Ace Online, also known as Air Rivals, and previously known as Space Cowboy Online way back when Gpotato ran the servers, is an MMO-style flight action game developed by Masangsoft that can best be described as a mashup between World of Warcraft and Ace Combat. In the game, player characters pilot "Gears", multipurpose flight-capable combat vehicles, for either of two nations: Bygeniou City United or Arlington City's Anti-National Influence.The war takes place on and around a Phillon planet colonised by the Decaians, a breeding ground for Space Bees, Space Whales and Rodents of Unusual Size. The planet is currently at war, since BCU's motivation is to wipe out all alien species on the planet- causing ANI to form from exiled political dissidents and attack BCU, on the basis that BCU is performing cruel and unjust acts against the "Non-Decaians". Several third parties, the Shrines, the Phillon, and the Vatallus, all have their own agenda concerning the planet, and interfere with the war in their own ways.Whilst in-base, the player uses a typical mouse-and-keyboard interface to walk around; in the air, play control is similar to the "all-range mode" of Star Fox 64. Quests generally involve dealing with local flora and fauna, much of which (of course) can fly, but there are also PvP dogfights that can be entered.The game has 4 playable classes, known as Gears or Air-Frames:A-Gear: The Artillery Unit/Flying Tank
Beehive Barrier: A-Gears gain a "Barrier◊" once they reach the mid-30s in experience, which shields against all missile attacks for 15 seconds - particularly useful when a B-Gear is flying overhead.
Cold Sniper: Some experienced A-gear pilots tend to find good, semi-concealed locations to unleash Siege Mode upon unsuspecting enemies from. The better ones quickly move aside before the inevitable response from enemy B-gears.
Most of the time, A-gears simply land and shoot from afar, using barrier when a B-gear approaches, or when the Bawoos are just about to hit.
They also use barrier when silenced by an I-gear to prevent damage from any missiles they cannot see.
The very best A-gear Standard Weapons often end up with at least twice the regular rate of fire (a combined reattack bonus of -50% or more). This is an example of a typical well-enchanted weapon, while this is a Game Breaker.
Standard Status Effects: The Snare ability slows down the target, which makes it easier for chasing missiles to hit the enemy. WARNING: you can snare yourself if you're not careful.
The other Status Effect usable by A-gears is the Shield Paralyze, which prevents the target's shields from regenerating. Essential for downing enemy M-gears.
Stone Wall: Siege Defense works like siege mode but sacrifices firepower for a massive bonus to defense. Although most players prefer the extra firepower from Siege Mode, some consider it to be a Game Breaker in the right hands.
By that point the I-Gear should be able to dodge the following ABM
Macross Missile Massacre: Equipped with two bombing modes: Ground Bombing, and later Air Bombing, both attacks fire a large salvo of missiles either towards the ground or straight ahead respectively, with attack power ramped up at least 5-fold, more than enough to scrap most airframes on a direct hit.
Invisibility Cloak: A pair of angel wings flap and then surround the Gear, subsequently turning it invisible to radar and vision. Certain items and skills belonging to the M-Gear can reveal the cloaked B-Gear. Also, missiles retain their lock even after the Gear cloaks.
Lightning Bruiser: At level 86 B-Gears can equip an upgraded engine, making them slightly slower than a level 86 I-Gear, but a lot faster than any other gear (including a level 84 I-Gear).
Fragile Speedster: As interceptors and chasers, I-gears have powerful Jet-series engines that let them have extremely fast boosted top speeds; unfortunately, much of this speed comes at the price of precious armor and shields. Special mention must also be made of their unique skill Overbooster, which makes them shoot forth at 600m/s for a few seconds, faster than any other gear. Also, their agility can be built to be so high that with the right buffs, their evade is well over 100%, and almost nothing that is a missile can hit them.
Glass Cannon: Pure-attack I-gears die very, very easily, but compensate with their withering volleys of highly-destructive missiles.
Macross Missile Massacre: at a certain level, the skill "Frenzy" increases the amount of missile volleys fired (which, coupled with a decent missile, will make for some nice damage).
Not to mention the final skill, " Berserk" (during which a demonic, red aura surrounds the gear), is the very embodiment of this trope.
