The anticipation for a new Armored Core title is at an all-time high. We’re only a few months out until its release, and while it’s been a long wait since the last installment, it’s looking like the wait may be worth it after all.
During Summer Game Fest: Play Days, I was fortunate enough to take part in a hands-off preview of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon where Producer Yasunori Ogura walked us through a live gameplay presentation… but not before explaining the game and its features first.
You can imagine that the wait to see actual gameplay was unbearable for every one of us in the room during that time, even though it was just a few minutes.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is the latest installment in the long-running mech action series that gives players the power to create their own Armored Cores to take into battle. If you’ve played any of the previous games, you’ll know that the crux of the game lies in its customization and taking these mechs to battle with a plethora of parts to choose from that will give players unmatched freedom and playstyle diversity.
Ogura discussed 3 pillars that the team at FromSoftware took into account while developing Armored Core VI – 3D level design with a sense of scale, assembling the battle design, and experiencing a sense of accomplishment through overcoming difficulties. These are clearly evident in other titles from the developer, and players can expect these trademark elements to once again make an appearance in Armored Core VI.
While similar, Armored Core VI has a fundamental difference that separates it from the rest – the use of a mech. With the mech as the main focus of the game, traversal and movement all take on a larger sense of speed and scale, which directly feeds into level design. Players can expect levels to be vast with a sense of verticality that can only be possible with a mech’s mobility and cannot be reproduced with a human protagonist.
A hands-off demo of Armored Core VI was shown to us and was controlled expertly by a FromSoftware Staff member, and immediately you can see how huge the levels are, with multiple levels of verticality that can be taken advantage of with the boosters of the mech. Movement is smooth and fluid, and dodging enemies will require agility from the player. Not all platforms will be connected to each other, so players will have to use their boosters to traverse the level with some light platforming.
Basic enemies are quite easy to kill, as the mech used can utilize a number of weapons such as missiles and a beam sword. Players can even use a scan ability to see enemy placements through walls that will allow for pre-planning. Even these basic enemies have sufficient firepower, so maneuvering while on land or in the air against multiple enemies at the same time is crucial to survival. Boosters will also help players close the gap in an instant, giving players an option to take the fight to the enemies when the need arises.
Another thing in Armored Core VI that’s immediately noticeable is the pace during battles. These encounters are frenetic and fast-paced, and will require players to act accordingly. While offense is oftentimes the best solution, strafing and using shields while looking for opportunities to counterattack will be crucial tools for survival. Players will have to learn to weave in and out in quick succession, something that isn’t normally possible with previous titles like Elden Ring.
Towards the end of the demo, we were treated to a quick look at customization options, where we can see multiple back unit, generator, and leg options with varying stats like attack power, impact, total rounds, weight, cooling, and much more. This is Armored Core at it’s best, so many minutes and hours will be spent choosing which setup works the best for given situations. There’s a lot to take in, and we can only assume that all of these statistics will need to be taken into consideration when building a mech.
As is a trademark with Armored Core games, changing these components will also change not only the way your mech will look like, but also how it will perform. We didn’t get to see too much variety for now, but we can only assume that FromSoftware will be including most or all of the parts from previous titles like tank legs, reverse joints, and much more, all of which will bring noticeable changes to playstyle.
Closing out the Armored Core VI demo was an impressive battle against a boss, which was many times bigger than the player mech. The battle is definitely a careful dance, and bosses can be staggered to allow for more damage. Player skill will be equally as important as the loadout used, so careful planning is also required. It’s been confirmed that these boss battles will be a definite highlight of the game, and it’s easy to see how that’s the case with this single fight.
Just through these small gameplay snippets, Armored Core VI is definitely shaping up to be another must-play FromSoftware title. While some gameplay elements will be similar to past FromSoftware games, the overall feel of using a mech and the advantages that come along with it is a critical difference, and the gameplay we saw captured that essence perfectly.
We’re still a couple of months away from release but can tell you right now that the wait is truly unbearable. It’s been a long time coming for Armored Core fans, and with all of the learnings throughout the years, FromSoftware looks poised to deliver another banger.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is launching on August 25, 2023, for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC.