While I was at E3 this year, I got a little hands-on time with Namco Bandai’s upcoming game Armored Core: Verdict Day. The immediate sequel to Armored Core V — a title I unfortunately missed playing but followed closely –would Verdict Day address concerns fans had about V?
Armored Core V was extremely divisive among fans of the series, with many considering it more of an infusion of From Software’s other title, Chromehounds, than being a pure Armored Core game. V‘s persistent online multiplayer encouraged global warfare between players, with an emphasis on intentionally smaller and more limited mecha, who relied on guerrilla warfare to traverse urban environments and tackle objectives. Some embraced these changes, while others felt the game was a huge departure from early installments, which emphasized faster gameplay, larger mechs, and a wider range of customization. Throw in criticism on far from user-friendly menus, a lack of story, and muddied graphics, and it’s easy to see that From Software had their hands full.
I didn’t get a long enough time on the game to see whether Verdict Day had solved these issues, but I did get enough time to see there’s some sort of attempt to please both sets of fans.
V‘s largely always-online multiplayer gameplay is still the main attraction of Verdict Day, a series decision meant to encourage an epic ongoing conflict between factions. And, like V, there are still single-player missions for gamers to explore when they want to play offline and tackle solo missions for high rankings.
When you start, there’s a tutorial mission that introduces you to the game’s mechanics: you move, boost for extra speed, dash to strafe about your enemy, and go into scan mode to detect enemies or pathways to your objectives (while leaving yourself vulnerable to attack). Boosting and dashes do well to add some kind of limited flight, though it seems to lend itself better to swift maneuvers about the terrain. The ability to wall-jump returns, though it feels like a superfluous feature in flatter environments where your boosting more than does the job of scaling heights. Of course, you always have your offensive weapons, of which I didn’t get to experiment with much.
During my time with the game, I got to view the world map, which is full of hotly contested territories that players like you and I can vie for when the game releases. World Mode is split into seven larger areas based on six continents, roughly divided into North American, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, North Eastern Asia, and Southern Asia. Each area has eight locations within, making for a total of 56 stages, and each of those eight locations has a sort of boss-stage “Tower” that teams will fight their hardest to control. Reportedly From Software has crafted large battlefields that cater to fans of both older Armored Core titles and fans of V, with different segments of the stage offering both highly vertical urban jungles and wide-open plateaus meant for more intimate encounters. How diverse each of these environments will be also remains to be seen.
Visually, so far, Verdict Day fails to impress. With a game meant to be largely online and host to five on five battles between fully customizable mecha, its understandable that the game’s graphics would take a hit: but anyone expecting simple current-generation visuals may want to look elsewhere. I was actually surprised since most of my coverage on this title has shown off decent visuals; the demo I played was more akin to high-end PS2 graphics or PS3-launch graphics. Hopefully, this is more indicative of an in-development phase than the final product, although it was unclear if I was playing an alpha build or a retail-ready copy. Hopefully, the former is true; and for everything From Software is offering mechanically, it may not matter in the long run as long as the game is good.
One thing essential to any fan is the customization, which is synonymous with Armored Core. Past titles have had thousands of pieces to swap in and out of your tailored mech, and Verdict Day is said to continue this tradition. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any high-end mechs for viewing purposes, to see what kind of models players could aspire to create after hours of dedicated play, although I did have enough time to customize my very own DualShockers mech, covered in a black, blue and white paint job. Hopefully Verdict Day can find the balance between pleasing fans of the older, faster, and more powerful mecha of the series while maintaining the core team-play dynamic of V.
While it would take a little longer with the game to really get a feel for the combat and structure, one thing is certain: Armored Core: Verdict Day is looking to end its divisive nature among fans and appeal to individuals of either party. But, can it bring together the wildly diverse interests of such a disagreeable audience? We’ll just have to see when the game arrives to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in September this year.
For more details, check out all of DualShockers’ Armored Core: Verdict Day news.