"Silence" Status: One of the lesser-known abilities of the I-gear is that it can temporarily block enemy gears from hearing missile warnings and seeing missiles altogether.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Core of Bark City is a prominent example, as the player must shut it down during one of the story missions.
If you bothered reading the storyline you'd know that you have to destroy it to prevent the opposite nation from getting access to the data stored in it (as well as the Shrines, which have invaded Bark City).
Air Jousting: A common tactic of B-Gears. Especially common amongst B-Gears armed with the powerful, but slow to reload Bawoo-class missiles.
Allegedly Free Game: Recent patches added slot machines that dispense armour and weapons which are superior overall to those that can be found normally. In addition, there are gamble cards for weapons and more recently for armours (free versions do exist, but either provide near-worthless bonuses or are almost impossible to find). At this stage it resembles an online casino with a shooter minigame attached.
The Brandy Burg is The Jack, with balanced all-around performance. Only craft capable of dropping bombs. Of note is the fact that it can almost equal the Idle Sniper in speed or turning depending on engine choice.
The Anima Mortar is The Tank, literally. Heavy firepower and defenses, with plenty of dakka. Also somewhat of a Nuker.
The Idle Sniper is The DPSer. Heavy weapons but a very light frame.
Bribing Your Way to Victory: Some players have been known to buy hundreds of thousands of cash credits to load up on stuff from the cash-item shop.
Of special note is a behaviour referred to by players as "Kitting", which is to rapidly consume many energy and shield kits as you fight (and take damage). Kitters are disrespected in one on one combat and even in odds reasonable for kitting, such as ten versus one.
Critical Annoyance: The "Missile Lock" and "Low Energy" warning sirens will irritate many a pilot.
Critical Existence Failure: Subverted due to the fact that the player's Gear will begin smoking and eventually catch fire as the player loses Energy. If all Energy is depleted, the Gear explodes and dives towards the ground, where it stays until the player respawns.
Played straight in that player's vehicle performs as normal up till the last point of Energy is depleted.
The Bipin is another famous example, as it has a charge shot that does quite a bit of damage.
The Bipins charge shot only does around 1k damage by itself so when faced up against just one the gear trying to kill it can win (that is if all the missles hit quickly and do not go through the lock on point and begin to circle around) but when faced against 2 or more, it's best to run away fast or get some formmates to help take down the others around you.
Do a Barrel Roll if you want to have the best chance of avoiding those missiles. I-Gears actually have a skill that lets them continually do barrel rolls as long as they have skill points.
Dub Name Change: Some of the newer armors have had their name changed. For example, the Shadow binder (see Shout Out entry below) is originally named "Black Ghost Binder". However, since there's already a "Ghost Binder" existing, it had to be changed.
Escort Mission: Mothership Offensives or Defensives, depending on whoever's on the attack. Every once in a long while, when the nation's score hits 100,000 NCP on the Subagames server, they will force the opposing side to spawn a Mothership that must then be defended, as well as numerous Strategic Points the Attacking Nation can destroy to create warp gates to help drive their offensive closer - Anubis is the Bygeniou Mothership, while Horos is the Arlington one. The winner gains the benefits of several exclusive maps, Stealth Cards, lots of War Points, and SPI capsules for every Strategic Point they destroyed.
Said Strategic Points in themselves are escort missions too, at least for the defenders. They remain active for about an hour after they are spawned. Unfortunately, Offensives againsts said SPs are usually easier than Defensives.
The second Infinity Field instance has you defend a freaking planet destroyer (that's even its japanese name for crying out loud) with a big-ass laser that's supposedly pointed towards the Shrines' home planet called the Hydrogen Driver. Unfortunately, those Shrines are not very happy about you blowing up their homes so they decide to try and destroy the Driver, which you must defend. To aid you are NPC laser turrets, support units that heal you and some fighters that arrive late (but nontheless can put up a fight against the mobs, for an NPC at least). The last mob that comes is the Shrine Mothership itself, Calzaghe, and usually it doesn't pose much of a threat (compared to bosses like the Bishops, which also appear earlier in the waves), although it has some damn gooddrops.
Elite Tweak: Very common for people who don't have unique weapons, expect to see people trying to at least enchant their weapons up to e10. Further amplified by the introduction of Armor prefixes and suffixes in Episode 4, which can further push your performance to new heights.
