[Ignite 2011] Online to the Core

Armored Core V is coming, and if you think you know From Software's mech sim, think again.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: February 4, 2011
Chromehounds. Now, if you've been a staunch PS3 owner, that word probably just confused you. If, on the other hand, you happen to either have owned a 360 or are near someone who did that actually played that ill-fated mech epic, you probably heard something not unlike a heavy sigh mixed with a whimper of bygone times. Though the game managed to secure a loving audience, it was ultimately entirely online-based, and when the servers were shut down, so too was the game itself for all intents and purposes.

The difference here, though, is that From Software isn't exactly an ailing developer. They've managed to crank out mech games for well over a decade, and though their latest, Armored Core V (that's vee, not five), isn't blessed with the Chromehounds moniker, it is most definitely embracing that with made the decidedly slow, calculating game so very, very intriguing in the first place: it's going online. All the time. Even if you're playing in single-player. And wait until you hear what From is planning for the multiplayer aspect of things.

From Software want us -- and by proxy, you -- to understand three very important things about Armored Core V. First, it's a completely new game from the ground up, developed to be always-online no matter what mode you're in. Secondly, there's a huge amount of depth to the customization; not just in the mechs, naturally, but in the actual terrain you're capturing (more on that in a second). Third, it's going to sport the largest amount of content in the series' history -- over 500 different items to mix and match on your walking tanks. Oh, and as a minor fourth thing, the game is coming to Japan at the end of this year and the rest of the world in 2012. Just a little thing.

The customization probably isn't that surprising to anyone who played the series, nor the fact that From is seeking to revamp things after the last few games moved away from the lumbering, turning-in-molasses, shoulder-buttons-to-aim-up-and-down feel of the older PlayStation entries. These are high-speed, high-damage mechs, and if that clashes with the whole "giant walking tank" ideal of Chromehounds... well, now you have an idea of just how much breadth the dev team is trying to pour into the game.

Though we weren't shown anything gameplay-related, there was plenty of talk -- particularly about how the game's online structure would work. Those that don't play nice with others will of course still have a completely separate single-player campaign complete with its own story and levels and what have you. For those that do go online, however, things are going to be a mech commander's wet dream. Players can hook up with friends (new or old) and form groups that can then assault specific territories and take them over. This kind of Risk-style capturing isn't just limited to holding an area; spoils taken from huge multiplayer battles can then be poured directly into territory, upgrading it to create impediments that invading players much first take out.

Better still, From Software is designing a system that they (sadly vary nebulously) indicated would allow players to create entire missions for other players. We're not sure if this means storming a territory or taking down a specific objective, but just the description alone has us psyched. Sadly, with a complete overhaul of the game's mechanics, we haven't yet gotten the chance to see how it all plays, but the sheer amount of potential to have an always-on mech combat sim is... we may need to lay down for a moment.

Chromehounds, you may be gone, but you clearly aren't forgotten. Not by the fans of the series and certainly not by From Software who obviously want you to live on in some form in one of their flagship series. The second we learn more, you'll be the first we tell. Yes, you. The one reading this right now. Because we love you. You so fine, girl.