Branching Path: After Seeing Armored Core VI, I think I understand the appeal of Gunpla now

When a company has been so well established in the quality of their releases, it’s only natural that all eyes will be on whatever it produces; that certainly fits with From Software’s upcoming Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. While the game is not an RPG, the developer did release our RPG of the Year last year in Elden Ring; and, well, to say that members of our staff have been looking forward to a new Armored Core shouldn’t come as any surprise.

That being said - I’m not an Armored Core fan. While I’ve played other games that From Software have produced outside of their now-standard “Souls” fare, I never had the opportunity to play an Armored Core, so outside of understanding some of the franchise’s basic facts, heading into my hands-off appointment I was a blank slate, ready to get my first taste of the series with a look at Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.

This will probably be obvious for anyone who already had prior experience with the franchise; but in Armored Core VI, players will take control of their very own mechs, customized to their needs/playstyles. Not only do your equipped weapons have a direct impact on your playstyle, but depending on your equipment you might change core aspects of your mechs design. An example from the hands-off session was swapping out the legs for a slightly different design which had an impact on the machine’s maneuverability. 

Of course; player expression isn’t just limited to how they customize their mech. Players also can tackle the sprawling levels in a number of ways; you could engage with the enemy directly, but you can also attempt to take a less reckless approach, avoiding combat whenever necessary. With careful resource management you can platform your way across gaps, or you can look for side routes that might take longer, but will require less intense challenge - whether those challenges might be testing your platforming prowess, or your finesse at combat.

Whatever you end up deciding to do, combat itself looks incredible - and while I did not have the chance to get hands-on with the game myself, talking with members of the press who did the praise was unanimous for how the game supposedly felt to play. I’ll have to wait a few more months to be able to verify those claims, much like anyone else, but at least as of right now it sounds like the game’s controls and combat are in a very promising place.

If I had one main takeaway after all of the gameplay I’d managed to see; it was a troubling realization I’d come to, deep in my very soul. Recently members of RPG Site’s staff have gotten into building Gunpla - model kits of mechs, usually from the ever-popular Gundam franchise. I’ve avoided paying too much mind to them myself, despite enjoying a fair few mecha series - but watching Armored Core VI, and seeing a mec that you’ve personally customized coming to life in-game, and fulfilling that desire of living out a fantasy of piloting a mech? I’ve got to admit; I think I get the appeal now, and it’s more than a bit terrifying.

Hopefully getting the chance to play Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon for myself in the months ahead will be enough to sate that curiosity; I simply don’t have the space for any more plastic in my home. We’ll see when Armored Core VI releases for PlayStation 4, 5, Xbox One, Series X|S, and PC later this year.