Armored Core VI marks the triumphant return of a franchise that had long remained under the radar. Fresh on the heels of the critically acclaimed Elden Ring, developer From Software hardly requires an introduction. The choice to resurrect Armored Core VI has proven to be a masterstroke, as evidenced by the game’s soaring popularity. Whether you are a seasoned veteran of Elden Ring and Dark Souls or simply a mecha enthusiast, the anticipation surrounding the launch of Armored Core VI was palpable.
In the intervening years since the last installment of Armored Core, From Software has ascended to unparalleled prominence through the monumental success of the Souls series. The invaluable insights gained from these ventures have been seamlessly integrated into Armored Core VI, resulting in a game that offers both high-quality and exhilarating action. Despite being one of the most challenging releases of the year, the game features an addictive gameplay loop. While newcomers may initially find the difficulty daunting, the game is surprisingly accessible, thanks in part to a control scheme designed to be beginner-friendly—although challenging boss battles still await.
Armored Core VI transports players to an entirely new universe, centering on the planet Rubicon. As a mercenary pilot, you embark on a quest to discover Coral, a colossal energy source once believed to have been obliterated in a post-apocalyptic event. Recent evidence, however, suggests that Coral may still exist on this frontier planet. While the narrative holds significant weight, its delivery falls short in the game’s overall presentation. Instead of employing cinematic cutscenes to unfold the story, the game relies primarily on radio conversations and mission briefings. This approach, unfortunately, fails to do justice to the rich lore and potential of the Armored Core VI universe.
The game adopts a mission-based structure, thereby enhancing its replay value, especially for players who strive for perfection. Each mission offers a multitude of objectives, including optional tasks, providing ample opportunities for engagement. Customization is at the heart of Armored Core VI’s combat experience. The revamped control scheme enables quicker mech maneuverability, resulting in fast-paced, responsive action. Combat is arguably the best in the series, with agile movements allowing players to deftly evade enemy attacks and execute precise targeting. The extensive customization options ensure that the game accommodates a wide range of playstyles.
If you’re anticipating an open-world experience akin to earlier titles from From Software, Armored Core VI may defy those expectations. The game is structured around mission-based gameplay punctuated by significant boss encounters. The true thrill lies in engaging with these formidable bosses, with missions serving primarily as preparatory stages for these climactic battles. The complexity of mech customization, which includes both aesthetic and functional elements, adds layers of strategy to each boss fight. Players have the latitude to opt for either a defensively robust but slower build or a lighter, offense-oriented configuration, offering a rich tapestry of tactical choices in combat.
While the control scheme has been simplified for easier accessibility, the customization aspect demands a considerable investment of time. Initially, the plethora of options may seem overwhelming, but the developers have skillfully designed a learning curve that gradually introduces players to the intricacies of mech customization. Each mission prompts a reevaluation of your loadout, adding an unexpected layer of strategic depth to the game. Although I cannot draw comparisons with earlier entries in the Armored Core series, it’s evident that From Software has excelled in offering players a remarkable degree of freedom. Ultimately, the game’s level of challenge and its difficulty curve are contingent upon how well players can master this intricate customization system.
Contrary to what fans might expect from a From Software title, Armored Core VI eschews punishing death mechanics in favor of a more forgiving checkpoint system. Should players meet an untimely end during a mission, they are allowed to revisit their mech’s loadout. This feature proves particularly useful when facing challenging bosses, allowing players to reassess their strategy and optimize their equipment for the battle ahead.
Armored Core VI stands out as one of the most compelling action games I’ve played this year. While its ease of entry is a strong point, mastery of the game’s mechanics requires a deeper level of engagement. The mission-based structure may lack expansive freedom and can become repetitive, but the boss encounters serve as exhilarating tests of skill that do not disappoint. On a technical level, the game is exceptionally well-crafted, running smoothly at 60 FPS on the PS5. This high frame rate is crucial for fully appreciating the game’s fast-paced action; anything less could compromise both its potential and the player’s enjoyment.