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Adios, you damn fool.

Trigger, your call sign is Spare 15. Consider it your prisoner number for the air.
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Five years have passed since the last major continental war and now the Kingdom of Erusea, formerly the Federal Republic of Erusea, has come into conflict with the Osean Federation. Princess Rosa Cosette D'Elise claims that Osea has violated her kingdom's sovereignty by forcing the construction of their Space Elevator on their territory, and has declared war in retaliation. You take on the role of Mage 2, codename Trigger. After a mission goes wrong, Trigger finds himself being thrown into the 444th Fighter Squadron— the Spare Squadron— composed of other prisoners. He must work off his crimes while keeping Osea safe. The game is set between May and November 2019 of the Strangereal calendar, taking place a year before the Leasath-Aurelia war in October 2020.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is the twelfth note  (eighteenth overall) game in the Ace Combat series that's set in Strangereal. The first numbered title in more than a decade since 2007's Ace Combat 6, Ace Combat 7 is the first game of the series to feature PlayStation VR, with a noted focus on the use of clouds as a gameplay mechanic.

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Announced near the end of 2015, the first trailer, found here, shows an Osean F-22 Raptor chasing after an Erusean Su-30M2 as they approach a Space Elevator called the "Lighthouse." A second trailer, showcased at the PlayStation Experience 2016, provides more exposition, establishing that the two countries are at war. The game is set for release in January 18 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and February 1st for PC; the first multi-platform release since Ace Combat: Assault Horizon.

See here for the E3 2017 trailer, and here for the Gamescom 2018 trailer.


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Can you hear me, tropes with the three strikes:

  • Accidental Murder: Trigger accidentally shoots down Harling's plane while going after some drones which were harassing him, which gets him sent to the pendal squadron.
    • However, it's later revealed that Trigger didn't fire the missile which killed Harling. Unbeknownst everyone at the time, Erusea had gained the ability to hack into the Osean satellite-based IFF systems, allowing them to make their drones appear on radar as Osean allied fighters. One of said disguised drones was deployed into the battle around the Space Elevator and managed to shoot down Harling before making its retreat, leaving Trigger (the allied unit in closest proxmity to Harling at the time the drone took its shot) to take the fall.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The drones utilized by the Erusean military begin to go rogue following the collapse of Usea's satellite network as the strategic AI that controls them does not know when to cease its function.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Arsenal Bird shows up and immediately deploys dozens of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles in Mission 3.
  • Airstrike Impossible: As usual for the series, though it's taken Up to Eleven here. The 444th Fighter Squadron which Trigger is a part of is composed of expendable convicts that the Osean Air Force does not hesitate to send them into suicidal battles, hence most of their missions pit the squadron against impossible odds with almost zero hope to survive.
  • A.K.A.-47:
    • Erusia's ubiquitous MQ-99 UCAV is an exact copy of the EADS Barracuda.
    • The MQ-101 drone carried by the Arsenal Birds is a barely-modified recreation of the X-47B. The only difference is that the wingtips of the MQ-101 are slightly canted upwards.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Space Elevator gets occupied by the Eruseans at the outset of the war. The nearby city of Selatapura, which seceded from Erusea, is also taken.
  • Anyone Can Die: This game noticeably has a higher major character body counts than previous games in the series, which is especially evident when you joined up the expendable 444th Fighter Squadron. By the end of the game, you and Count are the only survivors of the original squadron, and casualties among other allied squadrons aren't pretty either. President Harling returns only to be killed off, and even Princess Rosa's adorable dog is killed!
  • The Alliance: The International Union Peacekeeping Force, which consists of Osea and countries in South-East Usea.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: Osea's 444th Fighter Squadron — otherwise known as Spare Squadron — is a penal unit whose members have been convicted of severe crimes, with their leader indicating that he can decide whether they live or not. Heck, even their AWACS insults them!
  • Arc Words:
    • In this game, it seems to be: "Can you hear me?".
    • According to a Famitsu interview with the project leads, "dark blue", both as actual spoken words, and as a color motif. If Avril is in a scene, there are good odds that she'll say the words.
    • "Maintain element." Almost exclusively said by squadron leaders to keep their wingmen in formation. Planes that separate from the squadron are often hunted down by predatory opponents.
