Armored Core 6: A New Approach
When I think about FromSoftware, I picture myself spending hours grinding for funds to upgrade my mech in the punishing but satisfying Armored Core: Verdict Day. I imagine myself dying over and over again in the Soulsborne games, trying to figure out what went wrong each time. So, when I learned that Armored Core 6 would be adopting some lenient systems, I was both intrigued and worried. Could the studio that brought us the Soulsborne games strike a balance between challenge and accessibility?
After spending some time with Armored Core 6, I’m happy to report that FromSoftware has pulled it off with grace. The mech shooter still offers intense battles and strategic gameplay, but now it’s paired with mechanics that players of Sekiro will be comfortable with. There’s still plenty of challenge to be had here, but the system that deals with death is what really pushes this game over the edge.
While the shift in approach may influence FromSoftware’s future titles, I believe the developer has a lot of respect for its fans. There’s a reason that so many people love the Soulsborne games despite their difficulty: it’s exciting to feel like you’re getting more and more skilled at a game as you play it. Armored Core 6 offers a refreshing change of pace from that typically unforgiving nature, and I believe it will influence FromSoftware’s future titles—including its popular Souls-like games.
Build and Battle Your Way to Glory
Where FromSoftware’s other games are more focused on combat, Armored Core 6 takes some inspiration from the studio’s larger RPGs, like Dark Souls III and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Instead of facing off against waves of enemies, Armored Core 6 revolves around building and customizing mechs, with missions serving as a means to earn money and unlock new parts.
Despite Armored Core 6’s shift in focus, the combat itself is still very much reminiscent of FromSoftware’s Soulsborne games. You can parry, roll, and attack off the back, and timing your strikes is still key to getting the upper hand. Where Armored Core 6 differs is how it deals with enemy stamina. Instead of being able to swing your sword for as long as you want, your stamina bar is tied to your opponent’s, forcing you to time your attacks to keep them from attacking.
Indeed, the shift in focus doesn’t mean that Armored Core 6 is any less challenging. In fact, I found the bosses to be particularly difficult, requiring me to think carefully about my attacks. Thankfully, I was able to tweak my mech’s loadout after each death, allowing me to change things up mid-fight.
Where Armored Core 6 differs from previous FromSoftware games is in the amount of forgiveness it offers. Checkpoints are lenient and plentiful, saving you from tedious backtracking if you die right before a boss. I also never felt like I was grinding or having to repeat levels to get money; there was always enough around to pick up the best parts and try new weapons.
With money so plentiful, I never felt like I had to grind to upgrade my mech. Instead, I was encouraged to try out different weapons and parts in order to find what worked best for me. This is especially helpful if you’re not sure how a new part works or how much it costs to level up a skill. The game’s autosave points also provide ample safety nets, so you can experiment to your heart’s content without worry.
I’m not sure what I’m more excited about: that Armored Core 6 is finally here, or that FromSoftware seems to be embracing a more lenient game design philosophy. Either way, I’ll be spending the next few days blasting my way through its single-player campaign and preparing for the global launch on April 2.
If you’re looking to experience a new side of FromSoftware, check out our Armored Core 6 review.