Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Preview – Go Ahead, Mech My Day

I’ll put my hand up to admit I don’t have a deep appreciation for the Armored Core franchise at large, nor have I cut my teeth on From’s decade-spanning purple patch that gave birth to an entirely new genre. But there’s one thing I can say with unwavering and steadfast confidence.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is the fucking coolest and most metal name for a video game I’ve perhaps ever heard.

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Having laid dormant for the better part of a decade, and with everything From has achieved in the time since, the biggest question going into Armored Core VI is whether their most decorated works, like Bloodborne and Elden Ring, might inform the direction of Fires of Rubicon.

Like their Soulslike catalogue, Armored Core seeks to entice players with that familiar sense of reward and accomplishment for persevering through difficult scenarios. It’s tactical at its core and demands that the player observe, learn, and adapt. That’s more or less where the similarities end. While the Fires of Rubicon does serve up vast exteriors–as well as more claustrophobic interiors–to explore and navigate, they ultimately abstained from welcoming open-world comparisons.

Based on the near half-hour presentation we observed, Armored Core VI’s mission design, and the freedom given to players to approach it in any number of ways, almost feels more like something you’d find in an immersive sim. 

If you’ve got a chassis equipped with thrusters you’re able to simply fly to a point of interest, carefully managing your boost along the way. Of everything Fires of Rubicon appears to nail after a decade on ice, the laser-focus on mech customisation at the heart of the game really informs its every other aspect.

There’s so much variety in how you’ll traverse the world, how you’ll wage war, and how you might survive the game’s battle scenarios that look as hard as a cat’s head if you’re not a series regular. They’ve taken special care to ensure you’re not locked into your build and living in reload hell battling through situations with an ill-specced mech. Before reloading a checkpoint, you’re able to fully inspect and modify your assembly, which is a great quality of life touch. 

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The mission we got to watch was an early slice of the game and revolves around the surveillance of an ice field and capture of facility Grid 086. This particular map felt cold and industrial, but had an epic, burning skybox that really sold the enormity of the world and the gravity of Rubicon’s situation. Being hands-off, it was hard to gauge just how expansive and explorable these exterior areas are, but the sense of scale, given the size of the titans you’re piloting, is mammoth. 

For a game that has spent a decade on the pine, it doesn’t seem to miss a beat so far as the action goes. 

As I keep drumming on about, customisation is the name of the game. You’re able to take it to the enemy in just about any way you like, whether you prefer the safety of range or the up-close pugilist approach. With all manner of toys to play with, Fires of Rubicon definitely seems to deliver a faithful Armored Core experience without pandering to every action-based gimmick we’ve seen crop up in the last ten years.

Pulse-scanning the environment highlights baddies around the corner, quick turn and strafe options aid in tactfully dealing out and avoiding pain, and handy launch-pads send your several tons of armour skyward whip-fast. 

Armored Core is a franchise bedded into the foundation of From’s history. They could have reinvented it, retooled it from the ground floor into a confused mess of metal and everything else they’ve become known for. 

Instead it’s old-made new, that same originality colliding with the scale and scope to make Fires of Rubicon the biggest and baddest mech game of them all. 

With a simultaneous worldwide release across all platforms in August the plan, pilots won’t have to wait long at all to discover whether Fires of Rubicon, with all of its customisation and freedom of choice when it comes to play style, will be From’s second hit in as many years.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon launches on August 25th for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC. Amazon has pre-orders available now for $74.99 including shipping.