Because Dark Souls is so well-known, it’s easy to think of FromSoftware when you think of Dark Souls and other games like it. But it’s interesting to note that FromSoftware isn’t always about their “git gud” hit franchise. Their Armored Core series is a favourite among mecha fans. In contrast to Dark Souls, the Armored Core series puts a lot of emphasis on simulation, both in building mecha and using them in battle.
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In contrast to Gundam, each Armored Core game has its own level of difficulty when it comes to customising mecha and playing the game, to the point where it can be fun to have too much to do. But how would they rank Armored Core games for people who have never played them before?
Armored Core: Project Phantasma (1997)
Armored Core: Project Phantasma, the second game in the series, is good for people who want a more straightforward Armored Core experience. It takes place two years before the first game. In the story, players take on missions, earn money, and carefully upgrade their ACs as they explore the research site of Project Phantasma.
Project Phantasma is very different from the first game because it only has 17 missions instead of 50. But even though Project Phantasma has a cool way to save your progress from the first game, it is a fast-paced game because it is more linear.
Armored Core: Nine Breaker (2004)
Armored Core: Nine Breaker is a game where you can just fight robots if you don’t want to deal with the complicated plots of the other games in the series. The game doesn’t have a story mode. Instead, it only has two modes: a Training Mode that challenges players with different ways to play, and an Arena Mode where players can fight against AI with their AC. The Training Mode shows that the Arena Mode is training people for a possible war, even though everything is at peace right now.
The game doesn’t have anything else that would make people want to play it for a long time. Unlike most other games, most of the parts in AC can already be changed. Also, there is no online multiplayer mode that lets players challenge their friends.
Armored Core: Master Of Arena (1999)
Fans of the Armored Core series may remember that Armored Core: Master Of Arena was the last game in the series to be released for the PlayStation before consoles switched to a new generation. Fans would have liked it to have been more of a big deal, but it wasn’t. Graphics-wise, Master Of Arena didn’t change much because of the limitations of the system.
In terms of gameplay, Master Of Arena keeps most of what people know and love about the series, but it doesn’t do much to set itself apart from other games in the same genre. New to Master of Arena are the Ex Arena Mode, which is a type of arena brawler that groups mecha by type, and the Ranker Mk Mode, which lets you change how the AI of ACs works.
Armored Core 4 (2006)
Armored Core 4 is like a fresh start for the first few games. It has faster missions and a new story. The story takes place in the future, after a terrible war. Corporations now rule the world, and they start to use ACs to fight each other.
Even though Armored Core 4 still has a good way to customise your character, the fast-paced combat doesn’t make up for the game’s overall lacklustre performance. Compared to how sharp the game’s graphics are, the environments are a bit dull and crowded. This doesn’t help the 30 missions, which are pretty straightforward.
Armored Core 5 (2012)
At its core, Armored Core 5 was a return to tradition for the modern Armored Core series. Instead of the fast-paced gameplay of its younger predecessors, it focused more on tactical gameplay. Even though the story is still about fighting back against an oppressive power, this time more attention is paid to how well the Armored Core can be changed to fit different battle situations.
When played online, it’s easy for Armored Core 5 to turn into a wild ride, since five-on-five matches have team Operators who watch over and give orders. It’s too bad that the solo experience is still pretty boring, given how high the skill cap is and how repetitive the combat is.
Armored Core 2: Another Age (2001)
A few years after the main character, Leos Klein, tries to take over the government, the Earth is once again in the middle of a power struggle between three large corporations and a group of rebels who want to set up a new government. With this tense premise, Armored Core 2: Another Age marks the end of the original Armored Core timeline, and it really goes for it. Even though the game doesn’t have an Arena Mode, it has more than 100 missions that will keep players busy for a long time.
Also, the better graphics and the look of the mecha just add to the great AI in AC, which kept players on their toes. Obviously, people who like Armored Core games that move much faster might not like Another Age.
Armored Core (1997)
People always put the first game in a series at the top of the list of the best games in that series. This is the case with Armored Core, the first game in the series. After the Great Destruction destroyed most of Earth, the people who were left went underground and started living under the control of corporations. As these companies fight, mercenaries called Ravens are taking advantage of the situation by using ACs to do their jobs.
In a genre usually ruled by the classic MechWarrior, the original Armored Core showed that it could hold its own with its deep customization options and choice of missions. This level of creativity had never been seen before, making it clear that Armored Core was one of a kind in its genre.
Armored Core V
This is the last game in the series to be remade. It came out for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. It focuses mostly on online multiplayer and has fewer story missions than the previous games. Teams of up to 20 players can fight for territory online with the multiplayer feature. There is also a co-op mode where players can fight NPCs for different rewards. The game takes place in a futuristic war after the end of the world. Compared to the other games in the series, it has a story and gameplay that are very different. Also, none of the other games in the Armored Core series have a sequel.
Armored Core: Nexus
The eighth game in the series, Armored Core: Nexus, is a direct follow-up to Silent Line: Armored Core. The game starts when a new company starts collecting old technology. The player does missions until the corporations go to war with each other and start using old weapons. The player’s job is to stop the weapons from being used before they destroy the planet. With the money they earn from missions, players can change how their mech units look. Overall, the game works the same way as its predecessors.