Bandai Namco hosted an 18-minute interview with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon producer Yasunori Ogura of FromSoftware as part of its Taipei Game Show 2023 parallel show BNE FUN LIVE 2023, during which he discusses the game’s announcement, development, core elements of the series, story, mech customization, multiplayer, and more.
Get the full interview and transcript below.
Interview with Yasunori Ogura
Haruka Mori, Host: “Welcome to this presentation of Bandai Namco Entertainment at the Taipei Game Show. Today, we are pleased to bring you the latest information concerning the upcoming title Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon unveiled during The Game Awards on December 9, 2022. My name is Haruka Mori, and I have the honor of being your MC for this special event. I am joined today by Mr. Yasunori Ogura of FromSoftware, Inc. Thank you for joining us.”
Yasunori Ogura, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon Producer: “I’m delighted to be here. My name is Yasunori Ogura, and I am the producer of the upcoming title Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.”
Mori: “Today, we plan to introduce more details concerning this new title. I look forward to hearing whta you have to say.”
Ogura: “Thank you.”
Mori: “Some time has now passed since the title’s announcement, but the fans’ enthusiasm does not appear to have faded at all.”
Ogura: “We are all most grateful for the levels of excitement among our fans. We’ve kept a lot of people waiting, so it’s nice to know how much it means to them.”
Mori: “Well, I think we should begin by showcasing the very first actual footage from Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon released today. I know you will all enjoy it.”
(Announcement trailer from The Game Awards 2022 plays.)
Mori: “So what did you all think? There’s so much to talk about. I know there was a huge reaction all over the world after the game was announced. What did you think, Mr. Ogura, about the intensity of the reaction?”
Ogura: “It’s been 10 years now since the previous title in the series, so I know how long we’ve kept our fans waiting for this. The reaction reminded me just how many fans the series has. In fact, last year marked the 25th anniversary of the series’ creation, so I was very glad we were able to make the announcement then. It was a relief to make that target. In many ways, I feel bad that we have kept you all waiting so long, and we are so very grateful to all our fans who reacted with such enthusiasm.”
Mori: “In addition to the series’ many fans, there will be many other gamers for whom this video footage may well be the first time they have heard of Armored Core. For the sake of these people, can you explain to us briefly what kind of title this is?”
Ogura: “The first title in the Armored Core series was released by FromSoftware immediately following our entry into game development. We released other titles, like King’s Field, at around the same time, but this game was released in 1997, as an exclusive title for the PlayStation. The most recent title in the series was released exactly 10 years ago: 2013’s Armored Core: Verdict Day—the 15th title in the series.
“The most characteristic element of the series is how it allows you to piece together parts to create your own custom mech, which you then use in the action part of the game. Players can use various different cores, heads, and weapons, combining these parts together with complete freedom, to create their very own mech with which to complete the game’s missions. That process lies at the core of the series.
“The series contains several titles, and their stories vary, sometimes featuring desolate wastelands or evil corporations. There are always missions to complete, which bring you closer to the truth at the heart of each tale. It’s an action series, but one with the tremendous depth in terms of both story and customization.
“The customization element, in particular, involving the free assembly of parts, can be very deep and complex, but is also one of the most rewarding parts of playing these games. Trial and error plays a large role, as you develop your own ideal mech, both in terms of performance, and indeed appearance. I guess that’s the key point.”
Mori: “It’s been 10 years since the last title in the series was released. Can you explain to us why it has taken so long to develop this new title?”
Ogura: “There was never any intention to leave this large a gap. We’ve made a number of titles in the interim, and seen a lot of extremely talented developers grow into their roles. Many of us, including Mr. Miyazaki, our CEO, and myself as well, of course, have always wanted to create a new Armored Core title. So there was never really any question that one day we would return to the series. The only real obstacle standing between us and the development of a new title was that our company always had so many different titles on the go, and we had to make sure that our resources were appropriately distributed. And, unfortunately, it took quite a long time before we reached the situation that we were ready to begin.”
Mori: “I see. You mentioned Mr. Miyazaki there, and I understand that he is not the director of this latest title. Can you tell us what his involvement has been?”
