Armored Core 6 Review – Rekindling Mecha Brilliance

armored core 6 review
Image Credit: Bandai Namco
armored core 6 review

Our Armored Core 6 review focuses on FromSoftware’s glorious return to their decade-spanning mecha series.

Fires of Rubicon revives FromSoftware’s longest-running mecha series. It is the culmination of the studio’s years of expertise in developing games that influenced the industry. It also offers a brilliant experience tailored for fans and newcomers, making it the best and the most approachable Armored Core game in the series.

Armored Core 6 takes you to Rubicon 3, a war-torn planet transformed into a battlefield where rebels, mercenaries, and megacorporations constantly clash against each other. In this utter chaos, the latest entry in the series puts you in the shoes of a mercenary pilot, just like more than 20 previous installments did.

Fans of the series are no strangers to this premise. Being a mercenary pilot who takes contracts and makes his living on the battlefield has been what Armored Core games are all about. The most recent entry to the franchise also follows the footsteps of its predecessors in terms of its vague story and its indifferent protagonist. 

The dull story is not the only faithful aspect of Armored Core 6, though. In fact, the most recent FromSoftware title is a solid Armored Core game that doesn’t compromise many of its core elements to onboard new players.

Indeed, it defines some parts to reduce the steep learning curve, like its delightful and easy-to-learn gameplay.

But at the end of the day, Fires of Rubicon is still a highly faithful title of FromSoftware’s mecha series with all of its good old mission briefing screens and in-depth mech customization.

And despite making all the efforts to make the series’ veterans happy, FromSoftware somehow also manages to offer a brilliant action game that will captivate even those who don’t enjoy mecha action at all. Here’s how it does that…

Armored Core 6 Gameplay Is a Perfect Blend of the Old and the New

The gameplay doesn’t only expand upon the core elements of the previous titles, but it also offers a masterful control scheme that works throughout its intense battles.

This unique gameplay blend of modern gameplay mechanics and previous Armored Core game generations truly shines in Fires of Rubicon. It especially reaches new heights in the game’s Sekiro-esque boss fights and Souls-like dodging mechanics.

But in its essence, Fires of Rubicon is still very much an Armored Core game where you spend most of your time squeezing the best performance out of your mech because that’s the only way to survive the battle in its bleak world, which is often accompanied by a dull story. 

Just like sinking hours into mech customization in previous games, dull stories are also a core element of Armored Core games. And the bleak and mysterious depiction of Rubicon 3 doesn’t make the story somewhat more exciting as well.

So instead of lore-hunting in the wake of avoidant narratives of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, or Elden Ring, Armored Core 6 navigates you to its Assembly tab, where you find yourself constantly trying out new parts and designing a moving fortress.

And that’s perfect both for the series’ veterans and newcomers. It is also great for someone who doesn’t even like the mecha genre. That’s because Armored Core 6 wonderfully conveys that sense of achievement after spending long sessions in the Assembly tab.

It is like hunting for items for a solid build in Elden Ring or trying to create an effective build in Dark Souls that will get you through the game.

In the case of Fires of Rubicon, item hunting and finding the sweet spot in your build transforms into mech customization. Your time and effort in the Assembly tab directly transforms into a tangible experience.

For instance, choosing hefty arms that don’t go well with the overall build can make you slower during the battle, resulting in catastrophic mission results.

On the other hand, that same part against the boss in a fight can grant you the extra AP (Armor Points) you need.

All of these play out really well as the game allows you to sell your parts for the same price you bought them at. This is a core element of the series, encouraging you to get creative with your mech builds. 

Learning About Mech Customization Is the Best Thing

FromSoftware games are known for their steep learning curves. In Elden Ring and Dark Souls, you often learn things the hard way and understand that panic-rolling will never help you.

After getting a grip on the combat mechanics, your interaction with the combat formula memorizes the enemy’s attack patterns to survive.

This steep learning curve transforms into something entirely different in the Armored Core 6. Instead of dodging and parrying at the right time to avoid the boss attacks, you need to learn about AP (Armor Points), Energy, Weight Load, and more.

Maybe it is because I am a fan, or maybe FromSoftware is just incredible in game design. Delving into these and learning what they are all about has never felt like a burden. In the previous games, the customization would tend to get messy as the games were not welcoming towards new players.

But in Armored Core 6, these never feel like a burden. In the earlier games, trying to come up with an S-Tier mech has always been a great objective that complemented the gameplay, sure.

But that effort now yields better rewards in Armored Core 6. Its intense and explosive gameplay does a beautiful job of transforming the long sessions in Assembly to direct results on the battlefield.

Optimizing my mecha for the next mission and giving compromises from its defense or mobility is just pure joy. Trying to find the perfect balance between them as I fail or complete missions locked me in the game’s addicting gameplay loop, too.

While this gameplay loop has been there throughout the series, I feel like it is the most accessible for newcomers as well. This indeed resulted in very few compromises.

The gameplay is now more fast-paced and a tiny bit more straightforward. But it still delivers even for those who know anything about Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon.

With the new Training mode, Repair Kits, and Replay Missions feature, FromSoftware took the right steps to offer a smoother onboarding process.

It is also worth noting that some missions have checkpoints now, allowing you to restart at a certain point in the mission with full health and three Estus flasks – oops, sorry…Repair Kits.

