Armored Core Games Ranked From Worst to Best

Armored Core is a third-person shooter game made by FromSoftware with its original game being released back in the year 1997, during the PlayStation 1 era, and became a console-exclusive attraction. It was popular back in the day due to how well-known mechas are. For those who don’t know, the mecha subgenre originated in Japan and is seen on various TV shows and animes such as Mobile Suit Gundam, Mazinger, Voltes V, and Voltron.

Sadly, the final game in the series was released ten years ago and the loyal fans are still waiting for a new game. Perhaps they must have felt that thing that Half-Life fans are looking for. Armored Core is a nostalgia-filled series, and nothing can blame them for asking for more. For over fifteen games, Armored Core had a massive stack of games under their label, and these were made within less than twenty years.

Even if we might or might not get another Armored Core game today, it is worth getting into a retrospective and reviewing all of them. The question is: Which games didn’t age well and which ones still hold up until this very day? Let us rank all fifteen Armored Core games from worst to best and see how it plays out.

Let’s begin the rankings on number fifteen…

15. Armored Core: Nine Breaker

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateSeptember 13, 2005
PlatformsPlayStation 2

Starting things off at the worst spot in this series, we have Armored Core: Nine Breaker. Made by FromSoftware and released on the 13th of September, 2005, Armored Core: Nine Breaker is nothing but a soulless spin-off of the Armored Core: Nexus and an uninspired game in general.

There is nothing special that Armored Core: Nine Breaker can offer to players, especially to those who are going to every game in the series. The sandbox style of gameplay is only suitable for those who love the way how to play creatively and do not follow the linear style of it. The combat is great but nothing seems to click due to how shallow it is.

Armored Core: Nine Breaker is a waste of time and is a disrespect to the almighty PS2 platform. It is totally unforgettable and will render everyone to sleep if they choose to give it a shot. Spin-offs are supposed to offer something new? Why is everything non-existent on purpose?

14. Armored Core V

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateJanuary 26, 2012
PlatformsPlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Armored Core V is FromSoftware’s third entry for the seventh-gen and their thirteenth game for the series overall, and someone has to admit: This game died way too quickly just like its online community. Even if it returned to its original style of gameplay translated in 3D, it didn’t do enough to save this atrocity.

The first thing that will be obvious is the fluctuations in the difficulty. How come this game will be enjoyable if everything is a struggle to get a hold of? It is obvious that the direction of the series is aimed toward multiplayer gaming, but that doesn’t justify that Armored Core V is a broken mess of a game.

The controls are messy, the gameplay feels sluggish, and everything fell apart once this was released in stores. You can feel that this is the end of an era for great games by just playing Armored Core V. It just doesn’t hit the same anymore, and maybe the choice to retire the series was the right call.

13. Armored Core IV

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateDecember 21, 2006
PlatformsPlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Again with the gameplay changes and unnecessary reboots. Armored Core just doesn’t seem to find its identity with these turnarounds. Armored Core IV is released in the 2006 Christmas season and looks like everyone was gifted a lump of coal once they played the game. They were in for a shock and what they felt instead is absolute disgust.

First off, the story felt so badly written that you cannot compare it to Armored Core fanfictions if there are any. This feels like World of Tanks rather than an Armored Core game, and that fact alone leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Is there anything good for the franchise in the seventh gen? Looks like there isn’t any.

With the convoluted plot and unfamiliar, unpolished gameplay, Armored Core IV should be buried to the ground and never be mentioned again. If everyone can just remove this game from their memories, it’ll be great.

12. Armored Core: Verdict Day

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateSeptember 23, 2012
PlatformsPlayStation 3, Xbox 360

And at number twelve, we have the final entry of the franchise, Armored Core: Verdict Day. Released on September 23, 2012, Verdict Day serves as an expansion and a sequel for Armored Core V all at the same time, but did it make up for V’s mistakes? Not really. This expansion exists for the sake of it, crushing the hopes of fans that are looking forward to getting the game fixed.

Again, it emphasizes multiplayer gameplay rather than the campaign because every game seems to be riding that trend during that time. But there is a reason not to play the story mode and that is the forced voice acting matched with contradicting storytelling. Looks like FromSoftware is looking to retire this franchise already with what they did.

Guess that we aren’t getting a good Armored Core game anytime soon, and with the game’s online community dying before it really took off, it never stood a chance at becoming better and was abandoned for good.

