Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is approaching us quickly, and it will be the first exposure many FromSoftware fans will get to the franchise. For over a decade, the studio has made quite the name for itself with its Soulsborne games. However, FromSoftware has been releasing games since 1994, and Armored Core is one of their oldest series. So, you may be wondering if Armored Core is anything like Dark Souls. It’s a reasonable question to ask since some of their other old franchises such as King’s Field are often considered precursors to the Soulsborne games.
So, is Armored Core like Dark Souls? In short, the answer is no. However, that does not mean that the two series don’t share any similarities. In fact, you might find quite a bit to like about Armored Core if you’re already a fan of the Soulsborne games. However, you will need to approach the series with appropriate expectations. Armored Core VI definitely isn’t going to be Elden Ring with mechs, and that’s fine. Instead, you might find a unique franchise that deserves a little more recognition.
What Is Armored Core?
Debuting on the original PlayStation in 1997, Armored Core is a series that often has the player taking on the role of a “Raven”, a mercenary pilot of the titular mechs (which I will refer to as ACs from here on). This involves taking jobs from a multitude of organizations and factions that can be at odds with each other. As the player progresses, they will be able to buy new parts for their AC, assuming that a profit is being made. See, the game automatically deducts earnings from the player for ammunition refills and AC repair work at the end of each mission. This makes it possible for the player to end up with debt, and potentially lots of it.
In order to get shiny new parts for your AC, you will need to earn money, and the better you play, the more money you will get. This creates an interesting gameplay loop of preparation work and mastery of the game’s mechanics. Your playstyle can differ quite a bit depending on how you build your AC. Paying attention to a mission’s objectives and environment before you attempt it can sometimes go a long way in helping you prepare.
Like Dark Souls (and other FromSoftware games), Armored Core games often contain somewhat vague stories and world-building. There is little in the way of cutscenes, with much of the story being told through mission briefings and other means. While most numbered titles in the series mark the start of a new continuity, they all contain familiar elements. These worlds are often somewhat post-apocalyptic, with mega-corporations gaining great amounts of power after a global catastrophe. In addition, your job as a mercenary can land you with some very questionable work.
Will Fires of Rubicon Take Inspiration From Soulsborne Games?
FromSoftware has come a long way since the release of the last Armored Core game. Elden Ring has surpassed 20 million copies sold, which is a very impressive feat for a studio that used to release fairly obscure games. Their name immediately generates hype for any project attached to it. While Armored Core VI is likely not going to sell as well as Elden Ring, it will probably be the most successful game in the Armored Core series, and FromSoftware knows that. They are developing the game with newcomers in mind, but this will still very much be an Armored Core game at its core (pun not intentional).
In an interview with IGN, Producer Yasunori Ogura made it clear that FromSoftware will apply the knowledge they’ve gained from the Soulsborne games to Fires of Rubicon, but that it will still retain many of the important elements of an Armored Core game. For example, the level design will be of greater priority with Armored Core VI. It’s not that previous entries in the franchise necessarily have poor level design, but it’s definitely nowhere near as intricate as what you see in games like Dark Souls. However, missions in Armored Core games are generally quick, which makes intricacy a bit less important. Despite this, it will be interesting to see how the level design evolves in the upcoming game.
The combat design of Armored Core VI may also take some inspiration from more recent FromSoftware titles as well. You can expect the combat to place more importance on telegraphs, much like the Soulsborne series. In addition, there appears to be a greater diversity of melee weapons that your AC can use. So, if the emphasis on shooting doesn’t suit you, there may still be some options for you.
Should You Play Armored Core VI if You Like Dark Souls?
It really depends on what aspects of Dark Souls you like the most. Do you like build variety? It’s something that Armored Core excels at. The level of customization these games offer is incredible, and Fires of Rubicon looks to be no different. If this is something you value, you’ll likely find yourself at home with Armored Core. However, if you value the exploration of Dark Souls the most, Armored Core might not be for you. While the level design may evolve in Armored Core VI, I’d be surprised if the game doesn’t primarily focus on AC customization and combat.
If you like the combat of FromSoftware games and are up for something a little bit different, I recommend giving this series a try. Part of the challenge of Armored Core games often comes from how well you can control your AC. You are often given an impressive amount of movement options that you will need to utilize to win battles. As you master the controls, you’ll find that Armored Core delivers a mech power fantasy unlike any other. There are some games that have tried to replicate the experience to an extent, such as Daemon X Machina, but this style of game has been rather absent in recent years.
Even if Armored Core VI doesn’t look like your cup of tea at first glance, you may want to give it a chance. FromSoftware’s track record has been really good in recent years, and there’s little reason to believe that Armored Core VI will change this trend. We’ll just have to see how things turn out when the game releases. Be sure to stay tuned as we provide more coverage on Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon!