Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon marks the return of the long-running Armored Core series by FromSoft. Find out whether its gameplay and graphics were worth the decade-long wait in our review!
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Review and Score Explanation
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Review Video
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Score Explanation
|Overall||A good addition to the Armored Core series that combines elements from past games and can satisfy both series veterans and newcomers at the same time. The gameplay loop of designing your mech, testing it out, and using it to clear the game’s challenging levels is very satisfying, and the mechs themselves look very cool. The only downside is that the soundtrack is rather weak, and it’s tough to get into a multiplayer game. Despite that, if this is FromSoftware’s attempt at pulling in new fans into the AC franchise, then they’ve succeeded.|
|Story||The plot of Armored Core 6 may not be the most extraordinary tale, but it’s still solid, with multiple endings and lots of tidbits of lore scattered throughout the levels. The story and its theme of a future lacking humanity also seeps into every aspect of the game - from the meticulously crafted mech and level designs, to the graphical interface of your AC. Even the seemingly random decals painted on the doors and walls in certain levels adds to the worldbuilding.|
|Gameplay||Armored Core 6’s gameplay loop will have you design the best mech you can, bring it into battle, and either win or go back to the drawing board to fine-tune it after getting trounced. It’s like unleashing your inner engineer and artist all at once, with the added thrill of seeing how your creation fares in the heat of combat. The combat itself is classic FromSoft - challenging, yet rewarding. As long as you’re willing to master the combat and bring your A-game, you will win.|
|Visuals||Armored Core 6’s mech designs effortlessly blend the gritty and beautiful, with some of the coolest-looking mechs I’ve seen in video games. Some of the more notable ones are the VP, the slender Nachtreiher, the Melander, the formidable HAL, and the CEL 240. The environments themselves, meanwhile, capture the spirit of a bleak world similar to past FromSoftware games, with giant mountains, abandoned cities, and sprawling factories that evoke a sense of mystery as to what their origin is. It’s hard to tell if these landscapes were made by human hands or by some other incomprehensible force in the dystopian world of Rubicon 3.|
|Audio||The soundtrack is mostly composed of ambient music that fails to leave a lasting impression. It is the weakest aspect of the game, although it’s not necessarily terrible. They’re just… there while you’re focused on surviving the latest boss battle. As for the voice acting, it maintains the detached and sterile style seen in previous Armored Core games, effectively highlighting the series’ recurring motif of a future where humans are technologically advanced, but devoid of emotion and the other qualities that make us human.|
|Value for Money||AC6 stands out as one of the longest games in the franchise, boasting a playthrough that typically lasts between 15 to 20 hours. That’s on top of two more unlockable endings, hidden parts sprinkled throughout the game, the Arena, and multiplayer. When you add it all up, you’re looking at a game that can easily provide around 50 hours of immersive gameplay - truly a bang for your buck.|
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Review: Let the Last Cinders Burn
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is the first AC title in ten years, and it does a great job of satisfying both newcomers and seasoned veterans alike. The core gameplay loop feels incredibly satisfying. You design and fine-tune your mech to take on the next challenge and if you get defeated, it’s back to the drawing board. But nothing compares to that moment when everything falls into place and you finally beat the boss who had reduced you to scrap metal countless times (That’s right, I’m looking at YOU, Balteus).
Newcomers, especially those familiar with other FromSoft titles, will appreciate the inclusion of a flask-like healing system through Repair Kits. Additionally, the introduction of a stagger mechanic adds an exciting twist - fill up the enemy’s Impact meter and watch them become vulnerable to massive damage for a short amount of time. These changes enhance the experience without straying too far from what made past Armored Core games memorable.
For seasoned players, Armored Core 6 may feel more like a modern FromSoft action game than the mech simulator you grew to love. It plays like a less speedy AC 4 and For Answer, with increased emphasis on melee combat. If you think this means that Armored Core games have been made easier once again, you’re not ENTIRELY wrong. But it’s still challenging in its own right. Achieving the coveted ‘S’ rank in your missions requires impeccable piloting skills to fulfill its requirements, such as taking no damage and not using Repair Kits. This, in a game that throws a metric ton of projectiles at you.
