The long-awaited Armored Core 6 is on the horizon, and a decade of patience for series fans is about to culminate in what could be the quintessential mech game of our generation. After considerable time spent creating and arguably perfecting the soulslike genre with Elden Ring, developer FromSoftware has jumped back into the cockpit with both hands on the controls, but does it have what it takes to pilot us into a new age for robot games, or will Rubicon’s blessing be too much for the team to handle?
As we approach the Armored Core 6 release date, I decided to take a trip down memory lane to discover what made Armored Core such a stand-out series in its time and why it’s worth bringing back after a decade-long absence. On that journey, I came across old favorites like Armored Core 2, forgotten classic Last Raven, and total curveballs like Chromehounds. So in the words of Leos Klein: “I’m a realist, not some fool. All that I’ve wanted to do was to revive the ways of the old.”
The Armored Core series has taken an extended hiatus over the past decade and left the torch-bearing duties to other games, like Mech Warrior Online and Battletech, each with their own accomplishments. That said, none quite stack up to the legacy of Armored Core, meaning that an already niche genre has fallen further into obscurity.
It’s not known why FromSoftware put Armored Core on the back burner, but you’d have to assume it has something to do with the runaway success of its soulslike games and the decidedly poor reception to Armored Core 5, whose reviews are worlds apart from that of GOTY-winning 10/10 Elden Ring. It’s my view, however, that FromSoftware made the correct decision to shelve Armored Core until a new generation of gamers appeared, giving the series a second chance to shine again, now with the added heft of hailing from the team behind some of the best games of the decade.
Don’t be mistaken: Armored Core is not Dark Souls, and FromSoftware has gone to great lengths to make sure you’re aware of that. When speaking to IGN, Hidetaka Miyazaki said the team wasn’t “making a conscious effort to try to direct [Armored Core 6] towards more soulsborne type gameplay.” He followed that up by saying “what that means is taking our know-how and experiences from game development in recent years, and applying that knowledge to the development of [Armored Core 6],” which is exactly what I want to hear.
As we look at the history of the Armored Core games, we can see clear progress and improvements to the core formula, with the odd deviation, making it the premiere mech series, but that only tells half the story of Armored Core 6. We can’t talk about Armored Core without acknowledging FromSofware’s soulslike games and how their design might gel with that of classic AC. Everything so far suggests AC6 will be an excellent hybrid and, as a result, has the potential to flourish as one of the definitive mech games. For those new to the series who may have been drawn in due to the soulslike associations, however, you shouldn’t just expect Dark Souls, Elden Ring, or the like with mechs.
While you’re waiting for launch, be sure to check out what we know so far about the Armored Core 6 bosses that you’ll be facing off against.