Armored Core VI: Fires of the Rubicon was officially revealed during The Game Awards after months of rumors and speculation. As FromSoftware has undoubtedly earned millions of fans through its Souls franchise, a large majority would unsurprisingly be unfamiliar with the games, much less the series. Here is a quick article on what fans should know about Armored Core – what the series is all about, what should they expect from Armored Core VI, and why they shouldn't anticipate a game to be a mechanized version of Dark Souls.

Most people nowadays associate FromSoftware with Dark Souls – difficult role-playing games that challenge players to overcome seemingly overwhelming odds. But there was a time when it was known for Mecha games just as how it is known for its Souls series today. There are many similarities between the two series – but don't make the mistake of thinking that the other one is simply a Mecha Dark Souls game. The success of the Souls series and most importantly, the triumph of Elden Ring will surely lead to influences on the upcoming new game – but given that Armored Core VI has been in development since 2016, we imagine that the influence of Elden Ring on this might be mostly superficial and/or skin-deep. Armored Core is an entire beast of its own.

3. It's Sci-Fi, as opposed to the Souls-like's fantasy setting

Armored Core and the Souls games have very different themes, settings-wise. Don't get us wrong, both series are dark and revolve around desolate conditions and environments. But it's one of the more obvious differences between the two series: Souls games are fantasy, while Armored Core is sci-fi.

To get a slight feel on what to expect, Armored Core VI: Fires of the Rubicon is set in a distant planet from Earth. It's not yet sure if the game will be a reboot or a continuation of any of Armored Core's three different timeline continuities – but in all of the continuities, the apocalypse has happened one way or another, and humans had to rebuild society. In this upcoming game, the setting is Rubicon 3 – a planet that is engulfed in flames because the human settlement there messed with the wrong planetary energy source. Hundreds of years after the initial blast, the humans are back again, still looking to harness the same energy source that has literally put the world into flames. As a mercenary, you're here to complete missions on behalf of extraterrestrial corporations that are on a race for that sweet, sweet, manna from this hellish inferno.

Sounds grim? Yes, not far from what to expect out of FromSoftware, but Armored Core's harshness does hit different compared to the Souls games.

2. The gameplay loop is completely different

Both games will force players to fail and fail again, learning from their mistakes, and rewarding perseverance with satisfying victories. However, the gameplay loop between Armored Core and the Souls games is different. For one, there are no bonfire checkpoints that serve as players' place of respite, safe from enemies and an opportunity to reorganize and to level up. Instead, much of Armored Core's preparations are done before the mission, and, although players can still take up to five different weapons during a battle, there is little else you can do to change your mech's fighting style while deployed.

Armored Core also doesn't have the “Souls” currency that gets lost when the player dies and can be recovered as long as the player can find them before they die again. Instead, players in Armored Core are rewarded with money for completing missions, which they can then use to upgrade their mecha during the preparation phase – or not use them, as players don't usually lose all their money by way of a mission failure.

Finally, Souls fans might be disappointed to learn that, for the most part, Armored Core games have linear stories, and there are no multiple endings or secret, sprawling side quests for players to explore. We'd be pleasantly surprised if this changes in Fires of the Rubicon, but we'd advise everyone against holding their breath.

1. Armored Core is more challenging than most Souls-likes

It's become the norm to romanticize difficulty in video games, but it's not an exaggeration when we describe Armored Core to be more difficult than Souls games. In Souls games, players need to familiarize themselves with the mechanics, learn how to use the tools they have, and master the game's controls to make precise actions to take out their enemies. Armored Core is also that, but with more complexity. Apart from the games requiring players to master the mechanics and controls, Armored Core also requires players to understand the complex assembly component of the game.

If you've ever wanted to design your own mech and pilot it, then this game is for you. Each mission in previous games will give the player an opportunity to tinker their mech, adding parts and modifications as they see fit. Then, they can set up an AI system to have the mech fight based on a set logic – similar to the Gambit System for allies in Final Fantasy XII – but at any time, players may still choose to fight manually with their own controls – which changes depending on your loadout, as different parts could mean different controls.

There is also no one-size-fits-all approach to this assembly phase. More often than not, players will have to make adjustments to their mechs, if not complete overhauls, to complete missions. Thus, the challenge of Armored Core lies not only in mastering the controls while in action but also in the engineering of the mech you'll be taking to action.

Armored Core VI will be coming out in 2023 on the PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series X.