11. Armored Core: Formula Front

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateMarch 3, 2005
PlatformsPlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable

Armored Core: Formula Front, or Armored Core: Formula Front – Extreme Battle, is a PS2 and PSP-only title released on March 3, 2005, and it is the first game that ditches the mission-based gameplay and leans on the player’s freedom to tweak and customize their AC units, and the mechanic didn’t age well and feels so dull these days.

It’s kind of like Real Steel but you battle with mechas and not boxing robots. And for a PSP game,  Armored Core: Formula Front looks outstanding in terms of graphics. They managed to fit those textures in there but there’s little to no innovation for the gameplay. It just catered to certain people that like collecting mechas and tuning them for battle.

It gets easily boring after a few minutes of gameplay, and it will feel repetitive even if you made progress. Armored Core: Formula Front is yet another great game on paper, but never delivered on the actual game itself.

10. Armored Core 2: Another Age

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateApril 12, 2001
PlatformsPlayStation 2

Armored Core 2: Another Age was released back on April 12, 2001, and it is an expansion set for the vanilla Armored Core 2 that was released a year prior. Another Age is regarded as one of the hardest Armored Core games to beat and by the looks of it, maybe the series isn’t any apologetic at all.

It sure gave the base game more color to it, with the new features and all. But why make it even harder? I guess the memo didn’t include that the expansion set is supposed to have watered-down gameplay, and FromSoftware just worked what should they add with it.

I thought they were looking to top the core game but they never did. Another Age, yet again, is a swerve for those who have high expectations. This is back when we had DLCs, by the way. Take it or leave it.

9. Armored Core: Project Phantasma

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateDecember 4, 1997 (Japan), September 30, 1998 (NA)

Armored Core: Project Phantasma is the sequel to the first game that was released two months later after the release of the first one in Japan, and it was the first dent in the series. Despite the first game being a hit, this one’s a miss, and they made that first mistake early on that became prominent in the long run.

The story is quite an improvement from its predecessor, but it doesn’t hide the one-dimensional objectives on missions despite having stages that feel fresh and new to the eyes of the players. And what made Armored Core: Project Phantasma such a letdown is how short it is compared to the first Armored Core.

Instead of improving the faulty parts of Armored Core, FromSoftware chose to do it partially, resulting in a half-decent game that screams unmemorable. They could have done more with the sequel, but they just didn’t. What a missed opportunity.

8. Armored Core: Last Raven

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateAugust 4, 2005
PlatformsPlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable

Armored Core: Last Raven is yet another PS2 and PSP exclusive and was released five months after Formula Front, but did it improve whatsoever? The short answer is yes, it kind of. Last Raven is objectively better than Formula Front in any aspect, but it has some flaws too. No game can hide from imperfections.

To the positives first, the game shockingly has a plot. It isn’t just a free-for-all mecha battle. And the story goes well with the game itself and doesn’t feel cliché at all. Every mechanic introduced in Formula Front that fell flat is now polished in Armored Core: Last Raven. But what makes this game on the middle part of the list is how hard it is. Yes, they don’t hold back with the difficulties.

I would take this over Formula Front any day, because why not? Last Raven is accessible and somehow fits into handheld hardware just like any other great PS2 titles making their way into the PSP. But I recommend playing the PlayStation 2 version since you’ll miss out on some features on the Portable.

7. Armored Core: Nexus

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateSeptember 28, 2004
PlatformsPlayStation 2

Armored Core: Nexus gets way too much hate, and I understand that. It is one of the PS2 installments of the series that doesn’t go too hard on how to play it. Nexus feels more of a conventional third-person shooter than a mecha game, and I guess that’s where the backlash comes from.

Like any other Armored Core game, Nexus doesn’t focus on the story and showcases the features, specifically the customizations even if it was kind of lackluster. Overcomplications are baffling, and Armored Core uses that theme for hardcore mecha fans out there. But Armored Core: Nexus is toned down so casuals can have fun playing it, especially if they are attempting to draw in more audience and expand their fanbase.

Never skip Armored Core: Nexus if you’re looking to have fun with the series. It never gets old and boring, and who knows? Maybe the joysticks on controllers are beneficial, especially PS2’s DualShock 2. Just don’t mind the missions that don’t interest you.

6. Armored Core

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateJuly 10, 1997

Where it all began, the first Armored Core. Released in 1997, Armored Core introduced us to their brand-new world of mecha fighting and gears flying all over the place. Back in the time when multiplayer isn’t immersive as it is right now, Armored Core introduced us to that idea and what will lead to their demise in the future.

The game was simplistic chaos and I’m quite surprised that a console like PS1 can handle all of it due to its hardware limitations. They just had to work on what they had back in the day, and Armored Core proves that you still can have a great game even if the graphics aren’t top-notch.

