Armored Core might not be the series that helped establish FromSoftware as one of the most beloved video game developers in the modern era, but it’s still a name that a lot of gamers might be familiar with. After a ten-year break for the series, it’s finally making a dazzling return, with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon showcasing that there’s a lot more to the team at FromSoftware than their popular Soulsborne releases.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon sees players working as a mercenary on the planet Rubicon 3, with your goal being to uncover a special energy source known as Coral. There’s a catch, though: there are also a bunch of other factions looking to seek the elusive Coral too, ensuring there’s plenty of warfare taking place as they battle it out with highly sophisticated mechs. It’s up to you to get into the middle of the action and work for all sides, with players taking on a multitude of jobs as they look to seek out the Coral for themselves. It’s a pretty straightforward narrative that’s a lot less cryptic than other FromSoftware titles, but it offers an intriguing bit of context to the frantic action taking place – even if it doesn’t have the same alluring sense of depth in its lore that the developer’s titles are typically known for.

Progression through the game is mission-based, so there’s no big open-world to unravel or inter-connecting environments to explore. Instead, you’ll head into a designated area for the mission (each of which brings plenty of variety in their look and structure), complete your objectives, earn some rewards, and move onto the next. Most missions are short in length too, so there’s a sense of swiftness to progress in the game that isn’t common in other FromSoftware titles. Of course, you’ll also occasionally encounter bigger missions with higher stakes and more destructive set-pieces (and more often than not a tasty boss fight), with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon never shy on upping the ante to keep the player immersed in its explosive world.

No matter what the mission is, a lot of your success will come down to the build of your mech, with mech customisation playing a massive role in the experience. Players will place whole different parts on their mech, completely changing their weight and how they feel to control on the battlefield, whilst the weaponry brings with it a vast amount of variety that can see players shift from focusing on up-close combat to simply picking their shots from afar. You’ve got the likes of missile launchers, shotguns, napalm bomb launchers, gatling guns, flamethrowers, and laser blades to play around with (just to name a few), whilst having multiple parts of your mech to customise means you can make a very flexible build that brings with it plenty of diversity in its attacking options. And don’t worry, you can customise its appearance in a multitude of ways too, so you can ensure the colours and decals of your mech look sick in-game.

“Oh, and the bosses themselves? They’re brilliant, with each providing a real mech warfare spectacle as you take them on. They’re always the biggest, nastiest, and most aggressive enemies you face off against, but they offer Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon’s best moments.”

Customisation is deep and strategic, but it never feels overwhelming thanks to the pace of progression in the game. Whilst there are a lot of things to tinker with and utilise on missions, you’ll unlock different parts in a steady manner that ensures players won’t be stumped wondering what they should actually use. Don’t get me wrong, there’ll be instances of experimentation where you’ll have to test the different parts out to see what works for you, but it’s rare that you’ll find yourself completely stumped when customising your mech or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options you have at your disposal. It’s really rewarding and it’s easy to find yourself spending as much time tinkering with your mech build as you do battling your enemies.

That being said, whilst you may be tempted to customise your mech to suit your playstyle, there’s also a strategic element to be found where some missions are better suited to a different build of mech. This is especially apparent in the game’s boss battles, which will REALLY push your skills to their limit with their destructively challenging nature. Sometimes, it just takes some perseverance to defeat them, but other times, you’ll have to change your mech loadout and equip something better suited to deal with the threat. If you own the equipment already, you can switch it out after dying, with each boss having a checkpoint before it in a mission. But if you have to purchase new parts? Expect to play through the whole mission again. It can be a little frustrating, but it’s all part of the learning curve.

Oh, and the bosses themselves? They’re brilliant, with each providing a real mech warfare spectacle as you take them on. They’re always the biggest, nastiest, and most aggressive enemies you face off against, but they offer Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon’s best moments. They’re just tough as nails and will act as a real stumbling block for players if they are ill-prepared for the showdown.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Whilst there are plenty of elements of strategy to the experience, simply playing Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is a lot of fun. The combat mechanics are robust and will REALLY make you feel like you’re at the helm of a destructive mech, whilst the omni-directional flexibility of your mech in both combat and movement add this sublime level of fluidity to each showdown that makes then all the more tantalising to be a part of. I never grew tired of simply taking my mech out into the battlefield and inflicting pain upon my enemies, whilst the visual pizzazz found across your battles is superb. Whether it’s destructive explosions or eye-catching laser blasts, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon captures the chaos of battle perfectly. Admittedly, the environments don’t quite carry the same visual quality, but they do enough to stand out. There’s a lot of depth to be found elsewhere too, whether that’s when fine-tuning elements of your mech (I haven’t even mentioned the OST Chips you earn to boost your stats), making choices in missions that affect the ending, or re-playing missions to earn those higher ranks. There’s even competitive multiplayer to get stuck into in, though I haven’t spent a lot of time in that yet – my early experiences have seen a LOT of losses, so I’ll have to put a bit of practice in before I’ll be able to hold my own against Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon aficionados.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Review

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is a thrilling experience that blends together destructive mech combat and with deep customisation options in a rewarding manner. Combat feels great and offers plenty of strategic options thanks to the depth offered when putting together your mech build, whilst the missions are perfectly designed to cater for some epic set pieces and battles with your enemies. And sure, there can be a bit of a learning curve (especially when dealing with the tougher boss encounters), but nothing in the game ever feels overwhelming.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is simply a triumphant return for the series – here’s hoping we won’t have to wait another ten years for the next entry…

Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform(s): Xbox Series X (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC