Almost every arcade I've visited in Japan over the last decade had a floor dedicated almost exclusively to the latest iteration of the Gundam Versus series, a fighting game that seems to be carrying the entire Japanese arcade industry on its shoulders. It's essentially a 2v2, 3D arena fighter where you pick your Gundam, fly and dash through the air to dance around your opponents, and tap in button combos to do flashy moves. It's a frantic and overwhelming game to learn, which immediately came to mind when Italked to FromSoftware's developers about their plans for multiplayer in Armored Core 6, and they said the words "metal flying everywhere."
Armored Core 6, like most games in FromSoftware's long-running (but also long-dormant) mecha series, is primarily singleplayer. In the story, you're a mercenary pawn of uncaring corporations vying for power, and every mission reinforces how little they give a shit about you. An oppressive haze hangs over you despite victory after victory, and that's the story and tone FromSoftware wanted to craft. Dark Souls has the same seriousness, but its multiplayer puts that tone on pause to deliver absolutely slapstick moments.
In Armored Core 6, it sounds like FromSoftware will be using multiplayer to revel in something just as pure and simple as comedy: Chaos.
"There is a PvP mode, online PvP that has both 1v1 and 3v3 matches. The idea behind the 3v3 is more of a 'mecha festival,' with metal flying everywhere," said director Masaru Yamamura. "We hope you can look forward to that."
Despite both being fast-paced mech games, Armored Core 6 and Gundam Versus don't actually play much alike. Gundam is much more of a fighting game, with an emphasis on multi-hit melee combos and a super meter that lets you unleash uber powerful attacks. The dozens of selectable Gundams in the game are essentially unique "characters." Armored Core, on the other hand, is all about mixing and matching parts on your mech, and instead of melee combos, you'll usually be mashing buttons to fire off reams of missiles, rockets, bullets and plasma blasts in rapid succession while trying to keep another nimble mech in your sights.
But one thing they have in common this time around is size. You can't have much of a festival with just two people—a huge part of what makes the Gundam Versus games exciting is that they're 2v2 fighters, with more opportunities for chaos than 1v1 face-offs. With a few exceptions over the years, Armored Core's multiplayer has been limited to 1v1. So while FromSoftware didn't go into detail about the 3v3 mode, I have a feeling it's gonna be gloriously over-the-top and unbalanced. That's how I want to play: the serious mecha pros can stick to their duels.
I asked Yamamura if, in the early stages of making Armored Core 6, the developers had played around with the idea of incorporating Dark Souls-style invasions into missions, where other players could suddenly pop up in your game.
"There were instances where we thought this might be interesting to incorporate, maybe other multiplayer elements, but at the end of the day we wanted this to be focused on the singleplayer experience first and foremost," Yamamura said. "We wanted to focus on that assembly aspect, and that experience of personalizing and assembling your AC, constantly optimizing yourself in response to these different situations. We wanted that to be the core focus, and we wanted the story to carry through that."
We should know more about Armored Core 6's multiplayer soon enough—the game launches on August 24.