Overall, Armored Core 6 is a solid entry into the series; one that will likely ignite the fires of interest in this niche franchise. No matter whether they’re a newcomer or an old fan, players will find themselves drawn in by its addictive gameplay and rewarding challenges.
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Full Game Review
Pros of Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon
|Things Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Got Right|
Tough But Fair Gameplay
Satisfying Gameplay Loop For Both Mecha and Action Fans
Stunning Graphics and Presentation
Decent Story With Good Execution
Tough But Fair Gameplay
Since it’s a FromSoft game, Armored Core 6 being a “tough but fair” game should already be expected. But the way it does this is a bit different than your usual Souls-like.
For one thing, the game isn’t just you roaming around in your AC like an open-world game, but rather optimizing your robot in between missions. Like in older AC titles, customization is already half the game - a generator with fast energy replenishment might spell the difference between dodging all your enemy’s missiles and taking a good chunk of them because your energy didn’t recover fast enough. If you equip your mech with dual machine guns but nothing to get rid of an enemy’s shield, you’ll just be shooting into a literal wall. The game gives you all the opportunities to adjust your mech accordingly, and even test it as you make adjustments, until you hit just the right combination of parts to win.
Of course, even the perfect build won’t stand up to an enemy if you lack the skills. Thankfully enough, Armored Core 6 now has a somewhat proper tutorial missions that will reward you with parts as you complete them. What’s funny is that the missions come after you beat the tutorial boss, but that’s an issue I’ll talk about later.
Once you get a good grasp of the game’s combat and learn to employ a mix of aggressive and defensive tactics, you should be fine. The game rewards you for both playing it as intended and thinking outside the box. Sure, you can try to keep dodging missiles and close in on Balteus with a sword, but you can also just blow two shotguns into its face before letting loose with a hailstorm of plasma rockets.
Armored Core 6’s difficulty aligns with the classic challenge we’ve come to expect from a FromSoft game. However, it manages to bring its own unique flavor to the table with the addition of weapons like missiles, guns and lasers, as well as the emphasis on building the right mech for the job. Older fans of the series may lament that AC6 had to take on features from Souls-like games such as healing options and the stagger meter, making the game easier compared to previous entries. But they’re utilized in a way that still makes the combat itself feel good. The game still "feels" like an Armored Core game, and that’s the most important part.
Satisfying Gameplay Loop For Both Mecha and Action Fans
Mecha enthusiasts will have a field day,not just with buying and collecting and switching out different AC parts, but also painting them and making their own emblems, little stickers you can put on your robot.
There’s a fair number of parts you’ll get to unlock as you go through the campaign, get the different endings, and even just finish the tutorial missions. You can mix and match ‘Cores’ (the chest part of an AC) with a plethora of different legs, arms, heads, generators, Fire Control Systems (FCS), as well as hand-held weapons and shoulder-mounted weapons. Each of these parts weigh differently too, affecting how fast your mech will be and how much energy it consumes while boosting.
Different enemies require different kinds of setups to deal with them, so you will end up using all sorts of different builds by the time your playthrough is over. What’s great is that you can’t just slap on a part that gives a higher stat number and call it a day. Each weapon performs differently and can be affected by other parts you put onto the mech. Sure, you can have twin Songbird grenade launchers on your shoulders, but if you have an FCS that can’t get a lock on the target quick enough, you’ll miss almost all the time, especially if you’re far away since those shells take time to fly and hit their target.
What’s even better is there’s no difference in the buy and sell prices of parts, so you can buy whatever you want and not worry about losing money if you need to sell it again. The only thing that’s stopping you from getting all the parts in the shop is the amount of money you have on hand, so you’ll have to budget your parts quite a bit even in the late game. That is unless you grind for more money by getting S-rank on missions.
As I mentioned, the customization in Armored Core 6 is half the game already, and I’m glad that FromSoft managed to implement it very well in this installment. Hopefully, we’ll see more parts become available through a DLC.
