Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon launches August 25 and will serve as a reboot for the franchise in order to explore new ideas and remove hinderances from events that took place in past games. However, this is not the first time FromSoftware has toyed with the continuity and timelines of this franchise. At this point, it’s almost a hallmark of the Armored Core franchise to feature some sort of disconnect from the previous game, leading to confusion on whether the timelines are actually connected at all.
Are the Armored Core timelines connected?
It’s not a simple question to answer, perhaps by design. Over the past decades, FromSoftware has rebooted Armored Core multiple times. Some of the narratives are directly connected through events and references, while others feature large gaps between the events of previous entries. Armored Core 5 and Armored Core 6 deviate further in that regard since the games both take place on new planets separate from previous games. Before we can determine if the timelines are connected, we must revisit the themes and main history of events.
Timeline 1 – Project Phantasma, Armored Core 1, Armored Core 2 and Another Age
The original Armored Core timeline takes place on Earth after an event of mass destruction called the Great Devastation. Corporations subsequently arise and vie for control of the planet, causing the first series of corporate wars to break out. At this point in time, the events are still fairly straightforward. The events of Project Phantasma and Armored Core 1 unfold with direct continuity between the two stories. The franchise then jumps forward 67 years after the events of Master of Arena and goes to Mars where another corporate war breaks out for Armored Core 2. One last expansion known as Armored Core 2: Another Age wraps up the original timeline.
Timeline 2 – Armored Core 3 and Silent Line
Cataclysm characterizes the state of the planet again in Armored Core 3. Humans are forced to live underground due to the hostile surface environment caused by the effects of nuclear warfare. Additionally, the humans colonies are in precarious states due to control and manipulation by what are essentially species preservation AIs. The events of this timeline are largely tied to overcoming human rivals, but ultimately gaining autonomy from the mysterious AI handlers. Humanity achieves this by the end, and actually manages to achieve a time of peace for the first time in memory.
Although no specific time table is ever given, the events of Armored Core 3 and Silent Line are connected in this same timeline, as evidenced by the themes of controlling AIs and other connected events.
Timeline 3 – Armored Core 4, For Answer, Verdict Day, and 5
The theme in Armored Core 4 is less dystopian in the sense of AI overlord conspiracies. Corporations are once again the bad guys on Earth and essentially control everything and force the masses into forced servitude in exchange for life necessities. These circumstances unfold in an entirely different way than the original timeline, though. In this timeline, a coalition of allied corporations actually seize control through concurrent international government coups which leads to the establishment of the new world order.
The world is in a state of ruin again after the events of Armored Core 4 play out. This is primarily due to the environmental effects caused by the hazardous power sources for the mechs. For Answer picks up about 10 years later, and then Verdict Day starts about another 100 years later in response to the environmental recovery.
Armored Core 5 is a decidedly different game and world, as was intended with it being another reboot. However, some references to the events of Armored Core 4 and For Answer do appear which link the timelines together.
Finding the right connections
Regarding whether the Armored Core timelines are connected, FromSoftware doesn’t seem to follow much of a formula for clearly linking the games. The trend instead seems to focus on remixing similar themes and presenting everything in new settings with unique hooks. We can see that humanity is regularly subjected to cyclical struggle in which the same mistakes are repeated time again, often within the same timelines. However, Armored Core doesn’t fit neatly together as a single timeline, even if you attempt to spread the events out across thousands of years to account for cycles.
Perhaps that’s the fun of it all to FromSoftware. The writers get to weave together references to past content, all without being restricted to any canon material. Considering that the cycle begins anew in Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, we should expect another new take on the franchise. The next game also takes place on a planet far away from Earth, so there are many new possibilities as well as opportunities to bring back interesting ideas from prior games. Based on precedent though, that will likely be the full extent of the connection between the timelines.
You should now have a better idea of what’s going on with the story going into Armored Core 6, especially if you’re new to the series. In this sense, the frequent reboots make it easy for new players to jump in. If you have more questions still about what to expect though, check out our analysis on the known release details regarding hinted gameplay features, boss battles, and multiplayer mode.