Armored Core: Verdict Day

Guide to the basics

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By obliviondoll

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Use the bracketed headings with ctrl+F to skip to any section you want to read.

[CHNG] CHANGELOG: What's been added/updated?
[LEGAL] LEGAL: Copyright and contact details
[CRED] CREDITS: Who else contributed?
[INTRO] INTRODUCTION: Why write this guide
[CONT] CONTROLS: How to pilot your AC
[ADV] ADVANCED MANOUEVRES: Important tricks to stay alive
[WRK] WORKSHOP BASICS: How to optimise your AC's performance
[STATS] ADVANCED STAT GUIDE: The key elements to look at

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[CHNG]
CHANGELOG: What's been added/updated?

Current version: 1.1

+Updated authorised sites list to include Neoseeker.
+Added section on Scan Mode to Controls section (how did I miss that?)

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[LEGAL]
LEGAL: Copyright and contact details
------------------------------------

I don't own Armored Core, or have any formal agreements with the owners to make 
an official guide to the game. All trademarks and copyrights contained in this
document are owned by their respective trademark and copyright holders. That
said, this guide is my own work, and not anyone else's. Copyright belongs to me
with a fancy (c) thing and all that entails. Please ask before posting this
anywhere.

If you see this guide anywhere but GameFAQs, Neoseeker or on my blog at
obliviondoll.blog.com, please let me know. This information (or any other
feedback) can be emailed to me at flyingmouse@hellokitty.com - yes, that's
really my email address.

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[CRED]
CREDITS: Who else contributed?
------------------------------

The majority of this guide is based on my own personal experiences with Armored
Core V and Verdict Day. I learned my lessons by getting beaten down many times
over, and watching how it was done. I haven't referred to any other sources for
the information contained within.

That said, however, honourable mention needs to be made of Ohnoeszz and his
excellent "Beginner's Guide to Everything" thread on the Armored Core Legacy
forum (forum.armoredcorelegacy.com), but as a specific part/build guide, it's
not a direct source for this work. Also, in spite of the name, it makes a few
assumptions that make it better for players with a moderate amount of
experience, rather than true beginners.

If anyone else contributes useful content for this guide, I will list them here
along with a mention of how their contribution helped. This includes additional
information or corrections. Thank you in advance to anyone willing to help out.

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[INTRO]
INTRODUCTION: Why write this guide?
-----------------------------------

Welcome to this, my first FAQ. I've played both Armored Core V and Verdict Day
from day one, and I've got a lot of experience behind me. If you're not playing
on the Japanese server in Verdict Day, you might have run into me or my team,
Nergal.

I've been speaking to a few people recently who have mentioned that the game is
decidedly lacking in useful tutorials for many skills which are important to
being competent even in single player, let alone the harsher environment of
online play. As a result, I decided to try and fill this gap with my knowledge.
I'm not the best player, but hopefully, I'm a good enough teacher to set you on
the right track.

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[CONT]
CONTROLS: How to pilot your AC
------------------------------

Sometimes, it's the simple things that trip us up. In Armored Core, piloting is
easier than building the perfect AC, but it's not always easy. Almost every AC
pilot in Verdict Day will advise you to change your controls from the default
layout, because it doesn't really help you to play effectively.

I'm going to list the default control layout, even though I don't personally
use it. I'll also list the changes between my layout and the default, to give
an example of how you can change things. After the layouts, I'll explain basic
piloting and what the controls actually mean.

NOTE: This guide is being written based on the PS3 version, but the controller
layout is placed identically on the Xbox 360. Square/triangle/X/O on PS3
correspond to X/Y/A/B respectively on the 360. R1/R2/L1/L2 are likewise the
same as RB/RT/LB/LT. Start is the same on both consoles, but the PS3 has
"select" where the XBox has the "back" button.

