Video Game / Ace Combat Infinity

The day our sky fell, the heavens split to create new skies.
Promotional trailers

Ace Combat Infinity is the 16th game in the Ace Combat series, once again set on Earth instead of Strangereal, and featuring several superweapons, story elements and fictional aircraft from older games such as the CFA-44 and Heavy Command Cruiser from Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, the ASF-X Shinden II from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and the Stonehenge Turret Network from Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies.

Infinity is, in essence, a Retool of Ace Combat 04 — set in a version of Earth that was devastated by the same Ulysses asteroid as Strangereal had been — but including elements from every game in the series. It is the second remake in the series (after Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy retooled Ace Combat 2).

Infinity is free to play, and is only available on the PlayStation 3. The Japanese beta went live in December 2013. An International Beta was available from February 4th to 11th 2014.

The game was released on May 20th in Japan, with a North American release of May 27th and Europe on May 28th. Currently, it is planned to be taken offline on March 31st, 2018.

The game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace:
    • Viper is the Bone Arrows' best pilot. He has so many kills that there's no more room to paint the numbers on his plane, so he simply uses an infinity symbol.
    • Once Viper leaves the Bone Arrows, Reaper becomes this for Arrows/Arrowblades — even taking the infinity symbol themselves.
  • Ace Custom: Player aircraft can be customized to a degree. Enemy troops will comment on this, noting either the paint scheme (mentioning "that flashy punk") or the custom parts (noting that they're having trouble hitting the plane); Sky-Eye will likewise compliment players that have added a lot of parts to their plane. If all eight player planes are completely tricked out and heavily upgraded, it's even possible for the enemy troops to have an Oh, Crap! moment when they discover two full ace squadrons in their airspace.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The prices to unlock content with in-game credits can get absolutely ridiculous. Especially when you only earn 5000 to 10000 a sortie. The supercraft at the very ends of the tree start at over four and a half million credits just to purchase.
    • This issue can be partially resolved, but only if you can't perform further research on the planes and parts you have. You will receive a special "Credits Reimbursed" bonus worth additional 4420 credits for each unperformed research. This can boost earnable credits to 20000 and above. Elite Mercenary Contracts also exist to slightly boost the amount of credits the player earns per sortie for twelve hours. Forced sorties in Special Raids allow even greater rewards, upwards of 100,000 per sortie. On the rare occasions the game allows the player to sortie with six units of fuel at once, burning that much fuel alongside a merc contract for at least the red variant of any Special Raid can potentially allow for a million credits in one sortie.
    • Even the worst/cheapest planes get a massive price increase no less than 288,000 credits to level them up to Lvl.6 (Levels 7 and 8 will generally be cheaper combined), just because Level 6 adds two extra usable part customizations to the planes. That said, challenges and prize tiers for events can give out "Nonstandard Upgrade Forms," which let you skip paying for this particular upgrade entirely for that plane.
  • Airstrike Impossible: Because, of course, it wouldn't be Ace Combat without it.
    • The Avalon Dam Invasion co-op mission. The beginning section almost always puts you with an altitude restriction (400m to 1000m), forcing you to lay down until you destroy the two jammers. Then there's the final set of targets, which is often located underground as the bunker doors open wide and you have to go through two parallel tunnels to destroy the remaining targets. You can, however, bomb some of them on the surface.
    • A short, minor variant in the Satellite Interception raid, where you have to fly through the satellite's interior to destroy its core; the lack of space you have puts every previous use of this trope in the series to shame, but it's not really all that dangerous because you don't actually need to do anything but fly straight forward and launch your missiles. This can be avoided completely with sufficiently leveled aircraft, which usually means enough missile range to fire from the entry point.
    • Exaggerated in the Excalibur Onslaught raid, where Mission Control orders you to fly through a gigantic web of lasers and destroy all installations. Better yet, the Golden variant introduces an elite flight of CFA-44 midway through the battle and you have to fight them. With the laser web still active. And then the Black Sword version features the return of the Butterfly Master and her drones...
      AWACS Heavy Cloud: You are elite pilots! The best we've got! If you can't do this, no one else can!
  • The Alcoholic: In Great Migration (Mission 2), Omega makes a snide comment to Reaper under his breath regarding Viper's implied drinking habits after Viper chews him out for gabbing on about his antique MiG-21bis and infinity emblem.
    Omega: ...You always know he's nearby, too, 'cause you can smell his breath.
  • Allegedly Free Game: The "Sortie Fuel System" limits how many times you can play in either mode, unless you wait for supplied fuel to recharge or buy stocked fuel if you don't want to wait. The normal rate is seventy-five cents per unit of stocked fuel at best, one dollar at worstnote , and to play the campaign past the second mission one must pay a massive amount of credits to unlock the mission on top of the fuel cost, and more credits are necessary to replay it. That said, through feedback from fans the system was tweaked for release — you now use exactly one unit of fuel per mission (originally it was planned to use one unit for every five minutes of gameplay, though given that co-op missions only last five minutes anyway it's basically the same), and stocked fuel can be gained through challenges or random drops. There is also an Unlimited Campaign play ticket that removes the fuel and credit costs from playing missionsnote . In fact, it is possible for a player to receive stocked fuel via challenges and random drops faster than he/she spends it, especially after buying the Unlimited Campaign Ticket.
  • Alternate Continuity: Infinity's world-building is a separate continuity from Joint Assault and/or Assault Horizon, which are also set on Earth but appear to mostly follow real-world history up to their respective dates of occurrence.
  • Alternate History: The Ulysses asteroid was detected in 1994, which led to the construction of 6 railgun networks to stop it, and it made impact in 1999, just like in the Strangereal continuity. The railguns managed to prevent the asteroid from outright obliterating the world, but the fragments caused massive damage and led to the collapse of multiple governments.
  • April Fools' Day:
    • In 2015, Project Aces announced a tournament exclusive for ASF-X -Happy New Year- owners that would be held on April 1, 2019. The top "prize" would be an Aigaion -NUGGETS-, the whale painted in the yellow colors of Infinity's mascot not unlike what is seen in Moby Dick Pursuit III.
    • Acepedia got in on the fun the following year by "promoting" Ace Combat: Infinite Skies, touted as a single player-only remake-slash-continuation of Infinity for the PlayStation 4 set to be "released" on the second anniversary of Infinity's international release. The hoax was believable enough that some actually fell for the joke.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: When Viper retires, Reaper, originally Bone Arrow 4, takes his place as he's become the best pilot in the game by that point.
  • Attack Drone: The QFA-44 Camilla, also known as the Butterfly Master, is notorious for entering the airspace accompanied by multiple MQ-90 Quox. They're not too formidable in the campaign, but online co-op is another story.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Bone Arrow leader, Viper has the highest killcount of the squad by far when Reaper first joins, and is implied to have done so with nothing but his outdated Fishbed, and has an infinity symbol on it because there's no more space for kill tallies.
  • Back from the Brink: A localized example. Operation Bunker Shot, the final mission of the Infinity campaign, has Arrowblades provide cover fire for UNF ground troops as they land on Ruda, one of the Elaphiti Islands in the Adriatic Sea. Right as they make it to the shore, the USEAn resistance seemingly demoralized, OLDS fires upon the UNF forces, redirecting dozens of Ulysses meteors to rain down from the sky. This decimates a majority of the units sent by UNF, leaving only Goodfellow, Sky-Eye, the Ridgebacks, and the Bone Arrows in the air, and the sizeably-depleted Whiskey and Echo Teams on the ground. Goodfellow gives the order to continue the assault, and an epic remix of "Blue Skies" swells as the diminished attack party fights back against the remaining bandits.
