The Rise of Armored Core Series
Armored Core is the second and longest-running franchise of FromSoftware. Unlike their other games that are mostly having a dark fantasy theme, Armored Core is a sci-fi shooter with the main loop of item collection and progression for the player's mecha.
The Armored Core series is special because it's the first franchise in which Miyazaki directed game development. It's also the first project in which he worked for FromSoftware, being accepted as a game planner after leaving his analyst position in Oracle.
Discover below the nature of the Armored Core games and learn the similarities and differences they have with the Souls games.
Near the end of this entry, we will also answer a question - will Armored Core return in the future?
Major Games in the Series
- Armored Core - released in Japan only, Jul 10, 1997
- Miyazaki is 23 years old and is in University
- Armored Core 2 - released in Japan on Aug 3, 2000
- A launch title for the Playstation 2
- Armored Core 3 - released in Japan on Apr 4, 2002
- Miyazaki is 28 years old and works for Oracle
- Armored Core: Last Raven - released in Japan on Aug 4, 2005
- Miyazaki joins FromSoftware and works as a planner for this game
- Armored Core 4 - released in Japan on Dec 21, 2006
- Miyazaki works as the main planner for the game
- Midway in the project, he gets promoted to the game director
- Armored Core: For Answer - released in Japan on Mar 19, 2008
- Miyazaki works as the director for the game
- Midway in the project, he takes Demon's Souls as the director
- Armored Core V - released in Japan on Jan 26, 2012
- Miyazaki works on Bloodborne as the director
- FromSoftware is already popular for Dark Souls and Demon's Souls
- Armored Core: Verdict Day - released in Japan on Sep 24, 2013
- Miyazaki works on Dark Souls III as the director
- Last Armored Core game
- FromSoftware has completely moved into Souls games
Armored Core Game Mechanics
Similar to Dark Souls or Monster Hunter?
The game mechanics of Armored Core are nearer to those of Monster Hunter rather than the Souls games. The Souls games have the following features:
- Open world - free-roaming
- Player driven quests - player determines what he wants to do next
- Player driven story - there is no script that a player must follow
- Challenge pull - player plays the game for the challenges, not primarily for item upgrading or item collection
Armored Core, like Monster Hunter, has the following features:
- Mission-driven - the main loop of the game is going for missions. This determines the available environment or world that the player can explore
- Rewards driven - since missions drive the loop of the game, rewards are one of the motivators for the player
- Collection pull - item collection and upgrading for the player's mecha is the primary reason for playing
- Economy - money is needed for upgrades or for buying items, has more value for this game compared to the Souls
The main gameplay loop of Armored Core is based on the player going for missions to achieve a goal and gain rewards. This is in direct contrast to the Souls games where it is up to the player what he wants to do next, where to go, and for what reason.
The player's main motivation for playing the game lies in improving his mecha - either through upgrades, item collection, or purchases. This is opposite to the Souls games, where you can play the whole game using the weakest weapon or with the least upgrades, as the main goal is to overcome the challenge, based on the player's own terms.
The economy in the game is important for Armored Core compared to the Souls games. You can complete a Souls game without buying or selling anything, and if you are up to the challenge, without upgrading anything. This is not possible for progression-based games like Armored Core and Monster Hunter.
Armored Core has a more complex and more in-depth item customization compared to the Souls games, where this can be even considered optional. Customization and progression are the main essences of the Armored Core games.
Will Armored Core Return?
We can observe that after FromSoftware became successful with the games created by Miyazaki, they focused primarily on dark fantasy, which is Miyazaki's main strength as a creator.
There is an obvious reduction in their output; however, whatever they released became higher in production value. Also, their biggest and most successful games were all directed by Miyazaki, even after he became a president.
There is still a chance that Armored Core will return, but not in its previous form. Most probably, it will be influenced by the Souls games and will have similar mechanics, instead of being Monster Hunter-like.