There's a story of sorts in Armored Core V, but we're glazing over. Corporation is bad, Resistance fights Corporation. Thankfully, ACV is a game all about building robots.
Robots with crazy legs that let them hop into the sky, gliding through the air using back-mounted boosters. Robots that roll on tank tracks or creep around on four giant legs. Robots that zip through the air at alarming speed, bouncing between skyscrapers like a giant metal Spider- Man. This is exactly as fun as it sounds.
It's easy to spend hours tinkering with all the options, painting your creations and testing out new toys. It's more compelling than you'd expect, but the menu systems don't do it any favours, a theme that sadly runs right throughout the game. There's no option to immediately equip parts you've just bought, so you'll need to sit through another two loading screens to get to the main component menu.
While sister-game Dark Souls is also wilfully obtuse, it has a charm that this can't match. Take away the simplicity of swords and shields, and you're left with the far less tangible world of sci-fi weapons. Built upon the most niche foundations, the game's world map feels equally daunting. Story Missions sounds like the best place to start, but a sharp spike in difficulty quickly beats you down.
The comparative simplicity of Order Missions provides a less rocky start, but these merely delay the game's doom-wall of difficulty. Even after saving up money to buy parts, high-quality components don't make things easier. There's no ultimate robot to work towards, it's all about function and compromise. Better components buy you more options, but that only helps if you understand the rules.
Most story missions rely on hefty amounts of trial and error, but getting it right doesn't even feel satisfying: it's like playing cards against someone who cheers every time you win, but refuses to teach you how to play. Everything you do is tied back to the multiplayer - a mighty clan-based system that impresses, but adds even more complexity. Armored Core V's initial ease turns out to be a token gesture. This is hardcore.
Fun for fans, but niche in the extreme
- Building mechs is compelling
- Ace visuals and atmosphere
- The story is total cod-waffle
- Too many loading screens and menus
- Learning curve feels like a wall