Stunning Graphics and Presentation
The graphics of Armored Core 6 are great on their own, but it’s the presentation of these graphics that elevates the game’s visuals to another level. There’s just this inhuman bleakness to everything in Rubicon 3: the mountains with a burning sky hanging overhead, the abandoned and desolate cities, the vast and sprawling factory complexes, and the eerily sterile science centers. Everything looks like it’s more technologically advanced than our modern era, but it all lacks the warmth of a human touch. This is very much in line with other FromSoft works in concept, so it’s amazing how well they translated that bleakness to a futuristic setting.
The faint touches of humanity left on Rubicon 3 are seen in the mechs fighting for control over it, and all of them look amazing. The mech designs range from the very futuristic to the heavily industrial, with several variations in between, such as the workhorse Melander, the slender Nachtreiher, as well as tetrapod (four-legged) mechs and tanks. The game also allows you to color your mech any way you want, so if you wanted, you could imitate all sorts of robots, like Evas or Gundams, or just make your own cool design by mixing and matching colors and parts.
As for the technical aspect of the graphics, the game’s lighting, weather effects, and shadows are all on point. Never mind that the surroundings look dull and drab; they’re actually meant to look that way. Between stages, the color palette changes from cold blues to putrid greens, to intense red-oranges; the levels rarely ever look the same, except, of course, if they’re set in the same place in the story.
Overall, Armored Core 6 nailed the graphics since it has the aesthetic that FromSoft games are known for while still retaining its own identity. The series has always toyed with themes surrounding a future teeming with technology and corporate wars, but lacking in humanity.The graphics in AC6 play a big part in achieving that vibe.
Decent Story With Good Execution
To give a brief overview of the story, you play as an independent mercenary that has infiltrated the planet of Rubicon 3. Rubicon 3 is currently in the throes of a massive war between the interplanetary corporations who have come to exploit a resource called Coral, and the natives who just want to be left alone. You, on the other hand, are fighting under a handler named Walter, and he says you’re on Rubicon to find the biggest Coral deposit on the planet. To get close to it, you’ll have to work for the corporations and do their dirty work.
It may come as a surprise, but minimalist storytelling in FromSoft games isn’t just a Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls thing. It’s been there since the first Armored Core, with emails, mission briefings, and item descriptions all giving clues as to what the bigger picture is. Armored Core 6 is no different in this regard, and you’ll have a good time trying to puzzle out the lore of the game through, not only the ways I already mentioned, but also by collecting data from abandoned mechs scattered across the game.
What mainly carries the story though, are the different NPCs you interact with on Rubicon 3. You won’t actually see their faces on comms, just their emblem (another Armored Core staple). A majority of them also speak in a non-committal, almost emotionless, tone at first, again driving home the point of the lack of humanity in the future. But over time, they’ll either warm up to you or let their hate for you be known. That alone is already a nice form of character development.
Let me be clear: Armored Core 6’s plot is not the most amazing of plots. But it’s good enough to get the job done, and definitely good enough for a game in a series where the story mostly plays second fiddle to gameplay.
Cons of Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon
|Things That Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Can Improve|
Soundtrack is Rather Bland
PvP is Fun, But Hard to Get a Match
Tutorials Are Not As Helpful As They Should Be
Soundtrack is Rather Bland
FromSoftware usually nails it when it comes to making soundtracks for their games. The Elden Ring main menu theme, for example, is still stuck in my mind after all this time. As for Armored Core 6’s main menu theme, it’s… okay. It’s a set of electric keyboard strokes that hang in the air, kind of like a track made by Vangelis, the man who composed the soundtrack for Blade Runner. But that’s the game’s most memorable track for me. There’s this other track that plays during your fight with the final Chapter 1 boss, Balteus, that has this sort of exotic South Asian thing going on, but that's the only other track that left an impression on me.
I think the reason the soundtrack is weak compared to everything else in the game is because it’s mostly ambient music. It’s as if the developers knew that players wouldn’t be playing Armored Core for the music, but to smash mechs with their own mechs. That’s true to a degree, since you’ll be too focused on playing to take notice of a track. But FromSoft overdid it. It would’ve been nice to have a sort of epic track going on during key parts of the story, especially during certain battles.
