FromSoftware, the Japanese studio behind masterpieces such as ‘Demon’s Souls’ and ‘Elden Ring’, returns with ‘Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon’, the latest in its venerable mecha series. Far from standing in the shadow of Souls, this title shines with heritage and innovation, promising an intense mechanized combat experience and a depth of customisation that will delight veterans and appeal to new players.
For those who doubted the studio’s ability to make anything other than Souls-like games, let me tell you: FromSoftware has hit the nail on the head. Armored Core 6 is a tour de force and a marvel for mecha-fighting aficionados.
Curious to know what all the fuss is about? Read on as I explain what makes this new Armored Core 6 such a hit.
Beyond Souls: A Unique Identity
Let’s get one thing straight from the outset: Armored Core 6 is not a Souls-like, nor does it seek to be. It’s a title that embraces its own identity, faithful to the saga’s DNA, where the story unfolds through independent missions, emphasizing hectic action rather than exploratory quests. So, if you’ve landed here in the hope of finding a cousin to certain FromSoftware’s production, it’s wise to bear this distinction in mind before making your purchase.
Armored Core 6′ is the very essence of its series, a legacy that the game carries with honor. This sixth opus takes us to Rubicon 3, a distant world where gigantic corporations are waging a merciless war for Coral, a material as mysterious as it is precious, coveted for its many applications. As a mecha pilot smuggled onto the planet, you find yourself navigating between rival factions, offering your mercenary services to the highest bidder.
Rubicon 3: A Galaxy of Narrative
And that’s where the story really takes off, unfolding a plot full of twists and turns as we discover the inner workings of Rubicon 3, its past and famous substance, Coral. The journey will be full of heartbreaking choices, shaping our path and leading to an outcome all our own. Expect betrayals, memorable battles, plenty of surprises and captivating military strategies.
The protagonists are charismatic, taking center stage in some of the game’s most dramatic moments, and the factions offer diverse and fascinating perspectives.
The story is a mosaic of factions, including the Rubiconians who elevate the Coral to the rank of deity. Scratch the surface of this easy-to-follow central narrative and you’ll discover a sci-fi universe of staggering complexity and depth. Rubicon 3 is full of secrets and buried stories, inviting careful exploration for those wishing to delve into the depths of its lore.
Don’t expect a cinematic blockbuster, but rather a story told with finesse through polished videos and voices that resonate between battles.
Action and Adventure: The Heart of the Battle
Although the missions are short, lasting around ten minutes, they are intense and straightforward. They plunge you right into the heart of the action, leaving little room for drift, with invisible boundaries encircling our battlefields. That’s not to say that there’s no room for exploration. If you venture off the beaten track, you’re likely to stumble across chests and records that will add to your arsenal. However, exploration isn’t the mainstay of the adventure: most of the time, the frantic pace of the action will keep you too busy to think about anything other than the mission in hand.
Every mission in Armored Core 6 is designed to surprise and challenge. One minute you’re battling a titanic boss, the next you’re nimbly maneuvering around a moving fortress, defending a base, infiltrating behind enemy lines, dodging laser satellite fire, tracking down invisible opponents or recovering data under the pressure of the timer. These are just a few examples of the richness of the experience.
The missions challenge us, pushing us to adapt, to be flexible. But the real magic lies in their ability to shake up our expectations, to surprise us at every turn. How many times has a mission briefing launched us on a clear objective, only for our plans to be changed completely due to the chaos of battle? These unexpected twists and turns plunge us into the heart of a huge conflict where anything can happen at any moment.
And what about the level design? This is an area where FromSoftware excels with an ease that borders on the artistic. The playgrounds are vast and open, tailor-made for our mechas and their abilities. Verticality becomes our realm, inviting us to utilize our flight thrusters fully amidst various confrontations, where the environment and its shelters serve as a key role in our combat strategy.
Combat mechanics: At the heart of the Metal Arena
The combat mechanics in Armored Core 6 are fabulous, with few titles able to offer such a thrilling, dynamic and exhilarating mecha combat experience. Aboard your war machine, you’ve got an arsenal of up to four weapons – one for each hand and shoulder – operated by the joystick’s triggers. The handling is intuitive, and plays a big part in the overall experience.
Your mecha can fly or dodge enemy attacks, and it will provide you with an option to heal yourself for up to three times per mission.
The Futuristic Mechanics Workshop: Build, Adapt, Triumph
It’s in the workshop that the magic really happens. Choosing the components for your mecha is an essential part of the adventure that you can’t afford to overlook. Each part and each weapon will radically alter your style of play. A varied arsenal awaits you, with unique features, weapons that can target several opponents simultaneously or charge up to devastating effect. The mobility of your mecha, its resilience to impact, its speed of ascent – all parameters influenced by the weight and specific features of the parts you select.
Each component of your mecha comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to be very selective if you’re to stand any chance of completing your mission. Details like load capacity and energy determine how much weaponry you can equip without risking overload or failure – parameters that can be adjusted by opting for the right legs or energy module, even if you have to make concessions elsewhere. And yes, even the accuracy of your shots, whether in close-quarters bursts or distant sniping, will depend on the equipment you choose.
Customisation in Armored Core 6 is much more than just cosmetics. The myriad configuration options might seem overwhelming, yet the true delight of the game resides within this futuristic mechanic workshop. It’s not about buying the most powerful and most expensive part you can find, but about finding the ones that match what you want and making sure that the whole thing is a coherent and efficient machine, capable of carrying out the mission you’re about to face.
