I use simple controls, edited to make it more like Armored Core 3... I just used to own at AC3, so I'm not too good with the controls in this game. I just picked up ACFA after playing up to Last Raven. Does that make me a terrible player? No, I just have to get the hang of the new controls and new things they added. I enjoy the game, it's proven to be challenging. I used to do East Coast tournaments for Armored Core MoA and AC2AA(When they stopped hosting tournaments). I may goof off with the B control scheme, but I'm liking the way I have it right now.
I also don't use autolock, just because I hate how it conflicts with my instincts to turn the other way if someone is circling me, and not follow the way their rotating. If that makes me a bad player, so be it. I hardly care what e-peen sucking people have to say(and that's what that makes you, if you want to flame me for options I may or may not use).
In my opinion, it's all about play style and not so much over trivial things like options and button configurations.
I haven't played much online yet(just got the game today), but I still think that if you can optimize the AC you built and really know how to cover weaknesses, you should be able to win 1vs1. The game doesn't seem to be unbalanced. I've seen HW move relatively fast compared to older games.
The only problem I have with the game is that you can be overweight now. It seems to slightly overpower lighter models, because the extra weight doesn't seem to bother their movement speed. I think this added more challenge to the older games.
While I was online the other day, I stumbled across a post on the Ubisoft forums by a poster I only know as LuvArmoredCore. While I disagreed with his (her?) conclusions, I admired how well it was thought out and presented, and wanted to respond with my own thoughts on game balance, in kind.
The gist of his post is that, while Armored Core allows a high degree of customizability in mech designs, only a select few designs can be considered “ideal”, and thus only a few designs are fit for competitive multiplayer. In particular, he felt that medium- and heavy-weights were precluded because the trade-off in mobility was not compensated by increased defensive stats. There is some truth to this, but it makes perfect sense from my point of view. Armor mitigates damage, evasion prevents it; not getting hit is always the best defense. Correcting this by inflating the armor stats would only lead to the opposite problem, e.g. heavyweights that don’t bother dodging because lightweights can’t scratch them. Fights would just turn into “damage races”, where piloting is irrelevant and raw stats determine the outcome. While there are many good games based on just such a premise, that’s not Armored Core.
Really, the mobility/armor balance issue will never be fixed because of individual player skill. Any given mech’s armor stat against any given weapon will produce the same results, regardless of player skill. The maneuverability, on the other hand, is useful only in proportion to the pilot’s skill (to a point.) As the game ages, the community at large becomes more experienced, and maneuverability becomes more important. Sometimes, it’s not even a question of stats balance. As people become accustomed to the game, they try new play styles. Even if armor was overpowered, experienced players would still be using high-mobility designs because fast fights take more skill and are more exciting to watch.
Another thing to consider is that even heavy-weights still have to move, and even light-weights still have some armor. In AC4, all the ACs, across the weight spectrum, got a huge speed kick from previous installments; simultaneously, the weapons were upgraded, some to near-instant lethality. The result is that relative heavyweights may be no less effective as a class than in previous installments, but because they behave more like the older light/mediums, veteran heavies will have a much steeper learning curve. Heavies still work, but heavyweight tactics don’t. In that sense LuvAC was spot on, but there are already plenty of war games decided by stats alone, and that’s essentially what a damage race is.
More generally, he complained that the designs were limited in variety because a few types of weapons were more effective than others, or that a few examples in each category outshone the rest. There is some validity to the first complaint: different weapons do best in different scenarios, and online multiplayer (PvP) is much less varied than scripted singleplayer. The second complaint is a little more “iffy” to me. Different weapons within a class are unlocked at different points in the game, or cost more. It makes sense that some would be more effective overall, but unfortunately the tradeoffs don’t apply to the multiplayer because everyone’s already beaten the game and unlocked everything. Still, some weapons are only less useful because they are well-rounded, and skilled players tend to use more specialized alternatives. Even the specialization/versatility tradeoff is relative to player skill. A one-hit-kill weapon with low ammo is going to be more useful against someone who doesn’t know how or when to dodge. A high ammo/low damage weapon can be used more liberally, but with less effect; that is the balance.
For me, though, the big question is whether balance itself is even the ideal. How do you measure it? If you start from the assumption that all players are equal, then a balanced game would have all players win and lose in roughly the same ratio. But we’re not equal, that’s not why we play; we play to compete, to be better than our opponent. We want a win/loss that’s better than the average, we play against humans because we want to feel we’ve accomplished something others couldn’t (and, by definition, didn’t.) It’s a zero-sum game, and it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t. It’s a friendly, civil, socially-accepted bloodsport, and that’s the way I like it.
Any competitive game we play, no matter the rules, is always going to favor some, and not others, depending on their relative strengths. I have a friend whose *** I can kick consistently at checkers, but I’ve only beat him once at chess. From those results alone I couldn’t determine if one of us is superior in a universal sense, but each of us is fittest for specific challenges. There is no objective measure of game balance, it varies from player to player, from moment to moment.
If you don’t like a game’s balance, there’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t deserve to be flamed, or ostracized, and I hope you find a game you do like. But Armored Core has always been a niche game, whose fans loved it for what it was, while everyone else found something else to play. The only feedback the developers seem to care about is from the large Japanese fanbase. If you’re an overseas fan like me, you’ll either have to adapt yourself to the challenges and rewards they ship us, or find a close substitute (may I humbly suggest MechWarrior? It runs cleanly and at a slower pace.) Adapting oneself to a circumstance over which one has only incomplete control is what makes games fun. A game that lets you do everything you wanted, with only the tradeoffs you wanted, isn’t much of a game.
This is why Armored Core 5 is a terrible game. I stopped playing Armored Core after 2, and I'm glad I did. Don't worry, the video's only a minute long but I've got a much longer review with gameplay also. Waste of money...and yeah, it's good to watch all the way through.