PvP is Fun, But Hard To Get a Match
The first thing is, yeah, there IS a PvP mode for Armored Core 6, and it unlocks once you’ve finished Chapter 2 and you (ideally) have a decent amount of money, parts, and knowledge of playing the game. However, when our team got into the servers, it took a bit of time before being able to get into a game because the global servers only had ten or so matches at the time. On top of that, we sometimes got randomly disconnected, instantly ending a match. So in our experience, it hasn’t been easy to get into a match.
But once you do get into a match, it’s pretty fun. We tried out a 3v3 deathmatch setup, and other players proved to be a lot different compared to AI-controlled AC pilots. While you unlock PvP at the end of Chapter 2, finishing the game is more or less essential for PvP, as you’ll find yourself being matched with people who have weapons you haven’t even seen yet. That’s not to say they’re unbeatable, mind you. Your performance will ultimately depend on how well you play. It’s just obviously easier with better equipment.
Tutorials Are Not As Helpful As They Should Be
I mentioned earlier that the game has a proper tutorial that will teach you the finer aspects of playing Armored Core, like Assault Boosting, using hover legs, and so on. Unfortunately, this tutorial comes AFTER the first level, where you first land on Rubicon 3 and eventually come face to face with a helicopter boss. Players on Steam and other places have already made countless complaints about the boss being too hard. It’s not actually all that hard. In fact, it’s rather easy if you already have a good grasp of basic AC concepts before playing AC6.
Unfortunately, for many players, this is their first Armored Core game. Before the helicopter arrives, the game advises you to use terrain to hide and evade fire. That’s a valid tactic, of course. What it doesn’t tell you is that you can Assault Boost (basically fly up) to the helicopter and use your sword on it. This wouldn’t have been an issue if the tutorial,which teaches you Assault Boosting, among other things, came first before the actual level, like it did in Armored Core 4 and AC: For Answer. But alas, it did not.
So you have people getting stuck at the helicopter level and saying on the internet that they’ve refunded the game because it wasn’t teaching them how to beat it. Which is somewhat true. FromSoft should’ve at least put the tutorial up front, just so people wouldn’t have room for complaints.
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Story Plot
On a planet called Rubicon 3, humanity discovered a mysterious substance called Coral, which can be used as both an energy source and a data conduit. The substance is regarded as the key to further technological progress. However, when a cataclysmic event engulfs Rubicon 3 and the entire star system surrounding it, it's believed that all the Coral had been wiped off the planet.
Fifty years later, however, Coral is once again found on the surface of Rubicon 3. With the return of the precious resource, corporations flock to the planet to take control of the Coral, often going into conflict with each other for it.
In Armored Core 6, players will control an augmented human mercenary "C4-621," who works for the infamous interstellar handler Walter. C4-621 fights as an Armored Core pilot, taking on mercenary jobs on Rubicon 3 when he finds himself in a struggle over the Coral between the corporations who want to make a profit, and those who call Rubicon 3 home.
Who Should Play Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon?
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is Recommended if You Enjoy:
• The Armored Core series (Especially AC4/For Answer) • DAEMON X MACHINA • Gundam Versus • Dark Souls/Other FromSoft Souls-like games
There’s no question that those who already played the Armored Core games will play AC6, both PS1/PS2 era and PS3 era fans alike. Those who played Armored Core 4 or For Answer especially would probably find more to like about this game than those who played the PS1/PS2 era games.
If you liked other mecha games with similar premises and mechanics, like DAEMON X MACHINA, you’ll also find yourself at home playing AC6. Another game that plays somewhat similar to AC 6 is Gundam Versus, especially if you play it on a console. If you liked piloting a Gundam, controlling an Armored Core in 6 won’t feel very different either.
As for those coming from FromSoft’s other franchises, like Elden Ring, Bloodborne, Sekiro, or Dark Souls, you’ll find that Armored Core has many of the same features you’ve grown used to, while still feeling like its own game. If you’re fine with a heavier emphasis on customization and building your mech, then Armored Core 6 will be a satisfying romp with just as much challenge.
Is Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Worth It?