  • Balkanize Me: Large chunks of many countries were carved out by the UN as zones for refugees fleeing the Ulysses impact. The most plot-relevant zone seems to be the area called "Iyuli," an area in southern Russia that is now a Special Economic Zone.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first five missions of the campaign get one involving Viper. When the player is introduced to him at the start of Mission 2, Goodfellow informs you about how top-earners at Arrows get first priority for operations, and that if you want fame and money, "you're gonna have to outdo our ace here" as Viper's mugshot is shown on-screen. At the end of Mission 5, after Viper takes extended leave and the Arrowblades are reformed into Task Force 118, Goodfellow introduces a new set of pilots by reiterating the information about top earners, telling them that if they want fame and money, they're gonna have to outdo Bone Arrows' ace — this time accompanied by a shot of Reaper's new emblem.
    • Goodfellow does it again after Mission 8 concludes, telling all affiliated personnel who are being reorganized yet again as Operation Eternal Liberation takes off that if they want to be the top earners, he'd like to see them try and outdo Reaper.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Out of all Special Weapons, the Machinegun Pod is the most evident. Instead of large explosions a la various bombs or Macross Missile Massacre a la other missile weapons, you get... extra guns. Pretty boring, but when coupled with your standard machineguns, very, very practical to use.
    • The ECM does nothing offensively, instead it provides pulses of jamming that disables missile homing and lock-on within a certain period. It doesn't do anything fancy, but having the ability to shut down incessant missile alerts as well as keeping both yourself and your teammates safe is a big plus.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Machine guns (Fighters, Multiroles, Attackers, Piston Fighters), missiles (Fighters, Multiroles, Attackers), secondary machine guns (Piston Fighters), and MGPBs (Bombers) exhibit this in varying measures. Any type of machine gun that is not the MGP will almost instantly reload the moment they empty. Missiles and bombs will restock, too, but take substantially longer and you only receive two at a time. Once your special weapons run out, however, they're depleted until your next sortie.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Zig-zagged. Ranking tournaments are based on how well the player does in missions note , and added up over the tournament's duration. As such, people who have the cash to burn for Stocked Fuel have an advantage over free players who rely on Supplied Fuel and the small amount of Stocked the game gives you through random drops and challenges. Actually getting the planes is also a mixed bag, as players with the money to burn for more fuel will be able to gain more credits and research to get to the ends of the aircraft tree faster than someone who can't or won't spend money on the game, but they still need to put in the time for that anyway — there's no way to directly turn real cash into in-game credits and just buy your way to the best planes in the game. Before the update which introduced part slot upgrades, it was largely subverted in Team Deathmatch tournaments, as it was not uncommon for top-tier planes like the Raptor and the Wyvern to get beaten out of MVP by dinkier planes that ended up unopposed. After the update, however, it went right back to being played straight, as players who sortie more often in their main planes end up being able to put in better versions of equipment, to the point where max level, low-tier planes can wipe the floor against players who have much better high-tier craft but cannot invest similar amounts of time or cash into actually flying and upgrading them.
  • The Bus Came Back: In terms of playability, Bombers were only previously available in Assault Horizon. Piston Fighters, last seen in Assault Horizon Legacy and making their Ace Combat debut in Joint Assault, also return following a brief absence in Northern Wings.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": When an enemy PAK-FA squadron gets the better of Edge above the Round Table, Omega insists on aiding their revenge. Edge points out they're trying to kill-steal (which Omega denies and then agrees with).
    Omega: We can take care of these hostiles for you!
    Edge: You just want to take my kills.
    Omega: Quit being so cynical. I mean, you're right, but...
  • The Cameo: Godzilla makes a rare appearance on the Tokyo Martial Law map during his collaboration event. True to his nature, taking him on in a tiny fighter will do nothing.
  • Code Name: The Bone Arrow and the Ridgeback pilots all have unique call signs.
    • Bone Arrow 1: Viper
    • Bone Arrow 2: Omega
    • Bone Arrow 3: Bronco
    • Bone Arrow 4: Reaper, then Zebu once Reaper takes the lead slot
    • Ridgeback 1: Slash
    • Ridgeback 2: Edge
    • Ridgeback 3: Fencer, then Lance once Edge takes the lead slot
    • Ridgeback 4: Axeman
  • Colony Drop: The "Satellite Interception" Special Raid Missions takes inspiration from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War's final mission by having the antagonist faction drop an unused weapons satellite on Tokyo, with your taskforce stepping in to shoot it down.
  • Commanding Coolness: Goodfellow, the commander of Bone Arrow Squadron and later Task Force 118. He also serves as the AWACS unit for all Bone Arrows during operations.
  • Competitive Balance: Attempted. In previous games, the air-to-air and air-to-ground stats only determined how quickly an aircraft's guided weapons could lock on to air/ground targets, respectively, and had no bearing on damage output (e.g. a standard missile always did the same damage on a particular target, regardless of what aircraft you're flying). In this game, they do determine damage done against air/ground targets. Fighters rule in air-to-air combat, but deal less damage to ground targets and minimal to hardened structures and ships; while Attackers deal minimal damage to air targets, but can bash ships and hardened structures with only a volley or two of regular missiles; Multiroles are about equally effective in both roles, though without as much variety, specialization, or outright power for either; Bombers grant insane ground damage potential, but at the cost of everything but, with the distinct drawback of having zero anti-air weaponry; and Piston Fighters are slow and lacking missiles, but the focus on guns can allow them to tear through smaller maps extremely quickly and end up particularly powerful against planes which expect missiles but dodge right into bullets. Also, while air targets give more points, there are many times more ground targets — and of course, air targets are moving, while most ground targets are stationary.
    • Higher-end Multiroles, however, are considered game-breakers by most of the playerbase. While high-end Attackers do become better at dealing damage to air targets, their homing penalty prevents them from being efficient with their shots. On the flipside, Fighters lack the natural low-speed stability of their Attacker peers, and while they can make several attacks of opportunity against soft targets (anti-air guns and the like), they suffer greatly against hardened targets. Multiroles' only real weakness is their average homing on their missiles in general — which can be rectified, to a degree. That said, this particular weakness is amplified in high-level play, to the point where most players in the highest ranges tend toward using Fighters and Attackers.
      • To help balance out Attackers in particular, multiple maps (Emergency Sea/Land Strike, Stonehenge Returns, Avalon Dam Invasion, and Excalibur Onslaught) are geared almost exclusively toward fighting ground targets. Piston Fighters get their own map (Retro Combat Evaluation) solely for flying in them. Fighters likewise get a few maps that are solely air-to-air based (Emergency Air Strike, Moby Dick Pursuit, Satellite Interception, and Area B7R), and also get the occasional Team Deathmatch mode where, given that all players are invariably flying planes, Fighters have a natural edge over the other types (although Naval TDM also allows for all other types to contribute as well).
    • The ECM, highly useful in co-op due to its missile and lock-on disabling function, cannot function more than three seconds in Player-versus-Player Mode to avoid abuse. To put this in perspective, in co-op, the duration lasts as long as 20 seconds, and combined with certain parts and Datalink function, the ECM can be ready to be redeployed before the initial duration runs out.
    • The Fire Extinguisher equippable part is actually just Regenerating Health, removing any and all damage above 39% . As such, it's disabled in TDM mode. Same for the Next Generation Armor's health regeneration effect.
  • Composite Character:
    • Reaper primarily takes cues from Mobius 1, though certain accomplishments of his, such as stopping the launch of an ICBM at Avalon Dam and dismantling a large enemy battalion at Area B7R, are lifted from Cipher's book. In fact, if the player earns an S Rank for Operation Battle Axe, they'll be awarded with an emblem entitled "The Demon Lord," a nod to Galm 1's epithet as "The Demon Lord of the Round Table." They'll also be awarded the title of "Round Table Reaper" for successfully completing the mission.
    • Slash and Edge of the Ridgeback Squadron are another two. They're named after the wingmen from Ace Combat 2, but most other aspects of their character (a squadron named after a dog, known for all flying a distinctive aircraft nobody else really uses) point towards the Wardog squadron from Ace Combat 5. There's also a minor bit of Yellow Squadron from 04 added in, as well, particularly Slash's pride in having never lost a wingman.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: Notable in that while all the human players are on the same side, everyone is encouraged to compete for the most points, making it a cross between a versus multiplayer mode and co-op.
