ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON Review
ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON is the most genuine fun I’ve had with a videogame in the longest time. Being a newcomer to the series, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but thanks to FromSoftware’s fantastic track record, I had faith I was in for a good time, and I was right…
ARMORED CORE VI is a relatively straightforward game on the surface: you take the reins of Raven, or 621, an independent mercenary working on the planet of Rubicon 3. Each chapter is split into a variable number of missions, requiring you to find items, destroy certain targets, or other miscellaneous objectives, all to progress the goals of one of many corporations fighting to control the planet. This created the perfect hook for the initial parts of the story — fighting all sides of a multifaceted arms race led to a fair few moments, which left me questioning my morals — and made every part of the world feel morally dubious at best. As you progress further, the story opens up much more from a simple war, leading into many more personal ideals, mysteries, and the truth behind the Fires of Ibis, a near solar-system-destroying cataclysm, and Coral, the most sought-after resource found on Rubicon 3. While the story isn’t a revolutionary masterpiece, it is still incredibly enjoyable. The characters are interesting and have a nice level of depth while also being well-acted. The story develops at a comfortable pace, and everything seems to mesh together well to create a fully realised world and plot.
In true FromSoftware fashion, the combat is the absolute shining star of this game, yet it’s a whole different beast to the Souls series, which many people may be expecting. While there is a lot of noticeable inspiration from their previous titles, especially in the realm of boss design and difficulty, it manages to carve out a whole new niche for itself. The gameplay is incredibly fast-paced, and, especially in boss fights, comprehension is just as difficult as execution, sometimes even more so. There is a near-constant barrage of attacks in some fights, requiring you to manage not only the locations of the enemies but also your ammo count, weapon reloads, enemy attacks, and your own health and ACS (stagger) meter. This is combined with the omnidirectional movement to create a brutal experience, but it never feels impossible to overcome. This is really where the most satisfying loop of ARMORED CORE VI comes into play, being the incredible variety of customisation for your armoured core (AC).
Throughout missions, you’ll earn credits, which can be spent on new parts and weapons, which can drastically change the way your mech controls and functions. From explosive weapons, which excel at increasing the opponent’s ACS meter, allowing for incredible damage, to laser weapons, napalm launchers and more. Alongside this, there are different body parts for the AC, which at its most simple affects the weight and armour, but at a deeper level, can also affect weapon accuracy and defences against different damage types, and different legs can entirely change how certain movement systems work. For example, tank treads allow near-constant movement and stop larger weapons from slowing you down, while tetrapod legs enable the AC to hover, allowing for much more aerial combat. This system contributes to an almost rock, paper, scissors-esque system where you’re constantly changing up your builds to handle vastly different enemies. This is further amplified by being able to change your AC’s loadout whenever you die, allowing for quick and easy adaptation and experimentation. The Arena is a perfect example of these systems: a series of 1v1 fights against other ACs, which all have access to the same tools as you. This emphasises the near euphoric ebb and flow of the combat system while also giving you adequate space to learn which tools work well in certain situations.
You also have the option to fully customise your mech's colour and design. Being able to recolour and add patterns to almost every little detail gives you so much choice over how everything looks. You can also unlock and even create your own decals with a great system, allowing people to really express themselves.
As a modern AAA title, I was concerned about the performance initially, yet in my current 15 hours of playtime, I’ve had absolutely no issues in any way. Frame rates have been perfectly stable, even on max settings, and I've had no crashes or other problems running the game. I’ve also heard that the PC port has ultrawide resolution support, which is a first for a FromSoftware title. Graphically, the game isn’t anything new, however, the world has so much ambience and atmosphere. Ranging from grey and miserable factory districts to dusty orange and brown deserts, and on top of all of that, an absolutely gorgeous skybox. The sound design and music are also utterly brilliant, attacks are well-telegraphed through both visuals and sound effects, and the music — especially within the boss fights — is fantastic and sets the tone perfectly.
ARMORED CORE VI is definitely not for everyone, thanks to its insane difficulty, but if you’re one for a challenge and incredibly high-octane combat, you may just find a masterpiece. Hopefully, FromSoftware doesn’t leave the series in the dust for another 10 years and carries the momentum forward.
ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON (Reviewed on Windows)
Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?
FromSoftware once again released an utter masterpiece, with insane combat and an engaging plot, along with customisation allowing you to create the mech of your dreams.