Armored Core VI goes hard, hits harder, and gives players so many choices and options along the way

There’s nothing quite like reviewing a game you truly connect with.

When things come in and I’m on the clock, I’ll always make as much progress as I physically can to give the best overview possible, regardless of whether I like it or not. But for my own enjoyment, I’ll make that time, I’ll keep coming back, and find ways and excuses to keep playing.

And while it doesn’t often happen as much as you might think, sometimes I’ll get the privilege of playing a game I love for review. One I can’t put down, that I can’t stop thinking about, that really matters to me. There’s no feeling better when it stops being work and becomes a game I don’t feel guilty about eating into my free time. That is the dream. And that is Armored Core VI.

I threw out some first impressions last week and I’m so glad I did because it’s been so hard to stop since. Mastering the customisation, taking on the varied mission types, even spending time in the Nest, this game is a real hook.

I mentioned the feeling of flow and movement before, but I just have to say again that it just feels so effortlessly satisfying right through to the later missions. Whizzing left and right dodging rocket fire, darting out of the way of charging bosses, boosting down to your next location, this game just oozes style with every strafe.

But combat is also such a nice balance of melee, range and rapid fire shots that can take down just about anyone or anything in quick measure but also require tactics and skill. Early missions mean you can probably get away without changing too much, but there will come a point that if you stay in the same lane, enemies will pulverise you. They’ll overwhelm you and turn you into metallic mush. If there is such a thing.

So the only way to stay in the fight is tweaking and adapting your artillery at base in-between missions and there is a huge amount of detail to consider as you tally up things like weight, size, but also damage output, reach, and reload time. You can buy new items by earning credits, pick up things in missions that may be useful later on, and even adapt and upgrade them for increased potency.

I never in a million years thought this game would be for me. I’ve never played any of the other Armored Cores. I couldn’t even stand the Dark Souls games when they first released and it took me years for them to finally click. But I gelled with Fires of Rubicon pretty much straight away.

From the Metal Gear Solid style briefs and interface, to the tongue in cheek sense of humour, the visual wow moments – some of the bosses and environments are just incredible – and the general feel and balance of the game. Every little facet of it matters and finds a way to connect with the player.

The reason I wanted to spend more time with this one is to see how much deeper down the well it goes, does it get stale, do the mechanics hold up, does the difficulty play me out of the game? Do I stop feeling the same way about it 30 hours in as opposed to five? But after rolling credits, I just felt pure happiness and contentment. Satisfaction for beating it, then reflection on what I’d just put myself through.

And yes, some mission types repeat and things do slow down a bit towards the middle, but it’s never overly noticeable and you’re never left wanting or bored. It’s hard keeping things that fresh when you have a certain style to uphold. w

I said this was a game from a developer at the peak of its powers and I meant it. FromSoftware could do a platformer next and I’d play it. Such is the trust I now have with them. The bond that’s been built up between developer and player. They just get how to layer a video game, how to get you invested, and then disrupt the rhythm and blow your mind about halfway through. That’s just pure magic.

But with AC they’ve also pivoted away from what they’re known for, they start letting you build out a mech with a level of customisation most games never achieve. They give you the choice to do some testing in simulators or match your skills against other mechs in PVE and PVP modes. They provide mission choice and still manage to tell a more cohesive story than you’re expecting as you progress and evolve.

Onboarding is tough. I know that initial helicopter is catching people out. I’ve seen more than a few people refunding because they hit that wall off the bat. And sometimes I do catch myself wondering why From do things this way, do they intentionally want to warrant this criticism and negativity?

It can be totally infuriating and frustrating. But at this point it’s what they’re known for and they’re unlikely to change. And genuinely, I learned so damn much from that encounter, it actually prepared me quite well for everything to come. It already got me to keep trying and never give up.

There is a reason there are so many Souls-likes on the market now, of developers following their exact formula. Because it works. And it’s worked for others too. Look at Blasphemous. Mortal Shell. The upcoming Lords of the Fallen is getting some magnificent press. As is Lies of P.

And while Armored Core VI is not a Souls-like, there are nods and halmarks which players will recognise. If you’re familiar with From’s work, it will help with that crossover and make the adjustment easier than it will for others. Who knows, maybe AC6 will influence more mech-likes on the market, a genre that’s always skirted the shadows of mainstream. You wouldn’t put it past From at this point.

What’s clear is this game won’t be for everyone, but it does grant you the opportunity to play however you want to. It means there’s no one strategy that’s going to work out in any particular mission and you are going to be doing plenty of trial and error in order to find what works for you. That’s why it’s not as easy as writing a guide for Armored Core 6, it could be someone elses’ build just isn’t compatible with your playstyle. To me, that’s what makes this game so special, but also deeply and uniquely fascinating.

The mission variety is sound too, between scanning a wide area with no clear enemies in sight, only to suddenly be fighting against camoflauged snipers. Then there’s all-out assaults, missions where you find yourself scaling to the top of a huge colossus attempting to find a weak spot, and even trying to gather as many audio logs as you can within a time limit. You will be kept on your toes, have to make judgment calls in figuring out your approach, then decide how to set yourself up and take on a few trial runs before victory.

Customisation is so key to this whole experience, and it’s more than just putting a fancy emblem on the side of your mech or changing the colour of your feet. You are directly responsible for the way you control – too much weight will slow you down – but also how you fight, your general mobility, the amount of endurance you have. It takes character-building to a whole other level.

I could go on, honestly, but I think you get the gist. Armored Core VI and I just got off on the right foot from the start, but that won’t be everyone’s experience. On the one hand, it’s not a traditional From experience and definitely not a Souls-Like – even though it sometimes feels like one – so just because you hate Elden Ring, doesn’t mean you’ll dislike Armored Core. On the other, I feel like those who’ve been buttering their bread with everything this developer has been doing over the last decade will still feel right at home here.

Fires of Rubicon is a whole new lease of life for this developers’ forgotten franchise. Both a fresh start and a reminder of what else this team is capable of. It’s the perfect balance of retro, tapping into what made these games successful in the first place and modern, particularly in the epic confrontations you’re going to find yourself up against.


Armored Core VI is not the usual FromSoftware jazz but it’s still not going to take it easy on you. From its deep layers of customisation, its huge amount of missions and the surprising amount of variety within them, and the wonderful free-flowing, fast-paced movement, this game stands apart as a fresh-start for their forgotten franchise and a throwback to their glory days. Fires of Rubicon is a showcase of a developer at the peak of their powers, able to switch up things to great effect and still manage to deliver a high standard of quality. 


+ Great selection of missions and epic boss battles
+ Customisation allows you to play in so many different ways
+ PVP and PVE modes nice diversion from base game
+ The feel, flow and balance of the game is on point


– Comes out the gate hard with its difficulty curve, offputting for some
– Some mission types repeat and it gets a little bloaty in the middle

Armored Core VI is out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox

Code Kindly Provided by Bandai Namco for review purposes

Tested on PS5

Initial Impressions can be seen here

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