FromSoftware's upward trajectory with first the Souls series and now Elden Ring has publisher Bandai Namco feeling bullish about its return to Armored Core, a mech series that began in 1997 but had been dormant since 2013's Armored Core: Verdict Day. It may be on to something, because our own Wes Fenlon described Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon as "Top Gun: Maverick for anime nerds like me who grew up enraptured by Mobile Suit Gundam instead of F-14s" on the way to awarding a shining 87 score. I mean, that sounds pretty great.
Bandai Namco Europe CEO Arnaud Muller has been doing the rounds at Gamescom, and told GamesIndustry.biz he thinks the shift in audience expectations for the publisher and "a new dimension" for the game itself will see Armored Core break through to the mainstream.
"This is an opportunity for us to truly widen the audience of the Armored Core games," said Muller. "My ambitions are not on par with Elden Ring, but our ambitions are way bigger than the previous Armored Core games."
Muller says that thanks to Elden Ring "FromSoftware has become a seal, a guarantee of quality, and therefore people will see that the Metacritic of this game is great, [that] it's challenging but very rewarding: 'I wanna try that game'." The Metacritic for the game currently sits at 87, making Wes seem like some sort of mecha-sage.
"This is a big step up in this franchise," said Muller, which is probably fair comment. I played Armored Core 5 way back when and it felt very much like a trial-and-error kind of game that didn't help you much in understanding what the trials even were. No doubt aficionados will say I should've got good, but it definitely seems that FromSoftware's kept what matters (awesome mech action) and just made it a lot easier for players to get in there and start blasting stuff to smithereens.
"We are not going to be able to match Elden Ring numbers but we will way surpass what Armored Core previous games have done," said Muller. "We have a great game in our hands, the gameplay, the battle system is very loyal to what FromSoftware fans are used to [...] My expectation is that people who have discovered [their] games via Elden Ring will enjoy Armored Core."
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon released Thursday and, surrounded by grand RPGs demanding hundreds of hours, may be just the jet-fuelled palate-cleanser some are after.