Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Review

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Review
The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that while the game is good, it probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point. We suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future. Maybe ever. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: August 25, 2023
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC
  • Genre: Third-person Mech Shooter, Action
  • Similar Games: Armored Core Series, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Price: starts at $59.99

It’s been a while since the last Armored Core title, and fans of the series have been brimming with excitement ever since it was first announced late last year. With previews and a ton of new information going up last month, including our very own, it was almost safe to say that FromSoftware and Bandai Namco Entertainment have another banger on their hands with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is the latest installment in the series and one that we would say benefits from the many learnings of FromSoftware over the years. Their more recent titles were Soulslike, but doing so had them almost perfecting the formula that Armored Core VI benefits from in a big way.

Friends, we’ve got another good one here, and Armored Core fans should be extremely psyched for it because it’s a banger.

It’s easy to make the joke about being the Dark Souls of AC games, but Armored Core VI is an Armored Core game right from the start. From its industrial backdrops to its bleak and gritty presentation, fans of the series will know exactly what they are getting into. The good thing about it is FromSoftware knows exactly what makes the franchise tick, so fans are certainly in for a good time.

What about newcomers? For the uninitiated, Armored Core VI, or Armored Core in general, is a mission-based game that allows players to tweak and customize their mech depending on the challenges presented to them. Stuck in a level or a boss because you’re not agile enough? Equip lighter parts and weapons for increased mobility! Customizing is the name of the game, and it is arguably the core feature of Armored Core VI that makes it as good as it is, even more so than its fast-paced battles and intense boss fights.

Despite being the latest game in the series, Armored Core VI goes back to its roots and presents an almost pure Armored Core game that longtime fans have been asking for. Mission-based progression is back, the arena is back, customization is back, and much more. We say almost pure because the game clearly has some Souls influence that makes it an overall better (or worse, depending on the player) and more modernized experience.

If we were to compare Armored Core VI to another game, let’s say that it is like Sekiro on crack. The pace of Armored Core VI is simply leagues ahead of slower, more horizontal titles like Elden Ring, as the game makes full use of its 3D environment to get a leg up on the competition. There’s an extreme level of verticality in the game that puts Sekiro’s acrobatics to shame, and it is a tool that is required to clear the challenges ahead. Armored Core VI even has a posture-like system, staggering enemies for more damage.

Thankfully, the controls of Armored Core VI are flawless. Responsive and intuitive, the game makes use of a simple control scheme that allows players to weave their way between enemy fire and go in for the kill. Players can make use of a combination of up to 4 weapons, offering an offensive feast that most enemies will cower from.

Hard lock-on, or Target Assist as the game calls it, is a highly controversial feature that Armored Core purists are up in arms about. Classic titles implemented a free-aim system that tested players to the limit, much like actually controlling these mechs. Armored Core VI departs from the formula and takes inspiration from Souls games, bringing a hard lock-on to enemies for some 1 on 1 goodness.

As a longtime fan of the series, I understand the direction that FromSoftware took. This implementation certainly opens up the games to players who grew up loving the Souls titles but doesn’t alienate purists simply because Armored Core VI struck a nice balance with both aiming styles, and the fact that it can be disabled is certainly welcome. When against larger-than-life bosses, having the hard lock-on felt like a blessing, allowing us to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand.

armored core vi fires of rubicon screenshot 12

Controls even extend to the type of parts you equip to your mech. Leg parts will greatly affect your mobility, with each type bringing characteristics that will change up your playstyle. Equipping a tank-type leg will give you an advantage when equipping heavy weapons, while the spider-type legs will allow you to hover for extended periods of time. Legs are just a small part of a greater whole of things to tinker with, which we’ll get to later.

Missions are a blast to play through thanks to a slick combination of the controls and fast-paced gameplay, but these missions also present some limitations that may not sit well with some players. In true Armored Core fashion, most missions are quick 5-10 minute runs that don’t really offer much except an avenue to farm credits to grab the next part or weapon. Enemies in these missions are usually cannon fodder and don’t really offer much of a challenge, which may feel like a frustrating momentum break after finishing some of the more intense and story-related missions.

