The Let's Play Archive

Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Master of Arena

by ArclightBorealis

Part 15: Master of Arena - EX Chapter 2: Reverse Joint Legs

Time for another round of AC battles in the EX Arena. Although the next ladder right after the Humanoid Legs is Four Legs, I'm going to tackle Reverse Joints instead as those are the legs that follow after the regular humanoid type in the garage and shop.

Best way I can summarize this series of fights: First few fights are tough as hell due to being rusty and coming off of playing a different kind of game intensely, thus needing time to readjust. Still got my shit together just fine, with the middle becoming weirdly piss easy and the end being a worthy final fight in the category. Now let's go.

The legs we're using have the highest weight capacity of all the reverse joint legs, though it's still lower than what we used for humanoid legs. As such, the arms have also been switched out to alleviate the extra weight up top. Everything else is basically the same as the main build, just with extra air mobility.

Reward: 10000 C

Pellen is a multi missile user, and fires them all off whenever he gets the chance early on. Getting hit by these in succession hurts like a truck and can get you killed fast (how my first attempts recording this ended). But once you've dodged them all, or enough that it's sufficient, all he's got left is his handgun. Except trying to shoot a target that doesn't let off the boosters makes for very difficult aiming. I probably would've ran out of ammo in that fight sooner or later had he not kept boosting into the wall, giving me a chance to douse him in plasma.

Even after how rusty I was coming off that fight, I still stuck to the weapon loadout that I would use for the rest of these matches. Only uphill from here.

Reward: 12000 C

Large missiles are Strangle's most powerful asset and simultaneously his downfall. The slow speed and turning of these missiles mid flight allows you to manipulate their trajectory easily, getting them to collide and explode nearby for splash damage (even if I get caught in part of the blast itself. It's even better if you trick his AI into firing one off right infront of an obstacle, and it'll shave off a good few thousand AP from him. Constant movement and awareness of his missile's location will lead to victory.

Reward: 15000 C

Swimmer is basically Pellen without the multi missiles, while still retaining the constant speed and movement. Except for when he inexplicably stands still allowing him to be shot at multiple times. He has a slug gun on his back, which would require him to stay in place anyway in order to use, but the guy continues to fire the handgun instead. Either way, he's not as lethal, but depending on your ability to hit a moving target he can be just as annoying.

Reward: 19000 C

I kind of feel bad for this one because despite some powerful weapons in his arsenal, Pest could barely lift himself back up onto the raised platforms, not to mention his accuracy not being much to write home about. His AC build is actually overweight, though penalties for going into battle like that don't manifest until Nexus where mobility becomes similar to that of being over encumbered in Skyrim. Total weight would still affect it to a degree, but considering the parts he use aren't the heaviest out there, I still find it pitiful he couldn't lift himself up any higher.

Reward: 23000 C

Bloom, on the other hand, has no issue flying around all over the place, which is why I ended up fighting him in the garage to counteract that. The guy also is a multi missile user, so despite having a more flashy style than Pest according to his description, he is way more dangerous to fight in an open environment by comparison. Just sticking close and making him waste his missiles is the important thing to focus on early in the fight, afterwards you're pretty much gold.

Halfway up the ladder, and while our descriptions continue to change when reaching certain ranks, it's actually the same as in the Humanoid Legs category. The only difference is them switching out Humanoid with Reverse Joint. You can expect the same once we get to quads and tank tread categories.

Reward: 32000 C

Trust pilots an overweight AC and does even less moving around than Pest did. I really can't add more to how this fight went considering the bastard couldn't decided between moving the hell away or using his chain gun while kneeling.

Reward: 45000 C

RT lives up to his machine's name sake once by jumping REALLY high to get out of the way of my rifle shots. Before and after that though, he doesn't bother retaliating or boosting around. This game's AI and the order in which you fight opponents can be so uneven at times.

Reward: 57000 C

After the last two duds in the ladder, Kroeger actually puts up a decent fight, making use of all his weapons and mobility available to him. Probably just coincidental due to the map I fought him on, but it played out pretty similarly to Moon in the Humanoid Legs category. Kroeger keeps moving to stay out of your line of sight and try attacking from the sides or behind. Not too challenging of a fight this late on, but it's better than essentially standing around taking the hits.

And now, only one remains.

Reward: 140000 C

First thing I have to say, I was seriously contemplating fighting this guy in the garage stage but since I already used it twice this update I would try and fight him in a less restrictive environment. Why this exactly matters is that his primary weapons are laser cannon weapon arms, and without anything between him and you to absorb the shots, you'll get wrecked. Because he fires them with reckless abandon.

It's still very possible to deal with him in a large open area, but you need to be constantly on the move and have good control of your AC to avoid those shots. He does alternate between using those and back mounted missiles, but those are nothing to worry about. The slightly raised platform in this stage served as a good way to block some of Dynamite's cannon shots, while still dodging them with very low jumps. The most interesting part about this guy however, is that unlike Ernst in the Humanoid Legs category who was a Human PLUS, or the opponents in this category that were overweight, is that Dynamite is neither of those things. That build he uses for Blockbuster is totally doable and lethal without any extra enhancements. And I should know. I used a similar set up for the latter half of Project Phantasma's Arena, and the result shows.

Also, Dynamite is a returning character from AC1's leader board (though you never encountered him once in the main game). His description in that game still gets across that he's very reckless and wastes more ammo than he makes money mid mission. Thank god for this guy deductions don't exist in the Arena

Another EX Arena ladder completed

And with it comes a new AC part. Naturally, this being the Reverse Joint category, the part in question is a pair of Reverse Joint Legs.

The LB-H230 is basically the closest thing to a heavyweight reverse joint legs part. The first thing that's noticeable is the increased weight capacity at 5124 points, however with this comes increased overall weight. It's slightly slower than other legs in the category, though the thing to worry about with this leg part is that it has the lowest amount of Energy Defense among any of the legs parts. So unless you're going into a mission or AC battle where you only need to worry about shell damage, you might be losing a bit more AP than normal. The leg itself is still pretty unique in that it's heavier and carries more than other reverse joint legs, but it still maintains the benefits that these types of legs hold over the regular humanoid legs.

And once again, here's a more in depth look at what all these advantages and disadvantages of reverse joint legs mean in the grand scheme of things, courtesy of Seiren.

Seiren posted:

Reverse Joint type legs at first glance seem like standard bipedal legs. In several ways, that isn't wrong, but there are some notable differences. They're cheap to buy and repair, drain less energy, have middling-to-poor defenses and load capacity, and low-ish AP. Their mobility on the ground leaves something to be desired, and they suffer in turning speed. And then you hit the jump button, and you go careening into the stratosphere at a single button press. That isn't just for show -- Reverse Jointed legs are exceptionally maneuverable while airborne. Even the heaviest of them (roughly equivalent to a heavy-middleweight biped in weight) are more agile in the air than several types of lightweight bipeds. They are very much an airborne fighter, and they excel at it. A good build with a skilled pilot is unmatched in the sky. Like any other biped, they will need to take a firing stance to use cannons. But you shouldn't use cannons on them anyway, even as Plus. Laser blades aren't so great either -- they're 3rd place overall. They are decently-useful for mid-air blading, however. They track a little better, and their slash is suited for striking enemies just slightly lower than them. The difficulty of such a thing prohibits extensive or exclusive use, and you cannot fire blade-beams while airborne regardless of blade model or Plus status.

Rather than power, you're looking for efficiency with your boosters. The B-T2 or the B-HP25 are solid choices, with the higher-powered B-T2 being better because the HP25, though incredibly efficient, is very slow. (B-T001 is serviceable, of course, being the overall best booster in the game). Being above your opponents has distinct advantages that aren't immediately clear to novices. As any player will tell you, the AI pilots love to jet around somewhere above you and be annoyingly hard to track regardless of their designs. This is the strength of RJ The objective is to stay in the air at some range as directly above them as possible, preferably darting over their head when you think they've drawn a bead. If you're not above your enemies, you're recharging energy to get back up there, or you're floating dangerously close to the upper-ceiling of the combat area (Don't accidentally go out of bounds via skybox!). Floating just over your opponents head moving back and forth over them while staring down at them means you can maintain a lock-on without needing nearly as much turning effort to keep up, especially with Wide & Shallow FCS-types. Meanwhile, they will need to turn a lot just to keep up -- let alone get a good shot on you. Depending on your loadout, you can fly low and peck away with short-to-midrange weapons and be annoyingly hard to hit, you could outrange them with height and utilize long-range weapons with disturbing precision, you could go somewhere in between, and even use any sort of missile effectively. An overlooked weapon, the Mine Dispenser, likely a back-weapon either completely forgotten or tried once and filed under "suck" is best used on RJs, but only at low altitudes. The damage potential is absolutely incredible, capable of shredding the heaviest ACs in seconds...but the tradeoff is that they are annoyingly-hard and very finicky to use effectively.

If the enemy flies up to meet you, you've successfully brought them to fight you on your terms -- where you have a significant mobility advantage and are easily capable of utilizing all axes for evasion unless they too are reverse-jointed. Avoid cannons, even if you're Plus. Their firing angles are limited, they're unable to shoot downward past so many degrees (around 45~55 or so downward) while arm weapons are not limited to such restrictions and can actually fire straight-down. Use fast, solid-round weaponry such as Rifles, Sniper Rifles, or utilize missiles. Certain weapon-arms can be exceedingly effective at further cost to your defenses. Try to avoid energy-based weapons, as your energy should be preserved to stay airborne, or to stay evasive on the ground as you recharge. The Karasawa cannot be overlooked, and if you must use an energy weapon, it should be this or none.

It all sounds gravy, but then you realize something. You have poor defenses, and you're easily staggered. You've got mobility as your primary defense. Being staggered means you're falling. Falling can mean destruction. Missiles are your worst enemy, as even small missiles can bring you out of the sky. It is generally more difficult to avoid missiles coming from range when you're starting off airborne, and while you have great agility, missiles are difficult to evade while staying in the "sweet spot" directly above your enemy. This could open you up to other attacks, and heavy weapons will knock you around like nobody's business, throwing you off and putting you in a dangerous position. You can minimize the chances of this, but few missiles have a small sight for lock-on. Some can target you while you're floating slightly behind targets, and you must be mindful. You have to try to apply missile evasion techniques vertically, which is substantially more difficult than lateral missile evasion. The same principles apply, but are more difficult to implement.

I've heard stories of novices doing awesome things with these, but those are the exception rather than the rule. I'd recommend them for advanced players who are familiar with all kinds of movement and missile evasion techniques, but this feels unfair, as once you get a feel for them, they're not particularly difficult to use well.

Even for myself, remaining airborne and staying effective in this generation of Armored Core is still challenging, regardless of whether you have the reverse joint legs. It all takes practice, but even if you still treat them mostly the same as humanoid legs, you can still get the results you need. Just be sure you're constantly moving and don't get staggered.