The Let's Play Archive

Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Master of Arena

by ArclightBorealis

Part 20: Master of Arena - EX Chapter 4: Caterpillar

Here we are, time for the fourth AC leg type to have its time in the spotlight with the Caterpillar arena ladder. Otherwise known as tank treads, these battles will be slow moving in terms of how much ACs can get around. But the firepower is big, and will make most of these fights very decisive if you're outfitted with the hardest hitting cannons you got.

Let's get this out of the way and earn our last leg part.

We've got our weapons set. Gatling arm weapons with an energy based slug gun on the right shoulder. Also because the question was asked earlier in the thread, the Raven descriptions in the leg arenas do not change if you have the incorrect legs equipped. The only thing it changes is whether or not that category is Reference Only and cannot participate when it's active.

Reward: 10000 C

Artemis has some powerful vertical missiles equipped so naturally I fought him on the one stage where that tool of his would be rendered completely ineffective. Nothing really notable about him outside of that.

And thus we are set on the road to the top of the ladder.

Reward: 12000 C

Warren's main strategy is to use his tank tread's booster jets and use them to fly up and circle around you while firing his AC's arm cannons. When using tank treads I find it rarely worth ever using the jets, so him using them to get around and behind is somewhat annoying. Of course, you just gotta re position yourself just right and fire away to take him down quick, and there's no problem then.

Reward: 15000 C

As his description shows, DOUBLE57 is indeed a rare sight as all he uses is a flamethrower, a close range weapon that's incredibly easy to avoid especially in this category, with tons of ammo to spare. Just stay back and pump the poor bastard with lead/explosives/lasers/what have you till he's not moving anymore.

Reward: 19000 C

This first real tough opponent in this category due to his accurate aim with an energy weapon. And it hurts when it connects. Naturally I retaliate by equipping on me even more powerful energy weapons and kick his ass to the side.

Reward: 23000 C

Hound is similar to Warren in that he loves to hover around while hitting you with his weapon of choice, in this case machine gun weapon arms that rarely lose track of you. Not hard to take down with a similar loadout like the last match.

More interestingly, this AC is another veteran from the first game, but unlike Lynx Minx who changed her AC's name from Pretty Kitty to Kitten, this AC pilot changed his name from Wolf in AC1 to Hound in Master of Arena. Despite the change in name, his AC design and philosophy behind always using a heavily armed AC has remained between games.

We're halfway through this category but the biggest challenge yet is coming up next.

Reward: 32000 C

I probably spent a good 10 tries or so on this guy, with each one rearranging my weapon loadout just slightly to find the right combination that I can defeat him before he whips out the back cannons. He starts the match staying far back taking small shots at you with his right arm weapon, but after a point, he switches to the laser cannon on his right shoulder, my second weapon of choice during missions, and starts to deal considerable damage. And it's tough to avoid, because if it isn't from direct hits it's splash damage. I was incredibly fortunate to delay him long enough from using them until he reached 3K AP remaining. It's less about him using his arm weapon until it runs out and more switching to the big guns when a certain amount of time has passed, possibly determined by health loss as I've had him fire those laser cannon shots at me well before what you saw in the video. Regardless, falling back on a rapid fire solid weapon like the chain gun as you wait for energy to recharge is a smart strategy to maintain constant pressure in matches like this. If you're paying attention and actually hitting them, that is.

Reward: 45000 C

Arguably a bigger threat than Energy Shell, as his choice in missiles for weapons makes this fight very unforgiving as tank tread ACs aren't really built for ease of dodging their trajectories. So long as you deal enough damage to him on your end, he's ultimately not as damaging to you as Energy Shell. Just more of a nuisance.

Also, I really love the near exact descriptions between Powder Magazine and Energy Shell. These two have very clear philosophies that are not compatible with each other.

Reward: 57000 C

When you got a match where an AC won't stop shooting at you until it runs dry, you got two options. Successfully dodge its shots and leave 'em empty, or just deal more damage in return. And since tank tread ACs are incredibly low in mobility I went with option 2 and kept up in the damage race to finish him off.

