Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon Review


In the current gaming landscape, FromSoftware are very much a household name, known very much for their critically acclaimed Dark Souls series as well as last year’s Game of the Year winning title Elden Ring. But before they were well known for their triumphs for what is now widely referred to as the SoulsBorne genre, they were known in more niche circles for Armored Core, a long running series of mech action games. Now after almost 10 years since the last entry in the series, Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon is here not only to give us another great, highly customisable mech game, but to also show how far FromSoftware have come in the last 10 years when it comes to game and level design. Much like their other titles, Armored Core 6 won’t be for everyone, but I had a stellar, challenging yet very rewarding time with it.

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon Review

For those new to the series, Armored Core 6 is a 3rd person action mech shooter that has you pilot a fully customisable robot as you play through mission based encounters. Upon completion, the missions grant you credits that you can use to upgrade pieces of your mech or purchase new components to then be equiped to help you be prepared for your next assigned mission. It’s an incredibly addicting gameplay loop and primarily so because it provides constant progression and encourages tweaking and perfecting of your mech. While Armored Core is very much it’s own series, I can’t help but compare some aspects to the Souls series of games as its very clear that FromSoftware have come a long way in their development philosophies and some of that DNA has bled into the design of Armored Core 6. This is still a game that is very much Armored Core, so veterans of the series should feel right at home, but I loved also seeing the development team injecting what they’re currently well known for, especially when it comes to art direction, environment and boss design.

As briefly mentioned, the structure of the game is mission based. You’re given an objective, you deploy and complete the requirements and then it’s back to base to prepare before heading out to sortie for the next mission. It’s quite linear for the most part, which for this style of gameplay loop, I found to be perfect. Each mission begins with a fully voiced mission brief that gives some context for what you’re being ordered to do. Then you’re tasked with preparing your load out to the best of your ability at first and then head off into the mission. If you’re successful in completing the main objective, the mission ends and you’re brought back to the rewards screen to see the spoils of the quest before being presented the next mission. If you’re not successful, this is where the next core aspect of the game comes in. Tweak and try again. The missions typically consist of checkpoints, that upon death you’re able to revert to, re-equip yourself from your other purchased parts and try again with a different load out. I appreciated that this aspect of the game is a little more forgiving than what some previous FromSoftware titles have been as you won’t have to start the full mission over again, unless you didn’t make it to a checkpoint, and reviving also restores your health kits which only have a fixed amount of uses that can be used throughout a whole mission. Making it overall far more approachable for new players compared to what some people may expect from games from this developer.

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon Review

The customisation aspect of the game surprised me with just how crucial it is and also how deep its options were to be able to tweak just about every component of your mech. Each component changing things such as your movement speed, overall weight, health meter, carry capacity among many other things. And then there’s a whole section based more on the cosmetic side where you can tweak the colours of each individual piece, place or create custom emblems and logos and even add things like weathering to your mech to really make it your own. Your mech can have up to 4 equipped weapons or main slots which make up the arms and shoulder add ons and as touched on before, there isn’t a one size fits all for the loadout, it’s something you will need to adjust as you play but there is so much customisation available. Just for the arms and shoulders alone there are varying guns which each have their own fire rate and type, energy shields, melee weapons and missile launchers that can be purchased and equipped each of which along with your chosen mech design will offer drastically different gameplay experiences when it comes to the missions.

One change that has the biggest impact is the leg component of your mech. Every component you tweak has a real impact to your output but I found changing the legs to be the single thing that offers the most drastic change to the performance of your mech. I spent a good portion of the game with the standard looking bipedal legs, but would change over to the quad legs designs when I needed a bit of extra durability to get through a mission and to utilise its additional carry capacity to carry an extra heavy weapon or two, and then utilise the tank legs when I really needed to boost up my defence and weight in situations where I wasn’t to worried about the lowered overall movement speed. There are options to suit every situation, and the game very much encourages you to play around with them.

