Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon effectively revives a franchise many of us thought dead, and it does so with incredible spectacle at that.
- Developer: FromSoftware
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Release Date: August 25, 2023
- Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
- Tested On: PC, Xbox Series X
- Incredible Gameplay
- Extensive Customization
- Great Performance
- Varied Missions
- Challenging Encounters
- Story Needed Work
While I will not claim to be a die-hard Armored Core fan, this is still a series I have fond memories of playing all those years ago on my PlayStation 2. And while could never actually beat these games because they were far too complex for a younger me to understand, I did enjoy the unique feel of piloting and customizing my very own mech.
And over the years I have become a hardcore fan of FromSoftware and their revolutionary series of action role-playing games like Dark Souls, Sekiro, Bloodborne, and most recently, Elden Ring. So as someone who has an incredible amount of faith in the studio, I was willing to give Armored Core 6 more than a fair shake, and I’m so glad I did.
Because Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon feels like a game from a different timeline, a timeline where the industry never stopped making incredible over-the-top action games. It feels so authentic to a better bygone era that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
Story And Setting
So to start off, Armored Core 6’s narrative follows in the footsteps of many of its predecessors, in that it takes place in a world ruled by corporations. But unlike many of the previous titles in the series that were mostly set on Earth, this one takes us much further than our Solar System.
Instead, the game now takes place in a future where humanity is an interstellar race that has expanded to many different planets, and by extension, has also spread their greed and violence to those worlds.
The exact setting of the game is Rubicon 3, a planet where an extremely valuable resource known as Coral, which could serve as both a power source and a data conduit, was once discovered. And while the benefits of the Coral were considerable, it was also responsible for a cataclysmic event known as the Fires of Ibis.
Armored Core 6’s narrative follows in the footsteps of many of its predecessors, in that it takes place in a world ruled by corporations.
This drenched the planet and the surrounding system in flames, and Coral was thought to be lost to the event forever, or so it seemed. Now 50 years have passed since the Fires of Ibis, and signs of Coral have once again been detected on Rubicon 3.
So naturally all of the power-hungry corporations, as well as the mercenary outfits that work for them, have begun flocking to the planet once more. And that’s where you, pilot C4-621, enter the picture and assume the callsign ‘Raven.’
Now I’m of the opinion that the basic setting of the game is incredible, and I have always been a fan of the Armored Core franchise’s take on dystopian corporate warfare. But I will say that the narrative here in this game leaves just a bit to be desired.
It is not bad per se, but it could have been tighter, and the characters could have been more fleshed out. I suppose I just expect the absolute best from FromSoftware’s writing so I was a tad bit disappointed, but it’s still a fairly solid story nonetheless.
Unlike FromSoftware’s other games within the Soulslike genre as it is now popularly known, Armored Core 6 sticks with a more linear approach to its structure. Instead of a giant interconnected open world, this game features more structured missions that take place within arenas that can range from small settlements, all the way to giant battlefields with a significant amount of verticality.
And yes, you did read that correctly; Armored Core 6 has actual missions just like its predecessors. These can range from one-on-one engagements with other pilots that can take under 10 minutes to beat or feature multiple tiered objectives that take place over the course of over an hour or more in multiple different locations.
So yes, if you’re a massive Elden Ring fan hoping for the same level of freeform exploration that that title offered, then I’m sorry but this is not the game for you. But if you give it a chance, it will surprise you nonetheless.
And when it comes to the actual gameplay, well, that’s where Armored Core 6 shines the brightest. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, these games have always reveled in allowing players to customize their own personal Armored Cores with a variety of different weapons and body parts to create the type of mech that they want to play with.
This means that you get to customize every single aspect of your Armored Core, all the way down to the types of legs you give it and what livery you decide to adorn it with. So you can make whatever works for you in a given situation, but this level of customization also serves another greater purpose.
Because while you can use any loadout you want, it’s obvious that many missions are geared toward certain types of builds. So it won’t do you any favors to bring a heavily armored tank Armored Core to a mission with a lot of flying enemies because you’ll just be a slow-moving target to them.