  • Crapsack World: The impact of the Ulysses asteroids in this timeline is even more severe compared to Strangereal, with over 20% of the global population killed during the disaster along with a complete breakdown of order in world governments.
  • Crossover: The game seems to be drawing from every single game before it. All references to previous Ace Combat titles can be found on the Mythology Gag page.
    • The game even added out-of-franchise crossovers. There is of course, the Butterfly Master humming Mappy's theme. In late August 2014, emblems of 8-bit versions of the girls from The iDOLM@STER were given as random drops, with later drop events giving regular emblems, nicknames (such as "<insert idol>'s Producer"), and even the planes of both the original group and the characters from Cinderella Girls. During the October 10-15 2014 Forced Sorties event, players could have their aircraft decked out in paint schemes of the three main planes from the video game adaptation of Area 88. Shortly afterward, Tekken-themed skins were available for drops, complete with unique Special Weapons. The mid-February 2016 Naval TDM event was essentially one big reference to the classic arcade game Sky Kid, complete with rental sets during the event and the prize tiers afterwards allowing players to play as fully-3D renditions of Red Baron or Blue Max. Early March 2016 featured challenges to give emblems and nicknames of characters from a mobile game based on Gate, with later challenge events awarding emblems and nicknames from Summon Night (commemorating the 15th anniversary of the series and the Japanese release of its sixth main installment, Lost Borders), Digimon (to likewise coincide with the Japanese release of Digimon World -next 0rder-), and Sword Art Online (celebrating the Japanese release of Hollow Realization).
  • Curse Cut Short: Edge lets out a "Holy...!" right as OLDS redirects numerous meteor fragments to bombard the UNF forces from space following the first phase of Operation Bunker Shot.
  • Developers' Foresight: Bringing Cipher's F-15C against Pixy's F-15C or ADFX-01 on Avalon Siege in Team Deathmatch will change the stage's background music to "Zero" instead of the default "Demon Lord of the Round Table," allowing lucky players to recreate the famous final fight from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War if confronting the latter aircraft. This marks the first time in Infinity that a match is altered in any way under specific, player-controlled conditions.
    • Likewise, the Piston Fighter-only "Sky Kid" Naval Fleet Assault event features the aircraft of Red Baron and Blue Max as top prizes. These planes can also be used as rental sets, and pitting Red vs. Blue in a battle may change the BGM to the "Sky Kid March," indicated by a message in the upper-right corner of the screen as the dogfight commences.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The Tekken-themed planes' exclusive special weapons. They can provide larger blast radii or higher homing ability compared to their normal counterparts but require extremely precise timing for this to be possible.
    • The SFFS takes some practice to properly deploy at the right speed and altitude. You can either hopelessly try to kill even one target with this weapon, or obliterate entire clusters of targets at an instant depending on how you use it.
    • The RKTL. You effectively have to be still and lightly spread out or focus on what you want to destroy, leaving you at risk for taking fire, but it's very effective against heavily armored targets and is also handy when facing the Aigaion and its escorts.
    • Bombers also qualify; they're slow, clunky and have no anti-air capabilities whatsoever, but they can easily decimate maps that feature lots of ground targets with their upgraded versions of the UGB/GPB/SOD, often racking up large amounts of kills before attackers can.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The F-4E Phantom II, the very first plane you get. It's a Multirole aircraft so it can handle air and ground targets equally well, has good speed, it has fairly decent Special Weapons, decent ammo capacity, and 17 (19 when upgraded to Level 6, 20 when upgraded to Level 15) slots for Body, Weapon, and Misc. parts each, making it decently customizable. Due to being a beginner plane, it gains upgrade points fast, and is fairly cheap on cost to upgrade. The only major flaw is that it turns like a brick (but again, that can be fixed with parts and upgrades). It takes until you unlock the F/A-18F Super Hornet, or one of the special production planes, to find something better than it in every possible aspect. Also, players who got the game when it first came out were rewarded with an awesome "Inferno" skin livery that absolutely infuriates the enemy when they see it.
    • The F-5E Tiger II. It carries a little more upgrade slots than the F-4E and also gets the UGB out of the box, meaning it can crush ground targets with ease and, once leveled up, be competitive against mid-to-late game planes.
    • Special drop aircraft, such as the ever-popular Rafale M -Vent d'Ange-, can drop even when the player has just started the game. This can result in complete nuggets having a relatively high-tier aircraft without needing to research anything. However, due to the nature of these drops (that is, completely random, and they change every month), it's much harder to rely on them.
      • The B-1B -Razor- is another good example since it performs way better than any other bomber at similar levels, thus making it a good entry point for players unfamiliar with bomber gameplay.
      • The -Happy Holidays- version of the XFA-27 is another one, as it is far cheaper to upgrade than the regular one (counting the cost to purchase the plane in the first place, you can bring the -Happy Holidays- up to Level 10 with fewer credits than you need to get the regular XFA-27 to Level 2) with only a minor decrease in total stats and swapping out the first special weapon for the HCAA — but keeping the plane's selling point in the MSTM.
      • Some challenge or drop events in early 2016 have likewise given access to powerful Attackers like the F-14B -Persian Cat- and the Su-34 -Black Duck-, which cost a bit more to upgrade than the regular versions and can only go up to Level 15 naturally, but make up for this by having much better stats at the same levels and starting at Level 5.
    • A lesser example is the very first Datalink; it simultaneously increases weapon lock speed, weapon reload, and missile homing ability. While later Datalink unlocks can award a better version of the aforementioned properties, they can only do so one at a time.
  • Double Unlock:
    • To acquire planes and parts from the Aircraft Tree, you'll need to research and develop each plane and part, then buy the item with in-game money. In order to progress through the tree, you'll need to buy all the aircraft and parts from one node to unlock the next node for research and development.
    • Playing the campaign past the second mission without the unlimited play ticket counts, too, by way of having to pay in-game credits to fly it after you've already played up to that point normally.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Zig-zagged with the Bone Arrows. The Ridgebacks regard them as second-rate pilots despite Omega implying the squadron to actually be inferior in skill ("Ugh. They beat us once in kill count and now they think they run the place...") and then go on to (reluctantly) steal Reaper's credit for the destruction of Stonehenge. However, the bandits in Mission 2 quickly recognize who Viper is, and when the Bone Arrows return to Tokyo for Operation Override, the JASDF pilots who were previously assisted by Reaper and Omega in the first mission are glad to have the pirates on their side once more. By the time of the finale, the UNF forces rally behind the Bone Arrows half of Arrowblades, with one fighter outright issuing the command for all units to follow the Reaper.
  • Dull Surprise: Heavy Cloud. Compared to Sky-Eye, he sounds almost bored, even when you get shot down. The closest he sounds to having any emotion is if you lose your fleet in a Naval Team Deathmatch round, at which point he'll instead use a mournful tone.
  • Easy Logistics: An in-universe element that represents the F2P element of the game. The Advanced Automated Aviation Plant can easily reproduce planes of any kind, which combined with the surplus of poor workers is why mercenary work exploded after 1999.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The UNAF's Ridgebacks. Once disbanded alongside other UNAF squadrons due to heavy losses by the end of the fifth mission, they are regrouped into Task Force 118.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: In Avalon Dam Invasion, pretty much any target will fire an anti-air missile in your direction. And yes, this includes previously harmless tanks and APCs. Granted, most of these missiles will not hit you (since they don't trigger missile alerts on your HUD, meaning they are not guided), but it still raises the question: why can they suddenly do that and only on that particular map?
  • Fake Balance: The three major plane classes. In theory, Fighters and Attackers are supposed to be better against aircraft and ground targets respectively because of damage bonuses to each other. At the same time, they have damage penalties against targets opposed to their role (e.g. ground targets for Fighters). Multiroles can take on both without benefit or penalty, but by default have access to more parts slots than Fighters or Attackers. Fighters and Attackers are balanced out with a lack of upgrade slots, but this means that Multiroles negate their Master of None label and butcher both aircraft and ground targets more effectively than Fighters and Attackers combined. The addition of Bombers does nothing to alleviate this, either.