----------------------
DEFAULT CONTROL LAYOUT
----------------------

The controls listed below may be customised thoroughly:

Movement: Left stick (each of 4 directions can be mapped independently)
Aim/turning: Right stick (again, 4 independent directions)
Fire Right-Hand Weapon: R2
Fire Left-Hand Weapon: L2
Fire Shoulder Weapon: R1
Toggle Boosters: L1
High Boost: Square (hold for Boost Charge)
Swap weapons: Triangle (used in conjunction with the appropriate fire button)
Jump/Boost Drive: X
Deploy Recon unit: O
Glide Boost: L3 (click left stick)
Toggle Scan/Combat Mode: R3 (click right stick)
Purge Weapon: D-pad Down (with appropriate fire button, like swapping weapons)
Buzzer: D-pad Left
Text chat: D-pad Right

Note: Due to the freedom to remap directions independently, the player can bind
forward and backward movement onto the same stick as turning instead of strafe
controls, which some old-school players prefer.

The options below may not be customised in the game menu:

Pause: Start (single player only)
Menu: Select

-----------------
MY CONTROL SCHEME
-----------------

Anything not listed below is the same as for the default controls

Aim/Turning: Still on right stick, but with up and down inverted.
Fire Right-Hand Weapon: R1
Fire Left-Hand Weapon: L1
Fire Shoulder Weapon: R2
Toggle Boosters: Square
High Boost: L2 (hold for Boost Charge)

"Bumperjumper" type control schemes using R1 or L1 as the jump button (usually
with the opposite as High Boost) are popular as well. Whatever control layout
you decide to use, make sure all the functions you plan to use regularly are
easy to reach without losing control of movement and turning.

---------------------------------------
That's nice, but WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
---------------------------------------

Now HERE'S the tricky part. Armored Core V (and Verdict Day) introduced some
new tools to your movement and combat arsenal, and renamed a couple of the old
ones just to be confusing. Here's what you need to know:

Boost/High Boost: In this guide, and for most experience players I know,
"Boost" refers to having your normal boosters turned on (default L1). While in
Boost movement, your AC gets a speed boost based on the effectiveness of the
boosters you have equipped, and the weight of your AC. Most players use boost
movement for the majority of most battles. High Boost, on the other hand, is
similar to the "quickboost" in AC4 and For Answer. This allows you to perform a
high-speed dodge in your current movement direction. Once again, your booster
stats affect how fast you accelerate, how long you move for, peak speed and
various other things about the performance of these manoeuvres. Your normal
boost doesn't drain energy, but high boosts cut into your AC's energy reserves.

Boost Charge: This is an ability that's linked to your AC's High Boost action.
When you hold the button instead of tapping it, the AC's boosters charge up for
a (very) short time before you unleash a powerful kick. Bipeds hit harder than
reverse jointed legs, but tetrapods and tanks hit really hard too. Also, nobody
says "tetrapods" - they're "quads" in all previous AC games.

Glide Boost: When you click down the left stick, you get a short "charge up"
animation, then your AC accelerates up to high speed. It's a lot like the past
games' "Overboost" ability, but you need boosters active and your AC's feet on
the ground to activate it. Also, if you reverse your movement direction from
the direction you started in (relative to your AC's facing), it disables the
Glide. If you activated it while moving forward, you can only angle back a
limited distance without cutting off your Glide Boost. If you activate it to
move right, you can only angle slightly to the left from either forwards or
backwards. You can, however, activate it while moving forwards and continue
moving forwards while turning your AC in circles without any trouble. You can
also deactivate Glide Boost by releasing the left stick to stop, clicking the
button again, or disabling your boosters (usually good to reactivate them
immediately).

Boost Drive: This was new in ACV, and has been kept for Verdict Day. A lot of
players refer to this as a wallkick or walljump instead. Basically, you can
boost yourself off walls with a quick kick that uses less energy than a High
Boost for similar effect.

