Most people, at some point in their life, are enamored with the act of flight. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid staring up at a plane or a young adult on your first international flight; that fascination has reached every generation worldwide. However, getting airplane tickets is expensive, and learning to fly is even more so. Although movies like Back to the Future may have predicted we’d be flying in cars by now, we’re still unable to in 2023.
Thus, people have often turned to video games to become immersed in the act of flying. Yet many examples in the medium, from Superman 64 to Grand Theft Auto, often have caveats and drawbacks. Sure, there are exceptions, but no game has allowed people to understand the true thrill of flying. That is, until 2023. Several games released this year have captured flying in different yet compelling ways. Here are some examples of how 2023 has brought the gaming world closer to simulating flying in a way no other medium can.
Hovering in Dead Space and Armored Core
A few games, namely Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon and the Dead Space Remake, opted to use hovering to convey the feeling of flight. While some may not consider it in the same vein as traditional flight, I think it deserves a mention all the same. Both titles use hovering in drastically different ways.
Armored Core, for example, requires you to use your boosters to traverse the massive environments and close the gap between you and the many enemies you face. Despite the ability being limited by your mech’s energy, you will use this ability a fair amount to evade enemies and cross gaps. Once I got the hang of it, I found it just as satisfying as the other examples on this list.
Dead Space, however, requires hovering to solve several puzzles throughout the game. Whether it be traversing treacherous environments in space or the USG Ishimura, several low-gravity areas are present throughout the game that allow you to lift your boats and float through the air. Dead Space and Armored Core use hovering to enhance the game’s mechanics. Although it doesn’t feel as exciting as other games released this year, both examples still feel satisfying in their own ways.
Falling with Style
Further down the line, some games allow you to fly not in the traditional sense but through slow descending as the wind carries you through the sky. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 have you gliding through their many diverse environments.
Tears of the Kingdom has many ways for players to navigate the massive world of Hyrule. There is the glider suit you can get early in the game, the many flying devices you can create with Zonai technology, and even the new towers that launch you into the sky. In Breath of the Wild, the player was limited by only being able to use their horse and glider. However, Link can now cross from one area of the map to the other within moments.
Spider-Man 2 will have a similar mechanic. Rather than the two Spider-Man being limited by swinging through New York City’s massive cityscape, Miles Morales and Peter Parker can use the web wings from the original comics. The ability allows each character to glide through the city in between swings, allowing players to reach a level of speed that wasn’t possible in any of its predecessors. 2023 has had several games with varying approaches to flying, but despite that, there are still some games that allow players to attain true flight.
Both Final Fantasy XVI and Starfield feature flight in its truest form. In several segments in the latest entry in the hit JRPG franchise, FFXVI lets players fly around and fight against giant monsters with the Phoenix. The Phoenix has been a part of Final Fantasy almost since the beginning. The ability to fly around and see its wings ripple in the wind is a thrilling experience unlike any other.
Starfield utilizes the thrill of space travel to let players create their own ships and fly around in them. The latest hit title from Bethesda allows players to live out their biggest Star Wars and Star Trek fantasies. It’s an excellent game for those who dreamed of flight and being an astronaut as a child.
In the end, that’s what matters the most. Video games are immersive in a way that no other medium can attain. Fans can live out their wildest fantasies. It doesn’t matter if you dream of being a swordfighter, an athlete, or a plumber with a red hat; there is a game for you. However, options for those who’ve wanted to fly and be a pilot have been limited for a while. Which is why it brings me great pleasure to say that 2023 has brought gamers one step closer to achieving the frontier that most can never attain: the thrill of flying.