Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon

Posted:  Aug 23, 2023
SDHQ BUILD SCORE: 
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Review

Armored Core 6 was provided by Bandai Namco for review. Thank you!

It has been ten long years since we last saw Armored Core, and I can't explain how good to play the third-person mech shooter again! Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is a fantastic return to a franchise that has been dormant for too long. FromSoftware is known for creating the souls-like genre and, with the lessons they’ve learned creating Dark Souls and Elden Ring, they have mixed the customizability and multi-directional combat in and created something magical.

The highlight of the game is easily the combat and how you can change it through the way you outfit your mech suit. On the field, you will be able to fluidly move in all directions while automatically locking on to enemies and shooting with one of 4 weapons you equip. These can range from plasma rifles and swords to machine guns and bazookas. You can control all four weapons at the same time and you can buy new weapons and gear from the parts shop using money you get from missions. The combat is addicting and feels fantastic. And with explosions and attacks that are flashy, you create these cool-looking moments that keep you in the zone.

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As for the story, it is primarily told through missions that are given in chapters. As you complete more missions, you unlock new ones and you can replay the older ones. Each mission either takes place in a different zone or has different objectives, but each feels really enjoyable to play with a story I felt engaged with as it progressed. You play as an unnamed merc who is fighting on the planet Rubicon, where different corporations and rebel groups are trying to secure the energy source called Coral.

Speaking of the missions, you can replay every single older mission and try to aim for a higher score or ranking. You can keep getting money from these replayed missions too, so if you gotta grind to get a specific weapon you want, you totally can. I found myself replaying missions to get money and buy specific weapons just to test out on bosses and see which builds work best on them.

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Armored Core 6 is at its best when you are flying through the air, shooting at enemies all around you, and playing around with different builds to see what weapons and armor combos work best for you. Thankfully, this is the bulk of the game. The game is streamlined to get you in missions fast with little-to-no bloat and it works wonderfully. And with the right settings, playing on the Steam Deck is a fantastic way to enjoy the fast-paced mech shooter.

Armored Core 6 - Steam Deck Performance

Armored Core 6 on the Steam Deck is a bit of a wildcard at times, but it can be stabilized with some compromises. In some missions, and in closed areas, the game can run extremely well, hitting an almost solid 50 FPS. This is really awesome, but it doesn't hold throughout. In larger missions with open areas, the game will consistently drop down to the mid-30s, even on low settings. I went even further down and set the resolution at 800x450 with low settings and the large areas couldn't consistently break 40 FPS.

Due to this and the consistency of these missions, I elected to stick to a 30 FPS lock. For some missions, you will be able to set it at 45 or 50 FPS and be able to hit it, but for a solid experience throughout the game, 30 FPS is going to be your way to go.

With a mix of medium and low settings, 1152x648 resolution, and SteamOS FSR, we can get a near-solid experience that looks fantastic and plays well. There are a couple of drops here and there when there's too much going on near you, but these are far and few. I found that we can also set a TDP limit of 11 to make sure the battery drain doesn't drain too much.

Since anything above 40 FPS isn't going to be stable throughout the game, I can't recommend a build that would include it. If you want to play at a higher framerate, I would just use this same build and remove the TDP limit. You will get a solid 40-50 in some missions, but others will drain it. I feel this build is a great balance between quality, solid framerate, and battery drain when taking into account how big of a game this is.

Armored Core 6 doesn't support 16:10 resolutions, but it does have full controller and cloud save support.

Conclusion

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is an incredible game that feels best when you have perfected your build and can see it in action through the combat. It’s epic to be able to fly around the battlefield in all directions while shooting and slashing the enemies. Pair it with the streamlined style to just get you in to the battles, as well as an awesome customization system, and you have a recipe for an addicting game well worth your time.

On the Steam Deck, there are some compromises that need to be made, as well as a 30 FPS lock, but even with these, the game feels and looks incredible. I was in the zone, destroying mechs, getting destroyed by bigger mechs, and customizing my suit without feeling much compromise. Overall, this is an amazing game to play on the Steam Deck and definitely worth your time.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon is an epic mech shooter that shines on the Steam Deck, even with the compromises it needs for stability.

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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6 comments on “Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon”

  1. Some additional info I found out about AC6's technical performance that is very relevant to the Steam Deck:

    -Due to memory management issues with AC6, setting Textures to High is known to crash the game at random times. Setting Textures to Low massively improves stability with only a minor hit to visuals.

    -AC6 is a very GPU-bound game, something that can be seen even in your screenshots. Perhaps setting a limit to CPU clock could better-manage the wattage use, even if small.
    The highest percentage I see for CPU usage is only 66%, and that's during the STRIDER mission. The rest sit at below 50% except for the second-to-last screenshot taken during the second objective of Operation Wallclimber.

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