The Ace Combat series has successfully struck a balance between arcade-style gameplay and flight simulation. Unlike other flight games that can make you feel like you’re on a predetermined path, Ace Combat allows you to take control of modern and near-future jets without the need for a lengthy user manual. It’s an experience that truly makes you feel like you’re in command of the aircraft.
In the past, flight games used to dominate the PC gaming scene. Titles like Combat Flight Simulator, Crimson Skies, and F-16 Fighting Falcon were released in the ’90s and ’00s, but unfortunately, the genre lost traction as the audience for mass market flight games shifted elsewhere. While Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation didn’t make it to PC, the arrival of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown marks the return of a triple-A flight combat game to the platform after a long absence. Needless to say, PC gamers have every reason to be excited about it.
If you’re looking to expand your collection of plane games, we’ve got a fantastic list of alternatives for you below. Some of these games provide a more accessible experience compared to Ace Combat, while others take a deep dive into full flight simulation. And there’s even one game that doesn’t involve flying at all.
Let us know if you have any other games similar to Ace Combat that you would recommend.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
We’ll start with the obvious choice – Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. While it may not be as special as the Xbox exclusive Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, it still has its moments. Unlike flight simulators where it can take hours to master a single plane, Ace Combat lets you develop an affinity for the aircraft within the first hour of gameplay. The game becomes truly exhilarating from the fourth mission onwards, as every scenario feels like it could be part of an action-packed movie. Whether you’re hunting down supply trucks during a sandstorm or providing ground support for a VIP in the middle of a battle, Ace Combat 7 keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Ace Combat leans towards arcade-style dogfights, which makes for fast-paced missions and immediate explosive action. However, if you’re seeking a more complex flight simulation experience, DCS World might be the perfect choice for you. With its extensive manual and intricate control scheme, mastering the basics of DCS World is an achievement in itself. But once you do, you’ll discover a vast world of possibilities. The base game is free, and you can expand it with meticulously recreated planes. Each new aircraft presents a unique challenge to conquer, as they behave differently in combat. If you’re a fan of simulation-heavy aerial combat, DCS World might just become your new go-to flight game.
House of the Dying Sun
One of the most thrilling aspects of Ace Combat is the adrenaline rush you experience during intense dogfights. Whether you’re tailing an enemy plane or maneuvering to escape danger, those moments are what make the game truly captivating. If you’re looking for a similar experience set in space, House of the Dying Sun is the game for you. As a space fighter pilot, you’ll find yourself in numerous challenging situations, often pitted against overwhelming odds. Only through skillful piloting and precise shooting can you emerge victorious.
Microsoft Flight Simulator X
If you’re yearning for a simulation experience without the added pressure of enemy pilots trying to shoot you down, Microsoft Flight Simulator X is worth checking out. While controlling your aircraft in MFS X is more involved compared to Ace Combat, the absence of missiles and heavy weaponry creates a more peaceful environment for you to explore. The scale of the game is staggering, with a vast world full of 24,000 destinations to visit. Once you’ve grasped the basics of flight, you’ll have an abundance of content to enjoy. The game also offers various DLCs that expand the world with new planes, missions, and more detailed cities.
Now, bear with me for a moment. I know that Valkyria Chronicles is not a flight game. It’s a turn-based war game similar to XCOM rather than Ace Combat. However, storytelling plays a significant role in Ace Combat games, and if that’s what keeps you engaged, then Valkyria Chronicles is definitely worth a look. Just like in Ace Combat, the story of Valkyria Chronicles revolves around its pilots. As you embark on missions, you become part of a storied conflict, and the pilots share their thoughts and opinions on the war. This game also happens to be one of the best turn-based strategy games on PC, offering a unique blend of action and strategy.
If you’re in the mood for straightforward arcade-style flying, War Thunder is a free-to-play dogfighter that deserves your attention. With its emphasis on dogfights and accessibility, you can pilot your aircraft confidently using a gamepad, without the need for a complex joystick setup. The physics model is forgiving, allowing you to perform daring maneuvers like barrel rolls and loop the loops with ease. Furthermore, War Thunder offers a wide selection of different vehicles to choose from, ensuring that you’ll find one that matches your flying style. Although War Thunder lets you command ground vehicles and ships, its roots as a combat flight game make it most satisfying to play in the aerial combat mode.
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad
For those who want a flight simulation game with a touch of realism but not quite as hardcore as DCS World, IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad is a perfect fit. Set during World War II, above the skies of the besieged Russian city of Stalingrad, the game features lovingly recreated era-specific planes engaged in intense aerial combat. While Ace Combat focuses on modern aircraft equipped with advanced technology, IL-2 Sturmovik takes you back to a simpler time when planes were not fly-by-wire and required physical input from the pilots. As a result, the flight models in IL-2 Sturmovik feel heavier and more challenging to maneuver. If you’re seeking a World War II flight sim experience without the complexity of DCS World, this game is worth your consideration.
Few flight games can match the legacy of the X-Plane series. This simulator has been continuously improved since its launch in 1995, making the latest iteration the pinnacle of the genre in terms of features and realism. What sets X-Plane apart is its active support for mods. You can easily add new planes, scenery, and plugins, and the game’s dynamic flight model accurately simulates the forces at work on each component. As a result, modded planes perform just as well as the ones created by the developers. If you’re looking for the most feature-rich flight sim experience with endless possibilities, X-Plane 11 is the game for you.
While it may not involve piloting a jet, Superflight offers a similar sense of exhilaration that Ace Combat provides through daredevil flying. In Superflight, you take on the role of a base jumper, navigating procedurally generated, blocky landscapes. The objective is to fly as close to the ground as possible, accruing points as you perform risky maneuvers. Just like in Ace Combat, where you might fly low to escape radar detection or to lose an enemy tail, Superflight rewards you for pushing the limits and embracing danger. If you enjoy heart-pounding stunts, Superflight should definitely be on your radar.
With these nine incredible games, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your desire for thrilling aerial combat and flight simulation. Expand your horizon and dive into the captivating world of plane games. And remember, if you’re hungry for more fantastic content like this, head over to Capturing Fantasy for all your gaming needs. Happy flying!