Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Review – For All the Ravens

FromSoftware haven’t just sat on their laurels since last year’s launch of their super-hyped, and super-successful Elden Ring.

Armored Cored VI
FromSoftware haven’t just sat on their laurels since last year’s launch of their super-hyped, and super-successful Elden Ring. They were, in fact, busy finishing up Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon. It’s been almost ten years since the last Armored Core game, and slightly longer than that since the last numbered entry. Has all that time away from the series been a good or bad thing for FromSoftware? We’ve spent some time fighting all manner of huge robots, and have the answer to that question in our review.

Earn Your Freedom
In Armored Core 6, the player controls a mech pilot, an augmented human called C4-621. He is locked in indentured servitude to a handler known as Walter, and thus fights on his behalf in an effort to earn his freedom. There’s a magical substance called Coral which corporations fight for, but seeing as you’re a mercenary you’ll essentially just fight for whomever offers the most money. The story here is told mostly through radio conversations, and while it doesn’t do much innovative storytelling, it is passable and mecha fans will probably be pleased with it. The rest of us can appreciate it as an excuse to blow up big-ass robots.

Armored Core 6’smain draw is in its title. The mecha in this series are known as Armored Cores, and they come in many different shapes and sizes. The smaller ones are quicker and more nimble, but have less armor, while the larger ones are basically the reverse. There are even some tetrapod models, with four legs and some tricks up their sleeves with better hover capabilities. Mecha fans are sure to be delighted with the different types of vehicles to choose from and finding the right mix of attributes to best complement their play style.

Not the Prettiest
Armored Core VI is, graphically, a bit underwhelming. Everything scales well to a 4K resolution, but overall the game looks a generation old somehow. Armored cores are well detailed, but the world around them feels like a play set. Now, naturally, most things will appear small next to a mech, but it doesn’t help that most environmental models are simple, and heavy recycling of assets is utilized throughout the campaign. This does at least mean the game runs smooth throughout, and ray tracing is only an option within the garage, or rather the area in which you can kit out your build.

Combat in Armored Core 6 is about as complicated as you might expect. Each armored core has four slots to place weapons or shields, and each limb can be fired independently. That does mean your controls are a bit busier than many action games, but then again this is the piloting of complex vehicles we’re talking about. Weapons range from pistols and energy swords to heavy machine guns, launchers, and laser rifles, and more. There are also defensive options such as shields, but most players will opt to forego those. As they say, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Explode Seven Times, Retry Eight
FromSoftware is perhaps better known these days for creating tough-as-nails action RPGs, such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro, and of course, Elden Ring. But they’ve been making mecha games since even before Demon’s Souls existed. Surprisingly, one thing they have done is softened things up a little bit here. Standard enemies aren’t particularly tough, and most do not do much damage to the player. Boss fights, though, well, those are typical FromSoftware fare, and will kick your ass repeatedly until you get a better build.

But that is sort of the point of FromSoftware games: try, try, try again, until you get the right build mixed with proper tactics to finally beat that boss who just a few minutes ago seemed nigh impossible to fell. There is such an endorphin rush to getting things right after a tough fought victory, and Armored Core VI certainly has that in spades with its boss fights.

Unlike their most recent titles, however, Armored Core 6 does not include any kind of co-op. Your multiplayer options are limited to competitive battles only, and the feature has to be unlocked by reaching chapter 3. This does guarantee that anyone you face presumably knows what they’re doing, because defeating most bosses requires knowledge of the game’s mechanics to begin with. The lack of co-op does mean you’re completely on your own in Armored Core 6, which suits the theme of the story but may hurt the game’s accessibility a little bit.

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is perhaps the best mecha game currently out. Not that fans of this genre are really spoiled for choice, of course. But FromSoftware has learned a lot while busy crafting other games, as is evident with their latest entry in this venerable series. Solid combat mechanics and endless customization options pair nicely with the okay story to produce a linear action game that caters to its audience. It’s maybe not their most accessible game, but it rewards those who stick with it and tweak their builds until they are victorious. It’s been a long time coming, but Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon was worth the wait.