The hulking tank has two expansive arms and giant fists, each wielding about a dozen rolling turrets of flame. It spews fireballs from its volcano-like top spout, belching a steady cloud of red-hot doom that’s as easy on the eyes as it is deadly. This thing is not, as they say, pussyfooting around.
This is the culmination of a media-only demo of Armored Core VI, FromSoftware’s follow-up to last year’s enormously popular Elden Ring. Set in a distant future of sprawling steel hellscapes, you pilot a giant combat robot against mechanical monstrosities big and small, from little worker-bots that resemble baby AT-STs to sinuous droids like unholy roly-poly bugs.
FromSoft games have a reputation for extreme challenges, and ACVI is no exception. But the demo player seated behind us — presumably a member of the dev team — is no slouch. His mech nimbly moves in every direction, powered by booster rockets, spraying cascades of rockets with balletic grace.
My gaze moves upward as the HP bar suddenly shifts from white to red. And just like that, the giant mech is destroyed. (I can’t help but say this in a Carrie Bradshaw voice, so I hope you will too.) A Game Over message unfurls across the screen. The room falls quiet for a long, awkward pause.
“Uh, that was a genuine accident,” the translator at the front of the room finally says to a chorus of good-natured chuckles. “Well, whatever,” he continues sheepishly, abruptly changing the topic to embargo guidelines.
If you were concerned that FromSoftware would skew “more approachable” after the blockbuster success of Elden Ring, which has sold more than 20 million copies, you can breathe easy. The team behind Armored Core VI still has every intention of rubbing your face in your failures.
Like Elden Ring, you’ll also need to give a great deal of thought to your build, though in Armored Core VI, that concept’s taken a bit more literally than clothing and weaponry. Customization will be a cornerstone of ACVI, and you’ll be able to change your mech’s legs, head, arms, and weapons.
Each of these tweaks will have an impact on key stats like your hit points, speed, and the duration of your boosters. It seems that rejiggering your character’s loadout will be a bit more straightforward than in Elden Ring — it can be done directly after a Game Over, without going to a specific location or using a rare consumable item.
Seeing Armored Core VI in action, there’s no denying its beauty, despite its industrial aesthetic. FromSoftware’s designers have an unparalleled knack for expansive scale and memorable enemy designs, and those hallmarks are in abundance here. Sorbet-hued skies peek through the angular metal superstructures that sprawl like honeycombs in every direction. Everywhere you look is vastness.
Much like this year’s presumptive GOTY, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, ACVI is an immensely vertical experience, and traversing its environments will require close attention to what’s above and below you at all times.
But it’s not all bright skies and booster rockets. Armored Core VI will also see you explore tighter spaces too. You’ll be able to scan your surroundings to take out your adversaries more discreetly (if giant robots can be discreet) and avoid tipping off the baddies to your presence.
If you’re a fan of FromSoftware’s games but new to the Armored Core series, well, you aren’t the only one. But even from a brief taste of the basic gameplay, it’s clear the extensive exploration, challenging combat, and deep customization players love from Elden Ring and Bloodborne are hard-wired into Armored Core VI.
Armored Core VI launches August 25 on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.