  • Arc Welding: While most Ace Combat games have standalone stories with some Continuity Nod here and there, Ace Combat 7 is the one that has plot points connected to many games in the series, mainly Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. The countries Erusea and Osea, two major countries from the two games finally interacted with each other, and the motivation of the leaders of both factions are tied with the aftermath of the conflicts that happened in their own games. Princess Cosette wants to protect Erusea's sovereignty from a potential threat poses by Osea's Space Elevator because she does not want to see her country fallen for the second time. The Space Elevator itself is also the brainchild of former Osean President Vincent Harling, who envisions the tower to be a symbol of unity and a bridge for mankind to reach into outer space after Circum-Pacific War ended. Belka is once again revealed to be the root behind the conflict, with some Belkan individuals still looking to avenge their country after it was fallen in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, and manipulates Erusea into going to war with Osea by providing them with advanced AI technology to create a drone army. Said drone army proved to be so advanced, it's implied that it paved the way for the rise of AI pilots in Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere as well.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "I wonder… which path will you choose, when looking at Harling's mirror?" Said by Cosette to Dr Schroeder.
  • Arrow Cam: As is the norm for the Ace Combat series, missiles can be watched in flight by holding the missile button.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Invoked - The autonomous drones have fittingly inhuman agility, but their systems aren't as flexible as a real pilot and they have exploitable quirks to their behavior. As a result, as the war goes on, Erusia's drones start to suffer higher and higher loss rates, which leads Mihaly, who provided flight data for the drones, to take back to the skies and provide newer and better data.
  • Attack Drone: The trailers and developer interviews indicate that multiple unmanned aircraft will be encountered throughout the game. The Arsenal Bird and its 80 UCAVs are only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Back for the Dead: Sadly happened to former Osean President Vincent Harling, who is killed trying to defend the space elevator from being destroyed, in the very mission that is the Call-Back to the mission that introduced him in Ace Combat 5, no less.
  • Badass Boast:
    Mihaly: There are pilots like you in every generation. And I've felled every last one of them.
  • Call-Back:
    • The 2015 teaser trailer featured a piano rendition of the Leitmotif of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
    • The E3 2017 trailer briefly shows the destroyed remnants of Stonehenge.
    • The player is associated with Mage Squadron. This wouldn't be the first Osean squadron named after a term for a magic-user, as shown by Wizard and Sorcerer Squadrons.
    • The Gamescom 2018 tailer heavily calls back to the E3 2017 trailer (as well as smaller callbacks to the 2017 New Years trailer and 2017 Gamescom trailer), opening with an expanded version of the same question about whether the color of the sky matters accompanying an F-104 taking off on a dry lakebed, followed immediately by the announcement that "The Kingdom of Erusia has declared war on the Osean Federation." and similar footage of an F-15C refueling from a tanker and an F-35C preparing to launch from the Kestrel II. Calling back to the 2017 New Years trailer, it once again features Mihaly asking "yet what is a nation?" and nearly every line of dialog from Mead that was in the 2017 New Years trailer is repeated in the 2018 Gamescom trailer. Calling back to the 2017 Gamescom trailer, it features a version of the dogfight between Spare 8 and Mihaly where Spare 8 is flying a MiG-29A and repeats the statement "but I don't even have a country to call home" and concluding Princess Rosa Cosette d'Elise's question "I wonder which path you would choose..." with "... when looking at Harling's mirror?".
    • Mission 12 is entitled "Stonehenge Defensive, a role reversal of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies's twelfth mission, "Stonehenge Offensive". In Shattered Skies, Mobius One destroyed the seven operational Stonehenge cannons, and in Skies Unknown, Trigger and Cyclops and Strider Squadrons fly cover for Osean forces repairing the eighth gun.
    • The Arsenal Bird took more than a few design cues from the Arkbird. Stark white paint, sweeping upwards wings, bird-like frontal area; the craft is essentially a successor to the legendary spaceplane.
    • One of the Arsenal Bird's armaments is a long-range airburst type missile similar to the Nimbus missiles used by the P-1112 Aigaion
    • President Harling's plane is once again code-named Mother Goose One, and the mission that you met him is very similar to the mission that he first appeared in Ace Combat 5, namely with you flying through the hole in the enemy's anti-air radar system and escort his plane out of there.