Scan Mode/Combat Mode: Another new feature for this generation of Armored Core,
there are several important reasons to use Scan Mode. At its most basic level,
it provides increased energy recovery, but it does so by disabling weapons. If
you use slower-firing weapons, you can use the lull between shots to switch and
keep your generator charged during combat. With rapid-fire weapons, you'll want
to break from combat to recharge, or use Scan mode for getting into and out of
fights. The other major advantage is, predictably enough, scanning enemies. If
you have Recon Units active, any enemy within their area of effect will be
visible even through obstacles. When you keep an enemy lit up for a short time
(as indicated by an on-screen scanning bar), your AC will scan them, and once
scanned, you can view the weapons and defenses of the target with your right
hand fire button. The left button allows you to mark targets for your team
while in Scan Mode. Proper use of Recons and Scan Mode can be the deciding
factor in many fights, so it's important to get a good understanding of how
your AC's performance changes between the two modes. Honestly, this isn't an
easy thing to explain, and the only way to truly understand it is to experience
how your AC handles in the AC Test area and in battle.

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[ADV]
ADVANCED MANOUEVRES: Important tricks to stay alive
---------------------------------------------------

There's more to it than just knowing what the buttons do and how they work.
This section is where I'm going to cover the practical use for those techniques
covered previously.

----------

Jumping sounds easy enough. Press jump, and go up. In Armored Core, though,
there's a little more involved. By default, you have "auto-boost" turned on.
This means that when you jump, your AC's boosters will automatically engage,
keeping you in the air for longer. You can disable this, which means if you
want to float once you're in the air, you'll have to manually engage your
boosters.

The other thing to keep in mind is that with most ACs (tanks work differently),
tapping the jump button quickly will barely lift you off the ground, but a
slightly more solid press will jump to your AC's full height. In the case of
some heavy bipeds, this isn't much of a difference. Your AC's jump height is
influenced by the weight of your build as well as the jumping performance of
your legs.

----------

Next I'll explain the Boost Drive. This is an advanced technique in and of
itself. The basics are simple enough. Hold jump or tap it when near a wall, and
you jump from the wall. If you're not moving, or you're moving towards the
wall, you go  straight up. This isn't as useful for dodging (unless you're a
reverse jointed AC), but it does give you a larger boost than a normal jump.
For bipedal legs, horizontal walljumps get you a similar distance to a high
boost, while reverse  joints travel a fair amount further. Quads are less
effective for boost using this technique, while tanks aren't able to walljump
at all.

Also, the acceleration on a walljump is near-instant, hitting top speed pretty
much as you kick off from the wall, then gradually slowing down. This speed
loss can be minimised by cutting your boosters as you jump (or not turning them
on if you disabled auto-boost). You'll quickly lose height as you slow down if
you do this, but it lets you travel further, faster. Knowing when to use
boosters during Boost Drive and when to cut them off is key to chaining
walljumps to cover long distances.

----------

While Glide Boosting isn't an advanced technique in its own right, it deserves
a mention here. You can transition from a Glide Boost into a Boost Drive or a
jump, but doing so will break the glide. You can also High Boost freely while
gliding. Because of the energy drain, this isn't generally going to be a
reliable strategy in the long term, but "permaglide" ACs can make sparing use
of HBs for evasion while maintaining altitude and speed with a Glide Boost.
Just keep in mind that reversing from your initial direction will interrupt the
glide, and you can't resume it until you're back on solid ground.

----------

An important technique to cover here is the Drift Turn. This is mentioned in
passing during the tutorial mission, but as it isn't a specific button command,
many players don't follow the poor explanation. A lot of players do still
notice the effect, but assume it's a glitch. When you've been zooming around
and suddenly stop to turn, have you ever had your AC spin sharply for no
apparent reason? Congratulations, you were drift turning!

The process here is fairly simple. While moving, cut your boosters or simply
release the movement controls and start to turn. When your AC's feet touch the
ground, you'll get a momentary increase to your turn rate.

The turn speed increase lasts for as long as your AC continues to slide along
the ground, so the faster you're moving, the longer you can keep a drift going
and the further you can turn before returning to normal.

