When FromSoftware announced Armored Core VI at last week’s Game Awards, the main comment in the dedicated subreddit announcement thread read simply, “May this subreddit rightfully grow from obscurity.”
Always a cult series at best, Armored Core was further overshadowed by the rise of the so-called Soulsborne genre, which brought FromSoftware from obscurity to one of the best studios in the world. But Armored Core has been around for a long time – much longer than Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. During its heyday on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, it earned a cult following for its strong designs; deep series of parts and intense split screen combat. The last Armored Core, an ambitious online game where teams of players compete against each other on a large multiplayer map, came out in 2012.
With the Soulsborne subgenre becoming such a dominant part of FromSoftware’s brand, it’s easy to wonder if Armored Core will follow suit. Will it be Sekiro with giant robots? Will it take place in a large open world? At this point, the answer to both questions appears to be “no,” although there is some nuance to that equation.
“No, we didn’t make a conscious effort to focus it on more Soulsborne-esque gameplay,” said FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki, who provided the concept for the game. “The essential direction of [Armored Core VI] was to go back and take a good look at the core concept of Armored Core and what made that series special. So we wanted to take the assembly aspect, assemble and customize your own mech – your AC – and then be able to demand a high level of control over the assembled mech. So we wanted to take those two core concepts and reexamine them in our modern environment. “
In practice, this means retaining many of the elements that have defined the series over the years – features such as the detailed mecha customization and the one-on-one arena mode. The most readily available “Soulsborne” elements are probably the powerful bosses – a staple of FromSoftware – and the dark setting, the latter of which was already a big part of Armored Core’s identity.
It also features a stance system of sorts, which director Masaru Yamamura – a veteran of Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Dies Twice – says works by “continuing to attack even the strongest enemy, the force of the impact can change the stance of the enemy breaking and a great deal of damage.” Think of it as something like holding up a shield and absorbing damage until you’re forced to give in.
Where Armored Core sets itself apart is its focus on ranged weapons over swords and melee weapons. Yamamura acknowledges this in our interview, though he also points out that Armored Core has some “fun melee options”.
Both Yamamura and Miyazaki resist simple comparisons to Souslborne games. Miyazaki firmly says that customization is the main focus, and Yamamura says there are “no elements that reference Sekiro directly”. Nowhere is that more apparent than the decision to go with a mission-based design, which links it directly to its predecessors, versus the more open structure of Elden Ring and its ilk.
“We felt that the mission-based structure was an advantage for this as it allows you to choose and adjust before each mission. At the very least the pace – the pace at which the player can move around the world and the map… this is a very important aspect in how you approach this design,” says Miyazaki. “I think one of the great appeals of the previous Armored Core games is the freedom to choose how you’re going to move around the map and how your choices mobility and your skills will affect once you are in it. level. This is the format we wanted to choose this time, and this is what we wanted to focus on. “
Miyazaki, of course, started with the Armored Core series before eventually going on to direct Demon’s Souls, so he knows it’s better than most. Perhaps Armored Core’s main opportunity lies in using FromSoftware’s enhanced resources to produce a graphically ambitious experience. Miyazaki himself admits that he is “jealous” of the team that gets to make Armored Core VI today.