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Ace Combat 7

Some number of PC players may have booted up Namco/Bandai's recently-released Ace Combat 7 on PC, only to be disappointed to find that their preferred flight stick doesn't work with the game. Un-supported controllers apparently includes the very popular (and very expensive) Thrustmaster Warthog. This isn't a technical issue; it's a hardware-exclusivity deal that Namco/Bandai apparently signed with Thrustmaster and Hori. Only two flight sticks are supported by the game: the Thrustmaster T. Flight and HORI AC7 flight stick. Apparently, the same restrictions apply to the PS4 and XBox One versions of the game

If you're like me, and don't play a lot of flight sims, any flight stick that you have is likely old and obsolete. But you probably still hoped it would work with the game. It's PC, after all, and controllers are mostly plug-and-play. Worst case scenario, you'd have to custom configure the control mapping. Right?

Not so. If the game detects a flight stick that isn't on its approved list, it apparently refuses to recognize it.

I'm not exactly a huge Ace Combat fan, but Ace Combat 4 (which I played on PS2 back in the day) is on my short list for "favorite games ever". Perhaps I'll put up a retro-review of it at some point. Needless to say, AC4 was a near perfect hybrid of acrade dogfighting and realistic flight sim, and it's nuanced depiction of war might make it my single favorite video game about war -- except for maybe This War of Mine.

So I was excited that a new game was coming out. I had bought a Logitech Attack 3 flight stick some years ago for another game, and I was also excited to see how Ace Combat would feel with a flight stick instead of a game controller. So I bought the game on PC expecting the flight stick would work. It didn't, and I was pretty bummed. I bought the game on the weekend of its PC release, and when I found that my flight stick didn't work, I shelved the game and went back to Resident Evil 2 and Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. I figured I'd come back to AC7 in a few weeks, at which point, the flight stick situation would hopefully be resolved, or modders would maybe add unofficial support for un-supported flight sticks.

You can configure an un-supported flight stick via Steam's built-in Controller Settings.

After a little bit of research, I discovered Steam's built-in "General Controller Settings" gamepad mapping, and that it can be used to "trick" Ace Combat 7 into thinking you're playing with a third-party gamepad. I tested it last night, and was pleased to discover that it works!

To see if your flight stick will work (and it's no guarantee), perform the following steps:

  1. Open Steam and select "Steam -> Settings" in the top menu.
  2. In the Settings panel, click "Controller".
  3. In the Controller Config panel, click the button that says "GENERAL CONTROLLER SETTINGS". A big, blue menu with several check boxes should appear in a new window.
  4. In the Controller Settings window, check the "Generic Gamepad Configuration Support" box.
  5. If your flight stick is plugged in, and the PC is registering it, you should see it in a list of "Detected Controllers". Click it.
  6. This should take you to a key binding screen. Set up your key bindings as you see fit. You do not necessarily have to map every single button, as most flight sticks may not have enough buttons.
  7. Click "Save" and a dialogue should appear asking you if you want to "Share this controller definition?". You can name the controller anything you like. The important part here is that there is a drop down labeled: "Select the type of controller:". You must select "Generic Gamepad" from the drop down! You can then click "No, Thank You" if you do not wish to share the settings.

You should now be able to boot up Ace Combat 7, and the game should now believe your flight stick is a third-party gamepad (rather than a forbidden flight stick), and it should function based on the bindings that you specified.

You can configure your flight stick as a "Generic Gamepad" in Steam's Controller Settings.

After testing this out, I exited the game and went into Steam's Controller Settings to re-calibrate the stick (as it was a bit too sensitive for my tastes, and Ace Combat 7 does not seem to have sensitivity options in its settings). When I re-loaded AC7, the game was no longer detecting my flight stick. The solution to this was to go back to Steam's Controller Settings, open the "Define Layout" button, and save the binding by selecting "Generic Gamepad" in the controller type drop down. For some reason, Steam seems to ignore my settings and re-define the flight stick as an XBox One controller every time I re-open Controller Settings.

If you have issues with the stick, make sure that it is defined as a "Generic Gamepad" in Steam's Controller Settings.

Be sure to specify that the stick is a "Generic Gamepad" when you save the layout.

The keyboard and mouse do still seem to register commands even while I'm using the flight stick. This means that if you're stick does not have enough buttons to map all the commands, you can still potentially use the keyboard for things like throttle or yaw, or for things like toggling the map, changing the camera, or pausing the game. It might even be possible to use the mouse for the game's "look" functionality, but I haven't figured out how to set that up yet. If you got that to work, feel free to let me know in the comments.

You may still have to calibrate the stick's "dead zone" if it feels too tight or too loose. Even then, there's no guarantee that the flight stick will work -- let alone feel comfortable to use -- if it's not one of the supported models.

All that being said, the Thrustmaster T. Flight does look like a pretty slick piece of hardware! If I find myself really enjoying Ace Combat 7 (or getting into something like Elite: Dangerous), then I might consider selling my old Logitech and upgrading to the Thrustmaster.

In any case, I hope this helps! And I hope that you can now take to the skies and enjoy the latest Ace Combat game with the flight stick of your choice!

Whoohoo! My old flight stick works!

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Yes, you can MAYBE play Ace Combat 7 with an un-supported flight stick!Yes, you can MAYBE play Ace Combat 7 with an un-supported flight stick!03/14/2019 Some number of PC players may have booted up Namco/Bandai's recently-released Ace Combat 7 on PC, only to be disappointed to find that their preferred flight stick doesn't work with the game. Un-supported controllers apparently includes the very popular (and very expensive) Thrustmaster Warthog. This isn't a technical issue;...

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