Lightweight ACs, particularly bipeds with their higher turning rate, can pull
full 360 drifts, and sometimes even further. Light Reverse Joints can also
usually manage this, or close to it. Midweights are generally only going to
pull 180 Drifts, and anything heavier is going to be lucky to make 90 degrees.
As with walljumps, tanks don't benefit from Drift Turns, thanks to their lack
of feet.

----------

Tank movement is an advanced technique of its own. As covered previously, tanks
can't use Drift Turns or Boost Drive. Instead, they have more control over
ascending, and the ability to make rapid stationary turns.

When you press the jump button with a tank AC, you start rising instantly,
where other ACs take a moment to initiate a jumping motion. Also, while holding
the jump button, tanks will continue to rise for a short distance before
reaching their maximum jump height. As with all other leg types, lighter builds
will be able to ascend higher on the same legs.

The other aspect where tanks differentiate themselves from other leg types is
how they get accelerated turning. Tank ACs have a stationary turning modifier
which allows them to turn significantly faster while not moving. While this
makes you an easy target, being able to track lightweight ACs as they try to
circle you can be worth it. This is even more true when you consider a tank's
ability to use cannons without going into ready position, meaning you get free
full-speed turning while armed with autocannons or other heavy weapons that
another AC would be locked into a restrictive firing arc to use.

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[WRK]
WORKSHOP BASICS: How to optimise your AC's performance
------------------------------------------------------------

Learning to handle an AC isn't going to get you far if you can't build one that
suits you. Knowing your way around the Workshop is just as important as being a
skilled pilot. I'm not going to go in-depth on explaining everything, but this
part of the guide will tell you the most important factors to consider when
designing an AC that's right for you.

This "basics" section is going to cover more general AC stats and some tips on
making the Workshop screen work for you instead of against you. There's also an
advanced workshop section below with more in-depth analysis of various parts
and stats.

-----------------
WORKSHOP CONTROLS
-----------------

In the Workshop screen, there are a few things it's worth pointing out. The
biggest one is to use the triangle button (Y on XBox). This switches between
several stat views. The default view shows basic stats for each item, but with
a press of triangle, you get a full stat view, and a second tap hides all the
stats and just gives you a clear view of the AC and whatever part you're
trying to fit onto it. Additionally, using select (or back) provides a short
description of what each value means. Using this on the full stats screen can
be very useful once you've got some experience with the game.

Another important and useful tool is the AC Test room. By default, this is set
to load you into an empty map. Switching the enemy type under settings gives a
different level and type of challenge. The various ACs are relatively skilled
for AI enemies, but the non-AC enemies are pretty weak compared to the ones
you'll encounter in real missions. When learning the basics I've listed above,
I'd recommend practicing movement in the AC Test area with no enemies first,
then training against all the different pre-built ACs provided. They're not as
skilled as some of the tougher AC battles in Story mode, or even close to the
level of an intelligent human player, but they give you a variety of targets to
experiment against, and they're competent enough that you'll see improvements
as you practice.

--------------
BASIC AC STATS
--------------

The first thing to do here is to press triangle and bring up the full view. The
right-hand side of your screen will now have the aggregate stats for your AC.
A few key elements here need to be looked at and focused on, with different ACs
and players having different reasons to value certain stats over others.

Defenses (KE/CE/TE) are important for obvious reasons. Having a higher defense
value against the enemy's damage type means you'll take less damage from those
weapons. If your defense value exceeds the damage dealt by a weapon, then the
weapon's shots will hit for "ineffective" damage. In most cases, you'll see
the projectiles bouncing off your AC's armour when this happens. The damage
reduction abilities of your armour are greater against ineffective hits. It's
worth aiming to deflect hits from as many common weapons as your AC can handle,
but in many cases, there are other factors which matter more to your build than
simple durability under fire. AP is another factor in direct combat, since this
is your raw health value. Having moderate AP but extremely high defenses can be
more valuable than high AP and moderate defense values, but it depends on the
opponent's weapons as to which is more effective.

