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Struggling with Armored Core 6? Do the coolest thing possible

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Two things can be true: I am bad at Dark Souls games. I beat Armored Core 6.

To be frank, there were a couple of moments when I worried my time with FromSoft’s new mech mayhem simulator would end as the majority of my Soulsborne experiences end: With me bashing my poor reflexes against a “skill test,” and unceremoniously moving on to something easier.

In a fit of desperation, I tried an audacious strategy that would unlock Armored Core 6 and make nearly every boss battle a breeze: I did the coolest thing possible.

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It sounds simple, and yet, its efficacy is inarguable. I think the game – without verbalizing it – wants to force this epiphany. The two most difficult boss fights in Armored Core 6’s early hours (and arguably the entire game, excluding the final boss) are the tutorial’s XXXL helicopter and the already-infamous Balteus, and both can be more easily overcome when you take a similar “ADTCTP” (Always Do The Coolest Thing Possible) approach.

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An image of a mech in Armored Core 6 Fires of Rubicon. The mech is staring down multiple enemy robots that are firing rockets at it.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

The HC Helicopter isn’t a helicopter so much as a warship, filling the bulk of your field of view. My initial strategy was to treat the industrial complex the chopper calls home as improvised cover, boosting from one building to the next, taking cheap shots when the enemy afforded me an opening. The strategy only dented the helicopter’s health bar before the ship’s payload of heavy weaponry turned my AC into a pile of glorified paperclips. Worse, it looked silly and wasn’t fun.

Then I remembered my mech had a sword. Fighting a death-machine nearly 10 times my size with a sword seemed ill-advised, but also – as someone who has watched their fair share of anime – cool as hell. So, I challenged a steel god to a melee duel, and reader, I won.

I’m ashamed of how long it took me to approach the Balteus fight with the same mix of courage, exhaustion, and taste for the dramatic. After a couple of hours testing new weapon combinations on the embodiment of frustration, getting obliterated by its wall of dozens of missiles, I tried the coolest thing possible. Whenever Balteus unloaded countless projectiles my way, I boosted at full speed right into the firestorm. Of course, it worked. Of course, the missiles detonated right behind me. Of course, the developers wanted me to try this all along.

EC-0804 Smart Cleaner robot raises its glowing arms as it readies to attack 621’s mech in a screenshot from Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Play Gamez

“Do the coolest thing possible” doesn’t always mean “bull rush anything bigger than you.” Sometimes it means literally dunking rockets into a boss’ basketball hoop-shaped head. Other times “doing the coolest thing” means converting your mech into a slow, impenetrable tank and patiently rolling down factory corridors, delivering sin and punishment upon all you meet.

Armored Core 6 is, for me, the most welcoming of FromSoftware’s recent games. I think that’s because the creators get the obvious difference between this mecha fantasy and the masochistic ardor of Soulsbornes. In AC, you’re not a weakling human prepared to die. You’re the pilot of a mech with enough artillery to start your own nation. Don’t forget that and you’ll be just fine.

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