    • Belka is once again involved in a plot that manipulates two superpower countries into war with each other in the name of revenge. This time, they sold their advanced AI technology to Erusea so they can develop a large drone army, then manipulates Princess Rosa into declaring war on Osea.
  • Becoming the Mask: In an odd, non-character sense, the 444th Air Base, originally established as a complete fake to draw Erusian bombers, gradually became more and more realistic to make sure the Erusians remained fooled. First, it was just balloon vehicles and painted runways with empty shells of airplanes, then they started having the convicts run jet engines to fool Erusian thermal imaging, then they started actually flying rebuilt planes and making dry runs at Erusian bombers, and then eventually, shortly after Trigger's arrival, started actually shooting back, turning a decoy air base into an actual, functional air base with its own fighter squadron.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Lighthouse War has ended, but many people have died on both sides, Erusea has lost another war, it's military and air force have been utterly decimated a second time and it's future as a country (and as a kingdom) is uncertain. In addition, many of its conquered provinces used the chaos of the IFF network's destruction to declare their independence. Osea did not escape the war unscathed as well; it's naval power took a serious blow early in the conflict, it lost both Arsenal Birds, and the revelation that Belka was once again responsible for instigating a conflict will no doubt cause issues among Osean officials.
  • Call-Forward: The developers intentionally included a mention of a prominent character from Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere in the story.
  • Canon Immigrant: The IUPF makes its entrance into the main series here, after first appearing in the non-Strangereal based Ace Combat: Joint Assault.
  • Central Theme: Who is Friend or Foe in a war where information is everything? Much of the game's tension is being unable to figure out for sure who is really the enemy and who can you trust.
    • Harling's death is the result of Osea's IFF system being hacked, allowing an Erusean drone (which appears as an Osean allied fighter on everyone's radar) to sneak in and shoot him down in the chaos of his extraction.
    • At one point the Spare Squadron comes under attack from a squad of drones. However these particular drones initially appear on their IFF systems as allied fighters. This designation confusion both allows the drones to get a drop on the unsuspecting Spare Squadron, and also leaves the them unable to properly retaliate for fear of causing a Friendly Fire incident - a fear which comes true when Fullbrand is mistakenly tagged as an enemy and is promptly shot down by Count.
    • During the Battle of Farbanti, Osea and Erusea launch simultaneous anti-satellite attacks in attempt to destroy the other side's military satellites. Both these attacks succeed, essentially removing IFF from the picture entirely. However the sheer amount of debris the destruction of these satellites generate end up damaging nearly every other satellite in orbit, which essentially cripples global satellite communication network. Being unable to tell who is friend or foe, coupled with both side's chain of command being utterly broken due to lack of functioning communication systems, leads to chaos throughout the Usea Continent, making good on the game's title: Skies Unknown.
  • Cannon Fodder: The Osean military doesn't care if a squadron of convicts gets killed in battle.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The eighth gun of Stonehenge, which was rendered inoperable after a meteorite damaged its power or control systems prior to the events of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies and which was conspicuous by its non-target status during the assault on Stonehenge in Ace Combat 04 is finally repaired and fired over sixteen years in real life and nearly as long in In-Universe after first being seen.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Against the TLS and PLSL, clouds, which are merely concealment against projectile weapons, are nearly impenetrable.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The 2016 trailer shows a brief look at the destroyed Stonehenge from Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies. A few moments later, a cutscene shows a meteor storm entering Earth's atmosphere. The 2018 Gamescom trailer shows the last of its cannons firing, the eighth gun, which had been rendered inoperable by a meteorite impact before Operation Stone Crusher in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, while the other seven guns are still utterly smashed from Mobius One's attack on the facility. Osea is revealed to have been secretly rebuilding the smashed Stonehenge site, and brings in power equipment to get the 8th gun up and running. It is the setting of Mission 12: Stonehenge Defensive, where Trigger has to defend Stonehenge against a massive Erusian assault. The cannon only gathers power for one shot, which it uses to destroy one of the Arsenal Birds as it approaches the area. Afterwards, the cannon collapses to the ground.
      • During the operation at Stonehenge, Húxiān (Cyclops 4) takes a hit just like Yellow 4; unlike Yellow 4 she's not wounded, and gets ordered to withdraw instead.
    • Farbanti gets thrashed again, this time at the hands of the Kestrel fleet. Conversely, Port Hewlett is yet again the target of an attack, though this time it's from Erusea instead of Yuktobania.
