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
- ↑ @Yuki_flakes63
- ↑ 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
- ↑ @kazutoki
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ 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