Armored Core 6 Abides by Tradition

Like the previous games in the series, Fires of Rubicon offers a mission-based linear gameplay that wants you to complete main and side objectives. But unlike the third gen of Armored Core, most of the action occurs on the surface of Rubicon 3, where you have ample room for 3D and vertical action.

How you take on the mission is up to you as well. The level design perfectly complements the mecha customization, allowing you to make the most of your mecha while also forcing you to question your design choices.

For example, your AC unit might have tank treads that might not be suitable for larger areas, as they turn you into a slow-moving, vulnerable target. If the task is to destroy fixed artillery, that’s where you need to switch to a different build with lighter bipedal legs for better mobility.

If a certain build didn’t work, you would optimize the mecha with new parts or switch to a different AC unit to see if that works in the mission. This is a formula that works perfectly. And it also works in the franchise’s most recent installment.

How Armored Core 6 Tests You

It seems like FromSoftware decided to stick with this gameplay structure that throws linear missions at you, testing your AC’s capability while slowly unraveling the game’s story. This time, though, the tests get even more lethal thanks to epic boss fights that are truly challenging and highly memorable.

Boss fights of Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon show its developer’s expertise in tailoring real challenges. And it seems like the epic boss fights were the only Souls-like touch Armored Core 6 needed.

Unloading barrages of missiles from your left and right shoulder units against colossal enemies is probably the best thing in the game. That especially gets better if your mecha has a solid weight capacity that allows you to boast massive cannons.

Initiating Assault Boost to rocket yourself toward the boss for a massive blade hit and then unloading both of your missiles on the shoulder units is just amazing.

It may not be the same with the immense joy that comes with each sword clash in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. But it does feel like it is the work of the same minds and talents who delivered the Soulsborne games in the past.

When all hell lets loose, and the big bosses or hulking enemy mechas destroy your AC unit, you get to switch parts during the mission and continue from the checkpoint.

Indeed, Armored Core has always been more forgiving than other prominent games of the studio. But, this type of “switch parts mid-mission” formula is new to the series, making it even more approachable to those foraying into Armored Core for the first time.

Finding the Balance

While making some things easier, Fires of Rubicon then decides to find the balance by keeping you on your toes and not adding checkpoints to some missions. All these little balance adjustments make it a great mecha-action game for anyone who has never played the earlier titles in the series.

Since it also tells a self-contained narrative with some references to its predecessors, the game also doesn’t shoo away the fans, who have been waiting for a new installment for over a decade.

Whether you are a fan or a newcomer, your journey in Fires of Rubicon will pretty much consist of unloading huge missiles and going crazy with massive machine guns on bosses and angry locals with robots.

Of course, that only happens during your Assembly sequences, where you constantly switch between AC parts to get the best performance out of your mech like an insane engineer.

You also need to make sure that your builds look cool as hell, though. And not to our surprise, Armored Core 6 also does that brilliantly. It allows you to get creative when customizing your mecha’s appearance.

This type of extreme customization was also present in 2002’s Armored Core 3. FromSoftware expanded it even further, unlike gutting it down like many other studios of the present day.  

Armored Core 6 Review – Wrapping Up

Undoubtedly, FromSoftware is one of the greatest game studios in the current landscape. Since 1994’s King’s Field, the celebrated studio has built genre-defining games influencing today’s gaming industry.

The studio’s barrage of success started with 2009’s Demon’s Souls and continued with the Dark Souls trilogy.

While the gameplay formula of these games posed a steep learning curve to many players, the Japanese game giant was keen on developing these games, which later gave life to the Souls-like genre.

The studio was knee-deep in creating dark fantasy worlds inspired by some of the most influential minds in the world of fiction, like H.P. Lovecraft and his Call of Cthulhu or Kentaro Miura and his Berserk series.

Moreover, nearly every title in their lineup depicted immersive worlds that successfully captivated its players despite posing steep learning curves.

But even though they came with distinct gameplay mechanics, each FromSoftware game became a phenomenon in the industry. And their most recent title, before Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, was crowned with the Game of the Year Award and became their magnum opus. 

Throughout all these years of honing their Souls craft, FromSoftware was also developing a new mainline entry for their longest-running franchise.

Even though there had been rumors before the announcement, fans were sure that a new Armored Core game was a dream, playing the best games like Armored Core in the past.

That changed as FromSoftware secretly fed the fire and schemed a masterful and incredibly faithful return to their beloved series.

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is the epitome of what the series is all about. It is not only the best of the series but also one of the greatest titles of the studio, drawing only the best inspirations from its predecessors and other titles that made household names.

armored core 6 review
Armored Core 6 Review – Rekindling Mecha Brilliance
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is the epitome of what FromSoftware's mecha series is all about. It offers a brilliant formula of mecha action, tailored both for the fans and the newcomers.
Buttery smooth gameplay
Incredible mech customization
Most approachable Armored Core game to date
Brilliantly refines the best aspects of its predecessors
Classic FromSoftware camera jankiness
Dull environments


  • Kerem Dogan Karakoc

    Kerem is a content writer with five years of experience under his belt. He also has an obsession that forces him to play "one more turn" in Medieval II: Total War and read Warhammer 40.000 lore before going to bed.

Written by Kerem Dogan Karakoc

Kerem is a content writer with five years of experience under his belt. He also has an obsession that forces him to play "one more turn" in Medieval II: Total War and read Warhammer 40.000 lore before going to bed.

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