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Armored Core 6 actually considered "a more open world route"

The game's director and producer say things could've been very different

An AC slices a mech with an energy sword in Armored Core 6.
Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment/FromSoftware

Recently I sat down with GGRecon for a roundtable-ish interview with Armored Core 6: Fires Of Rubicon director Masaru Yamamura and producer Yasunori Ogura to talk more about their upcoming mecha action game. And their answers gave us more of an insight into the game's early development, where the story might take you, and how you might overcome some of its trickiest nuts and bolts.

While it won't come as much of a surprise to Armored Core veterans, Armored Core 6 isn't an open world game. If you're a new FromSoftware-liker brought on board by the expansive world of Elden Ring, then yes, you might be a bit surprised. As I mention in my preview, Armored Core 6 sees you play a mecha-mercenary who selects jobs from a drop down menu and jets off to destroy whatever needs destroying. But Yamamura says FromSoft actually considered going down a more open world route in early stages of the game's development.

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"For the map design initially, [an open world] was considered, but in order to do that we'd have to put some restrictions on the assembly aspect, particularly in how the player is able to move within that space," Yamamura says. "So, if you have a much broader open world map that's designed for exploration, you have to limit, to an extent, the freedom with which the player can customise the AC."

Yamamura explains they toned down the scope of the map, so as not to hinder how you can get really personal with mechs. "We've really had to put some limitations on the map side in order to allow that freedom of expression for your own personal AC loadout, and the way you wanted to move through these maps," he says. "So in that sense, we opted for a more traditional missions structure and more condensed map design in the end."

A cool mech in Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon's reveal trailer.
GGRecon asks whether we'd see much variety in Rubicon's setting, where our preview largely saw us in industrial or icy spots. "So at some point in the game, you'll actually be crossing from one continent to another on Rubicon," Yamamura explains. Not only will it provide a change of scenery and level design, but he says it'll also give players a sense "of what was built before and maybe the ruins of a previous civilisation, before the great disaster". | Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment

I mean, it makes sense! The most movement you get from early Souls games are dashes and rolls, to the point where Sekiro's jump button was seen as a revelation. Then Elden Ring's spectral horse came along with its double jumps. Cut to Armored Core 6 and you're piloting a mech that's able to soar through the air and rocket in multiple directions. A flight from Limgrave to Castle Sol in an AC? Five minutes tops.

The emphasis on mech customisation doesn't make the game a rocket jump in the park, though. I found the Juggernaut boss particularly difficult in the preview demo and asked Yamamura and Ogura whether they had any advice for me. Aside from saying that boss, as well as future bosses, are intentional "hurdles" to encourage tinkering in the garage, they mentioned the custom ID system.

"You can actually create a custom ID for your own AC data, for your current loadout. And you can share this easily in-game with other players," Yamamura explains. "So hopefully this will spark some community discussion if the player is having trouble with a specific mission or boss." A really neat idea, and one which makes up for the lack of Soulslike summons. I'm sure it's like a lot of different things from many different games, but it reminds me of being able to hire other people's pawns in Dragon's Dogma.

And while Armored Core 6 isn't an open world game, it seems there's still an element of freedom when it comes to the choices you'll be making in the game. GGRecon asks whether there will be any secrets or hidden bits to unearth within the game's more linear mission setup, and Yamamura offers some insights into the campaign.

"Yes, around the middle of the game around chapter three, you'll start to get multiple requests from different factions, different corporations," he says. "The player can choose to an extent which faction they're fighting for and which missions they take on. And these choices will eventually affect the branching paths of the campaign going forward." It seems like replayability is important for them, too, as it turns out these decisions affect the ending you eventually get.

A big mech spins in a circle in Armored Core 6: Fires Of Rubicon
Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment

As for hidden bits scattered across the game's campaign, Yamamura says it depends on the mission type. For the large open areas or "mega-structures", you may be able to "go off the beaten path and find some hidden collectibles, hidden caches", which provide extra weapons or parts. What's most exciting is the possibility of "hidden encounters that will unlock extra parts as well", so that's definitely all of us bumping into some dormant robot king and getting crushed to death between his rusted biceps. GGRecon also asked whether we'd see the Moonlight Greatsword, a rare weapon that's been a mainstay across FromSoft's games. Both Yamamura and Ogura laugh it off and say, "you will have to play and find out for yourself." That's not a no!

These tidbits of new info have me excited for Armored Core 6, which I'm sure is shaping up to be yet another FromSoftware belter. And in a sense, it's nice to see them come out with something both new and harking back to their pre-Souls roots - even if that means the open world is out the window.

Also, shoutout to Bobby, the translator for the interview. I can't get over how talented he is, to like, onboard answers in one language so quickly and send it our way in another with such clarity. Translators: here's to you.

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