The mission released worldwide on November 27, 2019, and can be accessed within the "SP Mission" main menu option. Players can purchase this mission standalone for USD$4.99, JPY¥540, or regional equivalents, or purchase the Season Pass to access this mission and other DLC packs.
The first phase of the mission focuses on protecting four friendly maritime patrol aircraft from enemy aircraft from the sub as they drop sonobuoys across the entire airspace in order to locate the Alicorn. The player must contend with multiple SLUAVs and Rafale Ms operated by the Alicorn's attached squadron. The mission will fail if all patrol aircraft are destroyed.
The second phase involves the player attempting to determine the exact location of the submerged Alicorn within the sonobuoys' circular search area using an onboard Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD). This functions similarly to White Noise from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War - a waveform indicator is shown at the top of your HUD. When the player is below speeds of 430 knots (800 km/h; 490 mph) and an altitude of 6,230 feet (1,900 m), it will begin to beep. The beeping becomes more frequent and the waves become higher in amplitude the closer you are to the Alicorn. Additionally, the waveforms will point in the direction the player needs to go in to find the sub, much like a compass.
When the Alicorn is found for the first time, it will jettison jamming buoys, inhibiting the MAD's detection capabilities. The player must destroy all 6 jammer buoys. After a small wait time, a new search area will then appear. The player is then given a time limit of one minute to find the submarine once more. It additionally launches 8 SLUAVs to attack the player during this search. Once the Alicorn is found, an allied fleet damages it with anti-submarine weaponry and force it to surface.
The third phase of the mission is a battle against the Alicorn. The goal is to destroy all ballast tanks, but the player can choose to strip the sub of its defenses before attacking the ballast tanks, as these weapons will not respawn in later mission phases. The Alicorn utilizes multiple attack patterns using its railguns and missiles. It additionally launches both SLUAVs and Rafales to attack the player, but also releases barrier drones, which intercept the player's missiles and deal damage to the player if their aircraft is inside the barrier, much like the Arsenal Bird's APS. After around five minutes elapsed during this phase, the Alicorn will activate a jammer, hampering missile homing and lock-on time; destroying the jammer is highly recommended. The Alicorn cycles randomly between these attack patterns in this phase:
- Fires railguns once. Does not launch barrier drones on the first surfacing, launches them in all subsequent surfacings. This pattern is always used when the phase starts, and after the first dive/resurfacing, and is the most common pattern.
- Fires railguns four times in 3 shot bursts, aiming for allied aircraft in the 1st and 4th bursts, and for the player in the 2nd and 3rd bursts. This attack pattern is the only one utilized by the railguns in the final phase. Additionally, this pattern is only utilized after the second dive/resurfacing, and is commonly seen during said resurfacing.
- Launches barrier drones, does not fire railguns. This pattern is only used after the fourth resurfacing.
The phase is completed when all four ballast tanks, marked as TGT, are destroyed.
In the fourth phase of the mission, the player has 15 seconds to damage the Alicorn's rail cannon before it can fire. The cannon is extremely fragile and will crumble under a single missile hit, but a large swarm of barrier drones between the player and the Alicorn is immediately generated, forcing the player to weave between them or go around them.
In the final phase, the player is given two minutes to destroy the base of the Alicorn's rail cannon before it can fire its second shell at Oured. The sub uses all of its remaining weaponry to defend itself and will continually launch SLUAVs to hound the player relentlessly. The Alicorn will also begin to flood from the stern at this point, making the sub list backwards and forcing the player to adjust their attack angle. The rail cannon's core is only able to be attacked from the front and sides of the sub; attacking from the top and behind will simply cause most attacks to miss, however weapons with large splash damage like the FAEB will still deal damage. The mission is completed when the rail cannon's core is destroyed.
|Initial||RAFALE M "SACS"||900||5||[note 1]|
|Mission Update 1||ALICORN
[note 4][note 5]
[note 4][note 6]
|RAFALE M "SACS"||900||∞||[note 7][note 1]|
|RAFALE M "SACS"||900||1||[note 8][note 1]|
|BARRIER DRONE||200||∞||[note 10]|
|Mission Update 2||RAIL CANNON||2000||1||[note 11]|
|Mission Update 3||CORE||2000||1||[note 12]|
Earning an S Rank on this mission requires earning a combined score and time bonus of 117,000 points or more.
The maximum time bonus available is 81,000 for completing the mission in a total of 14 minutes or less. This includes time spent retrying from the checkpoint. If the player can complete the mission in that amount of time, they only need 36,000 points from destroying targets in the mission itself to earn the S Rank.
If the player goes past the 14 minutes threshold, the time bonus decreases by 225 points every second, so the player must compensate by destroying more targets to hit the 36,000 point threshold.
- The mission dialogue contains references to the Tom Clancy movie and novel The Hunt for Red October, specifically when Count says that it "would be easier if the Alicorn's crew would just sing and let us know where it was", referencing the famous scene from the movie where the crew of the Red October sing the USSR's national anthem.
- The player can shoot down the P-1 aircraft at the beginning, resulting in a mission failure. However, much like Roper 1 in Transfer Orders, they become invincible after a short time.
- If the player crashes into or shoots down a P-1 aircraft while they are vulnerable to attack, Count will quip, "Oh, come on!" He does not say this line when receiving a mission failure in any other way during this mission.
- There is a small chance for a line referencing Mage 2 to play during the mission. It's likely an error or bug, since Trigger is no longer a member of Mage Squadron.
- In a certain mountain/island, the terrain is not placed together properly with the water, allowing the player to fly under and inside the mountain.
- The P-1 can still be destroyed by the Alicorn and its aircraft during the boss fight. This will not end the mission in failure, but the player won't get any early underwater detection.
- Like the Gripen Es in Long Day, the Rafale Ms on the Alicorn's runway can be destroyed even if they do not appear on radar and are not initially targetable.
- After a small dialogue exchange (provided the player takes long enough), a unique SACS pilot, Lieutenant Louis Barbieri, takes off from the Alicorn alone, unlike other pilots, who spawn in flights of two. Barbieri, while otherwise indistinguishable from other SACS pilots, has improved AI compared to the others.
- SACS Rafales take three missiles to destroy, unlike other Rafales which normally take just two.
- The Alicorn's targeting box will show up if it is detected underwater, but it cannot be attacked.
- Once all ballast tanks are destroyed, the Alicorn loses the ability to dive and moves into a mission update.
- Appears after the Alicorn surfaces enough times. If not destroyed, it will show up in Phase 3.
- Missiles fired from VLSs have greater homing capability but lower damage compared to the ones from SAMs.
- ECM causes the player's lock-on and missile speed to become slower when near the Alicorn.
- Rafale Ms will regularly take off from the Alicorn.
- Lieutenant Louis Barbieri is a unique unit that, while otherwise indistinguishable from other SACS Rafales, has different AI.
- SLUAVs will be deployed in groups of either 4 or 8 from the Alicorn.
- Barrier drones will generate spherical shields that block shots and damage the player if they're within the barrier. They can be destroyed by before they activate their barriers, or by entering the barrier and shooting them, though the latter risky due to unavoidable damage.
- The rail cannon cannot be destroyed, though damaging it is mission critical.
- The core can only be attacked at certain angles. The Alicorn will gradually list backwards, requiring the player to adjust their angle of attack.
- These new CIWS will appear only when the Alicorn's rail cannon core can be attacked.
|Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Missions|