Becoming a pilot might be pressure, but not in this game. Sure, it might be difficult with the controls and everything but once you mastered playing it, be prepared for the original goodness that the first Armored Core can offer.

5. Silent Line: Armored Core

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateJanuary 23, 2003
PlatformsPlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable

Silent Line: Armored Core is released on January 23, 2003, for the PS2 and PSP as a direct sequel to Armored Core 3 and I must say: Sequels are supposed to provide something new to the series, and Silent Line did not meet that criteria at all.

It’s almost identical to Armored Core 3 that it’s painful to look at, but maybe I’m being too coarse with the game, and it’s not like 3 is a jarring game. It’s still great, but there’s something that’s lacking in it. The controls are still buggy, there are minimal improvements to make the game even better, and overall, it’s like you’re playing 3 all over again.

Sequels aren’t supposed to be like this. Silent Line is borderline generic and dull all at once, but all of it will fade once you listen to the soundtrack. And that’s the thing, Silent Line: Armored Core has one of the best musical scores in the series.

4. Armored Core: For Answer

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateSeptember 16, 2008
PlatformsPlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Armored Core: For Answer is a sequel to Armored Core IV released on September 16, 2008, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems, and did it fix up all the pieces that Armored Core IV shattered? A little, but it isn’t enough to be a strong seventh-gen title. FromSoftware is just tired of the game at this point.

From the messy missions and environment to the overwhelming changes of gameplay, Armored Core: For Answer doesn’t hit the mark of becoming a better game than the previous one and kept on being the aimless third-person shooter mecha game we all know and love, and maybe hate.

At least it’s better than IV, right? For Answer is more tolerable than that piece of junk, and we aren’t getting any new Armored Core games in the future so we better take what’s left in the series and give it an appreciation somehow.

3. Armored Core: Master of Arena

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateFebruary 4, 1999

Picking up the scraps that Project Phantasma left, Armored Core: Master of Arena offers a far better game than the first two games released on the original PlayStation. Just in case you have forgotten, the game doesn’t change courses over the years with what to add or remove, but this time, they had a story to convey what was going on.

For the most part, it isn’t a problem. The PS1 Armored Core trilogy has that aesthetic to it even if all three games look the same. Amongst all three games on the PS1, Master of Arena is the best, but it can be the original one if you have a soft spot for it. Not to mention that the enemy AI is one of the best in the series, even if it is tough at some point.

This game has two discs. One is for the story missions and the second is for the extras. For a PS1 game, that sounds unusual. But it was normalized during the PS2 era so there’s that. Armored Core was giving DLCs before DLCs were even a thing.

2. Armored Core 3

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateApril 4, 2002
PlatformsPlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable

After the success of Armored Core 2, FromSoftware is back at it again with yet another outstanding entry, Armored Core 3. Released in 2002, it took only two years to go with a follow-up. Although the features remained the same with few additions in it, it is the graphics that had this game aging like spoiled milk.

But if you don’t mind the downgraded graphics, the game is in favor of the gameplay and customization features of your mechas and it doesn’t fail on that particular range. The controls aren’t the best, but you’ll get past that once you get used to it. The missions, however, were straightforward and you’ll get past them in a matter of minutes.

Amongst all of the Armored Core games, Armored Core 3 has the most replay value, and I guarantee that it will be one of the best experiences out there. Even if it isn’t the most gorgeous game in terms of graphics, it makes it all up with the slugfest mecha action.

1. Armored Core 2

DeveloperFromSoftware Inc.
Release DateAugust 3, 2000
PlatformsPlayStation 2

Perhaps the true sequel for the series, PS2 welcomes Armored Core 2 as one of its games to be featured on the platform. They showed that the PlayStation 2 is capable of putting out tremendous games, and Armored Core 2 tested that earlier on. This game is an all-time PS2 classic, and there are a lot of reasons why the game has gained that status.

First and foremost, take a look at the graphics and see how the PS2 managed to run that. For a game released in 2000, the graphics that Armored Core 2 has is out of this world, and it even runs at 60 fps. The PS2 hardware is mythical for that. And of course, the customization workshop in this game is chef’s kiss. It’s nothing much, but it isn’t anything flashy either.

The controls aren’t hell to use, and that makes this game one of the best in the series. They just had to capitalize on being on a newer platform and did it with class. It’s sad to say that the Armored Core franchise fell from grace when they started to put minimal effort into creating classics. Armored Core 2 remains their best entry and no game in the series can ever replace that.