    • On the topic of the Kestrel herself, Ace Combat 5 fans would know the Kestrel II in Skies Unknown is the successor to the original Kestrel, which was sunk at the end of The Unsung War. However the Kestrel II is sunk off of Farbanti in the early days of the war, and is never seen in action by the player.
    • Mobius Squadron makes a return to combat once again, only this time as part of the IUN's peacekeeping forces and only playable for a side campaign (specifically, the VR missions).
    • A space station similar to the Basset Space Center, along with its iconic mass driver, is the setting of the Mission 17: Homeward.
    • The aircraft carrier which the Strider launches off of in their bid to put a stop to the war once and for all is christened the Admiral Andersen, after the brave admiral of Kestrel in Ace Combat 5. Avril Mead even recounts the tale of how Andersen steadfastly made sure that the capsizing Kestrel managed to launch the fighter squadron that ended the Circum-Pacific War before the ship sank.
    • Captain Kei Nagase herself shows up in the ending. She is now an astronaut code-named Pilgrim One, who has just returned from an exploration mission in outer space. She thanked Trigger for saving the space elevator so that she could land safety.
  • Cool Plane: It's not an Ace Combat entry if it doesn't introduce real-life and fictional superplanes. In this case, there are two of them within the trailers.
    • The first one seems to be a white unmanned aircraft with forward-swept wings, an angular windowless cockpit and no vertical tail, showing up near the end of two trailers. It's unique enough to be distinct from the droves of UCAV that are deployed from the Arsenal Bird. It's also shown to be incredibly agile, performing barrel rolls on a fly.
    • At the very end of the Gamescom trailer, right after the lady in the spacesuit jumps from the space elevator, we get a glimpse of a black superplane flying by, and it seems to be a successor to the ADF-01 FALKEN, what with the twin bulky engines, angular body and cameras replacing the conventional see-through canopy. The main difference is that its wings aren't forward-swept, instead being backward-swept with canted wingtips, and it lacks the FALKEN's vertical tails, a trait it shares with the aforementioned white drone.
    • Mihaly flies an Su-30M2. This plane in real life is a version of the Su-30MK2 used for combat training.
    • Trigger's canon plane is (again) the Lockheed Martin F-22, this time with wing-mounted stealth weapon pods.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Trigger's first encounter with Erusea's hijacked Arsenal Bird ends in a disastrous defeat for the IUPF, with the entire Skeleton squadron wiped out and Osean command forcing a retreat due to being unable to even put a dent in the airship. note 
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: AA guns and CIWS try to inflict this upon you, and it's very likely that you'll take one or two hits from them over the course of a mission. However, there are very few cases in which they're likely to actually get the "thousand cuts" they need.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Of the trope Would Not Shoot a Civilian. For most of the war, Erusea used drones to target Osean military targets without even scratching a single civilian. But this was due to the work of the radical faction within the Erusean military, who are driven by the AI technology they received from Belka and use it to develop an advanced drone army. The drone performance and accuracy goes beyond all expectations, so they use this to gain public opinion on their side and opportunists into declaring war on Osea , even manipulating the Princess. To put it simply, the radicals avoided civilian casualties simply as a means to their end.
    • The Erusean top ace Mihaly is also a deconstruction of typical Ace Combat players: he's an ace pilot who's a Living Legend who finds little to no enjoyment in life other than flying, and he's been flying for so long through so many wars, it's putting a strain on his aging body. He also doesn't care what he shoots down, even if it's harmless, fleeing pilots who posed no threat like Brownie, even toying with her as she's scared out of her mind, before taking the shot anyway, the same thing we've been doing before as a Mercenery-route Cipher and even Mobius 1 himself.
  • Deflector Shields: The Gamescom 2018 trailer shows that the Arsenal Bird is able to deploy a large spherical barrier around itself to protect itself against long-range missile strikes. Said shield is so powerful, even a concentrated missile attack won't hurt it. However, it's not so mighty as to withstand a direct hit from Stonehenge.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Osea and Erusea's simultaneous anti-satellite attacks kick off an syndrome ablation cascade that destroys most of the global satellite network and creates an information blackout that plunges the world into chaos.
