Armored Core VI Review Roundup: A Franchise Revitalised, A Studio At The Top Of Its Game

Armored Core VI Review Roundup: A Franchise Revitalised, A Studio At The Top Of Its Game

The Armored Core VI review embargo broke overnight, and the buzz is incredibly positive. It’s a different game compared against both From Software’s now well-established Dark Souls template, and older Armored Core titles. Reviewers describe a game that is profoundly stressful and crushingly difficult but which rewards a willingness to dig into its byzantine systems and extract that little extra bit of performance from your mech. There’s also a lot of love for its story, which is built on wresting power from the powerful and the corrupt, funnelling it into your horrifyingly powerful mech, and sending it all back ten-fold in the compact form of a ballistic missile.

On Metacritic, Armored Core VI reviews fall squarely in the Excellent category, reporting aggregate scores of 87 on PlayStation 5 and PC respectively, and a slightly lower 79 on Xbox Series X|S.

Let’s take a look at what the critics thought, from here in Australia and around the world.

The Aussies

GamesHub’s Edmond Tran was the first cab off the rank with a mega 5 star review, saying “Armored Core 6 is an unsympathetic and cold-blooded game. It’s a cup of bitter, black coffee – and thankfully, that suits my palate perfectly. It’s full of moments that make you feel very powerful – in both effortless and hard-fought ways – and moments that make you very, very small. In the face of it all, you’re pushed to overcome the impossible. And you’ll come out on the other end wearing an exhausted, wry smile.”

Player 2 felt the same, awarding it an A rating, saying “In my eyes, this is a new era for not only Armored Core, but I also hope for mech games. The combat is tight, the differences in your builds feel meaningful and have an impact. Hell, even the narrative is great here. I hope people give this a shot, because to me, this is a great game that I think might be seminal for future titles in the genre.”

WellPlayed followed through with a 9.5 review, saying “Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon emerges ablaze with FromSoftware’s best impulses. Demanding and rewarding combat is bolstered by series signature customisation and player-driven storytelling to form a masterclass in design philosophy and raw fun.”

Press Start gave it a 9, and was one of only a few Armored Core VI reviews to ding the story, saying that it “manages to successfully bring back and cultivate an experience reminiscent of the old games for newer audiences without losing sight of what made the previous games so good. While it’s still relentlessly challenging and the story can be a bit drab, Fires of Rubicon is yet another success for FromSoftware with its satisfying and fast paced combat.”

Stevivor gave it an 8.5 saying, “Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon is a step forward for the franchise. It’s more accessible than old games and does away with some systems that only served to frustrate. It’s a game with an interesting story, told awkwardly. Environments are often stunningly pretty, when not just barren tundra or sand swept desert. And holy hell, is it tough at times. The AC series is one that rewards your ability to adapt and persevere in equal measure. To overcome it’s challenges you have to learn its systems and soldier on in the face of inevitable defeat. Series veterans will dine well, and if you’re signing up as a newcomer then do yourself a favour – don’t expect Armored Core 6 to be something it’s not. Try enjoying it for what it is instead.”

Checkpoint Gaming also awarded it an 8.5, saying “Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is a next-generation action game of mechs, industry, and technology within a rich story. It will be renowned for its advanced approach to strategic combat, integrated assembly system, and immersive soundscape, offering an unparalleled experience for fans of the genre. Amidst its narrative intricacies, pacing, and camera control challenges, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon stands as a symphony of metal and fire, inviting players to pilot their destiny in a futuristic universe unlike any other.”

So, overall, a pretty positive result.

The rest of the world

Kotaku US filed its Armored Core VI review this morning (unscored, we don’t do those around here), saying “The central fantasy of every FromSoftware game is pretty much the same—that through close observation and relentless practice you too can bootstrap your way to greatness, slay the dragon, save the kingdom, or solve the puzzle to unlock the mysteries of the universe. In many of the Soulsborne games this means mastering the violent gauntlet ahead of you. In Armored Core VI it means changing yourself until that death march becomes a cakewalk instead. It’s a game about having faith in yourself, even when no one else does, and becoming an ass-kicking mech pilot in the process, not because it will save the world, but because it’s cool as shit.”

