The Return of a Mecha Classic
I’ve played almost every new mecha game released in recent years, finding enjoyment in the majority of them. Nevertheless, many have come up short in truly capturing the intense combat experience on a versatile battlefield that I would expect from a mecha game. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is one of the few titles that is able to give a fan like me a true mech experience.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon marks the long-awaited return of the iconic mech series after nearly a decade. Narrative design structures remain familiar to fans, whether they’re devoted followers of the series or enthusiasts of the mecha genre, while incorporating the lessons learned. The end result is everything one could ask for from a mecha game and more.
Welcome to Rubicon 3
A resource called Coral was discovered on Rubicon 3 that could be the key to a new era of technological advancements. Due to its unstable properties, it caused a planet-wide cataclysmic event known as the Fires of Ibis. As a result, all Coral was thought to have been wiped out while Rubicon 3 was rendered a wasteland and quarantined by the Planetary Closure Administration (PCA). Half a century passes when traces of Coral are once again being detected on Rubicon 3. Corporations have flocked to the planet to locate and control the Coral deposits.
This sets the foundation for conflict between the corporations, the people of Rubicon 3, and the PCA. Veries mercenaries see the conflict as an opportunity and flock to offer their services to the highest bidder. One such mercenary is C4-621, who is smuggled with the assistance of Handler Walter. Upon landing, they commandeer the call sign “Raven” and begin offering their services to various factions. However, everything is not what it appears while everyone around you seems to have an ulterior motive.
If you’ve played any previous Armored Core game then most of the plot should sound familiar. Players are tossed into a world ravaged by a war between governments, corporations, and people who just want to be left alone. This is not to say it’s a generic by-the-books story. The lore uses familiar narrative elements to craft a unique story while setting the tone of the overall world. At the same time, it adds numerous nods and homages to other classic mecha works that have inspired the team.
Gear Up and Prepare for Battle
I want to get the obvious out of the way now since this is a From Software game. No, this is not Dark Souls with mechs. A Souls-like experience feels like an antithesis to the idea of a mecha game and thus will not work out. This is a mecha game that fans of the genre have wanted for sometime. However, don’t go in expecting something easy. The boss fights will test your skills and everything you have learned.
Combat mechanics deliver precisely what fans of mech games desire. Controlling the AC is made possible by the user friendly control setup that ensures a smooth experience. Combat is going to be fast-paced and intense while the overall mission parameters will define your strategic approach. Missions will range from attacking strategic enemy encampments through open combat or through infiltration to holding off a besieged outposts. Players will need to explore a myriad of playstyles and tactics while requiring them to adapt to the battlefield.
When compared to other mecha games, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon stands out with its exceptional combat experience. Its combination of fast-paced action with intense ground and aerial combat embodies the essence of what players seek in a mecha game. Many titles falter by favoring one aspect of combat over the other, but here, both ground and aerial combat receive equal attention. Players have the freedom to choose their preferred style of engagement, ensuring a satisfying experience.
At the start of each mission, players will need to set up their AC for the mission. Players will need to examine the pros/cons of each part when preparing their mech. Not just weapons but also body frames, boosters, and components. Every gear will have an element that will give players an edge but there is a trade-off. Engaging in battles is an exhilarating experience, possessing the gear tailored to one’s style and the situation enhances the chances of success.
Finally, one cannot underestimate the game’s substantial replay value. While the main mission is already packed with lore, the inclusion of Arena Mode and the ability to revisit previous missions add depth to the experience. Moreover, the journey doesn’t conclude upon completing it; New Game+ beckons players back for further exploration. Overall, this is not a game you want to play once and forget about it.
Right from the start, you’ll cultivate a love-hate fondness for the AH12: HC Helicopter boss. On one hand, it stands out as one of the most impressive helicopter bosses since the Hind-D from Metal Gear Solid. However, it can be incredibly exasperating as it relentlessly attacks you from all angles. Meanwhile your available armament remains severely limited at this stage. Overall; this is a boss fight I both enjoyed and loathed at the same time.
Aside from the challenging battle with the AH12: HC Helicopter boss, my only other issue is the gradual opening of the game’s features. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon isn’t the worst offender in this regard, but it’s notable enough to mention. While core gameplay elements, like customizing your AC, are readily available after the first mission, others require a considerable amount of time to open.
These shortcomings are minimal at worst as they will not hinder the overall experience.
A Trial by Fire
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is the kind of experience that fans of the mecha genre have wanted for some time. From its grim world to the intense combat and the need to be prepared, it’s what one would expect from a true mecha game. Fans have waited a long time for a new Armored Core game and the wait was worth it.
Disclaimer: FortySeven Communications provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon (PC)
- The first Armored Core game in over 10 years and it's a masterpiece.
- It's the ideal mech game for genre fans in regard to combat and the world.
- Quality combat that is fast-paced and intense while allowing players to develop a fighting style.
- Nods to other mecha games and animes
- AH12: HC Helicopter boss is one of the most memorable helicopter bosses in recent memory.
- It takes some time for everything to open up.
- AH12: HC Helicopter boss is also incredibly annoying early in the game.