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The full Armored Core game order and if you should play them

Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon fight

After the amazing success of Elden Ring in 2022, FromSoftware is bringing Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon in 2023.

FromSoftware became a darling among gamers in Western markets after the release of Demon’s Souls on the PlayStation 3. While that was the studio’s first critical and commercial success outside of Japan, it was far from their first game. Long before smash hits like Elden Ring and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice were taking home Game of the Year awards, Armored Core was the centerpiece of FromSoftware’s catalog.

Though 15 Armored Core games have already been released, with many localized for North America and Europe, the series has never really hit the spotlight. That makes it worth reviewing the history of the series, considering how Armored Core 6 factors into the series, and whether Dark Souls and Elden Ring fans should look at it.

What is Armored Core?

Armored Core is an action-shooter video game series developed by FromSoftware in partnership with a number of different publishers. It first launched in 1997 for the PlayStation 1, and has spawned five mainline titles and 10 spinoffs. Its sixth mainline title, Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, is slated for release in 2023.

The series has largely stuck to the same gameplay formula throughout its entire history. Armored Core games are third-person shooters with a mech flavor. Players are dropped into large levels and need to clear out hordes of enemies. There is often a balance of taking on missions and heading to an arena for one-on-one battles.

Missions and the arena unlock parts and weapons, which are used to customize mechs. Those customization options are vast, with players able to build anything from a ground-based tank to a quick mech focused on aerial maneuvers. The games also typically boast multiplayer modes that let players try out creative combinations of weapons and abilities against one another.

Armored Core game order

Armored Core 6 will be the 16th game in the series. Many of those games are effectively expansion packs to the mainline titles, taking the same gameplay engine and adding new missions and customization options for mechs. 

GameRelease YearPlatforms
Armored Core1997PlayStation
Armored Core: Project Phantasma1997PlayStation
Armored Core: Master of Arena1999PlayStation
Armored Core 22000PlayStation 2
Armored Core 2: Another Age2001PlayStation 2
Armored Core 32002PlayStation 2, PSP
Silent Line: Armored Core2003PlayStation 2, PSP
Armored Core: Nexus2004PlayStation 2
Armored Core: Nine Breaker2004PlayStation 2
Armored Core: Formula Front2004PlayStation 2, PSP
Armored Core: Last Raven2005PlayStation 2, PSP
Armored Core 42006PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Armored Core: For Answer2008PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Armored Core 52012PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Armored Core: Verdict Day2013PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon2023PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

What is the story of Armored Core?

Armored Core’s story revolves around a world ruled by massive corporations that seized control after an apocalyptic event. The series’ story has been rebooted on a number of occasions but generally follows the same beats.

In most cases, humanity is forced off the Earth’s surface due to a massive conflict. While the population is sheltering, corporate entities take over the planet and rule their new fiefdoms with an iron fist while also battling each other for territory. These conflicts play out through skirmishes involving piloted aerial tanks. 

Depending on the game, players may work for resistance groups looking to dismantle the corporations or as mercenaries hired by one corporation to fight its competitors. The stakes are high in these stories, with outcomes ranging from wresting control of the planet away from evildoers to the complete extinction of mankind.

Are Armored Core games good?

Armored Core games have historically received mixed or average reviews throughout the entire history of the franchise. Review aggregators have almost every installment of the series at an average score between 6.0 and 7.5.

The top-rated game in the series is Armored Core 2 on the PlayStation 2, which was praised for its vast customization options but criticized for its unintuitive controls. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 installments also enjoyed a warm to their online multiplayer offerings but were criticized for underwhelming graphics and a steep learning curve.

Armored Core 4 White Glint

Armored Core 6 is the first game in the series in 10 years, and FromSoftware’s profile has grown exponentially since then. The studio will be looking to parlay the success of Elden Ring and the Dark Souls series into proper AAA status for one of its first franchises.

Are Armored Core games difficult?

Armored Core games are regarded as very difficult. 

Though FromSoftware became notorious for the difficulty of its games with titles like Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Elden Ring, that reputation goes back further. Armored Core had fans pulling out their hair long before the Soulslike genre was born.

Part of this stemmed from the games’ control system, which was panned by critics. The franchise was also released when mech shooters were becoming popular in arcades, with these games having generally high levels of difficulty. With FromSoftware known for being tough on its players, odds are that Armored Core 6 will provide fans with a challenge.

Will there be a new Armored Core game?

The Armored Core series is set to be revived with the launch of Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon. The new title looks ready to reboot the franchise, and will serve as the first taste of the series for many gamers.

While the franchise is over 20 years old at this point, the games had very little presence in Western markets. None of the previous launches enjoyed strong sales and most of them flew under the radar, even among the hardcore gaming audience. Few even noticed that the series disappeared for over 10 years. 

The popularity of the Dark Souls series and Elden Ring has made past FromSoftware franchises more notable by association. With all that extra attention, odds are that Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon will be the biggest game in Armored Core history, with many new fans likely to join the ranks with the game’s release.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2.

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