Polygon’s review, also unscored, felt similarly. “The most compelling aspects of Armored Core 6 come from its hard-fought battles, when 621 survives their mission with just a sliver of life left, having out-danced the opponent in the exchange of missiles, bullets, and laser beams. It’s noisy, chaotic, and starkly beautiful, all this clanging metal, ricochets, and explosions. It’s unlike many of the FromSoftware games you may have played over the past decade, to its benefit. Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is the Elden Ring developer flexing an old, nearly forgotten muscle, but one that’s still strong as ever.”

Eurogamer awarded it five stars, saying “FromSoftware delivers a superlative action game that builds on its Soulslike pedigree while staying lean and laser-focused.”

TheGamer awarded it four-and-a-half stars, saying “Fires of Rubicon is the series at its peak as FromSoftware fires on all cylinders. The mech gunplay evolves far beyond mindless action to tell a story of the oppressed stripping bare the power of those they serve to better a dying world. It’s a story that will always be relevant, but now more than ever, its lesson of standing up to those in power who are tearing apart the world for personal gain is paramount.”

Destructoid gave it a 9, saying “I was a bit skeptical that From Software would find a way to make Armored Core relevant again after a lengthy hiatus, but they figured it out.”

GamesRadar agreed, filing another 9/10 review, saying “Armored Core 6 is FromSoftware like we’ve never seen it, back on its mech beat with renewed vigor after 10 years away. It’s an exhilarating game that lives up to the promise of action that only mechs can deliver, and it’s a refreshingly short and easily replayed experience that still manages heaps of depth.”

PC Gamer’s 87-scored review was short and sweet: “This is Armored Core. We are blessed to have it back.”

Game Informer gave it an 8.25, saying “Armored Core VI is a solid return for one of From Software’s long-dormant franchises. It still carries many of the mech genre’s old contrivances, like its generic mission structure and predictable plot. However, it modernizes mech action meaningfully to introduce it to a new generation. While legacy fans may have some complaints about the “casualization” of Armored Core, I am ultimately glad the series is back and firing on all cylinders.”

Forbes gave it an 8, saying “Overall, Armored Core VI is a proper mecha action game. It’s not the best game in the series, but it is solidly done. The new target assist setup works fine and is also able to be turned off if need be. The story and localization are great, and very much inline with the Japanese dialogue for the first time in the series’ history. It’s also definitely a return to form for the Armored Core series, but the never-ending boss fights do take away from the decent mission structure and pacing, especially later in the game. However, for someone like me that’s been playing Armored Core games for over 25 years, it’s nice that this series is back and finally being given a proper chance to shine.”

GameSpot, also with an 8, was charmed. “Armored Core VI represents a new beginning for the long-running series. It still remains true to From Software’s original vision, but the whole experience has been refined to welcome an audience that cut its teeth on the studio’s most recent work. Its story is a letdown and there may be some early growing pains due to its lopsided approach, but these shortcomings quickly scurry to the back of your mind once you start weaving your fully customized mech between incoming attacks while unleashing a salvo of rocket fire, sword swipes, and plasma rounds.”

IGN, also with an 8, was another that didn’t care for the nuances of the story. “Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon’s stellar customization options feed into its excellent mecha combat, and the result is challenging combat puzzles that kept my attention all the way through its 15-hour campaign and beyond. It’s let down by a dull story, but lands direct hits where it counts.”

VG247 was less impressed, with a 6/10, saying “Armored Core 6 is the essence of a soft reboot. It has the unenviable task of drawing newcomers to a niche, sometimes overly challenging series without changing too much of what made fans like it to begin with. The result is a mixed experience that, while it has some shining moments of brilliance, feels a bit loose and never plays to its strengths.”

Digital Trends also gave it a 6, saying “Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is a powerful mech flying with faulty thrusters. A fast-paced action game loaded with thrilling dogfights and stimulating mech customization is dragged down by all too familiar FromSoftware quirks like illegible UI and a headache-inducing third-person camera. It’s not enough to fully spoil an exciting ride, but it does leave me wondering how far a good tune-up would have gone.”

From reading all these Armored Core VI takes, in review after review, I think there’s a clear conclusion that can be drawn here: those that get it, get it. Those that don’t, don’t. And that’s how you know it’s a From Software joint, through and through.

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