In fact, Armored Core VI doesn’t really do well to effectively communicate its story to the players. Consisting mostly of radio chatter, it’s easy to get lost in it all, and FromSoftware fans may somehow miss out on how their previous titles told a story and built a world. The narrative is arguably a weak point in the game, but it is somehow easy to neglect because everything else is superb.

armored core vi fires of rubicon screenshot 9

One more departure that Armored Core VI makes compared to the more recent entry in Elden Ring is to immerse players in a bleak and industrialized world with rather “repetitive” locations. Armored Core VI mostly takes place in industrial settings and underground labyrinths, offering a general color palette that is mostly gray and gloomy, and a stark departure from the various settings and landscapes offered in The Lands Between. Again, Armored Core fans will surely welcome this.

Most, if not all, of Armored Core VI’s features circle back to its extensive customization suite, which is its bread and butter. There will be multiple instances where your current loadout will be inefficient against a level or boss, and you’ll need to think of ways to change things up to better address the situation. This loop of customizing and testing is the core, so to speak, of Armored Core, and it is a highly addictive loop that presents a satisfying conclusion once you get things right.

Weapons and parts are not the only considerations when tweaking a mech as players will have to deal with many other factors like energy output, weight, and much more. Simply put, you can’t place hulking bazookas on a thin biped leg that can hardly carry the load and expect it to perform gracefully. By many accounts, Armored Core VI is pretty much a mech builder as well, so players jumping in need to manage their expectations.

And it is satisfying indeed, especially when players get to conquer the many extremely challenging bosses that Armored Core VI has on offer. These boss fights are a definite highlight of the game, and even if players figure out a good balance between parts and weapons, skill level will remain a constant factor in overcoming these behemoths. Definitely a FromSoftware trademark.

Adding to the replayability of it all is the challenge of gaining an S class on all missions, something longtime Armored Core fans will once again gladly recognize. This may be one of the toughest challenges of it all because many factors are considered when S-classing a mission like ammunition spent, damage taken, and more. This further emphasizes the core loop of tweaking and testing your mech, something that may turn off players who are simply looking for action right off the bat. It is close to impossible to beat everything with a singular loadout, so make sure you’re comfortable with spending some garage time.

armored core vi fires of rubicon screenshot 10

When taking a break from missions, players can choose to hop into the arena, basically pitting their custom mech against a CPU-controller mech that will reward the winner with chips for purchasing specialized parts that can drastically improve your build. This is arguably our favorite feature of the game, and while the PTSD of losing time and time again to Tiamat and Pale Horse from years ago still haunts us, climbing the arena ladder feels very satisfying.

Playing on a PS5, Armored Core VI performs buttery smooth, especially in performance mode. Armored Core VI is easily one of FromSoftware’s more polished titles, with hardly any bugs or glitches in sight, and we’re happy to say that frame rates are almost rock solid, an essential feature when the game relies on fast movement and even faster senses throughout its roughly 20-25 hour campaign.

What we liked:

  • Extensive AC customization options
  • Flawless and responsive controls
  • Fast-paced combat that rewards making full use of the 3D space
  • Challenging bosses

What we didn’t like:

  • Story is not its strongest point
  • Repeating short missions for credits could get tedious

Verdict: Buy it!

Editors choice

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon heralds the triumphant return of the classic series that is now brought to greater heights because of FromSoftware’s learnings throughout the years. By adding the best parts of their most recent titles, they’ve successfully incorporated these into Armored Core VI, which has elevated the title and their status as fantastic developers.

There’s extreme replayability here, although players expecting a much more straightforward experience rather than a “mecha builder” of sorts may feel disappointed. The old-school structure and loop of the series is back in full force, which could be a rough spot for some but a blessing for longtime fans.

Armored Core VI is a stellar offering that deserves a spot in your collection, fan or not. Offering frenetic combat, flawless controls, and a polished experience not seen in many AAA titles of late, the game makes it much harder to disagree with the fact that FromSoftware is one of the best at their craft right now.

*Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.

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