Armored Core 6 Carries On a Big Soulsborne Tradition

First revealed at The Game Awards 2022, the release date for the highly-anticipated Core 6: Fires of Rubicon has now arrived. Critical and fan reception of the title are both very positive, with many calling the game a return to form for the series and quite possibly the best that an Armored Core title has ever felt. Ahead of Armored Core 6's release, FromSoftware luminary Hidetaka Miyazaki was very clear that fans should not expect a title with mechs, but despite this disclaimer there's still one very important Dark Souls legacy carried by the title. Specifically, Armored Core 6 rewards players by making each failure a learning opportunity.

Beginning with the Soulsborne series' progenitor Demon's Souls, FromSoftware introduced a style of action RPG where players were actively punished for playing the title like other games in the genre. Rather than rush through from map to map mindlessly hacking and slashing enemies, players had to be methodical in how they approached combat encounters lest they find themselves quickly faced with a game over screen. However, within this punishing combat model was a lesson that rewarded observant players. Each failure is a growth opportunity, helping players to gradually understand the game's mechanics and “git gud” in the process. It may not be a Soulsborne game, but Armored Core 6 absolutely continues this longstanding tradition.

Contrary to games in the Soulsborne series, which typically begin as a slow crawl to power as players start with virtually no skills or equipment, Armored Core 6 immediately puts players in the cockpit of an immensely powerful mech. The player's titular armored core has a palpable sense of both speed and strength, and the quickly-paced missions where players take down the rank-and-file mechs serve to reinforce that the player is, right at the outset, a force to be reckoned with. Eventually, though, players encounter their first boss and all bets are off.

The sheer amount of options in terms of mech customization can be harrowing at first, but as players fight stronger enemies and fail (quite often, more than likely), the various pros and cons of each type of loadout begin to click into place. Eventually, through the learning and growth that comes as part of this failure, players become more adept at understanding which styles work for which encounters. While a bipedal mech with dual-wielded shotguns might make one tough encounter a cakewalk, it could just as easily be the final roadblock in preventing player progress against a different challenging enemy. Failure in Armored Core 6 encourages experimentation, an important focal point of the Souls series.

While failure might be an important part of the process in all Souls games, it often can come with some steep penalties. Prior to Elden Ring, which essentially allows players to respec their character at nearly any time after defeating Rennala, players were largely locked into their builds. Unfortunately, this meant either adapting an approach to a particular encounter or rolling a new character were a player's only options when up against a skill block. Thankfully, Armored Core 6 borrows one key element from Elden Ring in allowing, and subtly encouraging, players to respec often.

Thanks to the presence of failure not as a punishment but an opportunity, players have little reason to not switch up their build for a challenging mission and try out various strategies. As a result, it's likely to spend plenty of time in the various menus and sub-menus required in Armored Core 6's mech customization screens. Again, the amount of options is almost overwhelming, but eventually players begin to understand which are the right tools for the right job. Armored Core 6, and the Soulsborne games in general, emphasize that failure (and the insight that comes with it) is a natural part of the learning process.

Armored Core 6 is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

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