FromSoftware Teases Revival Of Armored Core Series In Hype Game Awards Trailer
"Armored Core" is one of those franchise names that will make a certain class of nerd turn wistful and weary. As one of the long-standing favorite video game series of said class of nerds, the title fell out of prominence in the 7th generation of game consoles and completely vanished after that. Now, FromSoftware is bringing it back with a new game announced at The Game Awards, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.
For a bit of history, the series debuted on the original PlayStation when developer FromSoftware was still basically an indie. They were the first solid successes for the company in the west, and for a time, FromSoftware was mostly known as "the Armored Core company" outside of Japan. Later titles on the PS2 and PS3 continued the series, but the poor performance of Armored Core V and its follow-up game, as well as the explosive popularity of Dark Souls, led the studio back to its roots in dark fantasy action games.
The enthusiasm and love for mecha action has never waned in the developers' hearts, though. Back in 2017 the company's marketing manager Yasunori Ogura said that the company has "no intention" of abandoning the Armored Core series, and asked fans to "please wait a little while longer." That was four years after the release of Armored Core: Verdict Day, currently the latest entry in the series.
The next year, company president Hidetaka Miyazaki was asked about the topic by Japanese outlet Famitsu. He was cagey in his response, but remarked that the game company had three "major titles" in development, and that its then-upcoming PSVR release Deracine was not one of them. He and Famitsu also traded responses that referenced a Japanese meme regarding the Armored Core series and its storied history of military conflict.
Clearly a new mecha game was on the way. Fans have been waiting patiently for any sign of the title since 2018, but there was no official word—at least until last night's Game Awards presentation. (Did you win a free Steam Deck? Your author didn't.) Late in the show, heralded with grave import by host Geoff Keighley, FromSoftware revealed a brief two-and-a-half minute teaser trailer that you can see above.
The intro cinematic from Armored Core 2 for PS2.
There's precious little information available in the trailer, but it calls to mind the intro cutscenes of the older games. Those CGI videos were impressive for their day, and dramatized the at-times clunky gameplay of the first half-dozen or so Armored Core games. The shapes of the cores themselves are instantly recognizable to fans of the series, and the trailer has a decidedly familiar tone reminiscent of the older games.
Delving into the announcement page over on Bandai Namco's website provides many more details. The site confirms that the new game will retain the focus on assembling and customizing your own mech, which is a key part of any proper mecha game. It also notes that players will "move freely through three-dimensional fast-paced missions." To fans of the franchise, that definitely recalls the later games that focused on "NEXTs" with vastly improved mobility and durability compared to the slow "Normals" of the earlier games.
The page also provides some details on Armored Core VI's story. It seems that the game's plot will center around a conflict for control of a mysterious substance with the potential to "dramatically advance humanity's technological and communications capabilities." The text seems to imply that the game will take place in a pseudo post-apocalyptic setting, which is nothing new for the series.
Indeed, the plot setup—where the player takes on the role of a lone mercenary and then gets thrust into the midst of a conflict between multiple corporations and governments—is quite familiar, as that's essentially been the same setup for every Armored Core game. You can always trust FromSoftware to write what they know. Of course, story isn't why anyone plays Armored Core.
Perhaps the most exciting detail revealed about Armored Core VI by Bandai Namco is that the game is coming to lots of platforms: PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series, and finally, PC—probably Steam, if FromSoftware's previous releases are anything to go by. These will be the first Armored Core games to come to the PC.
2022 marks the 25th year since the release of the original Armored Core game in 1997. It's too bad that FromSoftware couldn't get the new game out this year to celebrate. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon only has a vague 2023 release date, which sounds more like "late 2023" to us. Still, fans have waited this long—we can wait a little bit longer.