Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon Makes You Prove Yourself Worthy Of The “Raven” Name (Spoilers)

In the first three mainline Armored Core games (and subsequent games within those generations), players take on a role of a Raven. It’s a job title to indicate that the Armored Core pilot is an independent mercenary for hire and part of the de-facto freelancing network (which changes name from game to game).

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon smartly weaves this title, Raven, as part of this new story where players take on the role of augmented pilot C4-621, in a really brilliant way that deserved credit.

The callsign Raven gives weight to the name more than ever before and can be seen as a salute to the veterans of the formerly niche mecha action game. But it’s not just a wink-and-nudge old reference either. It goes beyond that, as Raven isn’t just a given title, it’s one that you must earn.

The following contain story spoilers for Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon.

In AC VI, 621 takes on the callsign Raven. Not by choice. But that was the one valid ID left on one of the many destroyed AC in the battlefield you scoured as you make planetfall on Rubicon, illegally.

It was not a simple task, as when the ID was scanned, players are immediately greeted by the first boss of the game. Yes, it’s that darn helicopter that has been “filtering” players out to only let the ones who prevail get to play the game in full.

Once you survived that, 621 gets integrated into ALLMIND, the defacto freelancing network of ACVI. Once the status is clear, the robotic female voice greets you calmly, “Welcome back, Raven”.

To old AC fans like myself who played any of the games within the first three numbered titles (which is about 10 of them on home consoles), that three words means so much. Armored Core has been laying dormant for the past 10 years, as developer FromSoftware pivoted from becoming the team known for the Armored Core series (which has a small but hardcore, armored some may say, fanbase and middling critical reviews) to the team that more or less invented the soulslike subgenre of action RPGs, with a massive adoring fanbase and critical acclaim.

So to see FromSoft returning back to its roots, like a Raven returning to its Nest, after so long, and to see them nudge and wink so hard in the specific direction which their longtime fans can see, brings so much validation. I felt seen and remembered by just that three words alone.

(Though I feel for the fans of Armored Core 4 and Armored Core For Answer, as there’s really no reference to Lynx. Though being reminded that you are a pilot with a fourth-generation augmentation, which in the context of AC VI makes you as old as a museum exhibit as the latest are at gen-10, can double as a reference for AC 4 players).

The two handlers you have, the disembodied voice of Handler Walter who like all other human characters are never seen in the flesh, and the actually, literally disembodied voice of “Rubiconian” Ayre also calls you by different names. Handler Walter sticks to referring to you as 621, while Ayre addresses you by the callsign. You are called so many other names, but Raven is the one used the most to refer to you, as other AC pilots also refer to your callsign rather than your designation number.

It’s interesting how somehow, you are getting away for pretending to be someone else by stealing someone’s ID. But over the course of the story, you learn that the real Raven isn’t just another jobber that got bodied. But they’re still around.

This leads to an intense mission later in Chapter 3 where the briefing has you ready for a defence mission, only to arrive at the scene with nothing to defend. Everything’s been decimated. And there in the distance lies… Raven.

Raven and the AC Nightfall looks awfully familiar, and that’s because that’s the same mech we saw in the reveal trailer. The one with the cool shades that deploys to cover the AC’s eyepiece before taking off.

Raven themself, like your player character, doesn’t speak. It’s their operator that comes on to the comms, gauding you to see how the impostor performs in battle.

“Let’s see how high you can fly… on borrowed wings.”

The Raven’s operator even say how the name is “a symbol of resolve” and “the will to choose what one fights for”. With how many seemingly unfair boss fights and trials you faced so far, and more coming later on, it does mean that. And it hints of the branching endings you can get in the game.

Raven was never only one person, as you later find out. It may be a callsign, but there are many other pilots that carry the name, and after besting the current Raven, you are now the bearer of the title.

This implication is fascinating that it works on a meta level. Every AC VI player is a Raven, in the same way all players on Bloodborne are Hunters or Tarnished in Elden Ring.

Some players are left for dead at the place where the helicopter ambushes you (which is rather poetic when you think of how many players quit playing right then and there after being stuck by a mean boss fight out of nowhere). And from one of these deaths you pick up the mantle, unknowingly so as you were just stealing an ID to get registered to work at Rubicon.

Some get to fly high and be a proper independent mercenary, to the point where you make decisions that will alter the fate of Rubicon.

The 1v1 fight can be a difficult one in the first playthrough. But in subsequent ones, this mission is replaced with a 2v1, or possibly 3v1 fight where you must simultaneously take out two of the best independent mercenary pilots, plus the real top independent mercenary that is Raven.

The game makes you earn that name, demanding you to best the best AC pilot to face you head-on at this point of the story. Only until then, you get to keep the wings your borrow.

Another cool implication is the design of Nightfall. This is the hero AC, the mech that appears on the cover (albeit in terrible shape). And you know what’s interesting? Outside of the head piece and weapons, all the extrior parts of Nightfall are what you already have in the starter AC, LOADER 4. Replace the starter Assault rifle with the better version, swap the pulse blade for a pile bunker, and ditch the basic missile launcher for one that can trail plus a compact grenade launcher (the current meta-defining Songbirds) and you get Nightfall.

Essentially, you actually have a good enough mid-weight AC to work with from the start. Which also implies that the Raven we fought is good enough to work with a mid AC.

The headpiece, Shade Eye, is something you can unlock too. And while it doesn’t look like it, this headpiece does bring out the shades to cover the eyes when it is locking on to a target or activating Assault Boost. You don’t see it during gameplay, as when doing these actions the camera locks to be behind of your AC at all times. An opponent’s AC head is too tiny too really catch a glimpse, and you can’t see it during gameplay on your own AC when playing. But pop into photo mode and you see the shades are turned on.

And there’s another layer of lore that gives the Raven name even more notoriety. During the mission where you face CATAPHRACT, the PCA soldiers also make note of how Raven was the one to leak the info of Coral presence of Rubicon, which lead to the corporations coming to the planet which leads to this multi-sided warfare between two major corps (Arquebus and Balam), the PCA and the local Rubiconian Liberation Force. It is Raven who instigated this new conflict in Rubicon, and it is Raven (you) who’s going to end it.

AC VI really puts a lot of weight into the Raven name that it’s less of a job title but a statuts, a mythos even. The pilots you interact with making aviant themed remarks when commenting on how you perform on the field, but it doesn’t feel cringe awful but corny cool. Rusty trying his best to fly higher but only you flew out of his reach in one ending. Or the other where he biggen you up by saying only one other person can keep up to his pace.

It also gives us a really cool cover star that’s really important to the game, which could also double referencing to the player. It’s smart writing all around, and in a game where voicelines are the only thing that humanises these characters that only appears as emblems and their ACs, it needed to be smart.

AC VI’s story is all the better thanks to how it gives a new impact to an old title, which now any player of this new game should wear with pride. But if you’re like Handler Walter and rather stick to 621, that’s fine too. For me who crave these nostalgic callbacks, it’s one that’s done right and I am so into this one little thing they did.

Armored Core VI Fires Of Rubicon is out now on PS4, PS5, PC (Steam), Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. You can check out our review of the game here.

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