Regardless of team size, there will likely be times when none of your buddies are available to play. In that case, you can either hire a mercenary to help with an individual mission or become one yourself. It’s Armored Core V’s take on matchmaking. The interface for hiring a mercenary is ungainly, but you can opt for a quick hire to make it easier. However, if no mercenaries are in the queue at that exact second, the search fails and you’ll have to manually search again. Would it have been so hard to let it search continuously until someone becomes available? That’s Japanese developers for you. Still, it usually doesn’t take too many tries to find someone. Becoming a mercenary yourself is easier, since you just sit in a lobby for a moment and someone will soon hire you.
Playing with randoms works smoothly except for one esoteric design decision: mercenaries, unlike team members, can’t voice chat with other players. You’re limited to an anemic assortment of preset text messages. I know Japanese gamers don’t like voice chat and From obviously doesn’t either if Dark Souls is any indication, but that doesn’t mean players shouldn’t have the option. On Xbox 360 at least, you can hit the Guide and message the other person through your recent players list if necessary.
While it will take a goodly number of hours to complete all of the Story and Order missions, their optional objectives, and S rank each one (for the Achievements), Armored Core V’s real long-term potential comes from Territory and Conquest gametypes. See, the world map is divided up into territories that teams can choose to take or defend. These missions support up to five players: four on the ground and one who directs things from the map. Sounds like Chromehounds, doesn’t it? Defending teams can purchase automated defenses since nobody can be around to defend their stuff all the time. Invading teams can’t tell whether any actual humans will be there or not before attacking, so for them it’s like rolling the dice between player-versus-player or co-op. Either way, Conquest should do much to keep teams playing together as time goes on.
Blasting tanks and other ACs during missions is only one part of Armored Core’s appeal. The series is also famous for its mech customization. Each part of the mech from head to toe can be swapped out for new parts that you purchase in the shop or find during missions. The variety of weapons alone is truly massive. You’ll need to balance the energy consumption and weight of whatever parts you equip in addition to considering their offensive and defensive capabilities. Personal and team emblems are also purchasable and customizable. It’s a lot to take in, and unfortunately the process hasn’t been streamlined after all these years. You can’t even autoequip newly purchased parts – they must be manually selected after wading through numerous menus. I can understand some people being scared off by the AC customization’s complexities, but after a little experimentation or consulting with team mates, anyone should get the jist of it.
Armored Core V is a deep and satisfying mech simulation. While the story is disjointed and nonsensical, there’s just so much to do that it hardly matters. The experience of dashing around ruined cities, factories, and tunnels is exactly what you’d want from a mech game. Now that every single mission can be played with a friend (or Mercenary), it’s just that much better than before. Joining a team and taking on Conquest missions together adds another addictive element to an already robust package. I won’t say solo players shouldn’t play Armored Core V – it’d just be a lot tougher due to the steep difficulty. But if you’re interested in online multiplayer and love robots (like so many of us at Co-Optimus), this game is a must-buy.
The Co-Op Experience: All online players either create or join a team, which can have up to 20 members. Story and Orders missions support 2 players - the second player can be a teammate (voice chat enabled) or a mercenary from matchmaking (no voice chat). Up to five teammates or mercenaries can participate in Territory or Conquest multiplayer games, which are either versus the AI or another team of five.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.