Eternal Engine: The power source for the G-ARK is called the "Infinity Cylinder". The map it's found in also fits the trope.
Most supply pads in the normal chain are grounded.
Fun with Acronyms: Why does the word ACE is ACE Online is always capitalized? One source has it that ACE stands for Air Combat Extreme.
Game Breaking Bugs: A recent example - This recent Bloody Valentine's event saw Elusive Scout Guards spawn for each nation in the various faction-aligned maps; these Elusive Scouts were aligned to the native nation, and were only enemies for the opposing side. For the Horos Mothership Defense of February 19, the Elusive Scouts on the ANI side formed such a dense cloud, they greatly interfered with the movements of the BCU pilots due to the sheer clouds of missiles they would launch at the poor Bygeniou Regulars trying to attack the Arlington Mothership, even downing a few unlucky pilots and winging many others.
On the bad side of things, those same Elusive Scouts spawned in the Safe Maps as well, where the enemy nation could not cull them. This resulted in a critical point where the Relic map of ANI was full of nothing butElusive Scouts◊, filling the map's mook-quota and preventing normal mobs from spawning, thus stopping the poor ANI pilots from doing missions in the safe zone.
An earlier bug from the early days when this game was still called Space Cowboys was the Dupe Bug, which let players duplicate items. The result of the debacle was a server rollback, and the offending dupers were fined of all of their SPI.
The Goomba: The mobs encountered while still under FreeSKA are all mostly harmless.
The common reaction to having this happen too often is the Rage Quit.
Holiday Mode: for Christmas, Valentine's, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and even Chinese New Year - these Holiday Events are much-loved by some veterans.
Hollywood Cyborg: the mechanized Rocks present at the Rock's Nest, which were altered by the Shrines as research to develop fighters better suited to the atmospheric conditions of the Phillon Planet.
Humongous Mecha: Mecha◊ armours◊. Needless to say, these are only available in the Japanese version at present, although GM Echo in North American Ace Online is holding a poll on how to implement them.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Not to mention the fact that the player can simply stop their Gear in mid-air and completely refit it, from the missiles, to the engines, to the Gear's computer systems, right down to the physical air frame of the Gear itself.
The cargo carried, but not equipped, by an air-frame has no effect on the loadage weight. Carry 20 or more heavy Guarders and Binders in your inventory, and you won't feel the least bit sluggish.
Lethal Joke Characters: Some iterations of the Evil Snowmen that spawn for Christmas Events are strong enough to count as minibosses or Elite Mooks, with enough hitpoints to survive a few direct B-gear hits and well over 3 continuous barrages by a single A-gear.
Lethal Joke Item: Pumpkin weapons. Literally, guns that shoot pumpkins. Their stats are on par with legend weapons.
Level Grinding: AR is a Korean-developed MMORPG, and comes with plenty of it.
The grind is bearable until level 75 is reached, then the amount of experience needed to gain more levels snowballs.
From level 69 to 74, the amount of experience required to level up doubles.
The problem is less pronounced in the North American version, due to the mobs giving 3x experience until level 74. After 74, mobs give 1.5x experience, but only on weekends.
The grinding curve is further reduced as of Episode 4 to facilitate the raised level caps.
Loot Drama: A common cause of most of the infighting between brigades within a nation, as well as a common ignition point for conflict between ANI and BCU. Brigades have disbanded over arguments over killstealers within the brigade taking boss drops and refusing to hand them over to brigade members who felt they deserved it.
Magikarp Power: The chief examples of this are the "Ancient Arrow" and "Crossbow of Ancient God" weapons, which spans several missions across even more levels, and cannot be thrown away, traded, or sold until it's completed.
Money Sink: Taxes and bills for repairs, ammunition and fuel ensure that inflation is controlled.
Mordor: Several of the episode 3 maps, particularly Sunshine Born.
Old School Dog Fight: Battles tend to result in lots of close-combat fighting, especially observable in battles between I-gears.
Ninja Looting: Often attempted, both by pilots from the enemy nation and by treacherous dogs on your own side.
Nitro Boost: in combination with Sprint Meter. Also, there exists a skill for I-Gears only called "Overboost," which uses SP and blasts the Gear forward at 600 m/s for 3 seconds.
