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The newcomer’s guide to Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

What do you need to know about Armored Core to step into Fires of Rubicon next month?

No matter where you are in the gaming landscape, there is a pretty good chance you’ve at least heard of Fromsoftware. The legendary developers behind the critically acclaimed titles like Elden Ring and Bloodborne, also the Dark Souls and Demon Souls franchises.  These titles all have a very similar feel to them. The key being the super hard Dodge roll to survive style of games. It wouldn’t be unthinkable to assume that this was the focus of their Studio. However, this is where the Armored Core Series bucks the system. Predating Demon Souls by over 10 years, the Armored Core franchise has been a of the Fromsoftware library of games. But with it being 10 years since the last installment, I wanted to take this moment to bring the new players up to speed.

Strap yourselves in Pilots, this is the newcomer’s guide to Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.

What are we getting into in Armored Core?

In the upcoming Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, we play as an augmented human codenamed Raven. Under the watchful eye of our Handler, known only as Walter, we will undergo missions upon the torn planet of Rubicon 3. In search of an energy source known as Coral, it’s Discovery ignites an event called the “Fires of Ibis”, which ravages the planet and nearby systems. Now 50 years after the fact, humanity is once again fighting for this resource.

One thing that is always been a standard for the Armored Core Series has been scale. It is impossible to put into words just how big the world is. Especially considering we are playing in a towering Mech. A big part of this is how the world itself is built in three-dimensional space. And that is to say, the levels in missions are as much vertically designed as they are horizontally. You’re not simply running from point A to point B. Using your Mech you can fly and climb your way up and through massive structures.

How do you pilot this thing?

Armored Core has always been about one thing, big robots with big guns. I hesitate to call this a Mecha title, because it is so distinct from other big robot style games. In Gundam you have your bipedal humanoid robots with fancy paint jobs and Laser swords.  Titanfall had the iconic Duos of Titans and Pilots, with various types of weapons and augments. And MechWarrior with its battalions of robots facing off in large-scale wars and skirmishes. Armored Core however is a little more, and it feels weird to say this, grounded.

First off the level of detail that you can customize your unit is astounding. Your Mech has multiple slots that allow you to add different parts, including left and right arm and left and right shoulder. You can also change the head and core, each contributing to a different type of stat increase or decrease. You also have the ability to change the legs that your Mech use in between missions. And this will drastically change how you play. Bipedal, quadruped, tank treads or the ability to hover, this can impact your gameplay significantly. You’re not limited to external Parts either. Various internal parts such as generators and boosters also play a part in your mech’s design.

Fine tuning all of these options will be the core of making a powerful Mech to take into battle. Pun definitely intended.

Never tell me the odds!

Now that you have your mech, it’s time to take it into battle. Missions to complete, and it is up to you to make sure that you have the right parts for the job. Eventually you will have an Armory full of weapons at your disposal, from machine guns and linear rifles to pulse blades and laser daggers. But as big of a deal as having a powerful robot is, just as important is the movement of the game. FromSoftware has a reputation for Dodge roll mechanics, from Demon Souls to Sekiro. And while you won’t see any cartwheeling robots, you will see a lot of fast movement.

All of the boosters and generators on your Mech serve to allow you to have optimal movement. Sometimes you’ll be fighting waves of incoming missiles, sometimes behemoth robotic machines. And being able to quickly and accurately jet out of the way is key to your survival. You have the ability to lock on to targets in armored Core 6, and with a little spatial awareness you will be able to navigate the battlefield while making Split Second decisions.

This is going to hurt

One final note would be the impact system. Similar to the posture gauge and Sekiro, you will be able to build up impact on your enemies over time. And once you break through they can be staggered, allowing you to deal increased damage to them or finish them off. This is a bit less like older games and more like newer FromSoftware titles, but personally I think it’s a pretty cool addition.

I need to hammer this home, this is going to be a hard game. You will be facing hundreds of robots, and mechanical Titans that are literally so big they won’t fit on a screen. You will need to conserve ammo to get to checkpoints, and use repair kit sparingly to survive. Death is inevitable if you aren’t careful. And even if you are careful, you will still have a climb ahead of you. But that’s the charm of Fromsoftware games. They are fine-tuned Masterworks of gameplay and challenge. It is on the player to get better and learn, as the only way forward is through improvement.

What can you expect?

As stated, the format of Armored Core VI will be mission-based. You build your Mech and go into battle, and everything in between is just explosions and metal against metal. Something that is different in this game and compared to other Mech games is the ability to change your robot if you die. Changing a Loadout in between missions is standard Fair, but it’s somewhat unique in this situation where if you die you can come back with something new at a checkpoint rather than needing to start the entire Mission over again. It’s a small touch, but one that is definitely appreciated in a game that is as brutal as armored Core.

While Armored Core VI is a single player experience, it will have PVP gameplay as well. We don’t know how many players will be able to fight at the same time yet, but needless to say it is going to be an exciting moment to go head to head.

Hopefully this will be enough to get any new people interested in the Armored Core Series. If you’ve never played a Mech game before because it hasn’t been your style, but you like things like Elden Ring, give this game a shot. It’s definitely worth trying out.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon releases on August 23, 2023, for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC.

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