We're gearing up for the final fight in this category, though it's not something that is quite on the same level as the #1 rank ACs in other categories.

Reward: 140000 C

There are two distinguishing parts about this fight. One is Tread's bio, in which it states that he was a soldier during the Great Destruction. For lore reasons, this brings up questions about the amount of time that has passed since that event and how old Tread would actually have to be, but this update doesn't really have much room to facilitate the speculation. The second is his AC, Commander, which is the first AC you fight that has the maximum possible amount of AP you can have, set at 9999.

And that's it. He hops around a lot and uses a bazooka as his primary weapon, but there's nothing that I haven't used in the last few fights that can't make mincemeat out of him. Just take his hits, while melting his armor with lasers, and filling it with some chain gun bullets as you wait for your energy to recharge. Kind of a pushover compared to other top ranked ACs on this disc like Ernst or Dynamite. Now those made you fight like you wanted to win.

But whatever, we're now at the top! We've cleared all leg specific arena categories on the second disc of the game.

And in return we're rewarded with the final new leg part featured in Master of Arena.

A rather interesting shape for tank treads, the LC-HTP-H5 is described as an "enhanced hover tank with increased speed and maneuverability." If you look at another tank tread part in the game, the LC-HTP-AAA, you'll find this model is actually built off of that and improves it in a lot of areas. It has better AP, higher shell and energy defenses (made possible by the AAA getting a stat decrease after Project Phantasma), significantly higher maximum weight, and better speed. The one thing I can say is that while it calls this a "hover tank" as far as I can tell this part does not have the AC hover above the ground. The speed may be greater than other tank treads but it is still slower than a lot of the other leg parts, and hover legs would not be a thing until Armored Core 2 where their application and functionality was way different compared to tank treads.

And with all this leg talk, here's the final fourth of Seiren's big effort post detailing the specifics behind each leg type in the original Armored Core games.


Caterpillar, Tank, "Tread" legs
You lie, videogame. These aren't legs at all! At first glance, these look like the go-to type that you'd equip if you want really high AP and defenses and equip the heaviest and biggest of all weapons.
And you'd be right, with one particular exception that I will call special attention to when the time comes.

These are flat-out the heaviest, well-defended, most stable "legs" that can be used. Their defensive specs are absolutely insane, and all of them will easily attain AP ratings in the 9000 range. I believe the absolute maximum possible is 9990, if I'm remembering my parts correctly, and it'll have the defenses to match. Like Quads, they are shorter and fatter than bipeds, but unlike quads, their profile is more rectangular rather than squared. Still a larger, but shorter target, and the difference in shape won't really come into play due to how the legs turn as they strafe side-to-side, even while airborne.

Caterpillars are similar to standard bipeds in that their performance is standardized regardless of their location. Their effectiveness is not diminished by being airborne, grounded, or on the move. The similarities end there. Tanks are heaviest possible leg-type that can be used. They're obscenely stable, and they're almost impossible* (*may actually be impossible, faulty memory again and I don't wanna check) to stagger out of anything. They can use cannons on the move, or even while airborne, and even get a larger firing angle for them. But they are painfully slow. The only fast-moving Tank is a falling Tank. Which isn't as bad as I'm making it sound, and I'll go over these peculiarities in due time. While they can easily run people out of ammo through excessively high defenses and AP, they are not invincible. Laser blades do still exist, and high-power weapons do as well. Speaking of laserblades, Caterpillars handle them the same way a Quad does. They stab for a satisfying shank attack that will do a truckload of damage, which is less impressive because anything a Tank can equip should make for a truckload of damage, and a Tank likely won't get the opportunity to impale someone on a laserbeam.