    • To rub salt in the wound, the May 2015 update added an experience system where frequently flown aircraft can earn additional upgrade slots after earning certain amounts of experience points. In theory this is supposed to make the lower-tier aircraft more competitive and given a fair chance against higher-tier aircraft, but in practice accentuates the higher-tier aircrafts' superiority and raises the Multiroles' already massive upgrade slot count even more. It should be noted, however, that high-tier aircraft need to accumulate about 100000 experience points before having their slots boosted by 1. This will take them roughly 9000+ missions when flown on a single fuel unit. In the meantime, the lower-tier craft can easily rack up slots, especially when using Forced Sorties.
  • Fake Difficulty: The Satellite Interception Special Raid. Although it's (subjectively) easier than Moby Dick Pursuit or Stonehenge Returns (the lasers and unexpected pieces of shrapnel still keep you on your toes), most of the difficulty with finishing it in time comes from the fact that it progresses with Heavy Cloud's communications... The guy is about as charismatic as a brick on the radio, and he just won't shut up! The worst thing is, despite all the frequency-hogging, he is NOT that good at his job, and whatever enemy he is trying to warn you of tends to already be right on top of you halfway during his transmission!
  • Featureless Protagonist: Like most AC player characters, all that's known about Reaper is that he's male.
  • Flat Character: The Bone Arrow and Ridgeback pilots who aren't named Viper, Omega, Slash, and Edge have no perceivable personality and a grand total of less than five lines between them. Zebu, who takes Reaper's slot as Bone Arrow 4 in the lategame missions, is particularly bad about this, being just as silent as Reaper himself. They're simply there to fill the remaining spots of their squadrons, more like Warwolf than Wardog.
  • Foreshadowing: Twice during Far Eastern Front. Not long after the mission is underway does Omega take some time to comment on the size of a crater on the outskirts of Tokyo, mentioning that everyone would be done for if another Ulysses meteor dropped on them. Three missions later, OLDS almost proves him right. Then, Viper gives Slash some grief for telling Edge to not stray out of formation, asking if he's too scared to let his babies out from under his skirt. When Slash replies that, unlike Viper, his duty is to protect his squadmates, Viper tells Slash that guys like them aren't really needed by their team; they're just there to give them a push every now and then. Slash doesn't come back from Operation Override alive.
  • Four Is Death: Bone Arrow 4's callsign is Reaper. This is also the Player Character.
  • Fragile Speedster: Most of the Fighters, having poor defense compared to Attackers, but being much faster and/or having a lot of Air-to-Air damage.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams:
    • All three versions of the ADFX-01 Morgan have a mounted prototype laser cannon.
    • Enemy drones controlled by the Butterfly Master have nose-mounted laser beams with which they can destroy missiles. She returns with a vengeance as a rare Mission Update enemy in Moscow Battle, Area B7R, and Adriatic Sea Landing Operation. She is also a major enemy on Tier IV/Black raids. Unlike her Campaign Mode incarnation, aggroing several of her drones at once can and will mean quick laser-inflicted death.
    • A rare Special Raid mission in online co-op pits you against an upgraded, special golden-painted Aigaion/Moby Dick from Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation with laser projectors instead of Nimbus cruise missiles. Like the ones used by laser drones in the campaign, this Moby Dick's lasers can shoot down any missile weaponry that flies near it. Even worse, the laser projectors are not destructible until most of the primary targets onboard the Aigaion itself are already destroyed.
    • The ADF-01 FALKEN, which has been iconic for its Tactical Laser since AC5, still has it, and due to being classified as a Fighter, it is much more deadly against aerial targets. Switching to missiles while the laser is firing from the FALKEN's "mouth" will cancel the laser.
    • The X-49 Night Raven also boasts the TLS, though the laser is coloured green to replicate the Orbital Satellite Laser it actually had in Electrosphere.
    • All four versions of the AC5 SOLG appearing as the third special raid will defend themselves against you with unmanned lasers when the second set of targets appear.
    • All of the above are put to shame by the fourth Raid set, Excalibur Onslaught. The main tower will emit a large blue laser periodically to discourage your attempts to destroy the surrounding jammers, and once you do that, it will instead deflect its beams into several panels and smaller towers, making for a truly impressive laser net. Just in case this wasn't enough, a few armoured trains also have modified TLS to shoot you down with. The aforementioned Butterfly Master also crashes the party during Excalibur Onslaught IV, just in case you thought there was a dearth of laser beam action.
  • The Gambler: Omega doubts that Viper's retirement following Mission 5 will be permanent, foreseeing Viper's inevitable return the moment he blows all of his savings on gambling.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: You can target allied fighters during campaign missions and pump them full of lead or attempt to blow them to smithereens, but the damage never registers. And better yet, why would you waste perfectly good ammo on friendlies anyway?
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Regardless of whatever emblem the player uses for their aircraft, characters in the campaign will always refer to Reaper as "Ribbon" or some variation thereof when commenting on his insignia. Likewise, Edge will express confusion in Mission 5 as to why she can't keep up with Reaper and the Butterfly Master during the chaotic battle over Tokyo, mentioning her Shinden's higher specs — even if the player is using a plane that far outclasses it in performance. Conversely, a player can fly something as antiquated as a piston fighter and Edge will make the exact same remark.
    • Exclusive to online play, the presence of support fire from Stonehenge in Area B7R contradicts the fact that it was blown straight to Kingdom Come in the campaign. Stonehenge Returns could be seen as the superweapon being miraculously repaired for future use, but that means the railgun network ultimately gets hosed a second time. More likely, USEA may have captured the American Stonehenge and used that one to fire at B7R, given the effort they'd ultimately need to change the shells fired to a set that could hit Nevada from Turkey otherwise.
    • Moby Dick Pursuit is another instance, though this could be explained away by duplicate heavy command cruisers.
  • Genki Girl: The Butterfly Master treats aerial warfare like fun and games, clearly enjoying herself while besieging her opposition. This could be because of the fact that, from Camilla's point of view, this is one big game to her, as noted below.
  • Giggling Villain: Downplayed. While the Butterfly Master emits a few chuckles and giggles depending on the encounter, she's recognizable primarily by her distinct humming routine.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Goodfellow seems like a pretty decent guy whose only vice is his hawkish eye for money, something that Omega continually pokes fun at, but one snappish comment from Viper at the end of the second mission implies he pushed the preceding Bone Arrow 4 so hard it indirectly led to their death during a previous engagement.
  • Goroawase Number: In the spirit of Japanese wordplay and the fictitious 765 Productions record label the characters belong to, the iDOLM@STER aircraft all cost 765 credits to purchase (as opposed to the less cleanly divisible 876 for Bandai-Namco).
  • The Grim Reaper: A motif that is strongly associated with none other than the Player Character. Appropriately enough, Reaper goes on to strike fear into the hearts of most his enemies.
  • Guide Dang It!: The Special Raid missions, which happen at random, and without explaining how what version gets picked.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Camilla, who is stuck on a satellite orbiting the earth, is shown to wear a pink-and-blue headset, presumably used when she controls her QFA-44 Camilla from space.
  • High-Altitude Battle: A staple to the series' intense dogfights, but the Satellite Interception raid takes it to its logical conclusion by making you start at 40,000 feet above ground, with the SOLG slowly making its descent up until around 25,000 feet. In the meantime, you have to deal with hard-to-destroy panels and aircraft trying to impede you.
  • Hope Bringer: Reaper, due to his accolades and feats throughout the campaign (particularly beginning with the destruction of Stonehenge), becomes The Dreaded for enemy squadrons and even some of his own allies, with several characters like Omega and Edge commenting on how they don't want to be "haunted." (Omega even offers to paint Reaper a nicer one in Mission 2 because the current emblem freaks him out.) Bertz, however, offers up a different opinion of the Ace Pilot in the opening stages of Operation Override, a mission he sadly does not survive.
    Collins: Where's our air support?!
