Armored Core VI is a welcome return to the series, but because of its long hiatus, it will need to be more accessible to new players.
The Game Awards had several game announcements for fans. Some were expected or leaked prior, but many of the games revealed took gamers by surprise. Perhaps the biggest surprise for fans came at the end of the show when a trailer for a brand-new entry in the Armored Core series was revealed. In traditional FromSoftware form, the trailer revealed little about the game's story and gameplay, but the game's title, Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon, and a 2023 release date were enough to get fans excited. Prior to Dark Souls and its affiliated games, Armored Core was FromSoftware's biggest franchise, so it's great to see it make a return.
While the trailer didn't show any gameplay, many fans of the series are extremely familiar with the mech customization and combat that made the previous entries so much fun. Despite numerous rumors, the developers have maintained that Armored Core will not feature any Soulslike gameplay, design, or combat, and it will be a traditional Armored Core experience. That is certainly great news for Armored Core fans, but that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be any updates to the game. Armored Core has historically featured a high barrier to entry for new players that the new game could remedy.
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The series features some of the best mech combat in any video game, and the amount of customization that players have over their mechs is unparalleled in gaming. Players can create and customize mechs that are limited only by their imaginations. Unfortunately, the detailed customization, while fantastic, is not explained well in the game. Players may find themselves modifying and altering parts without understanding the impact or benefits of each newly added or updated weapon or part.
Armored Core games do feature a tutorial, but they are hardly helpful for new players. Most of the games' tutorials might cover the basics, but they rarely leave the player equipped to handle the detail and nuances of the customization, which can have horrible consequences for the game's combat. Similar to the Monster Hunter series, it's best to have an experienced player nearby to help explain the ins and outs of customization. Unfortunately, unlike Monster Hunter, Armored Core never updated its tutorial to be more player friendly. Fires of Rubicon has the power to change this though.
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Since the game has been on hiatus for around 10 years, Armored Core VI needs to be the game that fans have waited for, but it also needs to allow newer players to dive into the series. Without a better tutorial system, that won't happen. Armored Core VI needs to develop a tutorial level or system that can teach players the mechanics of combat and the basic information needed to be able to confidently build any mech they can imagine. With these building blocks, players will be able to experiment, create, and expand upon the mechs and gameplay featured in Fires of Rubicon.
Many new players will likely be intimidated by Armored Core VI because of its place as the sixth entry in the series, and FromSoftware games have a history of being difficult to jump into. With the right tutorial, however, new players will be able to slide into the series and see the amazing mech gameplay and creation the series is known for. The developers may find it a daunting task, but giving players a means of entry and an understanding of the basic controls will be worth it. It is not a Dark Souls game, so there is no reason to be purposefully obtuse, and players need direction when met with the technical aspects of the game. If it can give players the means to climb the barrier to entry, more players will see Armored Core for the amazing mech series that many fans already know it is.