Ace Combat 7 takes the Hiiiiighway to the Danger Zone

Of the many secret shames that I work so hard to keep hidden from the prying eyes of polite society, one of the deepest and darkest is that I have never seen Top Gun. It's a bit strange, really, because I dig cool fighter jets and Kenny Loggins, yet somehow that's never jelled into time spent enjoying the sweaty antics of Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and other brooding icons of faux-military machismo.

Anyway, to the point: The long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick is now in US theaters, and to celebrate the return of Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell—who by now must be the oldest jet jockey in the Navy, if not the entire US military—Bandai Namco is bringing classic American jets and more to Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.

The Top Gun: Maverick DLC package features new playable aircraft including the Northrop Grumman F-14A Tomcat and Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet, each in standard and multi-skin Maverick editions. There's also the Dark Star prototype from the film and an unnamed fifth-generation fighter, which to my eye looks like a lightly reworked Sukhoi Su-57. It's a bit unexpected to see a Russian fighter included in this red, white, and bluest of DLC, but I suppose that every great hero needs a worthy rival—there is no Maverick without Iceman, after all.

The planes are obviously the centerpiece and there are also a bunch of emblems and callsigns from the films to enjoy. What really puts it over the top for me, though, is the inclusion of two new musical tracks based on some of the most iconic, unforgettable, put-it-in-my-veins movie music of all time: Top Gun Anthem and—you guessed it—the Kenny Loggins '80s ultra-classic Danger Zone. They're remixes by Ace Combat composer Keiki Kobayashi, but there's no mistaking that beat. It makes me want to ride a Kawasaki really fast with no helmet on—right into the Danger Zone!

Ace Combat 7 isn't the only yank-and-banker with the need for speed: A Top Gun: Maverick expansion is also now available for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It features a Maverick livery for the game's F/A-18E Super Hornet, new training missions and challenges including a carrier deck landing, and a "never-before-unveiled hypersonic aircraft that can attain speeds of Mach 10 and altitudes greater than 150,000 feet above sea level." (That'd be the Dark Star, I'm pretty sure.)

The Maverick expansion for Microsoft Flight Simulator is free for all players. The Ace Combat 7 - Top Gun: Maverick DLC is available for $20/$17/$20.

Oh I can't help myself. We're jumpin' off the deck and shovin' into overdrive!

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.