My historical past with Armored Core began with the very first sport on PlayStation. I used to be enamored by the duvet the engaging big mech on it; and saved it shut whereas I skilled a complete slate of robot-based oddities like G-Nome, and Heavy Gear. From then on, I sought out each subsequent entry, till I lastly put it collectively that From Software program – who had additionally offered me with hours of leisure with the King’s Discipline collection – was accountable for all of it. By the point Demon’s Souls got here out the studio was a worldwide family identify, however they have been killing it earlier than Souls modified the business.

With a pedigree like that, you possibly can see why so many individuals maintain Armored Core in such excessive regard; so I’m pleased to report that Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon retains that legacy going.

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon (PC, PS4, PS5 [reviewed], Xbox One, Xbox Collection X/S)Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: August 25, 2023MSRP: $59.99

Simply so that you simply’re present, let’s take a deep dive into the Fires of Rubicon lore: Coral is a substance that results in unprecedented technological developments. Till it doesn’t, and there’s a large fireplace that destroys every thing. Following that, there’s a restoration interval populated with corps and mercs (that’s you!), which is the place you are available.

You’re caught up! No actually, you’re caught up.

That’s just about all of the background you want on Armored Core 6, because the crux of the expertise lies with incomes cash, and shopping for/mixing/matching components to kind your custom-curated machine of destruction. The narrative goes in circles typically (particularly with some of the listless pre-mission banter), however it’s sufficient to propel you ahead into extra mech-based fight and hold you guessing. However actually, the world of Rubicon 3 is an enchanting character in its personal proper. All of the biomes you’ll journey via (whether or not it’s a product of artifice or pure magnificence) are fascinating to witness, to the purpose the place I’d undoubtedly be keen on seeing extra of this particular universe sooner or later.

Mission selection usually errs on the facet of killing, however there are a number of forked paths (in-mission) to comply with from time to time, and the environments are various sufficient to assist funnel you into fixed motion. Whereas some sandboxes are slightly too corralled for my tastes, the phantasm of freedom is sufficient, as a result of of how dang good every thing seems to be. On the flip facet, the sport’s invisible boundaries do assist stop mission areas from changing into pointlessly huge and barren.

It actually helps that Armored Core 6 is totally attractive. From Software program’s artwork division has been placing in work worthy of artwork books for many years, however they actually outdid themselves right here. One of the very first missions seemed like one thing I haven’t seen in any sport this 12 months, and helped cement the truth that that is an unforgiving universe that can crush you on a second’s discover, even in case you are piloting an enormous killing machine that appears prefer it got here straight out of an anime.

What I like most about Armored Core 6 is how every thing appears like a puzzle: from mech building within the hangar to moment-to-moment fight within the thick of it, if you’re managing your enhance meter each so barely to make sure you have sufficient to dodge a large blast coming your method. The short aerial enhance system ties every thing collectively. By urgent a button (Sq. on PlayStation), you possibly can sacrifice a fast bar of enhance to immediately dodge. This may be chained in quite a few methods (together with weaving it collectively via a lift sprint, even within the air), however all of this finesse is ruled by a lift meter.

It actually is sort of a ballet, and also you’re in management of each the exact actions and the overarching tune. Should you like tanky builds, you possibly can craft an enormous literal tank tread mech that sacrifices maneuverability for endurance. Glass cannon builds are a cinch to create, as are speedsters who zip round and manually dodge every thing the sport can throw at them. When you’re completed tinkering, you have to really put your creation to the check and work out the ins and outs of that individual construct.

Boss battles are the place every thing actually shines. The range on provide is frankly overwhelming, from tiny little Kitfox-like creations that zoom about, to foes who can make use of energetic camo, to gigantic monstrosities that may deal a ton of injury in a single shot. I discovered myself consistently on my toes, having to study and relearn how I thought my mech labored and push it to the restrict. That’s precisely the type of feeling you need in a sport like this, the place you get to see the fruits of your labor up shut and private.

Should you’re frightened that Armored Core 6 might be insurmountable since you’ve by no means performed an AC sport earlier than (or any mech video games, for that matter), don’t be. There are a selection of ranges that From Software program has pulled to make sure that you gained’t be fully locked out, together with a full checkpoint system. When you can go for an S-Rank and finesse missions all you need, dying proper earlier than a boss, in practically each occasion, will help you restart from a closeby checkpoint.

Going a step additional, you possibly can even reconfigure your construct from the storage on this checkpoint menu, which appears like a reasonably large lifeline for a From Software program venture. For folk who’ve restricted time to play video games, this might be a Godsend, however it’s additionally good that you simply’re in a position to repeat missions for money or have a go on the enviornment (fast CPU battles). There’s a PVP system (co-op shouldn’t be current in any respect in any kind), however I wasn’t in a position to check it.

From Software program additionally accounted for this with the timed unlock of particular mechanics. You gained’t be capable to absolutely customise your mech from the beginning. Somewhat, you’ll want to complete a number of primary missions earlier than you should purchase components, customise them, and spec into particular builds (like kinetic or energy-based injury). You’ll additionally unlock fully-constructed blueprints of mechs that you should use for testing, with out worry of “screwing up a construct” or overspending.

I used to be a bit skeptical that From Software program would discover a approach to make Armored Core related once more after a prolonged hiatus, however they figured it out. The spark of the collection continues to be very a lot alive with out giving up its soul and making it one thing else completely, and a brand new era will be capable to respect why these video games have been so commemorated. Simply be able to tinker a bit, and take some Ls.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher, and deals with the single player portion of the game.]
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