As with everything, though, there's a price to pay for such a high durability and high capacity to cause carnage consistently and constantly. Their "mobility" is a complete joke. They do not get to equip the kickass B-T001 or B-VR-33 or any of the booster parts. Nope, Caterpillars come with their own proprietary set of boosters built-in to the legs themselves, and with the exception of one that's actually decent, these boosters are all fucking terrible. These types are painfully slow, but they can still fly. Only a pilot practicing patience prudently can stand the agonizingly slow movement of these. If you're one of those unfortunate fools who took one of these into "Stop Gas Exposure" back in the previous game, I genuinely feel pity for you and I'm sorry you made such a poor life decision. Tanks rely exclusively on their durability to carry them through battles, and as weaponry becomes more powerful, their armor becomes less worthwhile. Sure, that armor might reduce a grenade from 1900AP to 700 AP damage, but they have a minimum of 15 of those for a total of 10500 damage. And they're all going to hit. Lesser weapons will still run out of ammunition, but not before doing significant damage to these ACs. Better ones are still going to turn it into scrap, and since dodging isn't exactly a strong option for a tank, they have no choice but to eat that fire. And it gets worse, in that this poor mobility translates into a slow turning speed too. It is excessively difficult for a tank to shake off an opponent who gets behind them, and it is unlikely many will ever learn how before crying themselves to death in their cockpit of what would be a slow-moving wrecking ball if only they could just turn fast enough.

All that said, there are some strategies that a Tank can employ to evade & reduce damage aside from stacking higher numbers or swapping to something more mobile. They can still fly, and they are still as effective as a flying tank as they are a grounded tank. While their bonus to cannon firing angle isn't enough to tag things directly under them, they can use that flight to make them more difficult to simple circle around all day. Fly up, choose an open space, and move in that direction. Fall (purposefully) when taking fire. Repeat. Doing it right kinda looks like a sine wave sort of pattern. Don't accidentally run yourself out of energy. Take shots whenever possible.

The Exception:
The LC-HTP-AAA Leg Part
  • Type: Caterpillar
  • Price: 38500
  • Weight: 2915
  • Energy Drain: 2877
  • Armor Point: 3688
  • Def_Shell: 728
  • Def_Energy: 694
  • Max Weight: 4130
  • Speed: 250
  • Stability: 630
  • Jump Function: None
  • Description: Has performance near that of a four-legged type.
Now, see, this is incredibly misleading, because it isn't magically a spider. It is nothing like a four-leg. It's still a Caterpillar, and should be played as such. It has a painfully low load capacity, and at first glance, doesn't appear to be much faster, and is quite draining for a tank-type. However, it actually has mobility, and the built-in boosters are actually strong enough to get somewhere. Its turning capabilities are even passable! The only real evasive option available to a tank is described earlier; moving up and down in a wave-like pattern. This model excels at that, and is actually capable of evading fire in that matter. It still isn't particularly effective, because the total weight of the AC causes heavy downward momentum, but it helps, especially alongside the impressively solid defenses. It is unstable, though, and fairly easy to push around. That load capacity is going to be extremely difficult to work with as a tank-style, but, that's a point in the part's favor. It forces the player to build lighter in order to make the most of the mobility options of this particular part.

Unfortunately, in this first generation of Armored Core, the harsh mobility penalties of Caterpillar-type legs are too great to make them as effective as they could be for AC vs. AC combat. Later games improve on this with things such as overboost, extension boosters, additional weapon-types, and left-handed firearms, but until then they're just not very good. They will excel in missions as long as you have the ammunition to supply them, and if said mission does not require speed, but I cannot recommend them for fighting other ACs unless you're absurdly skilled at preventing them from getting behind you. Which is almost impossible to actually do in practice, because Ravens also eat Caterpillars.
The first inaccuracy I can immediately point out here is the maximum allowed number of AP, as Tread's AC clearly demonstrated that there is an extra 9 in that total number. Regardless, the rest of the info is accurate and informative, and relavent in the case of the new tank treads we unlocked. Because the LC-HTP-AAA is designed around mobility, the H5 is even more appealing as it's got similar but better stats, including better weight capacity so tank users that don't want to be weighed down too much have a bit more to work with.

Anyway, I've not shown the system screen in a while so we can check our Arena reports. With only four out of eight arena ladders completed, you'd think we would have knocked out a significant portion of the disc right? Well, we got about 2/3s left to go. The last four are much more varied, some bigger than others, and it's only gonna be tougher from here on out.

Hell, we actually unlocked the fifth arena category upon beating the first four, but I'm gonna hold off on doing it until after the first credits sequence. The timing will make more sense there.