Patchwork Map: Partially subverted by the fact that "warp gates" connect the maps, which techincally means none of the maps are right next to each other. They just seem that way.
However, the Rock's Nest climates alter quite impressively as you climb from sea level to the middle-range mountain chains, then to the peak of the tallest mountain in the region. Granted, you are reaching rather impressive altitudes as you travel along this chain of maps.
Perpetually Static: The relations of Arlington and Bygeniou never degrade below ordinary warfare, and yet it never improves beyond a grudging truce (which the players presumably disregard because they are effectively mercenary privateers!)
Player Killing: While you can't shoot down fellow members of your nation (except when you accept a challenge to duel), those fellows from the other side are always fair game.
This sometimes results in high-level pilots diving deep into enemy territory to harass newbies who were foolish enough to go grinding training in the non-safe areas.
Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: Mostly averted, the majority of event items continue to remain useable out-of-season, including the several-years-old chocolate from an old Valentine's Day event. Those are some amazing preservatives they have there.
Rare Random Drop:And how! Gold Mob drops, Boss Mob drops, Boss Armor which must be completed...
Random Number God: It's known that enchant probabilities follow some algorithm based on previous success rates from the rest of the server. Unfortunately, no one outside of Korea knows what the algorithm is. As a result, superstition abounds when enchanting or legending items.
Rage Quit: The reason why there is a regular turnover of impatient "veterans".
Reporting Names: Anima Mortar, Brandy Burg, Idle Sniper, and Meadow Bugle; no prizes for guessing which name fits what gear.
Scunthorpe Problem: While Air Rivals has an excessively draconian filter that bleeps out entire sentences, the Ace Online filter is rather more lenient, only ***ing out the offending word or fragment.
Serious Business: Some players treat the trading "economy" of the game in this way, keeping track of the value of various essential and/or rare items like a stockbroker would monitor Wall Street. More common are the warring players who battle very, very seriously, and treat victories and defeats in Strategic Point and Mothership battles like a real matter of life and death.
Shout-Out: Two of the new credit (purchasable) armors are called Sonic Binder and Shadow Binder. They are both for I-Gears (same type), and they are very similar in looks too, except that Sonic Binder is blue and Shadow Binder is black. My two cents to whoever guesses where the ideas for those came from.
Status Buff: All Gears have a set of stat-increasing skills tailored to that specific Gear, though M-Gears harbor the main set of party-affecting skills.
Take Your Time: There are no time limits when it comes to taking storyline missions, but there are level limits. This leads to some truly absurd situations, such as when one mission ends with the player being catapulted into deep space, followed by the player returning home to grind several levels in order to unlock the next mission in which the player (who, according to the plot, has been in space the whole time) tries to come up with a plan to get back home.
Sekhmete, which might as well be using Berserker.
In Pandea's middle-ground field, Sunshine Born, the Boss there is fully capable of delivering a crushing 10,000-point attack. Even an overbuffed M-gear with 300 Defense and buffs with be smarting after such a powerful strike.
And those are nothing compared to the new Infinity Fieldbosses. No one has made it to the fifth boss without GM assistance.
You ALL Look Familiar: There are a finite amounts of air frames (Veils, Binders, Guarders, and Defenders for B, I, A, and M Gears, respectively). There are even less character designs to choose from when making a character.
Customization is limited to changing the in-game textures of the Gears or characters, but the player is the only one who can see these customizations.
The airframe paintjob shop has been deactivated recently in all versions of ACE Online (Except for Air Rivals for now), in an effort to combat lag due to ongoing work with how the colours are sent between game clients. To make up for that new armors are being released for the time being.
Contours (read:paintshop that costs real money) are offered if you have the scratch to buy them, and are generally detailed enough to justify spending money on, especially since the game enables slipstreams for contours. The War Point shop armors have always looked the best (being designed by Art Fox as opposed to whatever braindead idiot is making new slots) and these give you the oppourtunity to turn your useful armor into a cool looking one. The support staff will allow you to change what armor they're on at will (if you wait 3 days) and they serve as good tools to confuse your enemies, at least for well known high level players, as your shiny new white contour probably won't be thought of as your primary prob armor with amazing-money-down-the-toilet enchants, and will let you surprise your other well known enemies if you rotate them sufficiently.