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Video Games With The Best Aerial Combat

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Everyone loves a good fictional dogfight, and that’s especially the case when gamers get to experience it first-hand. There aren’t a high number of games with great aerial combat systems, but there are still plenty to enjoy nonetheless. From dedicated aerial shooters to specific vehicle mechanics in online shooters, there’s a bit of something for everyone when it comes to aviation-based combat.

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Aerial combat in games spans across genres. From military shooters to sci-fi to space-based blasters, nothing comes close to the excitement of aerial combat. It can be hard to find the right fit for players looking to get the best experience, especially when the majority of travel-based video games released nowadays fall into the simulation category. However, with these excellent titles, gamers will be able to live their piloting fantasies in the most entertaining way possible.

8 Battlefield 1

Large Battlefields With A Gritty Tone And A Large Variety Of Vehicles

battlefield-1-plane-gameplay (1)

Battlefield 1

Released
October 21, 2016

Battlefield 1 surprised gamers when it was first released due to its gritty tone and realistic depiction of World War 1. Many gamers knew that Battlefield 1 would feature excellent gunplay with large, open battlefields. However, what many gamers were surprised by were the excellent aviation vehicles and aerial combat mechanics that also came packaged in the multiplayer.

Battlefield 1 encompassed everything great about the FPS franchise and reverted it back to its historical roots to create one of the best World War 1 games to date, especially the multiplayer. Dogfights over huge battlegrounds are fluid like nothing else, and the sheer thrill of piloting some iconic warplanes is enough to entice any aviation fan. Not to mention, the flying navigation and combat controls are excellent.

7 Star Wars: Squadrons

Epic Starship Battles In Space

Star Wars: Squadrons VR

Star Wars: Squadrons

Released
October 2, 2020

Genre(s)
Action , Flight Simulator

It’s always exciting when an officially canon Star Wars game gets released, and it’s especially exciting when new Star Wars games try something different. And that’s exactly what Star Wars: Squadrons does. If players have ever wanted to experience epic starship battles from the films, then this is the perfect game for them, and it comes with excellent aerial combat.

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The sound of blasters firing from the player’s spaceship has never felt more satisfying than here. There’s both a story and a multiplayer mode available, but to be honest, the story isn’t all that great. What is great is the actual flying mechanics and aerial combat. There’s not been a Star Wars game that quite captures this sense of aerial combat, but Star Wars: Squadrons achieves it perfectly.

6 Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.

Military-Based Arcade Shooter Set In The Future

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X

  • Released
    : March 3, 2009
  • Developer
    : Ubisoft
  • Platforms
    : PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android, iOS, and other older mobile devices

Interestingly, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. is actually set in the same universe as Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter despite there being little connection. However, this game features some of the best and grittiest aerial combat mechanics in any arcade-focused title. Sure, there’s a background and a semi-interesting plot, but that’s not what gamers play this game for, they play it for the fun combat.

One innovative feature that came as part of Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. was its satellite mapping, which looked incredibly authentic whilst soaring in the skies. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it’s got some great aerial combat, with some seriously cool, futuristic jet designs.

5 Project Wingman

A Great, Alternate Reality Cockpit Experience

Project Wingman (1)

  • Released
    : December 1, 2020
  • Developer
    : Sector D2
  • Platforms
    : PC, Xbox One, PS VR2

Project Wingman has a really cool premise and setting, which happens to be matched with excellent aerial combat mechanics that players will never forget. This game features two separate modes – campaign and conquest, both of which are exceedingly fun and any fan of aerial combat-based games should give this one a go.

The campaign takes place in a fictional alternate reality where Earth is stuck in a war between two united federations. The player takes on the role of a mercenary pilot and takes on a number of different story quests. Conquest, on the other hand, is a fun game mode where players have to capture territories in a rogue-lite manner, which gets increasingly difficult as the player progresses. It’s got great combat with some of the best visuals in a flying game to date.

4 I1-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles

A Collection Of Some Of The Best Military Plane Shooters Ever Made

I1-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles Plane

  • Released
    : November 19, 2013
  • Developer
    : 1C Game Studios
  • Platforms
    : PC

This one’s cheating a little because it’s not just one game but rather a whole collection of standalone titles, which are all excellent. The I1-2 Sturmovik franchise has been around for a couple of decades by this point, so any fan of the genre should be aware of it. However, it’s this collection that has been the highlight of the whole franchise.

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I1-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles is a collection of “modules”, as the developers call it, which span across different time periods to allow the player to experience different aerial vehicles and types of combat. None of these games are super deep or intricate, but they provide hours of entertainment and some really great locations. They’re visually pleasing and certainly fun to play.

3 DCS World

A Study-sim With Excellent Aerial Combat

DCS World

DCS World

Released
March 18, 2018

Developer
Eagle Dynamics SA

Publisher
Eagle Dynamics SA

Genre(s)
Flight Simulator

DCS World is a different entry from all the others because it’s more focused on simulation. However, this simulation is centered around aerial combat, with DCS literally standing for Digital Combat Simulator. Despite being more of a simulation game, DCS World also features a number of story missions and even campaigns that players can freely explore and complete as and when they like.

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This is a realistic game and players can more or less learn the basics of flying an aviation vehicle by mastering the mechanics in this game. It’s realistically detailed to a high degree and is genuinely one of the best simulation experiences ever, especially in the case of aerial combat. There are lots of different planes to try out, and a whole world to fly over.

2 War Thunder

This Iconic Online Aerial Shooter Is A Must-Play

War Thunder Greek Helicopter

War Thunder

Released
November 1, 2012

Developer(s)
Gaijin Entertainment

This epic free-to-play title has changed a lot over the years, but it’s better now than it’s ever been before. War Thunder is a treat to play, from its large multiplayer battles to its smaller events and campaign-like scenarios. This is the perfect game for fans of military shooters and historical aerial combat, as there’s so much to unpack here.

What started off as purely an aerial-based combat game has now added ground troops, including foot soldiers and tanks. War Thunder also has one of the best communities for any aerial-combat-focused game and receives regular support from its enthusiastic developers.

1 Ace Combat

This Esteemed Aerial Combat Franchise Is Still Like No Other

Ace Combat - Assault Horizon Review F15 (1)

Ace Combat 7

Released
January 31, 2019

Genre(s)
Flight Simulator

When it comes to games with the best aerial combat, there’s really nothing quite like the Ace Combat franchise. No matter which game players prefer, each and every title in this series has so much passion and detail put into them – they’re all excellent. Whilst the gameplay is only semi-realistic, it’s certainly the most fun out of all aerial combat games.

That’s because every Ace Combat title places emphasis on experience over realism. These are fast-paced action, arcade aerial shooters, which have some of the best, most over-the-top stories in any aviation-based game, and they’re just so great. No matter the player, everyone should enjoy this franchise if they enjoy aerial combat.

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