Published on September 8th, 2023 | by Abdul Saad
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon PS5 Review
Summary: Armored Core VI is a highly enjoyable game, especially for mecha heads and sci-fi fanatics. While I wish the story got a lot more attention, the game does a great job of reintroducing old fans while not alienating new players.
Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon is FromSofware’s latest installment in one of its longest-running series, Armored Core. It’s been quite a while since the last installment, so Armored Core VI serves as a modern title that will introduce several new players to the series. While I haven’t played any of the previous games, my experience with Armored Core VI was everything I expected and more despite its few drawbacks.
Armored Core VI carries on the legacy of the mech building and fighting game series by giving players all the options they need to create their best mobile killing machines. Players start off simply with a standard mech, a single weapon, and a plasma blade and are thrown into the wringer with the task of defeating a challenging boss in the first hour alone. While this mission is challenging and sometimes frustrating, as is standard in a FromSoftware game, the players who learn from their mistakes and use the tools available to the best of their skills will triumph and feel phenomenal when they do.
After defeating the boss, players are given the chance to select all available parts of their choice for their AC, including helmet, arms, legs, core, and booster. All parts contribute to how much health or AP your AC has, how heavy it gets, how far it can boost and for how long, how much energy it can consume and recover, and how easy it is to stagger. Additionally, players can pick and choose whichever weapon they want, from standard gun types like shotguns and assault rifles to bazookas, Gatling guns, grenade launchers, plasma rifles, melee weapons, and more. Players can also get additional weapons they can equip to their shoulder parts for more damage and these are typically missiles. However, once you get further enough in the game, you can also equip OS Chips, which allow players even more skills like better healing, several types of combat armor, and even the ability to equip regular weapons to your AC’s shoulders.
All these options work excellently by allowing players to tailor their combat experience however they want. The options also allow players to challenge the several formidable bosses each chapter has, most of whom will not hesitate to wipe the floor with you. Being able to easily switch your build between checkpoints is a godsend, and defeating bosses, many of whom have unique, challenging aspects, by figuring out their move sets and which build works best feels highly satisfying.
Narrative-wise, Armored Core VI is one of the handful of modern games in FromSoftware’s catalog that has a cohesive narrative. Players play as an independent mercenary thrown into a conflict between Rubicon 3, a post-apocalyptic planet populated by rebels who fight against a bunch of greedy corporations over the control of Coral, a mysterious energy source said to speed up mankind’s technological advancement. The game will have you make decisions on what to do, who to side with, and who to make enemies. The concept is genuinely an interesting one and feels very much like a modern take on a FromSoftware story structure.
Visually, Armored Core VI is incredible. The game’s environmental design, though drab and depressing, is still very detailed and consistent with a highly mechanical dieselpunk aesthetic. The motions are precise, and the mechanical workings of an armored core are surprisingly intricate. The visual effects are also fantastic, mainly seen through boss fights and weapon effects. Other than that, the voice acting from characters is also quite good, and the soundtrack is impeccable and greatly supports every hype moment in the game. It’s just too bad that the narrative didn’t have enough cutscenes to develop the story, and it doesn’t have many interesting characters. The characters that are interesting also never get models or physical appearances, which is unfortunate.
Lastly, I can’t help but appreciate the game’s online mode and how much more responsive it is compared to From Software’s recent titles. Participating in PVP matches is a relatively painless process. Players can either make a room to invite other players or friends in order to spar in a 1v1 or 3v3 mode, or join other games themselves and challenge whoever. I also didn’t run into any disconnection issues throughout my experience. Performance-wise, Armored Core VI runs quite well in both performance and visual modes. However, it’s more advisable to play in Performance mode due to the action nature of the game.
Overall, Armored Core VI is a highly enjoyable game, especially for mecha heads and sci-fi fanatics. While I wish the story got a lot more attention, the game does a great job of reintroducing old fans while not alienating new players.