  • Dude Where Is My Respect?: Zig-Zagged - at first, it's averted, as Trigger is a respected pilot of Mage squadron, then it's played straight when he gets reassigned to Spare Squadron, as Spare is a penal unit and the base C.O, McKinsey, takes all credit for Spare's achievements. Then the trope gets subverted as Spare Squadron's accomplishments convince HQ that they're worth being incorporated into the military proper. All members of Spare Squadron are pardoned and sent off to other, regular squadrons, and Spare Squadron is disbanded. Meanwhile Wiseman vouches for Trigger and Count, which gets them both absorbed into the Long Range Strategic Strike Group as parts of Strider and Cyclops Squadrons. Finally owing to his great success commanding the Spare Squadron, McKinsey is reassigned to a prestigious post on the front lines.
  • End of an Age: The onset of unmanned aircraft with AI comparable or superior to regular pilots brings forward the question: "What does it mean to be unmanned?". Avril recounts that her grandfather gave her a magazine with the title "Era of the Drones" and the tagline "Soon, there will be no one gripping a control stick and taking to the skies", referencing the increasing replacement of pilots by unmanned aircraft. Mihaly's age and modifications to his aircraft are meant to further emphasize this underlying theme.
  • Enemy Civil War: Both sides. The spread of false information causes infighting within both Osean and Erusean militaries. While Osean forces are able to re-organize and join up with anti-war Erusean elements, Erusea pretty much disintegrates as a nation.
  • False Flag Operation: Erusea sics drones on Spare Squadron during a recon operation. But what's worse than just killer drones? The drones are conventional aircraft converted into UAVs and painted in Osean colors (and they spoof IFF signals, making them a violation of international law). One can tell that the planes are drones by the weird glowing bars below the cockpit canopies, but that requires getting a little too close to the drones for comfort.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: As part of the game's analysis on the growing role of drones in warfare, Erusia appears to be exploiting a loophole in laws prohibiting combatants from disguising themselves as civilians with intent to attack - apparently loading an armed drone into a shipping container and getting it into position across state lines via civilian freight doesn't quite constitute a war crime (it helps that the Princess immediately leans on how this allowed them to hit military assets without damaging civilian centres, in contrast to messier counter-attacks, which causes Osea to get lots of news flak from the media). As autonomously self-guided drones are not people, they cannot be prosecuted.
  • Foreshadowing: It wouldn't be an Ace Combat game without it.
    • One of the first things Bandog says to Trigger is that "I decide when you die!" Bandog later tags Full Band as an enemy, causing Count to inadvertently shoot him down. Bandog claims it was an accident but several in Spare think that it was Bandog making good on his threat.
    • Trigger and Count encounter an odd drone while on an escort mission, one that is much more maneuverable and capable than the previous UAV's. It is a prototype of the final drone they fight, based on Mihaly's (and Trigger's!) complete flight data.
    • Mage Squadron's AWACs calls attention to Osea's satellite-based IFF system in the second mission of the game, mentioning on how it is almost infallible and explains how it is what allows for Osea's almost-instant IFF tagging. Later the entire system goes down when Erusea destroys Osea's communications satellites, forcing Trigger to rely on the more traditional (and slower) visual processing-based IFF systems and AWACs datalink for the rest of the game.
    • Combined with Jump Scare, at certain points of the early campaign some ground targets will inexplicably explode with a huge, loud blue blast that briefly rattles your HUD. Strangely, it also goes unremarked on by either your AWACS or your wingmen. Eventually, you find out that these were warheads for the Arsenal Bird's Helios burst missiles.
  • Four Is Death: Osea's expendable penal fighter squadron is the 444th Fighter Squadron "Spare". They are sent on the most dangerous missions to earn redemption either through victory or through death, with the latter being implied to be the far more common outcome.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams:
    • The F-15C, MiG-31B, and Su-57 can carry laser pods that shoot out blue laser blasts (PLSL or Pulse Laser) similar to how previous games used the Machine Gun Pod (MGP).
    • The F-15E and Su-37 Terminator can carry a single TLS pod that resembles a streamlined version of Morgan's "Zoisite" TLS, and fires a continuous red laser beam.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Once scattered forces start coordinating more fully in the endgame, Far Caster updates IFF manually upon beginning missions. You even see initial targets show up in yellow for a moment before the data is sent through.
