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Steam hit Project Wingman looks like Top Gun, plays like a roguelike

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Ceci n’est pas une flight simulator

The No. 2 top-selling game on Steam on Wednesday, just behind pre-orders for Cyberpunk 2077, is a high-concept action combat game called Project Wingman. Created by a small team of developers based in Australia, it looks to rival big budget titles in the Ace Combat series — just don’t call it a flight simulator.

Project Wingman is a combat flight action game with an emphasis on polished and refined gameplay, true-to-its-roots inspirations, and an engaging single player experience,” the developer says on Project Wingman’s Steam page. “Perfect for those who aren’t looking for a simulator experience, with the ease of pick up and play, all the way to those who want a fast-paced challenging flight action game.”

Players take to the skies in first or third person, where you’ll assume the controls of fourth- and fifth-generation fighter and attack aircraft culled from arsenals all over the modern world. Project Wingman includes a proper campaign, as well as a roguelike mode called Conquest that folks seem to really be enjoying. Conquest mode tasks players with purchasing planes and armaments and maintaining a full fighting force.

The game includes more than 20 aircraft, such as the AV-8B Harrier, F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle. There’s even some legacy planes, including the the venerable F-4 Phantom, as well as plenty of planes from the Russian inventory as well.

What’s really interesting is the opposition, which includes monstrous flying fortresses and hulking ground-based mechs. The fiction of the game takes players along an alternate timeline, where modern aircraft are hunted by “railguns and geothermal-powered armaments.” The game does not skimp on the dramatic lighting either, which spills all across its exotic environs — the Yellowstone magma fields, Redwood forests, and more.

The game is also compatible with modern hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) setups and virtual reality, though neither are required to enjoy the game.

Project Wingman was initially funded in 2017 through Epic Games Unreal Dev Grant program. Later, fans chipped in more than AU$114,000 — just shy of $85,000 in U.S. dollars — via Kickstarter.

Correction: An earlier version of this story named Conquest mode as Project Wingman’s campaign mode. They are two separate modes.