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Armored Core 5 Returns as Team Online Combat Game

Form teams and attempt to steal territory from rivals.

 
Screenshot of Armored Core V from last year.

It was about this time last year that From Software took the veil off Armored Core V. And then, silence. We haven't written about ACV at this site since January of last year, except for a brief November update confirming a delay past the original 2010 launch time frame.

The multiplatform PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 mech sequel has at long last resurfaced, but not exactly as you knew it. Famitsu has details on what's new this week straight from producer Toshifumi Nabeshima.

The big question on everyone's mind is why haven't we heard anything in over a year? Famitsu asked this very question. At last year's announcement, explained Nabeshima, ACV had a solid concept in place. However, that concept was purposefully made to be an extension of past Armored Core titles. The development team worked on the game as it had been announced, but felt that something was lacking.

In addition to wanting to wanting to deliver an amazing product that would draw more players to the series, the developers also ended up working with Namco Bandai for the game's overseas release. Because of all this, they decided to make a more evolved AC. This required getting rid of what they'd already worked on and starting over.

The big change for the new evolved Armored Core is in online play. Past Armored Core games have had online battle "modes." Armored Core V does away with the distinction of a "mode," and makes it so that players can "smoothly" take part in online play.

The basic framework of creating your own mech and taking on missions remains unchanged, but the game is now team based. Players form teams consisting of a fixed set of members. You take on missions exclusively with players pulled from this team.

Missions are played with up to five members from your team. Of the five, only four drop down to the battle field. The fifth player stays back as an operator, giving guidance to the team. The operator has a special screen which seems to show more detail about the battle.

You're always able to communicate with your members, even those who aren't with you on the battle field. If you're in a play session and another team member logs in, you can voice chat, and perhaps decide what the next mission will be.

The overall goal for your team is to steal territory from other teams by invading their territory. Screenshots in Famitsu show a "conquest" map, with territory split between multiple factions, each with unique insignia.

You'll also have to defend your territory from invasion, of course. This includes planning for times when you're not logged in. You can set up canons and other defenses on your territory, and the game will automatically defend if enemies should attack when you're not around. Planning your defenses is a strategic process, something that Nabeshima feels means you'll want to fill your team not just with action pros, but with people who are good with strategy as well.

The game can also be played single player by simply forming a team of one, although Famitsu suggests that you only do this if you have confidence in your abilities. The magazine also says that offline play is available for those who can't go online, but it does not provide details.

Let's say you want to form a team but don't have any friends? That's where the Armored Core "Official Partnership" social site, started in November of last year, and the ACV official site come into play. From will be making it so that you can seek out teams using these types of external resources.

One of the difficulties of having an online system like this, explained Nabeshima, is that players have different play styles and life styles. Some players will be connected 24 hours a day. Others will log in one a week. They're hoping to make it so that all players will be able to play together regardless of such differences.

Screenshot of Armored Core V from last year.

For newcomers to the Armored Core series, Nabeshima said that ACV features a rethinking of controls, something that that was actually in place in the version that was announced last year. Nabeshima feels that the game itself should be complicated, so they're keeping it complicated. For the controls, however, complicated is unnecessary, so they're making things as simple as possible here.

Also for newcomers, the game will be making it clear what your goal is at every step of the way, both at a personal level and a team level.

The simplified control ideas aren't all that's returning from the original ACV plan. Nabeshima suggested that rather than forgetting about the ACV that was announced last year, we think of the new ACV as completely encompassing the old one.

This means features that were announced last year, but never fully detailed, are included. The new "Overed Weapons" system is still in the game, said Nabeshima, but rather than being one of the main elements, which was the case at last year's announcement, it's just one additional feature. The volume has become greater for the new ACV, so the Overed Weapon system looks like a smaller feature, said Nabeshima.

Nabeshima shared a couple of hints about the Overed Weapon system with Famitsu. Overed Weapons are an extremely special type of weapon. They'd be difficult to properly use without assistance from your partners. As an example, Nabeshima suggested that one player could be taking aim with an Overed Weapon while a team member chases after an enemy. The chaser will shout "Now! Fire" to indicate when to fire the Overed Weapon.

Nabeshima also mentioned that ACV will have a large number of parts for your mechs, something that seems to be said for every Armored Core game. This time, because of the focus on team play, they're adding some part types that have not been seen in the series before.

You'll also be able to create a custom garage by adding objects to your liking. The garage can be powered up using rewards from combat.

Screenshot of Armored Core V from last year.

The focus on team based online play should ACV a departure from past Armored Core games. The big question is, when will we get to play it? Famitsu lists a 2011 time frame. Unlike last year's Armored Core V, the new time frame will hopefully stick.

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