  • Geo Effects: One of the new features is the introduction of clouds as a gameplay element. Flying into one can cause your aircraft to become more sluggish, and thicker clouds will interfere with your lock-on capability, disturb missile trajectory, and may completely darken your vision. Furthermore, all but the wispiest of clouds completely block the Tactical Laser System and Pulse Laser. Fly too high up and your plane will begin to ice over, stalling you and obscuring your vision in the process. Fly through a thunderstorm and your instruments may become less useful or fully inoperable.
  • Grand Theft Prototype:
    • Of a superweapon variety. Erusea's lightning blitz against Osea and its allies resulted in the capture of the two Arsenal Birds, Liberty and Justice, used to defend the nearby orbital elevator.
    • Osea returns the favor by taking over Stonehenge and reactivating the one cannon Mobius One didn't destroy (prior to the events of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, one of the cannons' electrical or control systems were smashed by a rogue fragment of Ulysses, silencing the otherwise intact asteroid defense cannon) and use it to bring down one of the Arsenal Birds. Unfortunately, while the shot tears through the Arsenal Bird's shields like a hot knife through butter and splits the Arsenal Bird in half, the stresses placed on the old gun by firing it once more render it as inoperable as the other seven.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Once again, Belka is involved in a major Strangereal war
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The Arsenal Bird's first appearance in Mission 3 boils down to the IUPF being unable to even get close to it as it spams a ridiculous amount of missiles and drones at them, while taking advantage of the game's cloud mechanic to cover itself. The best Trigger can do is dodge until a retreat order is issued, as firing missiles will only prompt some UCAVs to take the hit for the Arsenal Bird, despite the airship having multiple target hitboxes. Even if the IUPF pilots do manage to inflict some damage on the Arsenal Bird, it just activates a set of Deflector Shields which destroy all missiles and force away all aircraft within the shield's radius. By that point command orders all squadrons to retreat.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Flying into the clouds of an electrical storm will cause your HUD to flutter slightly. Getting struck by lightning makes the plane lurch as the systems spasm, and then the entire interface starts to wobble and flicker for a full minute, with your radar dropping out at random until it dies down.
    • One late-game escort mission has your allies and even the escortee set as valid targets. You have to double-check for the TGT label to avoid failing the mission.
    • For a couple of missions after the satellite IFF goes down, targets have to be manually ID'ed with a flyover before they're marked as friendly or hostile.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Spare 8 "Champ" disobeys his operator and decides to engage Mihaly's pursuing Su-30SM... by performing a not-quite Pugachev's Cobra in a MiG-29A, which has never displayed such a capability in real life, to get behind Mihaly. Sadly for Spare 8, the Erusean ace quickly shows him up with a Kulbit and kills Spare 8.
  • It's Up to You: Lampshaded and used for characterization. Spare Squadron are mostly interested in keeping themselves alive, which leads to the AWACS constantly berating them to follow Trigger's example: shut up and actually get on with the mission. Even afterwards, when you face Mihaly, the rest of Strider and Cyclops Squadrons quickly realize that they're no match for the Erusian ace and leave him to you.
  • Legacy Character: Or rather, Legacy Ship. The aircraft carrier Kestrel II plays a part in the story, as a successor to the original OFS Kestrel.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Among the new weapons in Ace Combat 7 are the 4-Target Air-to-Air Missile (4AAM), which appears to be similar to the old XMAA, the 6-Target Air-to-Air Missile (6AAM), the 8-Target Air-to-Air Missile (8AAM), and the 8AAM's anti-ground counterpart, the 8-Target Air-to-Ground Missile (8AGM). Following up an 8AAM or 8AGM launch with firing off the two standard missiles would allow the player to send 10 missiles foe-wards inside of a second. Additionally, there is the returning Rocket Launcher Pod, here abbreviated to RKT, which rapidly fires off a large volley of unguided rockets, and it's more advanced version the GRKT, which fires a rapid volley of homing rockets.
  • Magnetic Weapons:
    • The F/A-18F and Su-33 and X-02S can mount an underslung Electromagnetic Launcher, previously only seen on the CFA-44 Nosferatu, as one of many examples of the integration of advanced weapons systems with proven airframes, befitting of the Twenty Minutes In The Future setting.
