Fires of Rubicon is the primary Armored Core recreation in over a decade. This places it within the awkward place of trying to enchantment to collection followers who’ve been starved for any signal of their favorite mech shooter returning, all whereas FromSoftware made everybody consider that it deserted it in favour of its extra profitable – and critically-acclaimed – Souls video games.
However as a result of it’s been so lengthy, the FromSoftware that made Armored Core 6 can also be fairly totally different from the one which created the originals. Fires of Rubicon has to, then, really feel like a reboot, which it typically does. Sadly, strolling that tight rope of satisfying longtime followers whereas introducing the collection to a brand new technology of gamers was at all times going to be nigh unattainable.
The FromSoftware identify to me doesn’t symbolize Armored Core, it represents Bloodborne, Darkish Souls, Sekiro, and Elden Ring. Whether or not I need to or not, any future venture that comes out of the studio is at all times going to be in comparison with these video games, even when it has the Armored Core identify connected.
So I’m not solely stunned that Fires of Rubicon shouldn’t be actually grabbing me. I anticipated some degree of friction, understanding what I do know concerning the authentic video games and the best way they’re perceived by those that don’t swear by them, however AC6 is a recreation that’s difficult for the improper causes.
As an enormous fan of mech fiction, I used to be at all times going to have an interest within the recreation, significantly contemplating the truth that you spend a variety of your time within the storage; constructing, evaluating and customarily taking part in a unique type of recreation to the one which unfolds on the battlefield.
However I simply can’t recover from how… outdated… Fires of Rubicon feels.
Constructing one thing with the requirements (and design limitations) of video games from one or two generations in the past doesn’t routinely make me admire a recreation much less; I like the God of Warfare reboot and its sequel, however if you happen to strip away the performances, writing, visuals and basic presentation, you’re left with a restricted motion journey that would have existed on one thing as outdated as a PS2. Evil West is one other (worse) model of that, however that was right down to its funds greater than the expertise behind it.
Armored Core 6 sits someplace within the center. It will get a variety of mileage out of FromSoft’s artwork route, but it surely lacks the presentation a recreation that massive ought to flaunt in 2023. It’s additionally not a narrative price following. Within the few hours I spent with it, I received bombarded with company names and the merc teams affiliated with them. I’ve no historical past with the collection, so I couldn’t convey myself to care about something, particularly when no different distinctions exist (corresponding to combating kinds).
All of that finally ends up inserting an undue burden on its fight and moment-to-moment.
The sport’s fight hasn’t modified a lot from its basic roots. Greater than that, Fires of Rubicon shouldn’t be a recreation that learns any classes from the studio’s newer work. Nearly as if it was developed in a vacuum by a workforce that toiled away at it for ten years whereas the studio was making a reputation for itself elsewhere, with one of the crucial polished video games we’ve seen within the final decade-plus.
It’s a troublesome expertise, certain, but it surely feels gimmicky. Each boss I fought appears to be designed for gamers to fail at it on their first run. Relying in your construct, you’re more likely to need to again out and take a look at a unique method to even stand an opportunity. I’m blissful altering my type to suit the event – FromSoft’s non-AC work definitely has skilled me for that. However in Fires of Rubicon, it at all times feels such as you’re searching for a form that matches the outlet you’re offered with.
The sport makes you are feeling such as you’re being railroaded into speccing a sure approach, virtually like there’s one answer to that individual puzzle. It doesn’t assist that a lot of the sport’s environments are as bland as they get. Clearly, you possibly can’t precisely let your creativeness run wild with a post-apocalyptic setting as you’d in Elden Ring’s fantasy land, however I’ve to but to be left in awe traversing the world.
The construction of AC6’s mission-based design makes that feeling worse. Earlier than FromSoft went open world with Eldern Ring, I by no means felt like degree design from its earlier video games restricted discoverability, fairly the alternative. Right here, it appears like you possibly can instantly grasp the size and scope of the atmosphere two minutes into it. When you attempt to search for an alternate method or enterprise off the beating path hoping for any secret, the out-of-bounds barrier can be fast to remind you that you just’re taking part in a online game.
I think about longtime followers are screaming ‘that is how AC has at all times been!’ proper now, however I simply refuse to consider that, after over a decade, all we received was a considerably better-looking recreation that sands down a couple of of the rougher edges, however casually ignores FromSoft’s design revolutions elsewhere. It simply appears like a recreation any studio might’ve made.