Part 14: Sortie 14 - Hustler
Sortie 14 - Hustler
Oh shit, it's that time again. I promised a hard fight, and so help me god I'm planning on delivering. Joining me tonight is nine-gear crow once again because wrangling last minute co-commentators is hard, and because he provided us with a fun little bonus update: A Normal Man vs Nine-Ball.
For our cameo competition winners, dis astranagant and Rigged Death Trap both get a point, because not only did they get the name right, they did it in ten minutes from the update going up, and at the same time! It was Mazinger Z, specifically Shin Mazinger Z Impact. Ya'll are right, I need to step it up.
Pilot: Hustler One
-More AP than God
-Pulse rifle has a borderline machinegun rate of fire and does disgusting damage, even specced for energy resist
-Can instantly fire grenade rounds if he wants, even while still in a blade animation
Holy fucking shit, it's him. The unmaker. The world-ender. The original terrifying foe from Armored Core 1. Nine-Ball.
There is just so much to say about this fight that I don't even know where to start. In terms of one-on-one, 'fair' fights between two units that roughly operate on the same rules, this is the most intense and hardest fight of this sort that Another Age can offer. Nothing else even comes close. Your choice of loadout for this fight will determine your exact strategy for the fight, and I only have so much space to write, so I can't do a comprehensive breakdown of every strategy, but I can at least cover midrange-focused biped/reverse joint tactics in detail. Personally, I suggest a loadout with high energy output and low energy usage because no matter what, your energy reserves will be pushed to their limits trying to keep out of the murder vortex and avoiding the big guns. As such, an efficient thrust to energy usage ratio on your boosters is good, so the H4/T or GEX/3000 are your definite go-tos. But enough bullshit, let's get started.
The first thing to note is that you regain your energy the second you step through the door at the end of the long hallway, so don't worry about overboosting to it. Especially if you're pounding your face against him over and over trying to get a good run. Once you're past the interminable and unskippable cutscene, Nine-Ball will start by launching two missiles at you at a random trajectory (either vertical, straight towards you, or curving around), which are easy enough to dodge by themselves, but do note that he will keep launching missiles at you until he's in range to start doing the actual dangerous stuff. Unless you're psychic and can toss off a rocket right at the start, or you've got a long distance sniping layout, there's not much to do during this phase of the fight.
From here on, he'll start approaching you like a man possessed, and will will not disengage or break off his attack for any reason. Chances are he'll go straight for the pulse rifle, and when he has that out, you're in the worst case scenario. If you're working with a mid to lightweight build, boost hopping back and to the left or right, and then while in the air maneuvering in the opposite direction to form a sort of loose backwards spiral is about the most effective means of evasion considering the rate of fire and tight groupings. However, even the most mobile of ACs can't stand up to that barrage for long, considering his speed and the need for extensive evasion, even if you're at an optimal evasion range, he will close the gap before long and your day will be ruined. However, there is some light to this phase, and that's if he's firing at you , he's not giving his all to evasion, which means you can pelt him with shots for free, especially if he's in the air, where he's way less dodge happy and follows a pretty standard flight arc.
At some point he'll get too close for comfort, and you'll want to break off to disengage, preferably with an overboost if you can spare the energy. You'll get a few seconds to breathe, and you'll force him into one of his less dangerous phases. Either he'll lob missiles at you again, or he'll break out the grenade launcher. His version of the grenade launcher is surprisingly not that damaging, but the real danger from it comes from its strong kickback if you get hit by it, which gives him enough time to close in and make you sad with the pulse rifle again. Considering the range where he breaks it out though, standard boost hopping and evasion is enough to give yourself some time to regain energy and get some shots in, especially if you're using slow but powerful weapons, since he spends a lot of time lining up shots and reloading.
If you don't disengage, Nine-Ball will get close enough to you to start breaking out the blade. Thankfully it isn't a moonlight, but don't mean that it isn't threatening. He has a special blade unique to him that can and will shave a good 1-1.5k off of your AP if you get hit by it. And when you're in blade range, he will swing it like a madman. If you're brave and fast enough though, this can be used to your advantage, because if you time your boosting just right, he'll swing and come up short of actually hitting you, but still be in range to blade once again, and you can get him into a decent loop by abusing this. But take note that he can and will just decide to say 'fuck you' and shove a grenade round down your throat for your impudence. Or if you get out of his radius to blade, he'll just break out the pulse rifle again and you'll be way too close to do shit about it.
The real worry for the fight though is his health. Nine-Ball can take an extraordinary amount of punishment before crumbling, and every second longer the fight lasts, the more of a threat he becomes. Once again, don't do what I do, bring something powerful and focus on accuracy, because managing a long engagement is not fun when your enemy can ruin you for any slip-up.