    • Osean forces repair or replace the wrecked systems of the the eighth and final gun of the Spaceguard Turret Network "Stonehenge" that was destroyed in a meteorite impact prior to Mobius One's attack that had silenced the turret network in the Usean Continental War, bringing the aging hybrid electromagnetic/chemburning cannon back to life for one last shot to bring down one of the Arsenal Birds.
  • More Dakka:
    • The MiG-21 has been seen armed with machine gun pods, which fire very rapidly and ups the plane's number of gun barrels from one to five.
    • The A-10 and its infamous GAU-8 Avenger carry more ammo than any other machine gun - 4800 rounds, where most other American aircraft (and derivatives thereof, as well as the MiG-21 bis and MiG-31B) carry 2400, and everything else carries 800.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The city of Selatapura is believed to be one for Singapore, considering that it was a third world city before its economy prospered due to the construction of the space elevator, which resulted in having first world standards. It's located in an unknown part of the Usean continent, and was formerly part of Erusea.
    • This would make Erusea a superpowered parallel to Malaysia, which Singapore seceded from in 1965. Unlike Erusea and Selatapura however, Malaysia and Singapore have only been embroiled in border and territory disputes.
  • No-Damage Run: One of the in-game medals, and thus by extension, some of the achievements/trophies, require you to do a run of the campaign without ever getting hit.
  • Paper Tiger: The 444th's "air base" is actually just a military prison with a single access runway. Everything else is balloons for vehicles, wooden shells for buildings, and painted-on airstrips. Erusean bombers fell for the decoys a bit too well, necessitating the activation of the penal fighter squadron just so that the Eruseans don't figure out what's really going on.
  • The Pardon: Spare get one for their heroism in the conflict, with most of them joining the regular force while Trigger and Count are absorbed into the LRSSG's Strider Squadron.
  • Player Nudge: Briefings tend to heavily suggest choosing an interceptor if Mihaly is going to show up.
  • Powerful, but Inaccurate: The entire shtick of HPAAs or High-Power Air-to-Air Missiles, and by extension, the almost-exclusively Russian aircraft that can use them. They do much more damage than normal missiles, but they have poor homing capabilities.
  • Reality Ensues: Modern missiles are pretty good at locking onto what the HUD says they will, but a fire-and-forget infrared-guided missile pointed at a tight cluster of signatures is liable to make mistakes. This is exactly what lands Trigger in the Spares, no matter what the player tries.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What motivated Harling to deliberately steer his plane towards the Space Elevator.. The Oseans are convinced that he was making a desperate attempt to protect the Elevator from missle fire. However, the Eruseans believe that he was deliberately trying to destroy the thing. In universe this riddle becomes known as Harling's Mirror - due to the fact that the answer a person comes to regarding this question directly reflects how they view the Space Elevator, and what it stands for.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Mihaly, the central antagonist of the story, flies a black Su-30SM with red wingtips.
  • Scenery Porn: The landscape can only be described as highly detailed and photo-realistic, with revisited locations of previous games receiving an important graphical update (the Chopinburg Rainforest and its associated crater, as well as the Stonehenge ring, for example). In the Gamescom Demo, one of the new locations, Yinshi Valley, is based on the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China, the same one that inspired the floating mountains in Avatar.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: A large part of the Erusean military breaks off and joins the Oseans to fight the government troops, who instigated the war.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Certain enemies, including CIWS, AD Tanks, and the boss drone in mission 10, can actually shoot your missiles out of the air.
  • Shout-Out:
    • An enemy ace you encounter in the game is a Mig-29 by the name of Jester. His plane is colored with the same gold with blue undercarriage paint scheme as the two Mig-29s who crashed during the 1993 Fairfield Airshow in England.
    • The Selatapura equivalent of Singapore's National Stadium resembles Namco's famous circle section when viewed from above.
    • A Space Elevator, built to provide solar energy, becomes the point of contention between superpowers. Is this Ace Combat 7 or Gundam 00?
    • The game's opening scene, with Avril extending her hand toward the sky in the middle of a desert is very similar to Isamu Alva Dyson's introduction scene in Macross Plus. It even has a similar background soundtrack.
  • Space Elevator: One has been built in the Spring Sea southwest of Usea, near Selatapura. The site of construction becomes a point of contention for Erusea, claiming that it has been forced on their territory; this is seemingly one of their reasons for declaring war on Osea. In truth, Selatapura seceded from Erusea and became an independent nation. Said space elevator is primarily intended to deliver energy from orbit down to power plants groundside, and isn't fully completed yet, so it is not yet able to function as a ground to orbit cargo delivery system.
