It’s a bit old hat these days, but yes, I’m one of those kinds of people that thinks Armored Core 6 should have an easy mode. Shock horror, I know, but sue me for thinking that difficulty is relative and we should be accommodating of that. But being in favour of an easy mode to let more people play through the game isn’t actually the argument I’m making today. The reason I think Armored Core 6 should have an easy mode is so more people can take in its gorgeous environments.
FromSoftware games are often lauded because of the gameplay its works has offered over the past decade and a half, its Soulslike combat that originated with Demon’s Souls to be specific. I do love fighting off giant dragons in Dark Souls and eldritch horrors in Bloodborne, but the thing that’s most captivating about FromSoft’s games for me are the environments themselves.
Sure, by the nature of Armored Core 6’s design, with the whole game being level based, it doesn’t have the same kind of interconnected spaces that the Dark Souls games have. That doesn’t mean its levels aren’t worth exploring, though. In fact you’re absolutely meant to do so, there are secrets scattered around the various levels – if you look closely enough you’ll even come across the classic Moonlight Greatsword.
Even if there weren’t extra bits of lore and new attachments for your mech to discover, I’d want to casually explore these spaces anyway. I don’t necessarily need Armored Core to be turned into an outright walking simulator, but an easy mode would mean that I don’t have to worry about getting killed in three seconds flat and can spend some time taking in the sights.
Because there really are some beautiful sights to take in. There’s an area towards the end of the game that really reminds me of Nier Automata’s copied city that I immediately fell in love with as a space, and the stage of the final boss in the game’s first ending is honestly quite breathtaking.
The problem is, when you don’t include an easy mode in your game, it just means less people get to see all of the hard work put into the game. And it can’t be argued that people don’t like to look at a games’ environments – noclip, a website that quite literally lets you move around various game maps (including Dark Souls) is evidence of that. Not to mention YouTube channels like BoundaryBreak showing off corners of games we were never meant to see.
Clearly there are people who want to see as much of a game as possible, and yes, I do understand that FromSoftware’s games aren’t for everyone. But everyone deserves the opportunity to see as much as they want as easily as they want. Imagine telling someone they don’t deserve the joy of happening upon Elden Ring’s Siofra River, or experiencing the depths of Dark Souls’ Blight Town? Both of them are interesting in part due to their hostility, but the former is maybe one of the most beautiful locales in any game ever, and the latter is just fun to try and find safe ways to jump down each of its levels.
Ultimately, with the right build you can cheese your way through the game too, so it’s not like it’s entirely impossible to see the whole game without an easy mode, which is as equally valid a way to play the game. But sometimes, it’s a Monday, and you’re tired from a long day at work, and you just want just a little bit of interactivity that lights up part of your brain that says “ooh that’s pretty.”