Famitsu has a preview of Armored Core V’s downloadable content, and it is not for the faint of heart. It appears there will be both regular DLC and a cross-promotion deal for the official strategy guide, which will net you some nice looking parts. The community is likely to be divided over the issue of DLC if the DLC-only parts convey a clear competitive advantage to the purchasers, and given Armored Core V’s multiplayer focus this is especially problematic. But we can also say that paid DLC might encourage From Software to continue supporting their product through updates, as Relic Entertainment has done, with the sale of DLC being used to fund entirely new features for all players.
What is somehow more worrying (horrifying, really) is what seems to be purely cosmetic DLC in the form of new pilots. It seems that under certain circumstances (such as when your AC has been knocked out, but your team is still in the fight?) you’ll be able to traverse the battlefield as your pilot, since human models running around in a mecha game has always gone over well. Being able to see human beings in Last Raven was a great change of pace, since it gave you a proper perspective on the sheer scale of the ACs, but the three pilots they’re showing to sell us on this idea aren’t what I would have expected. The first is a woman in a pink jumpsuit and overly large jetpack, and while bright pink doesn’t seem to fit my idea of a bleak and perpetual war for resources, in a wonderful show of constraint, she’s not in a miniskirt nor a bra, and there’s a good ratio of jetpack-to-woman, so it’s a Net Good. Next, we have a ninja flying around in the clutches of a giant raven. In a world exclusive, Mecha Damashii can reveal that Armored Core V will explain how the Raven’s Nest began as a school for ninjas with a talent for falconry. And then we have a giant skeleton with akimbo Uzis lazily soldered onto this 3D model. In case you did not realize that he was, in fact, a skeleton, he conveniently has two giant flaming skulls located next to his shoulders to reinforce the point home. Another world exclusive: the dead will rise from their graves to play Armored Core V.
While I see no problem in allowing other people to customize their own experience as they wish, an integral part of the appeal of Armored Core has always been its dark narrative of a future society which has lost itself to the commercialization of war. If ninjas riding on giant birds and skeletons from heavy metal album covers are buzzing around in my character’s campaign to express his identity as a merc-for-hire, I’d better brush up on my Dadaism before the game’s American release on March 20th.
Americans who preorder from GameStop will also be in on the DLC game, with the ominously capitalized “HEAVY ASSAULT PACK”. Who knows what horrors From Software will choose to include? Yesterday, I thought that weapons from the excellently absurd Metal Wolf Chaos or Solaire of Astora’s armor from Dark Souls was asking too much of the strait-laced Armored Core series. But today, we live in a world where anything–everything–is possible. A giant, ambulatory hot dog bun named ‘Herbert’ for your wingman could be a part of the “HEAVY ASSAULT PACK”. Can we, as a society, take that chance? Will you master the HEAVY ASSAULT PACK–or will it master you?