Ogura: “His title for this game is ‘Initial Game Director,’ which means he directed the initial phases of the game’s development. Obviously he didn’t do that alone, but he worked together with people like Kenneth Chan, co-director and producer of Fires of Rubicon, as well as a range of other developers, to establish the game’s foundation. This includes such elements as map design, action fundamentals, and other core elements at the game’s heart.”
Mori: “What has been the major developmental focus for this Armored Core title?”
Ogura: “We were determined to take advantage of FromSoftware’s experience and know-how to really establish freedom for the player in terms of what can be done with game controls and the customization that lies at the series’ core. That was the key point we focused on. When you play the game, you will see how changing parts affects the action elements. The action and customization elements really do work together symbiotically, and I really think this is the most important thing. Defining the parameters that govern this relationship was absolutely key.”
Mori: “Bearing in mind this key element of the game, then, what are the biggest differences between this title and the previous one of 10 years ago?”
Ogura: “Perhaps the biggest difference came from the freedom to spend more on the game’s development and resources, so this was one practical consideration. The other factor was that as 10 years had passed between titles, we at FromSoftware had developed so many other titles in the interim, from Dark Souls II to Bloodborne, Dark Souls III, Deracine, and of course others, like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and most recently of all, Elden Ring, all of which changed us. The experience and know-how that our game designers and developers built up through these titles was able to be made use of in this title.”
Mori: “Speaking of previous titles in the series, such as Armored Core V, for example, is there a connection between them and this latest title?”
Ogura: “In terms of actual storyline, there is no direct connection between V and this latest title, which means there is no need to have played previous titles in the series. However, the fundamental concept at the heart of the Armored Core series, involving the free assembly and customization of parts to create your own mech, remains very much a part of this title. We have prioritized this aspect of the series throughout the development process, and combined this system with the know-how and experience our teams have acquired in the development of FromSoftware’s other acclaimed titles to produce a brand-new Armored Core action game that we believe will satisfy our users.”
Mori: “So you would consider this a beginner-friendly title, then. Last year, you released Elden Ring to great worldwide acclaim, even winning ‘Game of the Year.’ With this being the first new title since, I am sure that a great many gamers are very excited about this title. Have you put in place any measures to make the game easier to play for newcomers to the series?”
Ogura: “We have. We plan to release more details about this in the coming days, but I can talk about one such element today. As I mentioned earlier, one of the key elements of Armored Core is the assembly of various parts to customize your very own mech. it is the element of the game with the most depth, and for many fans, it is the most enjoyable. Seen from the perspective of new users, though, it is a very detailed and complex system, which take as long time to master for a lot players. At leas, that has been the case in many of the series’ previous titles. This time, we have put a number of new measures in place to help make assembly and customization more intuitive and logical than it has been in the past.”
Mori: “The title of this new game is not just Armored Core VI, but it has also been given the subtitle, Fires of Rubicon. Can you explain to us what that subtitle means?”
Ogura: “The subtitle Fires of Rubicon is derived form the world developed specifically for this new game. The game is set on a planet known as Rubicon 3, and the story begins with the discovery of a mysterious new material there. The overarching backbone of the game’s story features the struggle for control of this material between various corporations and organizations. The player character is an independent mercenary working amid these fires of conflict, and it is the task of the player to carry out a series of missions amid that backdrop.”
Mori: “While the story itself looks fascinating, the other thing people want to know about are the mech parts. In the trailer, we were able to see shields, and tetrapod-style legs, the sort of mech parts that were also available in pervious titles. What kind of parts will there be in this title?”
Ogura: “Naturally, this title also features the kind of parts you mentioned in terms of variations on parts from previous titles. The video showcase a weapon called the Pile Bunker, which drives into the enemy at close range, and also featured tetrapods, so this title will obviously feature parts of this type as well. In fact, if you watch the trailer closely, there’s actually quite a lot of new info about the game hidden in there…”
Mori: “Is that right?”
Ogura: “Take a look, and it might provide a few hints, and give you ideas about what might be possible in terms of strategy. I hope the fans will watch it a few times.”
Mori: “One thing FromSoftware is famous for is developing hardcore games that are seriously difficult to clear. Just how difficult is the latest Armored Core title?”