You get to customize every single aspect of your Armored Core, all the way down to the types of legs you give it and what livery you decide to adorn it with.
Similarly, it’s not optimal to bring a lightly armored flight-focused Armored Core to an engagement with lots of heavy hitters. You have to constantly keep changing up your loadout with new weapons and parts that you can either purchase directly from the Parts Shop in between missions or gain from completing different tasks and missions.
Thankfully the movement and combat are as perfectly balanced as we’ve all come to expect from FromSoftware games, so as always everything is challenging but balanced.
Your mech has its standard movement to begin with, but you can also Boost around the map with the push of a single button. There’s also the Quick Boost that you can use to instantly jump out of the way of incoming attacks, and finally, there’s the Assault Boost that allows you to fly for as long as your energy lasts.
Each Armored Core also comes equipped with four gear slots, and these are its hands and shoulders. Each of these can be equipped with a different weapon or tool, and these can be used in tandem, provided that you have ammunition. So when the need arises, you can unleash a barrage of bullets and missiles on your foes simultaneously.
One of the greatest tips I can give any potential player is to never get comfortable with a particular build. Spend your hard-earned money and never be afraid to try our new combinations of parts. Keep experimenting, and finding out what generators work for your builds, and how much weight a frame can support before it becomes encumbered.
Learning all of this is a real challenge, and mastering equip loads and understanding the synergy between parts is the secret to enjoying and beating Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon.
If there’s one aspect that the game borrows from FromSoftware’s other titles, it’s the challenging enemy encounters. And believe me, you’ll need to pull out all of the stops to beat some of these bosses, because they’ll give you a run for your money even if you consider yourself a veteran of the studios’ games.
Visuals And Performance
Armored Core 6’s visuals will not impress when compared to many other modern games out there, but even still it’s not a bad-looking game in any way. It might look a bit muted and bland when compared to the visuals of the studio’s last game, but that’s on purpose here.
The game aims to evoke a sense of gritty realism, full of steel and fire, and it succeeds in that regard. You may choose to paint your Armored Core bright pink, but otherwise, the world is all greys, browns, and the occasional red. It’s a game about war and destruction, and I think the color palette fits that theme.
We managed to test the game out on both the Xbox Series X and PC, and the game runs significantly better than what we saw with Elden Ring at launch.
On the Xbox Series X, the game manages to maintain an almost steady 60 FPS in Performance Mode and only dips occasionally when a lot of enemies show up on the screen or when multiple particle effects take place at once. It’s a very solid experience, and most players will never even notice the dips without software that monitors the FPS.
The game aims to evoke a sense of gritty realism, full of steel and fire, and it succeeds in that regard.
In Quality Mode, the game uses higher-quality textures and better lighting while aiming for an upscaled 4k experience. It also aims for a 60FPS framerate, but never actually manages to hit it, or at least it never did for me even with no combat taking place. So if you value a steady framerate, stick with Performance Mode.
On PC, we were very easily able to hit 120 FPS at max settings with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 and maintain that for the vast majority of our time with it. Again, this is not a very graphically intensive game, so it makes up for it with some very solid performance.
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon effectively revives a franchise many of us thought dead, and it does so with incredible spectacle at that. Just a few hours into the campaign, it establishes itself as the best entry in the series to date and reassures us all of that FromSoftware stamp of approval.
Its story might not be as hard-hitting as some of us expected, and every nook and cranny of its world might not be oozing with lore, but it still delivers a fairly solid narrative. Also, the setting of the game is generally very interesting, and it effectively sets up the stage for what is essentially corporate warfare in a dystopian future.
The level of customization the game offers in customizing your own personal Armored Core is also staggering, allowing you to choose from thousands of different variations when it comes down to it. And none of that would account for much if the combat itself did not feel phenomenal, which it thankfully does.
So in conclusion, this is one of the greatest mech games of all time, and it should appeal to both veterans of the series as well as newcomers looking to dip their toes into new waters.
This has been our Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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