Having tried out Armored Core V’s co-operative multiplayer mode at Gamescom last month, at yesterday’s pre-TGS Namco Bandai showcase event I got my hands on armoured Core V’s singleplayer.
It was… well, it wasn’t easy on my eyes.
Not in terms of how it feels. This is an Armored Core game, you’re getting the same fast, slippery control over a giant mech as you always have. For a game with such complex controls it wasn’t too hard getting to grips with your machine, and shooting and moving were both smooth and responsive.
It’s not that the game looks bad, either. The environments can be pretty sterile, but the mechs looks great, as do the various effects going on at any given time like heat from your engines or explosions.
But my God it’s hard on your eyes.
Whether influenced by visual styling or mean-spirited game design, your screen at any one time in Armored Core V is a sea of flashing orange words, lines, squares and warnings. When you’re looking at your mech, and the world, and your enemies, and all that flashing stuff, something has to give, and I found myself constantly being hit by an off-screen foe, or running out of energy as I focused my attention on one thing only to be hit by something else.
This problem ran on into the game’s pathfinding, as the game rarely made clear where I was supposed to be going, what my next objective was or even where basic threats were located. This confusion extended to combat, as sometimes an opponent’s tank would be lit up by my targeting computer from half a mile away, while at other times I’d be standing a few metres away and there’d be nothing.
I’ve played some Armored Core games before, but I’m not what you’d call a seasoned veteran. Those kind of players will likely be used to the flood of information being beamed at your face. But developers from From Software were telling us in a Q&A session that a big part of the game’s design is that it’s being designed for everybody, not just Japanese gamers or existing fans of the series.
That may be the intent, but as someone with an interest in blowing shit up in a giant mech yet not owning a previous armoured Core game, the confusing and distracting way the game communicated its world to me didn’t exactly scream “accessible”.