Armored Core 6 – Game Review


Armored Core 6 PS5

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon (AC6) is a mecha based action game by FromSoftware studios and is the 16th entry and not just the 6th like the title suggests, but players do not need to play any previous entry to enjoy this one as the plot is standalone.

Pro’s:

Gunplay.

AC6 features over 50 weapons for the player to equip to their arms and over 40 for their shoulders. Each of these weapons stands out and has their use and application whether it’s pure fire power to blitz down enemies or large magazine machine guns with cheap ammo expenses to go for S ranks.

The weapons all play very differently but all feel and have phenomenal sound design making them all feel unique and distinct from each other, with weapons of the same class for example missile launchers will have different firing arcs making them useful for different terrain.

Movement.

The movement in AC6 is great when playing on Performance mode where the FPS is increased from 30fps in Quality mode to now 60fps as it feels a lot more fluid and responsive than AC5 did on the PS3.

The new movement feature for AC6 is the Assault Boost skill, that any core can use out the box which acts as a more enhanced Glide Boost from AC5 but can now be performed in any situation as long as the player has the energy for it.

Customisation.

One of the strongest aspects of Armored Core as a franchise has always been the customisation of the player’s AC and that has not changed with the new entry but it has been slightly toned down.

There are 12 slots available for the player to customise with the 4 weapon slots broken down into Left hand, Right hand, Left shoulder and Right shoulder. These allow you to equip hundreds of potential weapon combinations using any of the 3 weapon types with Kinetic damage, Energy damage and Explosive damage in addition to the use of melee weapons & shields. So depending on each weapon equipped will effect the AC in some way as Energy weapons will require a generator with a greater capacity to draw said energy from, otherwise they will not fire and larger Kinetic and Explosive weapons will weigh more, the heavier the ordnance, leading to weight becoming a bigger issue. That leads to the AC needing sturdier arms and legs to manage the heavier weapons making tank treads the most viable since they can support the heaviest of weapon load outs without being overburdened, but manoeuvrability becomes comprimised making it all a balancing act.

The frame is made up of 4 slots (Head, Core, Arms and Legs) with these all having their own particular function as with the Head unit which governs how long and far the Scan function remains active for before it has to recharge.

The Core slot is used to give increase to how quickly the generator refills the player’s energy meter after it has been depleted by boosting or other evasive options.

The Arms slot is for selecting the Arms that hold the weapon’s weight without breaking and also helps improve the player’s accuracy with both melee and ranged specialisation with ranged specialisation reducing bullet spread, making it very useful for spread weapons like shotguns as it will keep the shells closer together doing more damage to a target.

Players have access to 4 types of leg parts (Biped, Reverse biped, Tetrapod and Tank treads) and each type of legs has its own benefits as Biped legs are more balanced and easy to use, reverse biped legs give the player increased jump and quick boost distance, Tetrapod legs allow the player to hover in mid-air for constant energy drain and Tank treads give the player the most amount of AP and are able to equip the heaviest loads without becoming over burdened at the expense that they will be slow to move in the air and turn.

The next equipment slot is the AC’s booster engines, these effect how much thrust is available to the player when they boost in any direction, or use the Quick Boost button to dart out of enemy fire.

Next is the Fire Control System (FCS) this is more important than the game makes out in the tutorials as this governs the player’s lock on ability and player accuracy across 3 ranges of close range, medium range and long range. Each weapon has a different ideal effective range so players should swap out FCS for each build to find the ideal one that reduces the lock on time for their weapons of choice, as long range lock on time is useless when the AC is equipped with 2 short range shotguns for instance.

Generator is the last standard equipment that players have access to and governs supplying energy to the AC and influencing the duration of the Energy Gauge. A longer Energy Gauge allows the AC to sustain its boost and remain airborne for extended periods but each generator has different values for both EN capacity and EN output with those being how much energy the generator can output and how much of an energy drain the player’s AC is being and if the generator can sustain it.

The Expansion slot is unavailable at the start of the game until the player unlocks the Arena and thus the OS Shop, in the OS Shop the player can spend chips to unlock special abilities for their AC that have limited uses during a mission with only 4 kinds (Assault Armor (AA), Pulse Armor (PA), Pulse Protection (PP) and Terminal Armor (TA)). Each of these has their uses with AA emitting a large pulse explosion around the player to damage nearby enemies, PA erects a shield around the player for 10 seconds or until the shield is destroyed, PP makes a stronger shield for 25 seconds but leaves it in place and TA makes the player immune to damage completely for 2 seconds when they would be destroyed, but leaves them on 1AP so any hit afterwards means death.

All these customisation options make it so that each AC is very likely to be unique as there is a build for every playstyle, whether that be a lightning fast laser rifle blasting build or a heavy duty tank tread build rocking double gatling guns and missile launchers.