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon Review

While Armored Core 6 does a lot to make it approachable to new players, it’s certainly challenging. But as with previous FromSoftware games it does still feel very fair. You can analyse the enemy, get obliterated, go back in with a changed load out and learn the enemy abilities and patterns and eventually come out on top. Which is exactly what it’s been designed to have you do. Making the wrong move in combat can definitely take you from full health to dead almost instantly, so knowing your enemy and mastering when you dodge vs when to rush in to attack is going to be a constant risk/reward component to the game, but when you die, you know where you messed up.

One aspect of Armored Core 6 that has an almost direct comparison to the Souls series are its boss encounters. Each are varied, challenging and unique in their own way. To come out successful, you’ll need to learn the enemy, their weaknesses and discover the best loadout through trial and error. It’s surprising how much things click and come into place once you discover the best suited loadout for the situation. A challenge that has been giving you grief for hours can be overcome in a breeze with the right equipment, making you wonder what the issue was on all your past attempts. Much like we’ve seen popularised in the Dark Souls series and also Elden Ring, the bosses can likely be brute forced with lower end gear by players incredibly talented or committed but tweaking your mech to best suit the given situation will provide the best paced experience through the game, especially your first time through.

The pacing is something I also want to praise about the game. Being mostly linear in nature, I loved that the missions themselves were really varied when it comes to the objectives and also their art and gameplay design. Some missions can be completed in just a couple of minutes, while others are much larger in scale and have multiple sub objectives, enemies, sub bosses and main bosses to defeat. Some bigger missions actually contain all of those aforementioned things. I also really loved that the game presents the player with some time to settle after a difficult boss encounter. The missions following a boss are typically smaller in scale and difficulty and I really loved that breathing room and it helped the overall flow and pacing of the game. Not every mission tries to put up a challenge wall, they certainly exist in each chapter, don’t you worry, but overall I found the mission variety and flow very well balanced.

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon Review

Outside of the missions there is of course the store and mech design areas where you can purchase and equip new parts for your mech but also a number of other things you can jump into. There’s a challenge arena mode where you can go 1v1 against other computer controlled mechs to challenge yourself in battles that range from E to S rank. Winning these challenges will grant you OS chips which can be used to earn passive buffs and new abilities for your mech and also spend them to increase your defences, increase damage types, the effectiveness of your health kits among other things. There is also a training mode that will teach you the ropes of operating your mech, let you understand and practise with the various mech types and also test your loadout in a controlled environment. The game does also have an online pvp mode, but this was something I didn’t get the chance to jump into pre launch and really test out.

Story wise, the narrative is initially quite vague and does begin with a fairly cold opening. You’re thrown right into the heat of things, with context of the story of missions really only coming from your Handler Walter and the other agencies giving you orders. Thankfully the story does become much more apparent and easier to follow once you get a couple of chapters in. Some of the missions you get to select are called decision missions, these missions divert the path of the story and lead to different alliances being formed, missions presented and ultimately leads you to one of the game’s multiple endings. This further helps the replayability aspect of the game because there is a new game+ mode that begins after you roll credits, so I’m keen to go back and change my decisions to witness the missions my path didn’t present.

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon Review

Overall, I absolutely loved my time with Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon. This game is the next big step in FromSoftware’s development journey honouring where they have come from and what they’ve learned since the last Armored Core game, containing a lot of the FromSoftware DNA when it comes to enemy and level design but is definitely a very different beast to the Souls games and Elden Ring. You still can’t beat that rush of taking down a boss that’s been handing it to you for over an hour after trying and trying again with different loadouts and the deep customisation options are going to keep players entertained for numerous playthroughs. Even though it’s in a very different genre to what they’re typically known for these days, FromSoftware prove once again that they’re kings when it comes to fun, addicting but challenging gameplay design.

A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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Played On: PS5

  • + Deep customisation options
  • + A challenge level that encourages testing and changing your load out
  • + Awesome art and level design
  • + Approachable for new players to the series

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