It’s been ten years since the release of the last Armored Core game, the series that FromSoftware was best known for before it released Dark Souls in 2011.
Set in a future where great big mechs are piloted by mercenaries fighting it out in a hellscape of permanent warfare, it’s hard not to get excited about Armored Core 6. However, It turns out we would have had our robot-loving hands on it sooner if it weren’t for the success of the Soulsborne games.
FromSoftware finally revealed Armored Core 6 at the 2022 Game Awards after years of Soulsborne games, such as Elden Ring and Dark Souls 3. Ten years after the release of Armored Core: Verdict Day in 2013, it sure did take FromSoftware a while to get back to it.
“There was never any intention to leave this large a gap [between Armored Core games],” producer Yasutaka Ogura told Haruka Mori in an interview (opens in new tab) with BNE Fun Live. As many who worked at FromSoftware “have always wanted to create a new Armored Core title”. But unfortunately, there were just a few barriers in the way.
“The only real obstacle [...] was that our company always had so many different titles on the go”, Ogura said. So thanks to all those pesky critically acclaimed Soulsborne games, we’ve had to wait a decade for Armored Core 6, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for Elden Ring, Bloodborne and the like.
What can we expect?
Put any dreams of a Soulsborne take on mechs in a box, however. “We've not been making a conscious effort to try to direct [Armored Core 6] towards more Soulsborne type gameplay,” executive director Hidetaka Miyazaki told IGN (opens in new tab).
Instead, the next title in the series looks to celebrate and build off of everything this franchise is best loved for, even if the exact characteristics can be hard to pin down at times.
Plunged into some sort of mechanical apocalyptic world, this sci-fi action RPG sets you up as a mercenary who completes tasks from various corporate benefactors as a silent protagonist. These missions are varied and could entail protection and escort duties or mass destruction jobs where you plough through waves of smaller mechs. However, the assignments themselves aren’t necessarily important; it's the money you get at the end of these tasks that count.
By collecting your cash rewards, you can work towards customizing your mech in great detail. The armored core itself can become an extension of the player thanks to the hundreds customization options and upgrades. This is one of the main attractions of the series as a whole.
While FromSoftware will hopefully stay true to this characteristic, it may also take inspiration from what it has learned from producing its Soulsborne titles. “We were determined to take advantage of FromSoftware’s experience and know how to establish freedom for the player in terms of what can be done with game controls and the customization that lies at the series core”, Ogura said.
We could see this inspiration come to life in the boss fights. “I think [players] will be very pleased with the intensity of the boss battles”, Ogura said. “By employing many of the same techniques that have been successful in past FromSoftware games”.
While I probably won’t get a full futuristic Soulsborne game filled with high-tech mechs and brilliantly destructive guns, I’ll settle with having the rapid and intense boss fights I’m familiar with.