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The evolution of the Armored Core series


When one thinks of FromSoftware, your mind will likely jump to its many Souls/Soulslike action RPGs. While those games are an important part of the studio’s legacy, the cult-favorite Armored Core series is just as crucial to its long-term success. Committing to consistent, near-yearly entries from 1997 to 2013, FromSoftware found its footing in the gaming world and learned many valuable lessons from the series that feature in its current work: the set of customization options, the focus on creating worlds and commitment. to serve a dedicated core audience.

Armored Core is a sci-fi action game series that combines high-speed robot combat with intricate simulation elements where you assemble your dream robot using numerous weapons and parts. Like FromSoftware’s Souls-like titles, each Armored Core game is often set in its own distinct dystopian or post-apocalyptic universe, sometimes referencing themes, plots, and characters from previous franchises. However, within each numbered entry is a narrative that you can enjoy in multiple games and expansions.

With the upcoming release of Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon, the long-running series returns to a sizeable new audience with a new adventure after a 10-year absence. For those only familiar with FromSoftware’s Soulslike games, this Armored Core game will be the first, but it’s only the latest entry in a series with a long and rich history.

Join us as we explore Armored Core’s humble beginnings and how each entry developed its iconic mechanical action.

armored core

Armored Core | US Release: 1997 | game station

Armored Core: Ghost Project | US Release: 1998 | game station

Armored Core: Master of the Arena | US Release: 1999 | game station

FromSoftware began working on the first Armored Core on the original PlayStation, masterfully captivating gamers with the basic formula of the series. Fulfilled the fantasy of building a giant robot from scratch with a bevy of customization options, including a wide range of weaponry, body parts, and thrusters. You can customize your Armored Core (AC for short) to tackle the game’s many campaign missions with a variety of suitable playstyles.

Back in the day, playing the first Armored Core made you feel like a pilot learning to control a giant robot. Though with the lack of dual analog support and a complex control scheme, learning to handle your AC and take advantage of its arsenal required commitment and patience. twisted up like a pretzel after a gaming session, a struggle shared between early Armored Core players that FromSoftware would rectify in later releases.

In later standalone expansions Armored Core: Project Phantasma and Master of Arena, FromSoftware introduced more series staples. Project Phantasma debuted in Arena mode, which Master of Arena expanded on significantly. In Arena mode, players face off against formidable AI-controlled AC pilots, emulating a robot gladiator-like experience. It also introduced longer and more complex campaign missions. These expansions allowed you to import saves from previous entries, including your AC and specific weapons/items.

1692026328 401 The evolution of the Armored Core series

Armored Core 2

Armored Core 2 | US Release: 2000 | Playstation 2

Armored Core 2: another era | US Release: 2001 | Playstation 2

The Armored Core series followed Sony into the PlayStation 2 era with Armored Core 2 and its sequel, Armored Core 2: Another Age, which kept the basic formula of the series intact, with all its customization intricacies. Armored Core 2 stayed true to what made the first titles tick, but Another Age would see a shakeup of sorts. The sequel featured over 100 playable missions, but did not return to Arena Mode. It also saw the debut of a new local cooperative mission mode.

However, arguably the most significant changes came from online multiplayer support. Player versus player (PvP) existed minimally in previous games with a split-screen versus mode, but online multiplayer brought new promise to the competitive Armored Core scene, ensuring continued growth for decades to come. Unfortunately, this online mode was only available in Japan due to the PlayStation Network Adapter only being released in that region at the time of Another Age’s release.

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Armored Core 3

Armored Core 3 | US Release Year: 2002 | Playstation 2

Silent Line: Armored Core | US Release Year: 2003 | Playstation 2

Armored Core: Nexus | US Release Year: 2004 | Playstation 2

Armored Core: Nine Breaker | US Release Year: 2005 | Playstation 2

Armored Core: Last Raven | US Release Year: 2006 | Playstation 2

Armored Core 3 introduced minor changes to the series formula. It brought back Arena mode, created a four-player local multiplayer battle mode, and returned to a post-apocalyptic setting similar to Armored Core’s original 1997 release.

However, the next four releases—Silent Line, Nexus, Nine Breaker, and Last Raven—offered more significant changes. Silent Line allowed you to bring AI-controlled companions on missions and even train and test your skills against a CPU-controlled counterpart to your AC. Nexus added LAN multiplayer capabilities and support for two analog controllers. Ninebreaker gave you access to an in-depth training mode. Last Raven combined all of these changes into one final expansion that concluded the story of Armored Core 3 and was the first to feature multiple endings depending on your actions throughout the campaign.

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Armored Core 4

Armored Core 4 | US Release Year: 2006 | Playstation 3

Armored Core: by answer | US Release Year: 2008 | Playstation 3

Armored Core 4 ushered in a new era for the Armored Core series and was notably led by FromSoftware icon Hidetaka Miyazaki. While retaining the series’ signature mechanical customization, the game amplified combat speed with enhanced boost mechanics and mobility options, and reached new levels of graphical fidelity thanks to the power of the PlayStation 3. It also improved accessibility by making the game Default control layout was more ergonomic. friendly, allowing you to freely customize button inputs and add other options like auto-aim. Network capabilities finally allowed you to compete against opponents from all over the world, supporting battles of up to eight players.

The sequel Armored Core: For Answer introduced the Armsfort, a huge weapon much larger than the size of AC itself and Assault Armor, a type of barrier called Primal Armor, became an offensive weapon. Thanks to these changes and additions, For Answer has become a fan favorite entry.

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Armored Core V

Armored Core V | US Release Year: 2012 | Playstation 3

Armored Core: Verdict Day | US Release Year: 2013 | Playstation 3

The most recent entries in the series, Armored Core V and its sequel, Verdict Day, saw FromSoftware focus even more on online multiplayer, offering a host of competitive PvP and PvE modes. The games noticeably reduced the combat speed of Armored Core 4 to accommodate its return to a post-apocalyptic scavenger setting, placing more importance on location and tactical gameplay.

Armored Core V also saw the introduction of Ultimate Weapons, heavy-hitting rear-mounted weaponry that can only be used once per mission. You can also switch on the fly between combat mode and a new scan mode, which identifies surrounding threats while conserving power.

The evolution of the Armored Core series

Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon

Armored Core has undergone many evolutions since its inception, and FromSoftware has taken the most important lessons from each entry to innovate the franchise while retaining the features and mechanics players love best. Find out more about the upcoming sequel in a Q&A session with the developers at FromSoftware.

See how the studio reinvents the series when Armored Core VI Fires of Rubicon launches on August 25 for PlayStation 5.

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