For some missions, you may need a slow, armored colossus that can take the hard knocks while returning the favor with its heavy guns. At other times, the situation will call for a light, agile mecha, a flash of steel that sneaks up behind enemy lines, even at the risk of being as fragile as a paper airplane. Is a boss giving you a hard time? It could well be that he has a weakness that can be exploited, it’s just a question of finding the ideal weapon to simplify the confrontation.
Mastering Armored Core 6 hinges on adaptability—being flexible enough to adjust. Embrace experimentation and the pursuit of new configurations; when faced with daunting objectives, take a moment to review and fine-tune your strategy to suit your mecha. This means investing in a diverse array of parts and weaponry. Thankfully, the game’s well-calibrated economic balance guarantees a constant influx of new equipment between missions, ensuring a consistently evolving arsenal at your disposal.
It’s essential to mention the disorientation gauge. Hit your opponent enough times and you’ll see him stagger, leaving him vulnerable to destructive attacks. But beware, this mechanic is a double-edged sword: if the enemy hits you with the same intensity, you’ll find yourself in the same situation.
Throughout battles, the camera occasionally poses challenges, especially in confined or tight arenas, prompting occasional readjustments using the right joystick. However, overall, it adeptly tracks the action, ensuring a mostly seamless follow-through.
“Armored Core 6” is more accessible than ever to those new to the series, but still retains its challenging spirit. There are plenty of tutorials, and the training mode lets you get used to the various combat situations. The first few missions act as trial runs, designed to familiarize you with the controls and mechanics of your mecha.
Although the game welcomes you with open arms, that doesn’t mean it spares you the turbulence. Difficulty rises with the appearance of titanic bosses, veritable tests of skill that prove to be the highlights of the adventure. These battles are demanding, requiring you to navigate through devastating attacks that can drastically reduce your survival rate if you’re not careful.
The boss of the last mission in the first chapter alone will be a real test of your skills. It will put everything you’ve learnt in the tutorials to the test.
For those who simply want to get through the story and see the credits roll, the game offers several levels of difficulty. There’s also no need to equip yourself with a specific mecha for each mission; good strategy and skill at the controls can compensate for less ideal equipment choices.
The game’s course is dotted with checkpoints, veritable refueling areas where you can recharge your health, ammunition and repair kits. Each boss has its own checkpoint just before the battle, where you can recharge your health or modify your mecha’s arsenal before the fight. And when you die in front of the boss – yes, this will happen often – you can always adapt your equipment before going back into battle.
As for replayability, Armored Core 6 extends the adventure well beyond the first campaign thanks to multiple endings and surprises.
Completing all the arenas can take around twenty hours, a flight time that will vary according to your dexterity at the controls, the time spent in the hangar fine-tuning your mecha, and your desire to repeat missions or explore every nook and cranny in search of hidden treasures.
But once the game is over, don’t switch off your consoles. “Armored Core 6” proves to be a game full of surprises, concealing hidden gems in its narrative folds. The game presents us with critical choices, each decision opening the way to different missions and leading to different outcomes.
In New Game+ mode, the adventure takes on a new altitude with the appearance of new missions that were not present in the first campaign. What’s more, new decisions are grafted onto certain contracts, inviting you to navigate alternative paths that influence the course of the story and future missions. Other surprises await you, but I won’t spoil anything here.
Armored Core 6’s multiplayer mode can feel a bit like a fighter jet relegated to side missions, far from the epic aerial battles you might expect. FromSoftware has included a competitive arsenal where you can test your mechs against those of other pilots, but it’s worth noting the absence of a co-operative mode, making the experience exclusively competitive.
Armored Core 6 does offer a multiplayer mode, but it doesn’t really shine. There are no official rankings, no lists of matches to go through, and no ranked modes. You’re stuck with creating or joining custom rooms for duels or trios.
That said, the netcode is very good, and matches are fluid and run smoothly.
A Visual and Sound Show
Armored Core 6 offers an artistic direction that will leave you speechless. The designs of the mechs and ships, the majesty of the landscapes unfolding before you, the play of light and color, the staging and the skies of Rubicon 3 are flamboyant… It all adds up to a sci-fi universe that’s sure to appeal to fans of the genre.
From a technical point of view, Armored Core 6 may not reach the heights of the latest blockbusters. However, the mecha modeling is flawless and the fluid animations do justice to each independent articulation of these metal colossi. The special effects add to the immersion of the combat, although the scenery sometimes suffers from a lack of polish, with textures and elements that don’t look quite right when you look at them. It’s a minor detail, though, because in the heat of battle you won’t have much opportunity to take out your magnifying glass and look at the textures.
I was able to test the game on Xbox Series X, and it runs perfectly at 60FPS, with no drop in framerate.
Sound-wise, the soundtrack fits in perfectly with the adventure’s sci-fi ambience, oscillating between melancholy and epic during boss appearances, although these melodies tend to blend into the background noise and don’t make as much of an impression as FromSoftware’s previous compositions on Elden Ring, for example.
The sound effects, meanwhile, are of an excellent standard: varied, distinct and punchy. Dubbed in English and Japanese.
Mission dialogues, dubbed in English and Japanese, require careful listening as they often provide crucial clues to the plot and objectives.
FinalBoss Review: Armored Core 6 : Fires of Rubicon
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is a constant source of wonder for aficionados of mechas and frenetic action. The adventure is intense, demanding, as varied as you could wish, and designed with a creative genius that makes each mission more addictive than the last. The art direction is breathtaking, and the bosses… talk about bosses!
Every confrontation is epic. But where FromSoftware excels is in its ability to dismantle the usual portals of entry to its saga, making this new opus more accessible than ever without diluting the richness and complexity for which it is renowned. It’s the ideal launch pad for newcomers.
Yes, FromSoftware has done it again, producing a must-have work that every action game lover should try. Highly recommended, without a shadow of a doubt.
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