    Bertz: Right up there, Collins! You see them?
    Collins: The Reaper? I'd rather not get haunted, thanks.
    Bertz: You kidding me? When the Reaper's in the air, you know the area's safe. Don't forget -- no matter what, he'll always be up there for us.
    Collins: Roger!
    • Bertz's sister also sees Reaper as a symbol of hope, having been told by her brother at some point between that "when the Reaper haunts you, you've got nothing to fear." If Whiskey Team is instead supported before Echo Team in Mission 8, Collins—who already had a change of heart—will ask that Reaper prove himself as such to the female Bertz.
      Collins: We're A-OK here, Ribbon! Get over to the Echo Team on the east side! If she dies on me here, the Lieutenant's probably gonna kill us from the afterlife. It's safe under the Reaper, right? Show her!
    • By the time Operation Eternal Liberation begins, Arrowblades as a whole, especially the Bone Arrows, are viewed as this collectively. Many of the allied forces shout enthusiastic exclamations like "The pirates are here!" when supported by the squadron. Edge, not missing a beat, later gives a dry remark about how she "never would've expected a Grim Reaper emblem to become such a morale-booster."
      (after OLDS is fired)
      Collins: We got nothing to be afraid of! Not with the Grim Reaper haunting the skies!
      Bertz: You said it! On the ground and in the air... We can do this!
    • On the opposite side of the war effort, the Butterfly Master is this (or the closest thing to it) for the Sons of Troia/USEA Federation if dialogue during Excalibur Onslaught IV is any indication.
    Excalibur Specialist: Confirmed arrival of Carmilla!
    Excalibur Commander: You took your time! We're counting on you!
  • Hypocrite: Kacper Cohen cites the possibility of a Ulysses event happening again as a reason for forming the USEA Federation and rebelling against the UN. Come mission 8, and one of the secret weapons he helped develop purposefully causes meteor strikes to happen.
  • Implied Love Interest: Slash and Edge of the Ridgebacks appear quite chummy, even fairly intimate, during their mid-mission chats and the Butterfly Master gunning down Slash while he's bailing out sends Edge into a vengeful fury that she is only barely able to come down from with a stern reprimand courtesy of Viper. After Arrowblades is formed and Edge becomes Reaper's secondary wingman, her interest seems to gradually shift to him, swinging between scorn for having her kills stolen and awestruck respect for his skills (see Ship Tease below).
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Naturally, some planes that have overall superior performances are locked behind an immense price check, while planes that are only slightly below the top tier are much cheaper to acquire and upgrade.
    • On the aircraft tree's upgrade path, most fictional "superplanes" like the ADA-01B ADLER, the XFA-33 Fenrir and the GAF-1 Varcolac, are located at the very end of the tree progression, and require a hefty sum of credits (in the tens of millions) to buy and upgrade to an appreciable performance. In contrast, some of the higher tier planes before them (for example, the F-22A Raptor, the Su-47 Berkut and the FB-22 Strike Raptor) only need a fraction of that cost to upgrade to a similar performance, making the aforementioned "superplanes" something of a luxury or a prize for the nostalgic. Then, there's also the Special Aircraft variants of generally lower-tier aircraft, which are usually a major improvement over their base counterparts and can often compete with the "superplanes" while being only slightly costier than the basic variants.
    • The "superplanes" on the aircraft tree eventually received their Special Aircraft counterparts, alluding to past Ace Combat games and boasting even better stats, but also costing even more. The X-49 -Rena Hirose- in particular is the priciest aircraft in the entire game, needing a whopping 547 million credits to fully upgrade. You can shave off a bit by using a Nonstandard Upgrade form to bypass the transition from level 5 to 6, but even then it's still the most expensive of them all. In return, that particular X-49 variant is the strongest aircraft to wield the Tactical Laser System.
    • With the advent of the Skilled Pilot Medal Exchange system, the four aircraft that cost 1000 medals are by far the toughest to acquire (given that only the top 20 participants of a given tournament are rewarded 1000 medals; the next bracket, top 21-200, only receives 100 for their trouble), but are also some of the most unique.
      • The ADF-01 -Z.O.E.- from Ace Combat 2 is the only Fighter in the game to have a base 875 cost (meaning it's got the most powerful standard missiles and special weapons of all Fighters when compared level by level), as well as the only one equipped with an ECM pod. However, like all "superplanes", it's one of the most expensive planes to fully upgrade, clocking around 365 million credits from start to finish. To give you a reference, the other Fighter costing 1000 medals, the F-22A -Scarface1-, only needs a little over a quarter of that pricetag.
      • The F-4E -Mobius1- has the distinction of being the strongest possible Phantom II, usually a weak starter plane, and has a ridiculous QAAM carrying capacity, on top of being incredibly agile for its stats. Unfortunately, it's still locked beyond that 1000 medals wall, and if you're not into a QAAM-spamming gimmick, there are other competitive choices that require less medals to unlock.
      • The last 1000-medals plane to be released, the MiG-1.44 -Hamilton-, is essentially a stronger version of the F-15S/MTD, what with being a fast multirole equipped with FAEBs to make short work of clusters. As with other 1000-medal planes, it boils down to whether or not you find it worthy of undertaking the grind to get those medals.
  • In-Series Nickname: The Bone Arrows are commonly referred to as "pirates," sometimes affectionately, sometimes not. Goodfellow would prefer if the squadron was known as "privateers" since they're government-affiliated, something that Edge scoffs at shortly after the player is introduced to her squadron. Meanwhile, the Ridgebacks are derisively called "Single Lines" by Viper and Omega because of the single white vertical line on the spine of their aircraft as well as their insignia.
    Omega: Pfft. Stupid modern-art emblems...
  • It's Personal: Edge sees the rematch with the Butterfly Master at Area B7R as a very personal affair, given that she watched her leader and presumed lover unceremoniously gunned down by the fiend. Goodfellow has to remind Edge not to let her emotions get the best of her like they almost did in Tokyo, lest she end up joining Slash. Even so, Edge calls the Butterfly Master her prey and demands that the others don't interfere with her dogfight.
  • Jerkass: The oh-so-elite Ridgeback Squadron, who are exceptionally arrogant, thinking they're so much better than the Bone Arrows with their higher-spec F-3 Shinden II aircraft, and constantly talking down on the mercenaries with borderline-annoying condescension. The fact that Goodfellow rubs their informed eliteness in your face during their introduction doesn't help (although it can be interpreted as his idea of "inspiration"). Slash, their flight lead, is the worst offender of the bunch — after Bone Arrows ace Reaper single-handedly destroys the Stonehenge railgun battery in Turkey, some of the UNF allies mistakenly attribute the feat to the Ridgebacks; instead of being a man and giving credit where credit is due, he goes along with it!
    • It's not just him. Sky-Eye was aware of the Bone Arrows' involvement in the destruction of the jammers. It was his comment that it was "probably the Ridgebacks" that led the others to believe it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Slash, though insufferably cocky, is more concerned about his squadron than his own kills in battle and prides himself on never losing a wingmate while up in the skies. Edge, meanwhile, is the first member of the Ridgebacks to express discomfort at stealing Reaper's credit, almost goes on a murderous rampage when Slash is downed, and comes to revere Reaper's aptitude as a pilot over time—in her own way.
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • The game justifies why you would see so many obsolete and rare planes flying in 2019. Aircraft manufacturing via the Advanced Automated Aviation Plant system made by Wernher and Noah Enterprises has advanced to the point where older planes can be mass produced quickly, cheaply, and efficiently, which has led to a surplus of airplanes and a shortage of pilots. This has made mercenary squadrons a very lucrative business industry, and they have been snapping up candidates (and even dropouts) from piloting schools all over the world. Where this still falls into the trope, however, is that planes like the Su-35S, T-50, and ATD-X are available despite not having finished development or entered production until after 1999, the point where in-universe every country slashed their military budgets to focus on rebuilding. There's also the fact that you can also get your hands on a lot of the fictional aircraft from the Strangereal games, from 1995's ADFX-01 Morgan and its later upgrade in the ADF-01 FALKEN, to 2040's R-101 and X-49.