  • Spiteful A.I.: AA guns are nearly harmless, doing only 1% damage a hit, but they're far more accurate than their predecessors in other Ace Combat titles, and while little threat to mission completion, will aggressively do everything they can to deny you the no-damage bonus and thwart your No-Damage Run.
  • Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Spare Squadron, initially, is seen as little more than a penal labor group, using mothballed and partially disassembled planes on the ground alongside decoys to give the impression of a larger air force presence than Osea actually has and draw enemy attention away from Osea's real forces. But little by little, they have to step up their efforts to appear "authentic" to the enemy, and before long they are being deployed on missions where the regular forces are too valuable to risk. Eventually they are recognized for their surprisingly effective contributions to the war, given general pardons, dissolved as a unit, and integrated into other "real" Osean squadrons.
  • Theme Naming: Osean fighter squadrons seem to take their names from High Fantasy elements. Ace Combat 5 and Zero establishes the Razgriz (after the valkyrie Randgrid), Wizard, and Sorcerer squadrons, but this game adds Skeleton, Golem, Cyclops, and others on top of the player's own Mage squadron.
  • This Means War!: Princess D'Elise claims that Osea has forced the construction of their Space Elevator on (formerly) Erusean soil, which is considered an illegal act threatening Erusea's sovereignty.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Briefings are much less obvious about what priority targets you'll have to hit than in previous games, so choosing the right plane and weapon may take a second try.
  • Twenty Minutes In The Future: The game takes place in Strangreal's 2019 and features a wide array of aircraft from the past five decades and the near future, with the Su-57 making its second Strangereal appearance after Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy before actually entering service with Russia, the first Strangereal appearance of the new Su-30SM, and the return of the F-35C, which still isn't in widespread use in real life. In addition, it features at least some of Ace Combat's near-future technology fictional aircraft and integrates many of their weapons, such as two variants of the Tactical Laser System (as both a beam and a pulse weapon) and the Electromagnetic Launcher onto real aircraft, as well as experimental real life weapons systems that haven't yet entered service, such as the stealth weapons pods carried by the F-22A Raptor. In non-weapons speculative near-future technology, one of the central points of the game's main conflict is the "Lighthouse" space elevator (however Lighthouse differs from other depictions of space elevators in media in that it does not deliver cargo or people, but rather functions as a means to collect solar energy and transmit it to power plants groundside). Perhaps the most futuristic technology seen is the microwave shielding that the Arsenal Bird possesses; said shield is able to withstand missiles and bullets, with only a high-caliber railgun projectile able to pierce it.
  • Uniqueness Decay:
    • The Tactical Laser System, the defining powerful weapon of the FALKEN and Morgan, has been adapted into a subweapon that variants of common planes like the F-15E and Su-37 can equip.
    • Similarly, the Electromagnetic Launcher, once unique to the CFA-44 Nosferatu, is now carried by more mundane aircraft, such as the F/A-18F and Su-33.
  • War Is Hell: Cosette gets hit with this pretty hard. In the beginning she actively calls for her citizens to wage war against Osea, but quickly realises the error of her ways when she sees civilian casualties in the wake of the war.
  • We Have Reserves: Upon joining Spare Squadron, Trigger is reminded of his place.
    Remember, you are not bona fide military. You are expendable.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Erusea knows it can't fight a superpower like Osea on equal terms, so they proceed ship UCA Vs in containers to Osea, where they are remotely launched and proceed to destroy naval bases across the country, crippling the nation's naval response and throwing it into chaos, while simultaneously launching a lightning offensive across the continent of Usea. By the time Osea and IUN forces can recover, Erusea and its allies have seized most of the continent, along with both Arsenal Bird carriers, and the crippling strike on naval forces means Osean forces are cut off from the mainland. Later on, when Osea seizes Farbanti, Erusea's capital, Erusea launches anti-satellite missiles to take out the orbital satellite IFF network, crippling communications and causing widespread chaos.

  • Zerg Rush: Every time an Arsenal Bird shows up, it deploys dozens upon dozens of drones to overwhelm the opposition with sheer numbers.

"I wonder which path you would choose... when looking at Harling's mirror."

Alternative Title(s): Ace Combat 7

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