FromSoftware, the acclaimed developer behind the Dark Souls series and Elden Ring, has recently announced the revival of its long-running mecha franchise, Armored Core. The new game, titled Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, is set to release in 2023 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows PC via Steam.
But what does this mean for the future of FromSoftware and its fans? Will the developer continue to explore the genre of action-RPGs that made it famous, or will it shift its focus to the sci-fi mecha shooter series that started its legacy? And how will Armored Core 6 compare to the previous games in the series, as well as to the developer’s recent projects?
A Brief History of Armored Core
Armored Core is one of FromSoftware’s oldest and most venerable series, dating all the way back to 1997. It has historically been a multiplayer-focused mecha action game with a heavy emphasis on customization. It last saw action back in 2012, shortly after the release of Dark Souls.
The series centers on a silent protagonist who takes on work as a mercenary pilot in the far future, operating large robot combat units known as Armored Cores at the behest of corporate and private clients. As the player completes missions for these clients, they gain credits to improve their Armored Core and unlock further opportunities to make money. Some games include an “Arena” mode in which the player fights other Armored Core pilots in head-to-head battles, which can reward the player with further income or prestige.
Several story continuities exist, spread across 13 main games, seven spin-offs, and three remastered re-releases. The first game in the series, Armored Core, was released in 1997, while the most recent, Armored Core: Verdict Day, hit PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.
The series has been released on various platforms, including PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and Mobile Phone.
What to Expect from Armored Core 6
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is being jointly developed by FromSoftware and Bandai Namco, according to a news release from the game’s publisher. Bandai Namco made clear that the new Armored Core is action-focused, with “groundbreaking gameplay found in the developer’s recent action games.”.
According to an official description of Armored Core 6, “players will be able to freely move through massive three-dimensional environments with rapid maneuverability while experiencing visceral vehicular combat.” Like the Dark Souls games and Elden Ring, FromSoftware says it will deliver “challenging and memorable battles along with a fulfilling progression system and deep gameplay, all of it now powered by assembling mechs and going into combat with massive bosses. Players will recognize the sense of satisfaction and achievement when they overcome a difficult situation and relish momentary victory, and perhaps a boost to their standing, before encountering the next challenge.”.
The debut trailer revealed a glimpse of the game’s setting and visuals, showing various mechs flying and fighting in a futuristic cityscape. The trailer also hinted at some of the game’s features, such as customizable parts, weapons, colors, and decals for the mechs; online co-op and competitive modes; and dynamic weather effects that can affect gameplay.
The news of a possible Armored Core sequel leaked ahead of today’s announcement, way back in January from a member of the ResetEra forum. The user said they saw images and early gameplay video of an unannounced sequel as part of a consumer survey. The leak went into significant detail, and revealed details about Armored Core’s story and settings.
According to the leak, Armored Core 6 is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been driven underground by an alien invasion. The player is part of a resistance group that uses salvaged mechs to fight back against the invaders. The leak also claimed that the game will feature four factions with different ideologies and goals; a branching storyline with multiple endings; a reputation system that affects how other characters react to the player; and a hub area where the player can interact with NPCs, shop for parts, customize their mech, and access missions.
The leak also suggested that Armored Core 6 will borrow some elements from FromSoftware’s more recent projects, such as Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. For example, the leak said that the game will have a stamina system that limits the player’s actions; a parry system that allows the player to deflect enemy attacks and create openings; a stealth system that lets the player sneak up on enemies and perform critical hits; and a death penalty that makes the player lose some of their resources upon dying.
Of course, these details are not confirmed by FromSoftware or Bandai Namco, and may have changed since the leak. However, they do indicate that Armored Core 6 will be a sci-fi Soulslike, according to Screen Rant.
What’s Next for FromSoftware After Armored Core 6?
FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed in a 2017 interview with IGN that the developer was working on a new Armored Core game alongside two other titles, but we hadn’t heard much on the project since then.
Now that Armored Core 6 has been officially announced, what does this mean for the future of FromSoftware and its fans? Will the developer continue to explore the genre of action-RPGs that made it famous, or will it shift its focus to the sci-fi mecha shooter series that started its legacy?
The answer is likely both. FromSoftware has proven itself to be a versatile and creative developer that can tackle different genres and themes with equal skill and passion. The success of Dark Souls and Elden Ring does not mean that the developer will abandon its other franchises or stop experimenting with new ideas. On the contrary, it means that the developer has more resources and freedom to pursue its vision and cater to its diverse fanbase.
FromSoftware has also shown a willingness to collaborate with other developers and publishers, such as Bandai Namco, Activision, Sony, and George R.R. Martin. This opens up more possibilities for future projects, whether they are new IPs or existing ones.
Therefore, it is likely that FromSoftware will continue to work on both Armored Core and action-RPGs in the future, as well as other genres and styles. The developer may also revisit some of its older or lesser-known franchises, such as King’s Field, Otogi, Tenchu, or Shadow Tower. Or it may surprise us with something completely new and unexpected.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain: FromSoftware is not done making games that challenge, inspire, and delight us.
It is likely that FromSoftware will continue to work on both Armored Core and action-RPGs in the future, as well as other genres and styles. The developer may also revisit some of its older or lesser-known franchises, such as King’s Field, Otogi, Tenchu, or Shadow Tower. Or it may surprise us with something completely new and unexpected.