Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon Preview | This ain’t Armored Souls

Bandai Namco and FromSoftware finally showed off their next title during the recent hands-off preview of Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon.

Following its reveal back in The Game Awards last year, Bandai Namco and FromSoftware finally showed off their next title during the recent hands-off preview of Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon.

The first-ever gameplay preview of the next Armored Core game was shown to members of the press, and it highlighted what players can expect in this new game.

As FromSoftware has clarified multiple times, Fires of Rubicon is not a Soulslike game as this is still an Armored Core game through and through thanks to its focus on customizing mechs and high-speed gameplay that combines melee and ranged combat.

Though FromSoftware promised that while the core DNA of Armored Core is still here, the game does feature a combat system that the studio says should still be challenging to provide the same feeling of accomplishment that the Soulslike game has.

In the gameplay demo, the developers showed just one level of the game, and from the looks of it, its world is already quite impressive.

Maps with Incredible Verticality

FromSoftware wanted to focus on traversal for this game. Specifically, traversal that you can only do with mechs. Because of this, each map has a lot of verticality and does not exactly have set paths for players to follow. While it’s not quite Elden Ring’s open world, the verticality of the map is like a souped-up Sekiro in some respects.

To traverse the large and vertical maps, mechs have boosters that are a signature movement mechanic in Armored Core. From the looks of it, there are lots of creative ways to reach far-flung locations.

Another thing to remember is that the game features a Batman detective vision style function that lets players see enemies in the next room. While this makes sense for a mecha game, the hope here is that it doesn’t become a crutch for players.

Again, it’s hard to fully judge based on the small slice of gameplay that was shown, but Armored Core 6 seems to have a large number of paths to take when getting to the main objective. This should mean the game will also be highly replayable. But it’s a bit too early to call that.

One thing to note is that, while the boost looks great when watching gameplay footage, the feel of movement and boosting will be hugely important in the game’s quality. After all, because of the vertical and horizontal movement that mechs have, awkward-feeling movement will definitely hamper the experience.

Signature FromSoftware Combat

Of course, exploration isn’t the only thing players will be doing as there are various enemies that players must face along the way to their objective in each level.

When it comes to gameplay, Armored Core 6 has a focus on blending gun-based ranged combat (with a lock-on mechanic), as well as up-close-and-personal melee attacks. While a player’s playstyle will depend on their chosen loadout, it should be important to master melee and ranged combat when facing off against the game’s myriad of enemies.

Based on what we’ve seen, movement also plays a huge role in combat encounters. When surrounded by enemies, it’s important to use the boost function to dodge attacks, as well as to position yourself for a melee attack.

While not as dangerous as Soulsbourne mobs (at least, based on the gameplay slice that we were shown as they don’t really have one-hit potential), each enemy in the game will have its own moveset that players will need to master in order to make quick work of them. Because of this, while it’s not a Soulslike, that satisfying gameplay loop that has players master enemy patterns to take them down will be present here, albeit in a different package that’s way fast and has a bigger emphasis on ranged combat.

Much like exploration, the feel of the combat will make or break this title. While FromSoftware at this point has proven itself to be reliable when it comes to making combat feel great, we still need to try Armored Core given that it’s such a departure from their games over the last decade. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long given the game’s August release date.

Checkpoints and Mecha Customization

So, how do levels work in Armored Core? Well, it doesn’t seem to be one connected world as each mission is its own level. Also, this is not at all a Soulslike as it does not have the bonfire checkpoint system.

Instead, the game has a standard checkpoint style where players can restart from a checkpoint after dying from an enemy. This is a much more forgiving system than the Souls games, especially as there doesn’t seem to be a penalty.

Also, players can fully customize their loadout before jumping into the checkpoint. This allows players to change up their strategy if they’re stuck against an enemy for example. In the customization screen, there are twelve parts to choose from, with each having the potential to dramatically alter how the mech moves.

The gameplay demo didn’t really show off a lot of weapon and movement parts, though it seems that they change the gameplay enough that some loadouts will work better against some bosses. Given this, it’ll be key to master customization, and this at least gives players a way to try something different, much like how Elden Ring allows players to explore somewhere else if they’re stuck.

Sure, the checkpoints may seem forgiving but don’t worry as the game will still be a challenge, especially based on the boss fights that were shown.

Hardcore Boss Fights

To start, a mini-boss was previewed in the demo and ranged attacks in the first loadout weren’t effective. Coupled with some environmental hazards, the player had to restart from the checkpoint.

Following this, the mech’s loadout was customized to give it better moveability (both horizontally and vertically) and a stronger ranged attack. Thanks to this, the mini-boss was staggered, opening it up for a critical hit.

Yes, this game has a stagger mechanic that’s reminiscent of Sekiro as there’s a stagger bar at the top of each enemy. With this, you can expect a difficult yet rewarding gameplay experience, especially given how ferocious some of the boss moves are.

Then, at the end of the demo, a huge boss was also shown, and it looks incredibly imposing given its size. It also has some key weaknesses that players must exploit, though given that they can be hard to reach, mastery of the movement and combat system will be key.

Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon – Initial Verdict

Again, this is a hands-off demo, so we can’t exactly say how the gameplay feels. After all, this is a huge component in any game, especially a FromSoftware game.

But from what we’ve seen in the preview, the game does hold a lot of promise thanks to the impressive verticality of its maps, the deep customization system, the fast-paced melee-range combat, and the massive boss fights.

While this is not a Soulsborne game, it does promise to be a title that fans of FromSoftware should definitely check out.

Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon will be released on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on August 25, 2023.