Ogura: “In this game, as always, we have striven to create a game that poses a stiff challenge for our players, and I’m confident we have achieved that. Our approach to the issue of difficulty level in Armored Core VI is slightly different to other titles, in that the most distinctive feature of the Armored Core series is the combination of parts to customize the player’s mech. As this lies at the title’s core, it is really the adjustment of these parts that is the key to overcoming difficulties within the game. This is the point on which we placed the most emphasis in combination with the action system. We have designed a game that rewards using the most appropriate actions in each situation to overcome difficulties and attain a sense of achievement.”
Mori: “It certainly seems like assembly and customization is a strategic key.”
Ogura: “Absolutely. We’ve positioned the use of these elements as the key means of overcoming adversity within the game.”
Mori: “Speaking of adversity, another issue I wanted to ask you about is boss fights. What kind of boss battle experience does the game have?”
Ogura: “I think you will all be very pleased at the intensity of the boss battles. Battles against the various boss characters have always been series highlights, and we have striven to maintain that here, by employing many of the same techniques that have been successful in the past. Boss battles in FromSoftware games often require close observation of enemy movements, to catch that little tell so you know just when to attack, and how best to make your move. That’s certainly the case again in this title, so I am confident that our users will find the boss battles extremely enjoyable.
“Because of the use of mechs, both the player character and enemy characters have extremely dynamic movements. As robots, their dynamism is only matched by the aggressiveness of their movement. Attack distance, in particular, changes frequently, from close-range to far, then from far back to close again. In that respect, the dynamic action of these battle scenes really serves to keep players on their toes.”
Mori: “I can’t wait to ese these battle scenes for myself.”
Ogura: “I can understand that. I hope you will all be pleased with the final product.”
Mori: “In terms of other issues fans have asked about, I wanted to discuss what kind of multiplayer elements the game has.”
Ogura: “As focus has been pleased on producing the most dynamic action possible, we have restricted story mode gameplay to single-player only, but as an online element, we are also planning the implementation of battles in an online arena. We plan to release more details concerning this in the coming days.”
Mori: “That sounds fascinating. Are there any other online features in the game?”
Ogura: “There is one particular feature I am often asked about, so I will mention it now. This title features so-called emblems, as was the case in prior series titles, which are like logos of sorts that you can use to mark your mech. For some time now, players have had the ability to freely create their own emblem, and from the previous title, these can be exchanged online with other players. This will be implemented this time as well, which means that in addition to the parameters of mechs that you can customize, the visual elements as well, in terms of coloring and weathering and the like, can also be freely customized, allowing you to truly create a unique mech that is all yours in performance and appearance.”
Mori: “I guess that’s an element that fans of the series have come to expect, and which will return.”
Ogura: “That’s right. These emblems really do allow the players’ personalities to show through, and we are aware that many of our users spend considerable time getting them just right. This was certainly the case in the past, so for those users who enjoy creating their very own emblem, we look forward to giving them the opportunity to do that, and share them with everyone else.”
Mori: “There’s still so much more I want to know about this first title in 10 years, but I will wait for the next information release. Finally, I wonder if I could ask you for all the fans viewing this?”
Ogura: “Of course. I promised you all during the Armored Core series’ 20th anniversary that we would make a new game, and while it has taken some five years since then, we are finally ready to announce Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon to you all. It brings me great pride and satisfaction to have come this far, but I would also like to apologize for making you all wait for such a long time.
“This title has been developed as a brand-new action game, which makes full use of the extensive know-how and experience acquire by the developers at FromSoftware, combined with the concepts underpinning the Armored Core series. I promise you all that it will be worth the wait.
“We will be releasing more information in the coming days, so I hope that you will all stay tuned to learn more details about the game. It is an honor and a privilege to receive such feedback from a game announcement, and all staff involved in the title are well aware that we must not let our fans down. We intend to use your feedback to drive us as we complete development of this title. We appreciate you all so much.”
Mori: “Thank you very much for watching today. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon will be released in 2023 on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Steam. I hope that you will all stay tuned for further information. Thank you all for watching. Until next time!”