Armored Core VI: Fires of the Rubicon Preview– Customization, Verticality, and a Return to Form

What is Armored Core? Well, after more than a decade of going dark, I wouldn’t be surprised if people vaguely remember robots and that’s about it. FromSoftware (of Elden Ring, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne fame, as well as The Adventures of Cookie & Cream) have returned to a franchise they built way back in 1997 to bring it to the modern age. I recently got to sit down for a live demo of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon to see the latest build in action ahead of the launch in August to see what new tricks the venerable studio has up their sleeves.

Armored Core is and has always been about massive heavily-customized robots squaring off against the world, using a roster of weapons that’d put real-world defense contractor Lockheed Martin to shame. From the word go, it was clear that the team has built out several core pillars for this new version of Armored Core. They wanted to focus on player flexibility, being able to easily buy new parts to assemble just about any sort of mech you could imagine, and somehow make it all very, very cool. This short demo showcased nicely that they’ve landed all three of those objectives.


Armored Core VI is set on the planet Rubicon 3, hence the title “Fires of the Rubicon”. On Rubicon, humanity has found a new energy source that they are calling “Coral” that is said to confer a massive increase in power for mech technology. Unfortunately it comes at a cost, causing massive volcanic eruptions that would eventually be known as the “Fires of Ibis”. Contained, this “Coral” was deemed too reckless to gather. Now, 50 years later, humanity is making another run at this powerful resource, causing multiple factions of humanity to erupt into war over this mysterious substance.

In Fires of the Rubicon, you play as “Raven”, an augmented human Armored Core pilot. As an independent pilot, you’ll take jobs from the various mega-corps as they all fight for control of the powerful Coral, all while trying to discover what makes this substance so powerful. In each mission, you’ll be rewarded and penalized according to your performance. All of those rewards are, of course, used to purchase new components for your Armored Core.

Talking with the team behind the game, they advised that they’ve removed the debt system this time around, so you don’t have to worry about racking up penalties for failed missions, though missing sub objectives means you won’t earn as much on mission completion. That said, if there’s something in particular you are saving for, you can now re-run missions to tackle any remaining objectives, or just to build your pocketbook.


Once the bullets started flying it was clear that FromSoftware was bringing a bit of DNA from their other games. Combat is fast, and on the surface it can appear to be unmitigated chaos, but there’s a great deal of strategy hiding underneath the surface. Feints, attacks, counterattacks, and dashing keeps your mech in motion. This, joined by the ever-present energy shield will keep you out of the line of fire from missiles and ballistic weapons.

Closing distance with an enemy mech and engaging them with melee attacks showcases a new feature for Armored Core VI – stagger. Cribbed from other titles in the FromSoftware catalog, ripping enough missiles, bullets, or straight up bashing into your foes will cause them to whither under the assault. This grants you precious seconds to really put the hurt on them. We also saw a sniper rifle-esque shot that immediately put a mech on its shiny metal butt, so I expect this stagger mechanic to be a major aspect of this new outing.

When the sparks started flying, another thing I noticed was that this game looks like it has the more recent FromSoft pedigree more than previous games – it looks difficult. Not quite Dark Souls’ level of difficulty, but certainly more challenging than its predecessors. To help with that, FromSoft has seen fit to give us a respawn option, simply placing the pilot a short distance away from the danger and letting them re-engage. It’s not clear what penalties, if any, will be incurred.

The next thing I noticed was a bit more obvious.

The level we saw at SGF was sprawling, but also far more vertical than previous games. This particular mission took place inside of a factory, and with massive draw distances. There was piping connecting one part of the plant to the others, affording the opportunity to glide across the top to get the drop on foes. It’s unclear how a tracked vehicle versus a bipedal one would fare in that same scenario, but that might be one of the allures of this game – the right Core for the job. With this increased verticality, will we see parts available to give us additional flight time and distance, or even straight up hovering? Time will tell.

The demo we saw was short, but it’s clear that Armored Core VI: Fires of the Rubicon is a return to familiar territory. What worked in Armored Core V has been refined, joined by some experience gleaned from their more recent games and successes. While we haven’t had the opportunity to go hands-on quite yet, it won’t be long – Armored Core VI: Fires of the Rubicon heads to shelves on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and PC on August 25, 2023.


Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief | [email protected]

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 28 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes), and an Axolotl named Dagon!

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