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Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Review (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, & PC)

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Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon review

Many people know FromSoftware as the Souls franchise frontiers. Not only are they known for their work in the Dark Souls series but also for Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Elden Ring, all of which have Soulslike DNA and usually feature open-world exploration. However, their most recent Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is anything but. 

Simply put, it's the sixth installment in the Armored Core series, following Armored Core: Verdict Day (2013). With a new story and setting, the game hopes to attract modern-day mech pilots and re-enlist veterans. But will it be enough to entice FromSoftware's Souls devotees? Is it a game that anyone can enjoy? Let's find out in our Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon review.

May the Best Corporation Win

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

In a nutshell, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon tells the story of megacorporations vying for control of a dangerously unstable resource known as Coral. Previously, the struggle to obtain Coral had wiped the planet clean of its natural phenomena and beauty. All that's left are desolate lands – arid deserts, frozen lakes, and the like – and trace amounts of Coral. As soon as word reaches extraterrestrial planets, they descend their wrath upon the planet, sending their best mech destroyers to destroy everything that stands in their way and seize control of the Coral. That's where you come in. 

You're a mech-for-hire, ready to fight for the cause of the corporation that can foot the bill. A mysterious man named Walter contacts you and asks you to settle a few scores with random corporation mechs. So you set out into the war-torn outside world to punch them in the face and check off a checklist for that mission. 

That's pretty much it for the gameplay. Choose missions from the base station. Equip yourself with the weapons and armor of your choice. Set out into various environments to fight and achieve your objectives. Then, return to the beginning to rinse and repeat. The whole exercise would have sucked, except Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon makes it interesting, endearing, and fun to play. 

Figure It Out Yourself

Once you've connected with the premise, the game throws you into the sea to find your way among the sharks. It's an intriguing way to unravel a story in which you control a silent protagonist instead of a talking one. Instead of interacting with NPCs, they communicate with you via radio during missions, dropping hints and revealing plot details. And, rather than detailed cinematic story missions, you mostly see voice texts, albeit well-acted, via a PowerPoint presentation-style mission briefing screen. 

You never get to see many faces or body language. Our protagonist appears to be the type to follow the wind (or the money), which seems redundant when, later on, you're free to choose which missions and, consequently, factions to support. In turn, your choices change the story's outcome and ending. Yet even with the ingenuity, the entire story still feels like an acquired taste that feels a little old-school. 

What's more? It's difficult to pay attention to what new secrets or twists your compatriots are trying to tell you during the often chaotic and fast-paced combat sequences, where you're literally trying not to die. In the end, I didn't get as far into the story as I would have liked, and I came away well-informed on the intriguing premise and with only a surface-level explanation of what was going on. 

Does Mech and Desolate Areas Always Have to Go Together?

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

It's clear that the setting has been updated with modern-day visuals and a consistent 60 fps that never drops, providing a smooth experience. However, the surroundings are mostly desolate, which makes me wonder if it's completely necessary to convey the message this game is supposed to convey. Maybe it is. I just feel like I prefer vibrant settings with an interesting color palette and some semblance of life, even if there aren't actual physical human bodies strutting around. 

Missions, on the other hand, feel fresh each time you take one. Thanks to the game's diverse arenas. And once you're in the thick of it, every laser beam, bullet flare, and metal crash oozes charm and visual delight. In terms of visuals, the mech-on-mech action stands out the most. Furthermore, you are free to customize your build, including the legs, arms, chest, colors, logos, and so on, to create the mech that best takes after your own heart.

Time to Fight

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

As aforementioned, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is mission-structured. Each mission takes a few minutes to complete, with a total playtime of 50 to 60 hours, depending on your overall skill level. Despite the short bursts of mission runs, which frequently involve tasks such as destroying artillery installations, attacking a dam complex, and the like, each one feels distinct from the others, from enemy placements to the surroundings.

Firstly, you’ll need to gear up. You can equip your mech with up to four weapons, two on each hand and two on each shoulder. As you'll soon discover, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon lacks a progression system. Rather, unlock new toys for your mech to try out. Assault rifles, bazookas, machine guns, flamethrowers—you name it. And you can fire all four at the same time, resulting in the exciting mech-on-mech action I mentioned earlier.

When using a controller, things can get a little tricky because, while button mashing won’t work, there are still a lot of buttons to press to control all the weapons, plus the joystick for movement. Thank God, though, that fighting is the best part because it's so fast that you'll have your heart racing from start to finish. You're constantly on the move, sprinting forward, using boosters to jump and stay in the air for a while, and constantly maneuvering your way around enemies to hit them at their weak points with everything you've got. 

Not So Tough, Are You?

You'll encounter mini and mega-bosses who dwarf you and die all the time – and not because you're not trying hard enough. In that regard, Armored Core VI: Fires of Reborn is similar to the Souls games. It's difficult, no doubt, especially given the core gameplay concept of engineering your way out of difficult situations. There are so many parts to choose from, and as you'll soon discover, some bosses only go down when you find the perfect loadout to take them down.

If you're wondering if you can get help taking down tough bosses, you can't. The missions do not support co-op. If you have a competitive spirit, you can check out the multiplayer 1v1 or 3v3 battle cages, which are unlocked after you've unraveled a portion of the narrative and had the chance to tinker with your mech's build to find the perfect one, not just for you, but for each mission you go on.  


Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

So, is it worthwhile to play Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon? The answer is a resounding “yes” for die-hard mech fans. Souls fans may also consider it due to its difficult yet approachable FromSoftware combat system. However, for those who have no interest in mechs or Soulslike experiences, it can go either way.

On the pros front, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon uses a clever concept of tinkering with a wide assortment of weapons and builds in order to find the ideal one for taking down specific bosses in specific missions. An added bonus is the fluid and responsive combat, which, while difficult, feels rewarding to master. In addition to excellent voice acting and consistent frame rates of 60 frames per second.

However, some parts need a little more time in the garage. For instance, the control system can be smoother. At the moment, there are many commands to give in the same breath, which can cause cramping after a while. Furthermore, the setting may not appeal to everyone, with times when it can feel a little bland. The camera, too, can struggle to keep up with the frantic needs of the battle system, leaving you wishing it could turn around quickly enough to spot and lock on the enemy. 

All of this is to say that Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is far from perfect. But the good news is that its flaws aren't dire enough to derail the overall experience. From this, it's clear that FromSoftware is still on a roll, not just in the Souls gaming space but also in resurrecting the long-forgotten Armored Core mech series in the best way possible.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Review (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, & PC)

Tough Yet Approachable

After a long hiatus, FromSoftware is taking a break from the Souls experience and has returned to its Armored Core series with the sixth installment called Fires of Rubicon. Unlike previous entries, veterans will find it more approachable, thanks to the rebooted story and settings. Souls fans will also enjoy its tough gameplay, albeit with new gameplay featuring mechs and laser guns.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.