    • In-universe, most of the fictional superplanes have yet to be seen in the campaign and Omega likens the Butterfly Master's defensive array of laser-toting UAVs to "some kind of crazy sci-fi force field," suggesting the technology of the Infinity universe is lagging behind Strangereal's (and thus closer to our own). But such is to be expected when numerous meteorite fragments cause extensive collateral damage and destabilize the global economy.
  • Kill Steal:
    • In the campaign, a fair chunk of the Bone Arrows' initial animosity toward the Ridgebacks is because of them jumping in mid-sortie and taking all of the major targets for themselves.
    • In Co-Op, a large chunk of the points from a destroyed enemy go towards the one who dealt the final blow, so expect to see this often. There's even awards handed out towards this category; Master Thief for the pilot who stole the most kills off their rivals, and Calamity for pilots who let the most kills go to their teammates.
    • In Ring Battle TDM, every time a player gets shot down, one random ring they personally captured will be transferred to the other team's control.
  • Kill Streak: Featured in the Naval Fleet Assault Team Deathmatch Event. Unlike other "pure" Team Deathmatch Events, the objective for the team is to destroy the opposing player Fleet while protecting their own. While Multiroles and Attackers are the heavy lifters, killing enemy players multiple times (or force them to crash or be shot down by friendly ships) in succession awards Strategic Assaults that directly damage the opposing Fleet after a certain time-delay. This encourages Fighter roles to be played as well, since they cannot deal meaningful damage towards the sea-borne fleet but can keep enemy planes from damaging their own fleet pretty well.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: The various Moby Dick Pursuit, Stonehenge Returns, and Satellite Interception missions give the eponymous targets recolors on harder missions; red for the Level II version, and gold for the Level III version. The December 2014 update adds a fourth Black variant. This color motif also applies for the final Special Raid set, Excalibur Onslaught, which received its own Black variant in January 2016.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Butterfly Master treats any aerial skirmish like a video game, belting out lines like "There's a nice combo!" when her drones pick off foes with coordinated attacks and giving a mildly annoyed "Ugh, lost a life! Press START to continue!" when shot down over Area B7R. When appearing for a second time during the Black variant of Stonehenge Returns, she'll even note, "My Camilla's got lots of lives left." The thing is, she's actually on the dot. The QFA-44s she favors are UAVs like the MQ-90s that accompany them, so her spares are treated like extra lives. And since all of the aircraft are controlled remotely from a Papillion Project satellite orbiting the earth using COFFIN technology, these battles are pretty much a game from her perspective, though it's unclear if Camilla knows that her "games" are actively taking other human lives in the process.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The theme tune to Mappy for the Butterfly Master/Camilla.
    • The Bacura over Tokyo emit background music from Xevious when one gets close to them.
  • Lethal Joke Character:
    • The piston aircraft added in Update #11. Weak armor, slow, but very mobile and have powerful machine guns. They also come equipped with ECM as their first special weapon, a handy tool for scrambling radar-guided missiles they'd otherwise have a hard time escaping.
    • The Sky Kid-themed biplanes; they have a Loop evasive maneuver that can only be used at low speeds in place of the second gun other piston aircraft have. On the other hand, they do have access to the UGB, SFFS, and FAEB instead of ECM, RKTLS, and UGBS, which gives them comparable offensive capabilities overall.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Emergency Mission updates are this in numerous ways. The difficulty of the A.I., especially where enemy fighter squadrons are concerned, occupies a wide spectrum and certain scenarios  are rare to come upon even after numerous sorties. Furthermore, some missions are guaranteed to run more time off of the clock than others. The Butterfly Master is one of the bigger roadblocks unless the group assembled knows what they're doing and is adequately equipped for the task, but Avalon Dam Invasion might be the worst offender of them all; if the report from AWACS reads "Ground forces are starting to become more active," the emergency mission will often consist of three waves of AA guns, SAMs, and the like. The problem is that players will have to fly from the outer perimeters of the dam and back across the trench from the beginning of the level to destroy the land-based forces, then fly all the way back to the dam to take care of the rest of the enemy installations. This can bring the timer down past the 1-minute mark before the two teams even have a chance to trigger the appearance of the final set of hostiles.
  • Mega Corp.: Wernher-Noah Enterprises filled in the gap for arms spending & development when national governments all over the globe slashed their military budgets to focus on rebuilding. WNE was responsible for the technological breakthroughs that made aircraft manufacturing so cheap and efficient. This has allowed WNE to curry favor with a lot of countries and given them significant political clout. Unfortunately the fact that powerful military hardware is so easy to create means there are now massive stockpiles of weapons available for terrorist groups to easily hijack.
  • Mighty Glacier: Most Attackers, being sturdy and having ferocious machine guns and filled with bombs, anti-ground or anti-ship missiles, but lacking in speed/mobility since they're for destroying tanks/ships, etc. Bombers, apart from a complete lack of guns or missiles, take the "mighty against ground enemies" and "slow glacier" traits Up to 11.
  • More Dakka: The Machinegun Pod, or MGP. Equipped by older Soviet aircraft (the MiG-21 Fishbed, Su-25TM Frogfoot, and Su-24M Fencer D) and the ADLER, all it does is add extra gun pods to strafe your enemies with. Combined with your regular machineguns, the Machinegun Pods can deal terrifying amounts of damage in short bursts. Stack that with machine gun upgrade parts, and watch the damage-per-second climb to previously unseen levels. Destroying high-end jets such as F-22, F-35B, and T-50 (player-controlled or otherwise) with the Fishbed and nothing more than multiple machineguns feels very, very satisfying. With the Piston Fighters, this is their main method of attack, given that none of them have any other means of directly engaging aerial targets.
  • A Mother to Her Men: Warrant Officer Bertz is very adamant on getting as many infantry units as she possibly can out of Operation Bunker Shot in one piece, doubly so after OLDS is used against the UNF. Her fiercely protective nature towards her troops may have something to do with her brother's untimely death in the line of duty.
    Bertz: If you see anyone down, hide them in the shadow of the rocks! Nobody's being left behind.
    (once active enemy force is down to 30%)
    Bertz: I'm not letting anyone die like a dog here. Everyone's coming back alive!
  • Multinational Team: Various mercenary squadrons. Within the Arrows, Reaper is American, Omega is British of Pakistani background, Viper is an Australian, and Goodfellow is Irish-American.
  • Nerf: Inevitable given the need to balance out weapons that have not been seen since the older games.
    • The Unguided Bomb and Long-Range Air-to-Ground Missile were originally infamous for having too long a range, too big of a splash-damage radius, too big of a radius enhancement by the respective parts, and arguably too much damage overall; this made them particularly overpowered with high-tier crafts such as the Su-47 and F-15 S/MTD. Namco cured this by shrinking their radii significantly, weakening them and making the UGBs drop much more vertically so they couldn't hit such distant enemies.
    • They've also backtracked a bit with the SFFS (a bomb which scatters miniature bombs over a giant area and is affected by plane speed and angling), which after a buff became even MORE overpowered than the previously mentioned weapons when combined with its massive area of effect, ability to concentrate bombs on one area for massive damage and being a weapon of the top-tier Attacker FB-22.
    • The Electronic Support Measure has been completely reworked from its introduction in AC6, where it had the nifty ability of enhancing the missile tracking capabilities of all allied units in range, the player included, while also diminishing the effectiveness of enemy fighters' own targeting systems. Here, ESM simply increases the signal distance for a Datalink, which mostly limits its already rare use among players to aiding coordinated strikes in densely-populated Special Raids like Emergency Ground/Air/Sea Strike.
    • The Nosferatu's All-Direction Multi-Purpose Missiles still launch twelve missiles like it does in AC6, but its ability to lock on to targets have been reduced so that players can only lock onto up to six targets at a time (twice each).
    • The Nosferatu, once again, has its EML dialed down in damage compared to Assault Horizon, which already was a downgrade from 6. The lack of Dog Fight Mode also prevents it from being a surefire hit on enemies.
