Armored Core 6 producer reveals the “secrets” behind the IP’s successful reboot
At the game developers’ conference “CEDEC+Kyushu 2023” held on November 25, Yasunori Ogura, producer of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, gave a keynote speech in which he explained how FromSoftware approached the development of Armored Core 6 and what factors contributed to its success.
Armored Core is a mecha video game series that dates back to 1997 and counts six main entries. Released ten years after Armored Core 5, 2023’s Armored Core 6 is the latest edition to the series. Despite the long wait, the title was met with high critical acclaim and overwhelmingly favorable user reception. According to a report by 4gamer, Ogura Yasunori, the Producer and Promotional Marketer for Armored Core 6, gave a speech in which he explained how FromSoftware successfully rebooted the IP.
According to the account, development of Armored Core 6 started under the direction of Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, and the initial stages consisted of analyzing the core competencies of the series, ones that other companies could not reproduce. As a result, they determined that the core value of Armored Core games is the ability freely customize and assemble mechs in a way that influences the action in-game.
At this point, it was also determined that previous Armored Core titles were lacking in the degree to which the player’s customization affected action, so the goal for Armored Core 6 became to maximize this core element. Full-scale development of the game began in 2020 when Sekiro creator Masaru Yamamura stepped up as director.
To strengthen the connection between mech assembly and action, the developers introduced assembly parts with different characteristics (such as Bipedal, Tetrapod, Reverse Joint and Tank Type Legs) and diversified weapon behavior (e.g. how a weapon fires, how the shot behaves, how recoil behaves etc.).
Another key point in development seems to have been including actions that are impossible for the human body to perform. This led to the introduction of mechanics such as Over Boost and Assault Boost, which allow the mechs to move freely across a vast three-dimensional field, demonstrating maneuverability unique to mechs.
Armored Core 6 was made to stimulate aggressive and strategic battle, which Yamamura achieved by lowering the game’s speed and shortening the distance between opponents. This decision allows players to observe the enemy’s behavior and make decisions instantaneously, elevating the game beyond a simple shooter. As movement in combat is intense, the Target Assist mechanic was implemented to take the burden of aiming off player’s shoulders. All these decisions were based on thorough analysis of the gameplay in previous Armored Core titles.
Ogura stresses that the most important principle for rebooting existing IPs is having an “unchangeable core” which should be evolved but not altered. He goes on to explain that bringing back a franchise is all about “reexamining its essence and looking for the gem to polish, as well as deciding if there is such a gem to begin with.”
Identify what’s good and build upon it; identify what’s bad and get rid of it – it’s a fairly basic concept, but making correct analyses and judgements is a whole other story. FromSoftware seem to have been on the mark with the calls they made for Armored Core 6. The classic IP’s reboot stayed true to the series’ core, but the developers also made dramatic improvements, releasing an entirely modern game. This enabled Armored Core 6 to attract a new player base while gaining approval from old fans.