Players can also sell their equipment and parts for 100% of their value so players are encouraged to sell and buy new equipment regularly during their playthroughs to experiment with their builds whenever they hit a roadblock in the story.

New player Accessibility.

New additions to this game are the implementations of a healing item (Repair kit), checkpoints throughout each mission and the new lock on mechanic.

The repair kit is similar in use to the Estus Flask from the Dark Souls series but is far more limited with a total of 3 Repair kits at a time and they heal a lot less than the Estus Flask even when maxed out with the OS Chips. This makes it far less of a crutch and only saves the player a handful of times.

Now in AC6 there are checkpoints, that happen either once in a mission or multiple times, with these usually occurring before or after a boss fight or big battle. There is also no downside from using the checkpoint mechanic in a normal playthrough as the only downside is that the player will not be able to receive an S rank when replaying the mission if they restart from a checkpoint.

AC6 also sees the introduction of a new “Hard” lock on, in addition to the old “Soft” lock on of older AC games, where players can now click in R3 and have the camera focus on one enemy to help newer players keep track of enemies during fast combat. The downside to using this Hard lock on the inside of the classic version is that the player’s accuracy will be decreased so more shots will miss the enemy, but it serves as a good introduction to the pace of combat so they do not have to rely on it until they get used to the older lock on system.

Exploration.

In the larger missions there is hidden enemies off the beaten path that carry Combat Logs, these are collectibles that level up the player’s Hunter Rank that maxes out at 15 and for every level the player is rewarded with new equipment and weapons.

Another exploration bonus is the hidden chests in certain levels, that hide some of the best equipment at that point in the game making it so the player should always explore every level fully just to make sure they aren’t missing out on something that could help them against a boss.

PVP.

For the first time in decent memory the PVP actually works on release and isn’t bogged down by lag that plagued other FromSoft titles like Elden Ring.

PVP is split up into Single (1v1) or Team (3v3) so players can take on either form of PVP they want, since sometimes you can get matched up with bad teammates that cost you a match in Team mode so the Single mode could be more rewarding to play.

Con:

Extreme difficulty spikes.

The difficulty for most of the game is good and challenging but the difficulty is elevated way too high on the first play through with 3 bosses in particular these being the tutorial boss, the final boss of chapter one and the final boss of chapter four.

What makes the bosses so difficult is the sheer amount of things you need to pay attention to since these bosses all spam range attacks constantly making them very difficult to dodge consistently and they all do most of the players health.

The bosses are also able to repeatedly stunlock the player so they cannot escape or heal and since there are no invincibility frames meaning that it’s almost always certain death when the boss combos the player if the health is low enough.

Accessibility HUD.

Prior Armored Core games from even the PS1 era had HUDs (Heads up Display) that easily convey information to the player concisely by making them colourful and stand out against the environment.

In AC6 this has not been brought forward as instead FromSoft has gone fully minimal with the HUD as now the lettering is using white text with no closed captioning box to help it stand out. This is detrimental to the player experience especially those of them who have visual disabilities as it makes important information (Like AP and Ammo values) unreadable with the game’s colour pallet of white snow and grey city environments.

Adding a closed caption box behind these values would make it a lot easier to see at a glance important information that the player needs to know in the middle of a firefight, if that would be too intrusive by blocking vision on the battlefield then another option would be to change the colour of the font so it doesn’t blend in like Red or Black.

Framerate drops.

While not as frequent as with Elden Ring at launch the framerate drops did become more apparent in the late game when the particle effects are dialled up to the max.

The bigger occurrence of this problem was when facing the final boss of Chapter 4 as without spoilers the boss relies on constant beam attacks at all times causing the framerate to drop for most of the boss fight unfairly adding to the challenge.

Mission length.

Aside from the large more open explorable sections there were a lot of missions that involve only one area with limited enemies that is small and so leads to them getting beaten in under 5 minutes causing the game to be shorter compared to older entries in the franchise.

As I got the True ending for the game which requires 3 full playthroughs, and got all but one trophy (To S rank all missions) in under 25 hours. 

To cut down on players having to replay missions  especially the longer ones, potential 4 times each (Each time for each ending playthrough and then once more for the ranking). I would of suggested that players still receive a rank when playing the mission normally as it would of cut down on some of the grinding needed to S rank these missions.

Conclusion:

The best mecha game on the market that carries on the legacy of the franchise that FromSoftware hasn’t updated in nearly a decade, that when it has been patched to tone down certain bosses will be an easy recommendation to every PS5 owner.

If a player really enjoys their first playthrough then they should attempt the New Game + and New Game ++ runs as they add even more equipment, missions and boss fights to keep players engaged for a long time.

Score: 9.3

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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