With FromSoftware focusing more on the development of its Souls series in recent years, the company's long-running mecha action game series Armored Core has meanwhile had to wait a long time for its return. More than ten years have already passed since the last mainline entry in the series. Fortunately, the mechs aren't showing much rust.
The sixth Armored Core takes the player to the surface of a planet called Rubicon 3 on a mercenary mission. Coral - a very important energy source - that was already thought to be lost has been found on the surface of the planet. Several different parties have rushed to Rubicon with coral on their minds, but the lone player character instead quickly realizes that they are just a pawn in the middle of bigger schemes.
The structure of the game is quite simple. Missions are selected from the menu and for their completion you get money. Money then, is used to buy new weapons and armour for your robot. Hits taken and mistakes made in the mission are deducted directly from the salary bag, so the better you perform, the more money you get. In previous Armored Cores, unsuccessful missions also resulted in money being lost, but this time, fortunately, this is not the case, and you can try missions as many times as you want without losing any of your currency.
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At first glance, the game is surprisingly similar to the games in the Souls series. The movement is surprisingly fluid and fast-paced, considering that the mechs do weigh several tons. Weapons, which are placed on the shoulders and hands of the mech, are fired from the shoulder buttons, while the other buttons focus on jumping and dodging. Lost energy is also restored a little like when you use Estus flasks.
However, by playing a little further, the action gets its own unique tactical dimension. Searching for a route and shelters is an essential part of succeeding in missions, as is choosing the right type of weaponry. Aiming for melee is a good choice, especially against stronger enemies, while basic enemies are easier to destroy from a distance with missiles. Some of the enemies have shields and special attacks, which by intercepting makes it is also possible to stun them for a while. And you shouldn't forget the good old ambush either.
It is also necessary to utilize different tactics because each mission requires a unique approach. Thanks to this, the game stays consistently fresh, and boredom doesn't set in. Frustration, on the other hand, may strike.
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Although Armored Core VI is clearly more player-friendly than the Souls games, at regular intervals you hit a big difficulty spike. Already in the first area, intended for learning the game, the boss sitting at the end is of such a calibre that the more impatient players may quit it already. You only are about five minutes into the game when this first nerve-wracking difficulty spike comes up. When the boss enemy finally crashes twenty to thirty attempts later, the next couple of missions are much easier. After that, it suddenly comes to a halt again. Tossing the difficulty level from side to side is really annoying.
So, the game encourages grinding. Already completed tasks can be played again if extra money is needed, and the arena tasks that come later are also practically mandatory. Since the easier tasks are often over in a few minutes, grinding fortunately isn't that bad, but mandatory, nevertheless.
Audio-visually, Armored Core VI is a treat. An impressive robot and big explosions combined with a good sound design keep the atmosphere throughout. The areas are also well-planned, and often if a mission goes downhill that's on you and requires a slightly different approach than before. Maybe there is a suitable shelter or an alternative route that you just didn't notice before?
Multiplayer is also promised in the game, but since the game's servers were still not up during the evaluation phase, it was not possible to test multiplayer or other online features. Perhaps we will come back to these later after publication.
Armored Core VI is handsome and entertaining mecha action, which is sure to be ordered. Those familiar with FromSoftware know how to expect a hard level of difficulty, but still the uneven difficulty curve becomes the worst part of the game. If you can live with it, it's hard to resist the charm of big robots.
8 / 10
Impressive visuals, several different tactics to progress, the action is really entertaining