A tutorial is a method of transferring knowledge to teach something to the person taking the tutorial. The Ace Combat games have regularly featured tutorials to help inexperienced players with learning certain flight and game mechanics.
Each Ace Combat game features tutorials in different ways. Some have a dedicated tutorial mode, others use a unique campaign mission as a tutorial, and yet others integrate the tutorial within the campaign missions.
The first Ace Combat game to feature a tutorial was Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, which has a separate mode where players can learn basic flight mechanics, how to use weapons, and how to use the radar. Subtitles at the top of the screen instruct the player to perform certain actions. A DualShock controller is displayed on the screen and specific inputs flash depending on what's being discussed in the subtitles.
Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War features a more in-depth tutorial mode with complete voice acting. Along with the basic flight mechanics and how to use weapons, players can also learn how to do advanced flight maneuvers such as the Immelmann Turn or Split-S. One section of the tutorial is also dedicated to teaching the Wingman Command system. The player must complete these tutorials to earn a PSN trophy on the PS4 version.
The tutorial mode in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is more dynamic. Tutorials on basic flight mechanics, weapon use, and Wingman Command are available at the start. Players unlock more tutorials as the game progresses:
- ESM and mid-mission airstrip landings ("Waypoint Resupply") after completing "Invasion of Gracemeria"
- Dynamic Mission System and Base Resupply after completing "Vitoze Aerial Defense"
Ace Combat: Northern Wings is the first game to feature a specific tutorial mission as part of the campaign. Aptly named "Tutorial", the mission takes place in Nordennavic upon the creation of Grendel Squadron, the player's squadron.
Ace Combat Infinity also featured a tutorial mission as part of the campaign. "Test Flight" took place over San Diego at Arrows Air Defense and Security's home base during Reaper's initial flight training to join Arrows. This was the only mission in Infinity that was free to all players without using Sortie Fuel or paying for the Unlimited Campaign Play Ticket.
Ace Combat: Joint Assault shows tutorial messages on the screen during the game's first mission, "Steel Axe". These messages instruct the player on how to use weapons; they do not teach any flight mechanics.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon also shows tutorial messages on the screen during the campaign missions. These messages pause the game to allow the player time to read them and require player input to progress. They are mostly present in "Nightmare", but other missions—particularly "Red Moon", "Spooky", and "Launch"—do the same to teach the player how to fly each aircraft. These messages even appear in Free Mission mode.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown shows tutorial messages on the screen during the first three campaign missions: "Charge Assault", "Charge the Enemy", and "Two-pronged Strategy". A single tutorial message also appears at the start of "Long Day" to explain the mechanics of Annihilation missions. Unlike Assault Horizon, the game does not pause while they display. They remain on the screen for a certain amount of time or until the player completes the instructed objective, depending on the message. These messages only appear on the first run of each mission; they do not appear in subsequent campaign runs or in Free Mission.
The Ace Combat Infinity Test Flight mission
- The Ace Combat 04 tutorial missions start the player at altitudes of 6,666 feet, 666 feet, or 1,333 feet.
- The Ace Combat 5 tutorial missions feature the game's tagline, "Nothing Else Comes Close", during the loading screens.