Before the success of Elden Ring and building a near-ubiquitous reputation for crafting dark fantasy worlds, FromSoftware made the Armored Core games. This action mech series paired third-person shooter mechanics with an emphasis on customizing mechs to suit the player’s combat needs. Over time, the series has faded into the annals of FromSoftware’s history, but that will change soon.
This summer, FromSoftware will return to its roots and release Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon. As part of a hands-off preview at Summer Game Fest, producer Yasunori Ogura showed Polygon more of the game. During the demo, we got to see FromSoftware’s new mechs in action, more of the game’s machine customization options, and learn more about the developer’s vision for the game. What we saw was a slick action combat game that pairs the agile mobility of mechs with the precision of a typical FromSoftware game.
Armored Core 6 is a mech action game that blends third-person shooting with close-range combat. While Ogura has previously asserted this game will not just be Elden Ring with mechs, it will bring the studio’s characteristic emphasis on overcoming tough combat. In his presentation, Ogura articulated three aspects key to the game: 3D level design with a sense of scale; assembly in battle design (customizing mechs); and experiencing a sense of accomplishment through overcoming difficulties.
“Our aim is to create a new mech action by the current FromSoftware, which combines the fundamental fan aspect of the [Armored Core] series with the design philosophy of recent FromSoftware games,” Ogura said via a translator.
The producer showed a mission that tasks players with capturing a facility called Grid 086. Before hopping into the world, the mission started with a brief overview of the map and objective. As the level started, we were greeted with a vista of a towering and sprawling factory facility peppered with enemy machines. Eventually, the camera settled on the mech the player pilots.
Although the mech can wheel around, the quicker way to navigate is by using its jetpacks. The vast gap between the mission’s starting point and a looming structure closed quickly as the mech glided along the jagged industrial terrain, soared across gaps, and used a vertical catapult to fling it up through the air. Ogura described this boost mechanic as being “core” to the action of the game, both for combat and traversal. The first fight started, and we saw the player use these same jetpacks to dash side to side and up and down to avoid attacks, and to shift between close and mid-range combat fluidly.
Players defeat enemies by drawing upon an arsenal of close- and mid-range weapons like multi-lock missiles, close-range energy swords, spray bullets, and more. A simple barrage of bullets might be enough to take down a small enemy, but stronger opponents have impact gauges which require the player to build up damage and stagger them, providing an even larger window to damage.
The developers say they want Armored Core 6 to be a challenging game, and players will have various tools at their disposal to overcome its challenges. One way to deal with a hard enemy could be using a search function to scan it and formulate a plan. However, knowing where an adversary lies might not give you the edge you need to win. When the player dies and returns to a checkpoint, a menu pops up offering the option to tweak their mech to their liking.
“Players need to think about which weapon to use to aim to stagger the enemy, and which weapon to damage it with. Assembly is a place where they can enjoy experimenting with their own unique coordinated effects,” Ogura said.
Ogura added that players will be able to choose parts for the mechs’ arms and legs, as well as internal parts that influence weapons and power. A total of four weapons can be equipped on each hand and shoulder, but Ogura focused on the legs specifically, saying that “the characteristics of the leg parts vary greatly depending on the type, and it changes action in the game dramatically.”
As the demonstrator progressed through the level, we saw combat in both cavernous open spaces and tightly packed rooms covered in mangled and twisted machinery. Eventually, the player completed the mission by fighting a giant “smart cleaner,” which essentially looked like a massive lava Roomba of death.
Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon is scheduled for release on Aug. 25 and will come to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.