Your AC's primary movement stats are shown at the top right, with "Booster" and
"HB" numbers. The first number is the speed your AC moves with normal boost
active, and the HB value is your High Boost speed. This speed value is less of
a practical value than the standard boost, but beside these numbers is a graph
of the acceleration curve, which tells you the AC's speed over time using each
boost method. Further down, and also related to your AC's mobility, the stats
screen includes a listing for "turning performance". A higher value means, of
course, faster turning. The final mobility-related value is your AC's energy
recovery. This only lists your energy recovery in combat mode, but the scan
mode value can be calculated when you understand how scan mode works. Scan
mode disables the arms, FCS and any weapons/equipment in the arms, bays and
shoulders. Add the energy drain of those items to the recovery value to see
how fast your AC recovers energy in scan mode.

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[STATS]
ADVANCED STAT GUIDE: The key elements to look at
--------------------------------------------------------

This is still a basic guide, so I won't go too in-depth on how every part in
the game works, but I'll list a few things to look out for on certain parts of
your AC when building. First I'll cover some of the more complex stats that are
shared across multiple parts, then a few part-specific details.

-------------
GENERAL STATS
-------------

Defenses (KE/CE/TE): I explained how these work already, but when building your
AC, it's important to know the numbers on each part are added together. Because
each part has a different defense focus, you need to pick parts with different
defense types in order to balance your AC's overall defense values.

Weight/Load: Your AC's legs have a Load Capacity stat, which is the amount of
weight the legs can carry. The weight of the legs themselves isn't counted for
Total Load, but it does count towards your AC's Total Weight, which influences
your movement speed (Booster/HB stats). Exceeding your AC's Load Capacity will
result in significantly degraded speed.

Energy Consumption: Every part except for Generators has this value. Your
Generator has an Energy Output value instead, which needs to be balanced in a
similar way to Load Capacity. Unlike Load Capacity, you need a surplus of
Energy Output compared with your Consumption. Your AC's Energy Recovery is the
balance between these two factors. If you exceed your AC's Energy Output, the
AC is simply not able to be used.

----------
PART STATS
----------

FRAME PARTS
-----------

Head: Hacking stats are important for hack missions, but totally irrelevant at
any other time. Camera Performance gives you increased lock on range, and also
lets you scan targets at longer range.

Core: Energy Conductivity improves your Booster acceleration. This and Thermal
Resistance both also affect the performance of Ultimate Weapons, but I won't
cover those details in this guide. The Core also determines how many Recon
Units your AC carries.

Arms: Having a higher Firing Stability gives most hand weapons a faster fire
rate. The Shoulder Unit Storage number tells you if you have no Shoulder Unit,
single or dual. With dual shoulder missiles, you fire two missiles with each
lock, and with other units like Subcomputers, you get double the normal effect.
You don't get to equip two separate Shoulder Units, the game just doubles up
the effects.

Legs: Your AC's legs are usually the base from which you build an AC in this
generation of Armored Core. As such, they're the base on which your defenses
are built. Unsurprisingly, they're also the primary factor determining how your
AC moves. Movement Control, Turning Performance and Jump/Ascent Performance are
all fairly self explanatory. Different leg types have their own unique stats as
well, so it's worth giving these a look (triangle then select on the Assembly
screen) to see what they do.

INTERNAL PARTS
--------------

FCS: Your AC's FCS (Fire Control System) is what handles lock on functionality
for your weapons. Most stats here are fairly self explanatory. Lock Computation
is specifically for non-missile weapons, while Missile Lock Computation is for
Shoulder and Weapon Arm missiles. As mentioned previously, the Camera
Performance stat on your AC's head adjusts lock range from the value shown
here.

Generator: As mentioned previously, Energy Output is crucial for maintaining
mobility in battle. Equally important is your Energy Capacity, which is the
total amount of power your Generator can provide in one burst. Particularly
with Suzumushi, there are actions which can quickly drain your Capacity and
momentarily prevent you from performing certain actions. EXcept with Ultimate
Weapon use, this debilitation rarely lasts if your AC has decent Energy
Recovery.

