Action Feature

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon – First Impressions

It has become increasingly difficult to talk about FromSoftware without mentioning the Souls franchise and its cousins (BloodborneSekiro, and Elden Ring); Such is the impact these games have had, whether you love or loathe them. But it goes without saying that the success of these titles pulled focus away from one of FromSoft’s other treasured franchises: the mech shooter Armored Core. August of this year (2023) saw the release of a new entry in the series in the form of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, the sixth installment of the franchise and the first since 2013’s Verdict Day.

I’ve been getting hands-on with Fires of Rubicon since its release. It’s my first time with Armored Core since the second game, way back in 2001. That being the case, it’s safe to say I may as well be a new player. I needed a fresh title to delve into. Instead, what I have, is a gameplay loop so simple and yet so infectious that Rubicon is now my second home…

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon - Fighting Giant Enemy

The Standouts

Now, I ought to preface this by saying I haven’t completed the game. This is more of a first impressions piece, highlighting what I feel veterans and newcomers alike will enjoy (and perhaps dislike) about Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.

The story so far has been interesting enough. You’re playing as a mercenary, hired by corporations to quash resistance to mining operations on a planet named Rubicon. On the face of it, it’s a fairly standard sci-fi story of corporate greed. However, it becomes more and more clear that something isn’t quite right and there’s a definite sense of intrigue building up. 

Firstly, the standout positive which I think is most immediately noticeable is just how well-paced and fluid the combat is. You’ll begin with a basic mech, or “assembly”. A gun, a shoulder missile launcher, and a melee option on the off-hand. Coordinating these aspects of your arsenal into distinct strategies to deal with a variety of situations is thoroughly rewarding. Inflicting “strain” on enemies and locking them into a stagger state for critical damage feels very satisfying. It’s in these moments that your melee weapons will really shine.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon - Regular Battle

Related to this is the variety of assemblies you can craft as the game progresses. Anything from a “reverse jointed” AC that can gain aerial advantage and shower opponents with AoE attacks, to literal tanks, complete with the ability to drift around enemies. Balancing energy output, consumption, and weight all play a vital role in an effective assembly. Though, unlike a Souls title, whereby you spend a playthrough crafting and perfecting one build, Armored Core VI makes it clear that different assemblies are more appropriate than others for certain missions. Having access to a variety of assemblies is key to success and you’ll undoubtedly want to try everything out at some point. Parts are purchased via credits that you earn from completing missions. Each mission has a base rate of pay that your ammo and repair costs are deducted from after you’ve accomplished your task. What I really enjoy is being able to replay missions, and earning more credits to build more loadouts. Not only this, but I get to try out my creations in the field without much or any negative consequences.

The levels of aesthetic customization available, from the very start of the game, make for some absolutely gorgeous mech options. I’m particularly proud of my dk_priori YouTube channel art-themed AC. The addition of a Photoshop/GIMP-esque image editor to create emblems and decals to add to your robo drip is almost a mini-game in itself.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon - DK Priori Mech

What Could be Improved?

With all that being said, Armored Core VI isn’t perfect. In comparison to the style and beauty of some of Fromsoft’s other games, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is graphically a more stripped-back experience. The focus is the combat and as such, the environments (at least so far) often lack the visual impact of say, Leyndell (Elden Ring) or Irithyll (Dark Souls 3).

Naturally, Armored Core VI stands out in the gameplay department and any graphical complaints are vastly offset by just how great the game is to actually play. However, during combat, I’m often frustrated by a quick boost initiated when I pull the left trigger to use my offhand weapon. This only seems to occur if my offhand is melee and I can’t quite tell if my 10-month-old Dualsense is drifting or if it’s part of the game. I should mention though, I haven’t noticed an issue like this in any of the other games on my console.

The blistering pace of combat is truly great. At times though, the camera movement will struggle to keep up with the action. I suppose this is somewhat compensated for by the targeting assist (essentially a lock-on). However, faster enemies will outpace your targeting and you will find yourself failing to maintain lock-on, which can be a mild headache when it comes to moving the camera.

Perhaps more issues will rear their heads as I play further through the game. However at this point, the more I play, the more I enjoy my time on Rubicon.

Final Thoughts

Upon sinking my teeth into the early game, I can honestly say Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon doesn’t disappoint. There is far more here to like than there is to dislike. This game is not Dark Souls with mechs in the way newer fans to Fromsoft may have been expecting. However, Armored Core VI is sure to please series newcomers and aficionados in equal measure. Much to the chagrin of detractors, Fires of Rubicon is proof (if it was ever needed) that the pool of talent at Fromsoft is not just a one-trick pony. The quality on show in this game is evident. The hours of enjoyment players are sure to have are numerous. The return of Armored Core – utterly welcome and long overdue!

Based solely on what I have played so far…


Platforms:PC, PlayStation 4|5, Xbox
Purchase Links: Humble (PC Steam)

Want to see more Action games? How about checking out our review of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty?

If you’d like to see more articles from us, please remember to follow us on Twitter🐦 and consider turning notifications on. Or type in your E-mail address and click the button for free email updates. You can also come chat with us on Discord.

Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage

Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!