Review | Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

Armored Chore

FROM SOFTWARE is heading back to its mecha roots with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.  It’s fast, frenetic, poorly balanced, and dull.  For a title like this to come out from one of my favorite companies is shocking.  I’m fine that this game has little to no of the Dark Souls DNA in it. The gameplay can be a lot of fun, occasionally. So let’s break down the highs and lows of this occasionally fun and often maddeningly frustrating title.

No Souls Here

I have dabbled in previous Armored Core games, always finding their control schemes to be too off-putting.  The latest in the series fixes those control issues and takes us to the stars as we head to the planet Rubicon 3.  A never-ending fight over the substance Coral finds your mercenary pilot caught up in the middle of a lot of baffling and dull political squabbling.  Every mission begins with a long voice-over cutscene featuring minimal on-screen movement.  After this ends you’ll normally go into yet another, shorter, cutscene and finally head out to your mission.  Load times are incredibly fast, taking only a few seconds to go in and out of a mission.

The story itself starts out as a mishmash of “I have no idea who I am, what I’m doing, or where I’m going” and evolves into “I don’t care about any of this, I think I might just start skipping it all”. The writing is poor, the voice acting is a mix of passable and terrible, and the overall plot makes zero sense.  There is no real-world building as everything is either a text menu or you’re in-game and shooting things.  The Souls titles have incredibly deep lore that you can discover both in-world and through the descriptions of drops. At no point did I feel attached to any part of this story, and the tough guy American army accents in certain missions were painful.

The mission design is mostly linear. You’ll choose a Sortie from the menu and listen to mediocre cutscene dialogue.  Once you’re happy with your loadout (more on that later) you’ll quickly load into a small map full of Xbox One-era textures.  You’re a big old mecha, so buildings, helicopters, and normal tanks all look tiny to you.  The scale is the best part of the game, even if most of the maps do not feature that large of a playable area.  Early missions can be a few minutes long, with later ones being upwards of twenty or more.  The game is generous with its checkpointing system, replenishing all of your ammo and heals whenever you die.  My main issue are the difficulty spikes.  I’m only allowed to show in video and mostly talk about the first two chapters, and each of the end bosses in those chapters is terrible.

They are cool in their mechanical design, but the jump in difficulty is miserable.  If you do not know their exact weaknesses it can take an extremely long time to defeat them.  I was able to breeze through most of this title, especially early on, but every now and then a new fight popped up that whooped my ass repeatedly without a proper ramp-up.  The counter for the Chapter 1 boss was easy enough to figure out, but even after quickly finding the proper setup for the Chapter 2 boss it still took me many dozens if not over a hundred attempts to defeat him.  I had to go back and repeatedly farm the older missions to earn in-game money to buy the absolute best setup possible.  Even with all that it took me nearly fifteen minutes of playing damned near perfectly to defeat him.

The Good Stuff

It has been a pretty negative piece so far, but it’s not all bad.  The gameplay in AC6 is mechanically great.  When the levels felt well balanced it was an absolute blast to play.  Your shoulder and trigger buttons are each assigned to a different weapon.  A is your jump and hover button, B puts you into boost mode, X is your dash, and Y interacts with doors and switches.  Up on the d-pad is your heal, of which you have three base charges.  You can get unlocks later that use the rest of the d-pad, and overall it feels great.  To fly for short distances you’ll push in the left stick, and boy did I press that a lot by mistake. It led to some frustrating deaths though I’m not sure where else they could have put it on the d-pad.

The gameplay itself is extremely fast, whether you’re the base all-around setup, the jumpy boy, floaty man, or tank guy.  They’re all quick and feel different enough that you will need to “get gud” at each as certain bosses are built around their unique setups.  Ammo is a concern on longer missions and boss fights.  Occasionally you’ll come across a supply sherpa.  Hitting Y next to these initiates a short cutscene and you get all your stuff replenished.  The only other way to go into a big fight with full ammo and heals is to die and reload at the latest checkpoint.

As you progress through the main campaign you’ll unlock various part and upgrade systems.  The Parts Store gives you access to a laundry list of parts you can upgrade:

  • Right Hand
  • Left Hand
  • Right Shoulder
  • Left Shoulder
  • Head
  • Arms
  • Core
  • Legs
  • Booster
  • Generator
  • Expansion Slot

This is where the game is at its most mecha-nerdy and I loved it.  Every piece has its own weight, energy needs, and various stats.  Increased AP (health), damage output, various damage resistances and more create a delicate balancing act that requires you to experiment if you want to succeed.  You may be tempted to sell parts to buy new ones often, but I would warn against that.  If you die mid-mission you can choose to respawn or go to your assembly screen and change your load out.  You cannot, however, go to the parts store, which is only available in-between missions.  So if you’re selling everything and only keeping a “god” loadout you will not leave yourself many options when a boss fight comes around that demands you use the hover legs instead of the high jump ones.