Armored Core 6 is $60 Well-Spent
How much is a plastic Gundam (or Gunpla) model these days? I think the price for certain Master Grade (MG) figures is around $60 or so. That’s roughly as much as a standard edition of Armored Core 6, which has a good number of mechs to put together and play. So that’s already a solid five or six Gunplas you can kitbash to your heart’s content. Even if you’re not a mech fan, AC6 is still a solid action game with intuitive mechanics, a solid gameplay loop, and lots of content to clear.
How Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Matches Up to Recently-Released Games
|Games That Came Out Recently||Why Get Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon?||Why Get the Other Game?|
|Baldur’s Gate 3||For sci-fi fans who want their fix of Souls-like action, Armored Core 6 is a more solid choice compared to Baldur’s Gate 3, which is a turn-based RPG. If you find that too slow, then AC6 will scratch that itch.||But if you’re looking for a game that’s not too stressful to play, then Baldur’s Gate 3 is your best bet. It has a much deeper story, a somewhat open-ended structure, and a lot of deep RPG mechanics.|
|The Texas Chain Saw Massacre||Armored Core 6 is not necessarily better than Texas Chain Saw Massacre, since it also does what that game does - they encourage you to approach the game with not just the mindset of a player, but the mindset of a character in that world (a killer or victim in TCSM, and an AC pilot in AC6). Playing AC6 requires you to be more involved compared to a game of TCSM.||However, at this time, TCSM has better servers than AC6. It’s a lot easier to be able to play matches and play constantly, whereas with AC6 you’ll take a while before getting into a single fight.|
|Atlas Fallen||Just like with Baldur’s Gate 3, what Armored Core 6 has over Atlas Fallen is its setting. If you’re not really a big fan of fantasy but still want the kind of desolation that Atlas Fallen tries to show, then AC6 is for you.||But, if you think that AC6’s combat is a bit too challenging, or you don’t want to bother with customizing your robot too much, then Atlas Fallen may be a more solid choice. Atlas Fallen is also open-world, while AC6 is a series of levels.|
How Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Matches Up to Similar Games
|Games Similar to Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon||Why Get Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon?||Why Get the Other Game?|
|Armored Core: For Answer||Armored Core 6 kind of plays like a more sober version of For Answer. It’s slower and has an added emphasis on melee combat, as well as on keeping watch of both your energy and Impact/Stagger meter. If you want a somewhat more balanced action game, then AC6 is it.||But if you want crazy and blindingly fast combat, set in big open areas with better music, then Armored Core: For Answer comes out as the better game. The music, especially, is a lot better than AC6’s.|
|Armored Core 3 and Its Spin-Offs||Armored Core 6 handles a lot more smoothly compared to any games of the AC3 PS2 era, even compared to titles like Nexus and Last Raven. Arguably too smoothly, but there’s no doubt it’s still a lot easier for newcomers to handle.||Armored Core 3 and its spin-offs Silent Line, Nexus, and Last Raven are considered by people in the AC community as peak Armored Core for a reason. AC3 and Silent Line retained the older games’ feel of being more of a mech simulator than an action game, while Nexus and Last Raven managed to retain that feeling while having better controls. If the question is what is a better Armored Core game, then AC3 and the other spin-offs win over AC6.|
|DAEMON X MACHINA||Armored Core 6 is a more grounded approach to being a mech game compared to DAEMON X MACHINA, with its minimalist UI, environments, and even character interactions, with those being only over the radio. If you’re also not into anime that much, then AC6 will be better for you.||But DAEMON X MACHINA, in terms of presentation alone, is the polar opposite of the Armored Core games. It’s much flashier, and the cell-shaded graphics lend to its anime-ness. It’s a great Armored Core alternative if you want a lighter and warmer take on the mecha genre.|
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Trailer
Armored Core 6 Related Links
Armored Core 6 Release Date and Time
Armored Core 6 All Hidden Parts and Locations
Armored Core 6 Best Builds
Armored Core 6 Best Weapons and How To Unlock
The Best Armored Core Games to Play Before Fires of Rubicon Comes Out
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Product Information
|Title||ARMORED CORE VI: FIRES OF RUBICON|
|Release Date||August 25, 2023|
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Entertainment JP|
|Supported Platforms||PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One|
|Number of Players||Single-player; Multiplayer|
|Official Website||Armored Core 6 Website|