The Armored Core series has been going on for a long time, ever since the first game in the series was released in 1997 for the humble PSOne console. Even though the series has been in existence for over 20 years now, it has always had a niche audience.
It’s now been 10 years since the last release of an Armored Core game came out as Armored Core: Verdict Day, released in 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. After a decade, we finally got a new game in the series with the release of Armored Core VI: Fire of Rubicon in 2023 for both current-gen and last-gen platforms.
There has been a lot of hype with Armored Core VI, mainly because its developer, FromSoftware, has been on fire lately. The developer gained mainstream popularity thanks to its Dark Souls trilogy as well as the award-winning Elden Ring from 2022. Fans have been eager to know what the developer can do in a different genre.
If you’ve played the Souls series before, you are probably familiar with its gameplay formula. All of them are open-world video games that feature hard enemies and even more difficult boss fights. The series started with a niche audience, but Elden Ring was finally able to reach the masses.
Gamers don’t have to worry too much about playing Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon because it only shares some similarities with the Souls games. That being said, the game still isn’t very easy, mainly because FromSoftware still loves to challenge its players with tough boss battles.
The first thing I will say about Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is that the graphics were really impressive when I was playing the game on PS5. The game runs at 4K and can be played in buttery-smooth 60fps. Raytracing is supported for current-gen hardware, but only in the garage. Sadly, raytracing isn’t available during playable gameplay sequences.
One of the reasons Armored Core VI looks so great is that it’s not an open-world video game. The game features smaller bite-sized levels, which means FromSoftware was able to push the visual quality of the game to the maximum. I’d even go as far as saying that this game visually looks better than last year’s Elden Ring.
The only thing that might deter some gamers from the smaller levels is the fact that most of the missions in this game are very short. Several missions might be only five to ten minutes long, depending on how well you finish your objectives. There is also no difficulty setting in this game, so you cannot cruise along in easy mode.
Some missions may require you to destroy a specific number of enemies, while in another mission, I had to find some items left on the battlefield. Not every mission ends in a boss fight, although there is no shortage of epic bosses that you face in this game!
In terms of gameplay, Armored Core VI’s gunplay is fast, snappy, and very satisfying to play. At the start of the game, you will have a machine gun, some missiles, and even a laser sword for melee combat. The best part about combat is the fact that your mech is very fast, so the gunplay never feels slow and sluggish.
Players can easily lock on to enemies using the R3 button, and they can dodge with ease thanks to the jetpack boosters that are located at the back of your mech. The boosters aren’t just for dodging because you can use them to fly onto higher platforms. There is a stamina bar for the jetpack, though, so you cannot dodge all the time when you’re in an intense boss fight.
Speaking of boss fights, your guns and missiles also have a cooldown system. Even though you can shoot lots of times, your weapons need to have a rest, so it pays to hide and dodge when you are unable to attack.
The cool thing about Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is the fact that you can upgrade your armour and weapons every time you finish a mission. Completing missions gives you a lot of money, and you can replay easier missions over and over again if you need to save up for a specific weapon you may need for a tough boss fight.
Some of the weapons that you can upgrade to include the likes of machine guns, Gatling guns, laser guns, rifles, rockets, and a lot more. There are even more armour parts you can install, and these become very helpful if you are struggling with the many bosses that await you.
There are only some elements in this game that some people will dislike. For one thing, a few of the missions are annoying because there are time limits on some of them. Not to mention, there was a frustrating mission I was stuck on because the enemies kept running away like headless chickens!
Another thing people might not like is that your mech feels unpowered when you face up against tough bosses. Your boost also runs out when you are trying to dodge attacks, so you are a sitting duck sometimes.
Aside from a few niggling flaws, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is still a solid game thanks to its snappy gameplay and excellent visuals. The only people who might not like it are those who want to play longer missions and easier boss fights.