I loved Armored Core VI. I also died a ton. A couple boss battles lasted me multiple nights. But in my 45 hours with the game I’ve learned a lot and now things aren’t so brutal.
As a mech action game, Armored Core VI is all about customizing your robot to overcome the mission ahead. Skill can only take you so far. If you don’t go in with the right tools for the job you’re going to have a bad time. Fortunately, Armored Core VI is one of the more approachable entries in FromSoftware’s long-running sci-fi series, and there are plenty of ways to get a leg up on the competition and survive even the most difficult encounters. Here’s what I’ve learned through lots of trial and error and quietly cursing the gods of Rubicon under my breath.
Save your game before quitting
This one seems obvious but Armored Core VI has a weird auto-save limbo. The game saves after completing a mission, but not if you tinker with your Armored Core a bunch and then back out. The only way to manually save is to quit the game back to the main menu, and if you don’t do that before turning it off you’ll get a pop up message chiding you the next time you play.
Always be moving
Strafing from side-to-side is the best way to try and dodge most incoming enemy attacks, but boosting is also the only way to jump-start your thrusters so you start sliding across the ground rather than walking. This robot jet ski mode is the best way to navigate the battlefield.
Fly you fool
It’s easy early on to get locked into moving laterally, but some attacks can only be dodged by jumping into the air and hovering above an enemy. If you’re having a hard time getting out of the way of a boss’ attack by jumping left or right it’s probably because you need to be jumping over them altogether.
Fire at will
With a few exceptions like certain rocket launchers and melee attacks, you can fire every weapon you have equipped simultaneously. If you’re not firing as soon as the enemy’s in reach and weapons are reloaded you’re missing out on valuable time where you could be doing damage. Instead of firing one after another, get your index and middle fingers on the bumpers and triggers and start shooting everything at once.
Stagger your enemy whenever possible
One of the new additions to Armored Core VI is a stagger system much like the poise meter that exists in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and other Soulsborne games. Breaking it will stun the enemy for a short time and let you deal critical hit damage. Kinetic weapons are especially good at this, including high-impact rockets. While it can sometimes be useful to slowly build up the stagger meter over time, you can also break it instantly if you’re using the right loadout and land every weapon hit at the same time. Exploiting this is the key to winning certain tough boss fights.
Target lock is super helpful until it’s not
Armored Core VI also gives you the ability to hit R3 and lock-on to your opponent. The camera will stay on them as long as they’re within view, making it easy to manage the distance between you and them and aim your attacks. However, some weapons will actually target more effectively if you’re not locked on, and occasionally you’ll want to break off to escape a particularly big area-of-effect attack. Ideally, you’ll constantly switch between being target locked and not to maximize those advantages.
Figure out your enemy’s weakness
Some bosses are particularly weak against energy weapons. Others stagger easily with kinetic ones. Their loadouts are governed by the same stat tradeoffs that exist for every other Armored Core, and figuring out what they are and targeting those weaknesses will make your life a lot easier. The best way to do that is simply trying out different weapons and seeing how they impact the boss’s health and stagger bars. Good field research is half the battle.
Don’t skip leg day
Legs are the most important part of your Armored Core. They make the single biggest impact on strategy and playstyle, so you should prioritize unlocking at least one of each archetype. The main ones are tank treads, double-jointed bipeds, and hovering quadrupeds. Double-jointed legs let you jump a lot higher a lot more quickly. Tank treads are very strong and super quick. And quadrupeds give you extra thrust to let you float in the air without burning through your energy reserves so quickly.
Buy a variety of weapons at first
Money is scarce early on relative to the amount of stuff you can buy and you don’t want to waste it all on similar versions of the same stuff. Try to have at least one kinetic and one energy type weapon for each arm and shoulder. Melee weapons can only be held on the left so I’d also prioritize weapons for the other slots in the beginning since those beam swords are useful in lots of different types of fights. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with a set of MA-J-200 Ransetsu-RF Burst Rifles and the Vcc-70VPM Plasma Missile Launchers. They’re a great combo and simple to use in most encounters.
Splurge on a good booster and generator
While every Armored Core part has its own set of trade-offs, some cost a lot more than others because they provide a lot of bang for their buck in that part class. The VP-20C generator offers a great mix of total energy capacity, recovery, and recharge, while the FLUEGEL/21Z offers a great mix of thrust and quick boost speed. I also got a lot of mileage out of the Nachtreiher/40E Core for the first several hours of the game.
Use the “Context Help” option to toggle on stat descriptions
The Assembly menu is full of dozens of stats with names that don’t always make it readily apparent what they do. Fortunately, you can turn on the “Context Help” at any time to tell you exactly what each spreadsheet number does and why you might want to invest in it.
Try out everything
There’s over a hundred parts and thousands of different combinations you can play around with in Armored Core VI. My instinct was to find a build I liked and then stick to that as much as possible. That’s the exact wrong way to play this game. Instead, try to always expand your inventory with weapons and gear that’s totally unlike what you already have and then mix and match to see how it changes what you’re able to do in missions. I’ve overcome multiple boss fights simply by trying out a completely random build.
Max out your Arena rank
Every chapter unlocks additional Arena matches. These are where you go up against single opposing Armored Cores in a simulation. In addition to earning extra credits, you also unlock chips that can be used to get ongoing stat boosts to defense and damage regardless of what your loadout is. The fights are also pretty easy compared to some of the ones you face in the game.