Booster: Each Booster has separate Boost and High Boost stats for almost every
aspect. The values shown for High Boost are also used for Glide Boosting, so
having a low High Boost EN Consumption value is important when building an AC
for Gliding. Initial Ignition Eff is the percentage of your AC's Boost power
that's available when you first turn your Boosters on, and Time to Max Accel
tells you how long it takes the Boosters to "warm up" to full power. The stats
below these show similar information for High boosting. The graph beside the
Booster and HB values on the full stat view shows the speed over time for
normal and High Boosting.

Recon: There are three types of Recons, each of which behaves uniquely. Sticky
Recons are fired forward from your AC, and can attach to anything (including
other ACs, both friendly and not). Tracking Recons float above your AC and move
with you. Hover Recons deploy above your AC like Tracking Recons, but remain
where you place them. Tracking Recons always have a limit of one active, since
they'll always be where you are anyway. The other types can have a number of
Recon Units deployed at a time. The Simul Communications value tells you how
many you can have running at one time. Recon Range tells you how far the Recon
can scan around itself, and the Operational Time is how long the Recon lasts
before disappearing.

WEAPONS
-------

There are two basic weapon types with different behaviours. Direct Fire weapons
fire their projectile and it usually loses speed and power past a certain 
range. Missile weapons fire guided missiles which accelerate on their way to
the target and deal full damage on detonation. There are a few exceptions to
the basic rules for these weapon types, and some individual weapons of each
type work differently from others.

Shared Stats: Damage is pretty self-explanatory, while Impact is a bit more
complex. An AC's Recoil Resistance stat acts like a defense value against
Impact. When hit with a high Impact weapon, an AC may be staggered, which
reduces its defenses for a short time. If the target's Recoil Resistance is
exceeded by a large enough amount, the AC will be "stunned", stopping it in
place for a moment. This doesn't last as long as the stagger effect, but it
can be crippling if repeated hits can be landed on a single target. Reload
Time is the fire rate of your weapon. Low Reload Time means a faster firing
weapon. Base Lock-On Time is adjusted for the relevant FCS Lock Computation
value to determine how fast your AC targets an enemy ready to fire. With
missiles, you need to wait for the reload time to pass before it begins to
lock again, but direct fire weapons will stay locked as long as the target is
in your FCS lock circle. There are weapons with no lock on stats. These don't
lock onto targets, and behave a little differently as a result.

Direct Fire Weapons: There's an important factor in Verdict Day which is often
overlooked by new players. A weapon's Muzzle Velocity is the speed at which a
projectile is fired, and at longer ranges, this value becomes increasingly
important. Most CE weapons fire slow projectiles, limiting their effective
range to quite a way below the Optimal Range shown. Also, TE weapons have a
cutoff point where the projectiles dissipate or detonate rather than simply
falling like KE and CE rounds do. KE weapons lose more damage when they go past
Optimal Range, while CE projectiles maintain damage, but lose more of their
(already low) speed. Along with the Lock Computation of your FCS, a weapon's
Base Lock-On Time determines how fast you lock onto a target and have your
weapon start to track the enemy. No-lock projectile weapons require manual
aim, and while they can be difficult to use, they're often very powerful and as
such, can be deadly in skilled hands.

Missile Weapons: Instead of a Muzzle Velocity value, these have Top Cruising
Speed and Acceleration Duration. There's also a Firing Range stat, which limits
how far they can lock onto a target. This limit is a hard cap which may be less
than the range of your FCS. If it's further, you still have to get within FCS
range to lock on. No matter how far they travel, missiles always hit for full
damage, and often have a splash damage value which hits anything in a radius
around the impact point. Some missiles detonate in proximity rather than
requiring a direct hit on a target. Most missiles have a Base Lock-On time like
Projectile weapons do, with AS Missiles being the exception. These missiles can
be fired without a lock, and will track any target in range. Missile Guidance
is another important and often overlooked stat. This determines how sharply the
missile can turn while following its target. Higher values here make evasion
more difficult, but the missile's speed is also a factor. Faster missiles need
a higher Guidance value to manage tight turns.