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There has, understandably, been a whole heap of interest leading into the release of Armored Core VI: Fires Of Rubicon, and certainly a great deal more hype from a much wider range of gamers than is usually the case with this long-running, and rather niche, mech shooter series.

Of course that's all down to how FromSoftware's stock has risen over the past 15 years, with the phenomenal Dark Souls series, not to mention Demon's Souls, Sekiro, Bloodborne and Elden Ring (just, y'know, some of the greatest games ever made) ensuring that everyone and their granny has been eagerly awaiting some hot mech action. But is this actually the sort of action game that could catch on in the same way as the developer's other hugely successful titles, and should you dive headlong into it if you're a Souls fan expecting more of the same?

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Well, yes and no. First things first, Armored Core 6 is, without a doubt, the very best outing in this series to date. It takes everything we love about the long-running franchise and doubles down on it; polishing the combat to a sheen and bringing a ton of depth into the building - tweaking and refining the mechs that sit at the very heart of what's great about these games. FromSoftware has, thankfully, resisted the urge to Souls-ify things; it would have been so easy to drift into a diluted formula that pleased fans of their most popular titles. Instead what we've got is classic Armored Core, an unfiltered return to the merc work and mech building of previous titles that longtime fans are gonna absolutely eat up.

For newcomers, it's perhaps a little more tricky to recommend straight off the bat. If you're not sure what to expect, know that Armored Core is not a Souls game and this ain't Elden Ring either; there's virtually no exploration on offer, no open world to roam or side quests in which to engage with. If you want to spend hours investigating hidden paths, finding weird secrets and digging into a bunch of wild lore, you need to understand that this game isn't gonna give you that. Armored Core 6 dishes out straightforward merc contracts - mostly short and fairly linear missions that task you with making a beeline for an obvious objective; collect some info, take out some enemies and then face off against a monstrous robot boss.

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Okay, so with regards to bosses, there's absolutely a recognisable FromSoftware through line here - they're the maestros when it comes to big battles, and Armored Core 6 continues this tradition with some of their most beautiful - and intense - work yet. However, the means and methods of engagement are different this time around. At its heart this series is all about the endless modification and upgrading of enormous robots, and you'll spend as much time perusing menus full of new weapons, boosters, shields, arms, legs and heads as you will blasting around post-apocalyptic lands tearing your enemies to shreds.

If you can get down with the linear mission structure, the constant modding, upgrading and switching of parts - which is almost like a puzzle companion to the action at hand - and some fairly tough encounters that act as skill checks along the way, we reckon you're gonna love what's on offer here regardless of why your interest was piqued in the first place. Once you've got the hang of boosting, gliding, firing off missiles and rockets and adapting your guns, shields and other equipment to suit the challenges ahead...well, the combat on offer here, the often ferocious face-offs you'll engage in, they're worth all of the effort. Get into Armored Core's groove and you'll find an action game that's every bit as great as any of this studio's other work, and 100% the best mech game we've ever played. It's that good.

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And whilst it may be linear, whilst some missions here take mere minutes to complete, there are alternate endings and different bosses to face off against to sweeten the deal, so, there's plenty of reason to replay once you've blown through this roughly 20-hour adventure. In terms of the narrative, you may also find yourself fairly surprised too. Our protagonist, Raven, may be silent and faceless, but the tale that's told here is a rather affecting one at times. Getting to know all of your operators, allies and enemies via voice comm chatter makes for an engaging time and the story is more immediate and cohesive than most of the studio's other work.

As the campaign progresses from early skirmishes that give you ample opportunity to warm up against easier enemy fare, it also does a cracking job of explaining all of the ins and outs of the experience via a steady stream of detailed tutorials. Don't know the difference between reverse-joint bipedal, tetrapod and tread mechs? You soon will, and the training areas here give you the chance to practice with them all, showing you how switching out every part of your mech can completely change how you approach a battle.

There's a combat style to suit every type of player as well. Maybe you want to build big and heavy to soak up damage and dish out massive punishment as you lumber around arenas, or modify your mech so that it's light, agile and capable of endless boosts and jumps as you spring around and dodge incoming fire. However you want to play it, you can, and that's all before we begin to dig deeper and unlock OS aspects that allow you to get stuck into adding quick turns, several different types of armour and element-specific weapons to help you battle all manner of crazy bosses further down the line.

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You'll need OST Chips to unlock new capabilities for your mechs, which is where the game's arena battles come into play. Here you'll face off against an array of mouthy mech pilots in battle, each of them designed to test your skills and ability to put together machines capable of dealing with a multitude of obstacles. Your enemy got a huge front shield protecting a soft spot at the back? Maybe you need to fit missiles that rain straight down from above or make it so you're fast enough to skirt around it and deliver hugely damaging laser-sword melee damage. There's always some new variant of danger to deal with, and figuring out how to exploit a foe, how to ensure your mech is able to overcome the latest challenge, is all part and parcel of the experience.

It's also worth digging into these optional battles to unlock lots of shiny new decals, rare parts, cool weapons and so on to further expand the choices you've got when it comes to pimping your death ride. Honestly, there's so much fun to be had here when it comes to just browsing menus, painting your mech and making absolutely wild builds, never mind all the scintillating action to indulge in once you're ready.

And the action here really is scintillating. Yes, as expected, it can be tough as nails in places, but it's never unfair, there's always some answer to the problem at hand ready to be discovered or unlocked in your armory, and the bosses - especially a few of the proper multi-enemy skirmishes later in the game - are worth the price of admission alone. These are the sorts of battles you'll remember for a long time to come, big meaty challenges that put you to the test and make you feel like a proper badass future merc.

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There are a few niggles along the way; the camera can be a pain in the metal ass from time to time, the full lock-on feels a little more fussy than it needs to and some missions fall a little flat when they lack challenge or send you out to simply gather intel, but overall Armored Core 6 is an absolute banger. This is super slick, stylish and hugely addictive mech-battling action that manages to provide immediately engaging combat whilst also providing a ton of depth to dig into over the longer term. If you're an interested newcomer who wanted more Dark Souls, this isn't it, but if you're willing to try something new, you'll love what this game has got to offer once you get to grips with it all.

For veterans of the Armored Core series it's a no-brainer. This is the best the series has ever been, and another shining example of why FromSoftware is the best in the business when it comes to serving up mechanically dazzling and deep action, hugely atmospheric worlds and experiences that linger long in the memory once you're all done and dusted. Let's get to work, 621.


Armored Core 6 serves up the series' signature mech action and deep customisation gameplay in the slickest and most exciting entry in this long-running franchise thus far. This is easily the best mech shooter we've played, an immediately engaging, complex and highly replayable game that gives you all the tools required to build the machines you'll need to overcome some fantastically challenging boss encounters. Yes, there are one or two niggles with the camera and some flaky lock-on here and there, but the core action here, alongside a surprisingly engaging narrative and multiple endings to experience, make for a game we highly recommend digging into. FromSoftware's hot streak continues.