Armored Core 6 appears to be more Armored Core than Soulsborne

When FromSoftware announced Armored Core VI at the Game Awards last week, the top comment in the dedicated subreddit’s announcement thread was simply, “May this subreddit rightfully grow out of oblivion.”

Always a cult series at best, Armored Core has been further overshadowed by the rise of the so-called Soulsborne genre, which catapulted FromSoftware from obscurity into one of the finest studios in the world. But Armored Core has been around for a long time – way longer than Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. During its heyday on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, it has earned a cult following with its bold designs; a wide variety of parts and intense split-screen battles. The last Armored Core – an ambitious online game pitting squads of players against each other on a large multiplayer map – was released in 2012.

With the Soulsborne subgenre becoming such a dominant part of the FromSoftware brand, it’s easy to wonder if Armored Core will follow suit. Will it be Sekiro with giant robots? Will it take place over a large open world? At the moment, the answer to both of these questions seems to be “no”, although this comparison has some nuances.

“No, we didn’t make a conscious effort to make it Soulsborne-style gameplay,” says 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 see what made this series special. So we wanted to take on the assembly aspect, assemble and customize your own mech – your AC – and then be able to gain a high level of control over the assembled mech. So we wanted to take those two core concepts and re-examine them in our modern environment. “

In practice, that means retaining many of the elements that have defined the series over the years – features like granular mecha customization and the one-on-one arena mode. Its most readily available “Soulsborne” elements are probably its powerful bosses – a FromSoftware staple – and its dark setting, the latter of which was already a big part of Armored Core’s identity.

It also features a sort of stance system that Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Dies Twice veteran director Masaru Yamamura says works by “continuing to attack even the strongest enemy, the force of the impact can change the stance of the enemy.” Breaking the enemy and doing a great deal of damage.” Think of it as holding up a shield and absorbing damage until you’re forced to give in.

Where Armored Core stands out is its focus on ranged weapons versus swords and melee weapons. Yamamura confirms this in our interview, but also points out that Armored Core offers some “nice melee options”.

No, we didn’t make a conscious effort to make it more Soulsborne-esque gameplay

Both Yamamura and Miyazaki resist easy comparisons to souslborne games. Miyazaki firmly believes that customization is his primary focus, and Yamamura says there are “no elements directly related to Sekiro”. Nowhere is this more evident than in the choice of a mission-based design that ties it directly to its predecessors, as opposed to the more open structure of the Elden Ring and its ilk.

“We felt the mission-based structure was beneficial for this because it allows you to choose and customize before each mission. At least the pace – the pace at which the player can move across the world and traverse the map… that’s a very important aspect of approaching this design,” says Miyazaki. “I think one of the big draws of previous Armored Core games is that freedom to choose how you move around the map and how your choices affect your mobility and your abilities once you’re actually in it. That’s the format, that we wanted to choose this time, and that’s what we wanted to focus on.”

Miyazaki, of course, started out with the Armored Core series before eventually directing Demon’s Souls, so he knows better than most. Armored Core’s main opportunity may lie in using FromSoftware’s advanced resources to create a graphically rich experience. Miyazaki himself admits that today he is “envious” of the team that gets to develop Armored Core VI.

“I wish we had had such leverage back then,” he says wistfully.

Yamamura, meanwhile, talks at length about what FromSoftware can achieve with Armored Core VI’s enhanced graphics.

“Obviously Armored Core VI’s mecha theme means that we’re going to depict these giant chunks of steel, and we’re supposed to visualize how these things move and how they’re put together, the different joints, how it all kind of moves in conjunction with each other and how we make it look cool – also in terms of gameplay,” says Yamamura. “So that’s something we can apply resources to. Obviously the metallic texture of these things and also the sound design. We can use Foley to get some realistic sounds to apply to these mechs. There are many areas where we can apply these resources and also modern thinking.

This could be the core of what drives FromSoftware to create Armored Core VI. It may have found untold riches in the development of games like Elden Ring, but it hasn’t forgotten its beginnings. In anticipation of the first full gameplay reveal, Armored Core seems fully geared up to be… well… an Armored Core game, and all that entails. It even keeps the number despite having a new story.

“Armored Core is why everyone reading this tweet had to play Dark Souls,” wrote developer Doc Burford shortly after its reveal. This is the Post-Boodborne [sic] Of finally returning to her best series.”

Armored Core 6 is currently scheduled for release in 2023. You can read everything else announced at The Game Awards here.

Kat Bailey is Senior News Editor at IGN and co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Do you have a tip? DM her to @the_katbot.


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