- "I saw my death in my dreams. Many times. A nightmare that I'll never forget."
- ― William Bishop, opening monologue
Nightmare is the first mission of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. The player controls William Bishop, a colonel of the United States Air Force who suffers a nightmare of a Russian attack in the city of Miami. Eventually, Bishop wakes up from his dream.
The mission begins with the Warwolf Squadron approaching downtown Miami. An enemy Su-35 appears in front of Bishop, who chases the pilot through the area's buildings, narrowly evading the debris of damaged structures on the way. The Flanker soon explodes, and William goes after a second target over the city's suburbs. The pursuit ends when both pilots smash through a Jumbotron screen at the Super Bowl stadium, killing the Russian but lightly damaging Bishop. After his engines catch some shrapnel, Warwolf One runs a short flight check, which serves as a tutorial for controls outside Close Range Assault.
AWACS Magic soon contacts Bishop, asking him about his status, to which William replies "looking for action". Immediately afterwards, a pair of Russian fighters is detected approaching the area, which the pilot destroys. Soon after, Bishop is engaged by an ace pilot, whom he defeats in combat. He then pursues a second ace pilot over Miami Beach, where he is nearly crushed by a collapsing crane, losing his target and getting chased by another Flanker in the process, which he evades and destroys. Afterwards, Bishop and the Warwolf team continue engaging the remaining Russian forces across many areas of the city, such as Interstate 95, the Venetian Causeway and the Port of Miami. During combat, Magic announces how an ace, named "Sharksmouth" has been detected, to which José Gutierrez responds "What the hell is he targeting?".
Following several minutes of fighting, the enemy forces are reduced to a single squadron of fighters, who are chased by William over Miami Beach. When he destroys the Russian fighter formation, Bishop notices Markov on the horizon, who hits him head-on with a missile. His F-22 damaged beyond repair, William bails out over the coastline, and is left to helpessly watch as the situation unfolds around him. After Markov destroys an F-16C, Bishop notices him ready to make a second pass, and covers his face as he sees him attempting to ram him out of the sky, at which point he wakes up from his dream.
- "Nightmare" was one of the two playable levels in the E3 2011 and September 2011 worldwide demo, along with "Red Moon." It was classified as "Fighter Mission."
- When engaging the last four targets, ignoring the quick-time event input will cause Markov to release his missile while in active gameplay. The missile has special properties, such as increased speed and accuracy, and will relentlessly hunt down the player until it runs out of fuel.
- Through sharp maneuvers and creative use of the environment (i.e. purposefully smashing to the ground and bouncing off), it is possible for Bishop to dodge Akula's missile. Succeeding in this task will cause the game to spawn another missile in its stead, and will continue to do so until the player is hit, at which point the cutscene of William ejecting plays as normal.
- In the introductory scene, five star decals can be seen on the right side of the F-22A, near the cockpit. In actual gameplay, the Raptor model lacks these stars, both in Nightmare and in other levels.
- The two Flanker-Es that must be shot down after the stadium crash scene are described by Magic as approaching "from the south", however they can spawn in any direction, not just the south. This error is rectified in "Home Front", where both planes apppear south.
- In the early build of the game, Guts has an extra line after Bishop is ejecting, in which he reports that Warwolf 1 has gone down but he was out and he sees Bishop's chute. However, this was absent in the final game.
- By making Bishop the object of his attack while Bishop is parachuting out of his fighter, Markov would have been violating the laws of armed conflict.
- The end of this mission, when Bishop is forced to eject, marks the second canon time in the Ace Combat series that the player character's plane is destroyed, with the first time being in Final Option in Ace Combat 5. However, unlike in Final Option, this was just a dream.
- This is the second starting mission in any Ace Combat game that allows the player to fly in a high-tier aircraft rather than starting with a low tier aircraft like the F-4E Phantom II. The first was in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere in the mission Awakening.
- This is also the first Ace Combat mission that occurs in a dream and is so far the only one.
- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Master Guide, pages 044-045.
|Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Missions|