    • Likewise, the Tactical Laser System has its damage output and hitscan detection size significantly reduced from 5 and Zero, turning it into a niche weapon that's only viable if you're good with keeping your sights on a target.
  • Noodle Incident: Goodfellow is familiar with the Round Table, with the implication that he's seen his own fair share of action, but when Omega tries to get more out of him, Goodfellow says there won't be any time to divulge his backstory, as the group has almost reached the engagement point.
  • Not the Intended Use: Air-to-air special missiles and air-to-ground weapons are limited in their locking ability to their respective roles, but that doesn't mean you can't dumbfire them into targets that can't be locked on by those limitations. It's not unheard of to blindly fire a salvo of HPAA's or 6AAM's at a ground building to stack damage with your standard missiles if you're accurate enough, and it's definitely possible (albeit much of a stretch) to destroy enemy aircraft with bombs; the latter case is the reason bombers can sometimes score air kills even though they're not supposed to, given its default MPGB has an obscene damage output and blast radius at high levels.
  • Number of the Beast: Due to the symbolism present in its home game, it's no coincidence that the Level 6 nonstandard upgrades for the F-15C -Cipher- and F-15C -Pixy- cost 666,000 credits. There's also a minor variant at Level 15, costing 6,066,000 credits.
  • Oh, Crap!: Sky-Eye reacts this way to the sudden re-reappearance of the Butterfly Master near the end of Stonehenge Returns IV, giving a quiet, almost defeated "Oh, no..." Heavy Cloud is more restrained when he's doing AWACS duty, making his frustration evident with lines like "It's exactly who we didn't want to show up here!", "It's that enemy again!", and "Just how many of these things are there?"
  • Old-School Dogfighting: While the Dogfight Mode is not present in this game, the player can certainly do so. Even better, some aircraft (like the MiG-21 Fishbed) have Machinegun Pods, which allows you to shoot down other planes with just machine guns like old times. The assessment medal for shooting down many aircraft with machineguns only is even called "Old School." Naturally, this is the main draw of Piston Fighters.
  • One-Man Army: In grand Ace Combat tradition, Reaper goes from a rookie pilot to a force of destruction capable of single-handedly laying waste to an entire terrorist organization in the span of about four months. The Butterfly Master can arguably be seen as his Evil Distaff Counterpart.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Werner's OLDS system, intended to keep meteor fragments away from the Earth with a laser array, ends up weaponized partway through Bunker Shot, by making it do the opposite — hitting the fragments in such a way that they instead fall to Earth and impact.
  • Perky Female Minion: The Butterfly Master functions as this for the Federation of USEA, serving as a quirky but incredibly deadly support unit for their aerial forces. She has the markings of a Punch-Clock Villain, but Camilla's level of awareness and complicity concerning the missions USEA assigns her are open to question.
  • Player Versus Player: Three limited-time Team Deathmatch modes are made available sporadically each month, allowing players to test their plane's mettle by shooting down other pilots and/or completing set objectives in the thick of battle. These became permanently available three months before Ace Combat Infinity's shutdown.
  • Play Every Day: Several challenges (such as the ones that give you Stocked Fuel as a reward) can be tackled again another day once you've completed them. Others become available again after a few days (such as "Guardian of the Skies" that gives you a free Elite Mercenary Contract for earning "Rescue Bonus" 300 times within a week and resets one week after taking it). There's also a daily sign-in bonus that lasts for twelve days and resets after two weeks. This one gives you various items with every day you sign-in for free (credits, reports, contracts, fuel, emblems or unique radio messages). Finally, there's a comeback bonus if you've been away for a while, which gives you incentives to get back to playing every day by giving you one of a selected list of rather useful bonuses, like 400 supply tickets (enough to immediately buy a new aircraft from the supply store) or a hundred aircraft research reports.
  • Private Military Contractors: Due to the Advanced Automated Aviation Plant Wernher-Noah invented plus the surplus of employees, mercenary groups are common in Infinity. The Player Character is part of a squadron called the Bone Arrows, working under the Arrow Air Defense and Security Corporation.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Camilla wears a purple bodysuit and, as the Butterfly Master, is likely the most notorious fighter pilot in the game who is allied with the enemy forces.
  • Random Drop: After completing an Online Co-Op Mission or Team Deathmatch battle, you earn random rewards for your performance, including emblems, credits, stocked fuel unit, aircraft/part/special weapon reports to boost your research, skins for planes and even some rare planes, such as ADFX-01 "Morgan" or Rafale M -Vent d'Ange-. Though the credits and stocked fuel units are usually the most common drops, reports and skins can drop quite often, too.
  • Rank Up: Reaper becomes The Captain of Arrowblades following the events of Operation Override and the formation of Task Force 118.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Reaper takes on Viper's infinity symbol emblem after Mission 5 by way of attaching a cutesy pink infinity-shaped ribbon to his regular emblem. One enemy unit above the Round Table two missions later even has the gall to mockingly point it out.
    Enemy Fighter Pilot #1: Watch out for number one! That's the Reaper!
    Enemy Fighter Pilot #2: A Grim Reaper with a ribbon? What kind of emblem is that?!
  • Remixed Level: Nearly all of the Online Co-op Missions are recycled from previous games. Dubai, Tokyo, Weapons Base Assault, and Moscow are lifted pretty much wholesale from Assault Horizon. Pipeline Destruction and Alps Air Corridor are brought back from Ace Combat 6 (Anea Landing and Bartolomeo Fortress, respectively). In Campaign, Area B7R and Avalon Dam/The Valley of Kings are recycled from Ace Combat Zero.
  • The Rival: Bone Arrows and the Ridgebacks. Even when they're working together on joint operations and regrouped as Arrowblades does Edge feel the need to make it clear to Reaper that she won't lose to him. Omega holds the sentiment as well, but is more prone to teasing Edge because she's so uptight. The game doesn't exactly discourage this "competition" either, with Missions 5, 6, and 8 featuring a score counter for Alpha Team (Bone Arrow Squadron) and Bravo Team (Ridgeback Squadron) like in online play.
  • Running Gag: Every time the A.I. Kvasir tries to tell a history overview to its charge Camilla, it gets interrupted midway before a mission starts.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Butterfly Master, when not addressed with gender-neutral pronouns, is usually referred to by other characters as male in spite of the distinctly female-sounding voice.
  • Scenery Porn: The Online Co-Op Mission "Dubai Night Assault" offers a neat view of the aforementioned city during a nightly offensive. All explosions look even more detailed and awesome, as well. And the map features an incredibly beautiful fireworks show when New Year's is celebrated.
  • Scripted Battle: The first fight with the Butterfly Master. With the exception of the initial flyby, you can only destroy the drones and the plane when they're marked as Targets. You can damage them, but they stop at specific health thresholds until they become marked. Ridgeback 1 will always take down the last drone (to the point where the game actively discourages you from locking on to it and it always stays somewhere at your six), while Ridgeback 2 is guaranteed to take down one shortly before the main craft itself becomes vulnerable. Amusingly, it's averted any other time you face the Butterfly Master (at the Round Table in the campaign and as the Lost Butterfly Emergency Mission in co-op). It's entirely possible (if hard) to focus down just the plane, though it's liable to get you obliterated by the drones if you try it against the improved QFA-44 during co-op.
  • Sequel Hook: The final mission of the game ends with Operation Eternal Liberation, the UNF's bid to reclaim the territory seized by the Federation of USEA, fully underway and Goodfellow giving Arrowblades a briefing on OLDS, the weapon that almost spelled disaster for the UNF in the Adriatic. The Stinger reveals the true identity and whereabouts of the Butterfly Master, who was last spotted over Moscow and, post-credits, there is a panning shot of a red-and-black Mobius Squadron insignia, with the words Infinite-111 at the bottom. The Spread Your Wings trailer includes Alps Air Corridor, Pipeline Destruction, and Dubai Night Assault as part of Eternal Liberation, suggesting they and several of the other co-op-exclusive missions/Special Raids like Moscow Battle, Excalibur Onslaught, and Paris Liberation War would've been used for future campaign chapters. As Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown returns to the Strangereal setting, time will tell if the story of Infinity will ever reach a definitive conclusion.