The OS system utilizes chips you earn in the Arena mode.  Arena mode has you face various AI opponents in 1v1 battles.  It isn’t too hard most of the time, and the OST chips you get can massively boost the power of your mecha.  The loadout you choose can be changed for free at any time in-between missions.  It’s not the deepest part of the game but it is one more carrot to chase to make yourself feel more customized and powerful over time. As the game went on my issues with the cheapness greatly increased.  Where checkpoints had been extremely generous I would find myself 10 minutes into a tough level, die, and then be told my only option was to restart.  It didn’t happen on every level, but when it did it greatly dampened my enjoyment.

Occasional Beauty and Generic Audio

Armored Core 6 isn’t an ugly game, nor is it a stunner.  What is most surprising is that it runs buttery smooth while targeting sixty fps in performance mode. There is a 30fps targeted ray-tracing mode as well but I didn’t find the eye-candy to be worth the hit in input latency.  I’m sure Digital Foundry or others will find frame drops here and there but on the whole, it runs significantly better than anything else I’ve played by FROM.  The levels aren’t large, despite the occasionally gorgeous vistas trying to trick you into thinking they are.  A few early and many later levels have incredible scope to them though, despite the playable area still being rather small.  Buildings and smaller enemies look basic and occasionally terrible.  Enemy mecha and distant parts of the environment can be stunning thanks to a brilliant art design.

This is all let down by ugly textures when you’re close to most of the actual world of Rubicon 3 itself.  You’ll be flying around like a maniac often enough that it isn’t a big issue, but the game has a photo mode and often when I went to take a cool picture I found myself shocked at just how bad the ground and wall textures could look around my kick-ass looking mecha.  As stated previously the writing and voice acting are mostly bad.  Your character never speaks so you’ll be listening to “Handler Walter” and others a lot.  While Walter’s voicework is solid most of the others are a mix of generic to outright terrible. As I went to write about the music I came to the realization that I barely remember any of it.  While it fits the mood of the fights it isn’t memorable at all, another first for me with FROM.

Polish-wise I only ran into one error and that was a crash.  I had no major bugs with mission objectives or enemies, though their AI can be a bit dense and continuously run into a building in the middle of nowhere for a while.  I tried to play some of the 6v6 PVP mode as the company whitelisted me for the review process but I was never able to find a game.

Wrapping Things Up

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is an odd return to what has been a mostly mediocre series.  It fixes multiple issues, mainly control-wise from the past titles, without adding much else.  It isn’t great to look at, and while it can be fun to play its poor balance as you progress kills any joy to be found after not too long.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

Played on
Xbox Series X
Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon


  • + Controls
  • + Customization


  • - Balance
  • - Texture Quality
  • - Voice Acting (English)
  • - Plot
6.5 out of 10
XboxEra Scoring Policy

Jesse 'Doncabesa' Norris

Proud father of two, lucky to have a wife far too good for me. I write a ton of reviews, am a host on the You Had Me At Halo podcast, and help fill out anywhere I can for our site.

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  1. Reviews are msotly great. Disagree with some aspects of the review in terms of the older games. Cant wait to play friday

  2. The overall metascore is higher than I thought it’d be. I enjoyed my AC4 playthrough last year and I am a massive “mecha nerd”. However I am too knee deep in other games so I’ll probably wait till Black Friday or something for this.

  3. its the highest in the series by a mile. average review score for series pre 6 is in the mid 70’s

    i bought physical on offer for 40 bucks

  4. I’m glad that others are enjoying it more than I did. I powered through despite not enjoying it much by the chapter 2 boss. Gameplay can be fantastic, I just don’t like most of the rest.

  5. Its almost like different people find different levels of enjoyment from different games.

    Ill try this someday. Too much other stuff coming out this year.

  6. within 15 minutes of the video posting there were at least 10 hidden comments attacking me personally. It’s insanity, if you don’t like something others do then you’re immediately set upon by these people.

  7. Everyone must love all things exactly the same. The world must be devoid of all substance, nuance, and color and there is only room for unanimous praise.

    “Please tell me you love the thing I love…that I have played”

  8. Avatar for BRiT BRiT says:

    I really appreciate the reviews, especially the details given for what works and what doesn’t.

  9. I have a hard time not looking at most mainstream reviews as bought and paid for marketing beats. Listening to Kinda Funny soil themselves over it like it is the best game ever created doesn’t feel genuine at all.

    If everything is the best thing ever, nothing is.

  10. Edit: It should be also pointed out that KF only uses a 5-point scale and Blessing loves mechs and From Software so it’s no surprise that he really enjoyed it.

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