  • Serial Escalation: How many aircraft are going to be in this game? What missions will be added in the future? How expensive will the new aircraft be? For reference, the added R-101 and XFA-27 costs 4.6 million credits to buy, more than even the extremely-expensive B-2!
  • Ship Tease: Reaper and Edge exhibit this in the second half of the campaign, especially with the last scene of them flying side by side into the sunset after Operation Bunker Shot, though it took some Defrosting the Ice Queen to get there.
    Edge: Faster and higher... Will you be the one to go there?
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Team: Lieutenant Bertz's sister is a warrant officer in the United Nation Forces (much to Omega's surprise), and it's suggested that the two collaborated somewhat regularly together before until he perished during Operation Override.
  • Sink the Lifeboats: Unmanned fighter drones controlled by the Butterfly Master are programmed to recognize and kill enemy pilots who eject from their downed planes, as Slash finds out upon his own demise.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke:
    • The Multi-Purpose Burst Missile, a unique Special Weapon wielded only by a handful of planes (the ADFX-01 Morgan, ADFX-01 -Pixy-, T-50 -Akula-, ADA-01B ADLER, and ADA-01B -Vanquish-), is supposedly an ultra-powerful Fighter-mounted cruise missile with the yield of a very small tactical nuclear device. In its debut in Ace Combat Zero, it is indeed a one-hit kill against most things, airborne or otherwise. In this game, it... barely tickles the targets it's supposed to hurt. It is also very flashy, leading to complaints from other players that get blinded by its explosion, which is especially dangerous in tight confines between buildings and/or dark maps (i.e. Tokyo, Moscow, Dubai).
    • The Long-range Shock Wave Missile, an exclusive to X and X2 superplanes XFA-33 Fenrir and GAF-1 Varcolac, creates an even flashier explosion in the form of a giant pillar of light, but is hardly any more damaging than the aforemenioned MPBM, making for awkward scenarios where you think a MiG-29 gets annihilated after being engulfed in the blast, only to come out alive with nary a scratch. It's even less used than the former on grounds of having less ammunition for it and being restricted to expensive planes.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The Butterfly Master's craft is the QFA-44 Camilla, and is called such when initially deployed in Operation Override. However, both the post-Mission 7 debriefing and Excalibur Onslaught IV refer to it as Carmilla.
  • Status Buff: The Datalink function provides Status Buffs for players within proximity of each other, as long as they're in the same team. Datalinked players receive equipped Datalink bonuses which grants them anything from increased reload speed, homing, range, or maneuverability.
  • Stealth Insult: Attempted by Omega on Viper as the Bone Arrows and Ridgebacks begin their attack on Aigaion, but ultimately backfires.
    Viper: Viper, ready to hunt that whale!
    Omega: Roger that, Captain Ahab!
    Viper: Hey, didn't he go down with Moby Dick in the end?
    Omega: Wow, you actually read it?
    Edge: (sighs)
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Viper and Omega have this dynamic; the latter jokes around, the former gruffly puts him in his place, and so on and so forth. When Viper goes on extended leave to go "see the ex-wife for a bit" after the fifth mission, Edge fills his role. Sgt. Collins and WO Bertz also interact in such a manner when working together during Operation Bunker Shot; after Bertz comments that Echo Team's SSCs are like kiddie pools compared to the enemy warships, Collins cheekily asks Bertz if she wishes she were back in her own kiddie pool. Bertz curtly tells the sergeant to save the jokes until after they've made it to the landing point alive.
  • Take Up My Sword: With his plane's wing damaged during the confrontation with the Butterfly Master, Edge tells Slash he should bail out. He agrees and appoints Edge as the Ridgebacks' flight leader in his place, entrusting Edge to get the rest of the squad back home safely. Then, one of the drones snipes a defenseless Slash as he's parachuting down to the city below, making the effect permanent.
  • A Taste of Power: The "We Hold The Trump Card!" Co-op ranking tournament, taking place from March 8, 2016 to March 14 and restricted to fictional aircraft, offered three rental sets showcasing the X-49, the GAF-1 and the CFA-44, and all of them are boosted to Level 7 (later buffed to Level 10). This gave players who hadn't ever invested on a multimillion credits "superplane" a chance to pilot one for the tournament's duration.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Omega's reaction to the Butterfly Master sicing its drones to intercept Slash after he ejected from his plane. He notably has one of the most shocked responses to Slash's death, second only to Edge.
  • Those Two Guys: Lt. Bertz and Sgt. Collins of the UNF forward air control, who can be seen working together from Operation Fogbound onward. When the former goes down in battle, his sister replaces him in the role during Operation Bunker Shot.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Omega, named King Bailout for repeatedly punching out of his craft. On one hand, that costs money and means you're at risk of getting shot down. On the other, surviving several potential deaths is pretty lucky.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Edge isn't too keen on the idea of being bailed out of trouble by her allies (read: Reaper), especially when a pack of T-50s at Area B7R single her out as the Ridgebacks' lead craft and proceed to gang up on her. She's not entirely ungrateful, thanking Reaper for the support but requesting that this doesn't become a common occurrence as she's superstitious about Reaper's "hauntings." One gets the feeling open gratitude doesn't come easily to Edge.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Kacper Cohen, the former chief military official and weapons developer at Wernher who was kicked out of the company for developing the OLDS under the initiative of the Shattered Skies project, forms the Federation of USEA and executes the nine Greymen the UNF endeavored to rescue in Mission 3 under the pretenses of the UN and other world leaders unlawfully abusing their policies at the expense of impoverished refugees when various fragments of the Ulysses still orbit the planet as near-Earth objects that could recreate the catastrophe of 1999. Calling for a united world front and a new, more efficient global order in his message, the intent is to set himself up as, at worst, a Well-Intentioned Extremist in the public eye. Goodfellow dismisses Cohen's words as "propaganda," given that he was behind the Sons of Troia's numerous terrorist attacks across the globe.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Due to the busted economy and the stockpiles of weapons, many terrorists abound in the world. Thanks to Werhnher-Noah's Advanced Automated Aviation Plant, piloting planes is easy. Thus, becoming a mercenary is an easy way to make cash.
  • Weapon of Choice: Reaper's preferred craft is once again an F-22 Raptor. Omega prefers a modded EF Typhoon, while Viper has an old Fishbed. The Ridgebacks all prefer the fictional ASFX Shinden, while the Butterfly Master has a modified version of the CFA-44 Nosferatu, QFA-44 Carmilla.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Credits are the main currency in the game, earned by going on Sorties and completing Challenges. These are then used to fund the Aircraft Tree to get planes and parts. Unfortunately, as you progress on the tree, the amount of Credits needed to fund the tree get ludicrously expensive.
  • Why Won't You Die?: When engaging the Butterfly Master for a second time, Omega exasperatedly moans, "Dude, you've got to be kidding me! I thought we shot that guy down!" Goodfellow, sensing that something's off, does an analysis and concludes that, based on the massive quantity of data being transmitted from the Butterfly Master's craft, there's no one actually inside the plane.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Hinted at in the epilogue during an exchange between Kvasir and Camilla. When the former notes that she must find her living arrangements on-board a satellite to be cramped, Camilla gingerly responds that's not the case, as she has "a front-row seat to the whole thing." While they're likely referring to the opening stages of Operation Eternal Liberation, we do see a brief shot of the earth from their perspective as the satellite continues to orbit the planet.
  • Worthy Opponent: Slash comes to see Reaper as this following their takedown of Stonehenge, particularly during his final moments tangling with the Butterfly Master. Given the rather excited "Ribbon?" she lets out during their second encounter, so does the Butterfly Master, who is happy to have "finally found a decent opponent" whom she can have fun with in the epilogue.

Even then, the skies kept on engaging the other.