The Armored Core is a powerful robotic war machine used by various mercenaries known as Ravens. Often referred to as ACs by shorthand, they are the titular mecha of FromSoftware's video game series by the same name. ACs have been involved every major event within the history of the games, and have been pivotal in shaping the world where they take place. The player of each game in the series always assumes control of an AC, and through the campaign can buy and earn more parts to upgrade and customize their personal unit.
ACs have been unofficially classified by the fandom into separate generations. Each generation generally either marks the franchise's release onto a new gaming console, or the beginning of a new continuity the canon. In addition, each new generation of ACs often brought new customization options.
ACs in-universe evolved from the Muscle Tracer or MT. MTs were originally simple robots designed to work in the underground cities following the Great Destruction, where they along with their operators were responsible for performing manual labor tasks such as construction. As tensions increased between the corporations, MTs quickly found themselves being designed for the battlefield instead. Over time as the conflicts intensified, MTs began to undergo numerous upgrades and additional features, beginning to sport features like limbs and additional armor. Eventually a unique humanoid silhouette began to emerge, after which onlookers began to refer to them as Armored Cores. While there are separate continuities in the AC universe, it is widely accepted that all ACs can trace their origins to MTs.
ACs were piloted battle by individuals known as Ravens. In battle an AC's firepower, agility, and armor made it a formidable threat. Without incredibly heavy weapons like the Massive MTs or an overwhelming force, taking on a Raven in his or her custom-built AC was often tantamount to suicide. However all of this power came at a cost. ACs were often incredibly costly to repair and maintain and it was often important for Ravens to gain the favor of one of major corporations in order to keep a steady supply of funds to maintain their machines.
There were some exceptions to this rule however. Sometimes ACs were provided to incredibly skilled test pilots directly contracted under certain corporations. In addition there did exist some mass-production ACs that traded performance for price. These units often still maintained individual superiority against most MTs and could mount AC-grade weaponry, often sitting somewhere above mass-production MTs but falling short of customized non-production ACs. Ravens who gained the favor of certain corporations could also receive prototype or top-of-the-line parts as gifts or for testing purposes.
Design Features Edit
The design of an AC was highly modular and could be customized by the pilot to suit any battlefield conditions. Many Ravens tailored their ACs to reflect their strengths and preferred combat combat styles, resulting in a very diverse and specialized force of individual mercenaries who could be called upon for various operations requiring their expertise. Throughout the series new categories of parts have been added to the game, often expanding upon AC customization with each new release.
- Head - The head unit contains visual sensors, optional radar and computer equipment in addition to other specialized sensors. Some head part models came with a variety of high performance sensor suites at the cost of thinner armor, while others came equipped with only the bare minimum of essentials while sporting robust armor to weather enemy fire.
- Core - The torso of the AC. Many other vital parts are located here, including the cockpit. In later AC generations, Core parts gained the ability to store extra back up weapons, utilize autonomous turrets, or temporarily increase the AC's speed for short bursts with the Overboost system.
- Arms - The manipulator arms allowed ACs to carry hand-held weaponry in addition to performing tasks requiring fine motor skills such as picking up objects. In the first generation of ACs, arm units came with laser blades built in. All subsequent generations have arm parts and laser blades as separate parts in order to enhance the customization aspects. In addition to manipulators, Ravens could choose instead to equip arms with built-in weapon systems that traded modularity and versatility for greater firepower.
- Legs - Legs provide ACs with a means of locomotion as well as a support platform upon which to mount weapons, armor, and other components. While humanoid bipedal legs were the most common, the types of leg parts available to a Raven were incredibly diverse and ranged from high-speed hover platforms to heavy tank treads that served as platforms to mount the heaviest and most destructive weapons available. Different weight classes allowed pilots to balance firepower and weight capacity with agility and speed, and many of the more unique leg types offered distinct advantages such as the quadruped legs that allowed for high speed ground movement in addition to the ability to use back-mounted cannons on the move.
- FCS - The Fire Control Systems manage all the weapons of the AC from direct fire munitions to guided missiles. FCS modules came in many specifications, ranging from short-ranged with a wide field of view for target acquisition to more general-use models designed to work with multiple weapon types.
- Boosters - One defining aspect of an AC that gave it such an advantage over its predecessor, the MT, was its speed. Even the heaviest of ACs had astounding agility that made them difficult targets to hit. All ACs sport boosters that are mounted to their core and leg units that allow them to fly or glide along the ground at high speeds. Boosters consume a large amount of energy from the generator, so pilots must choose the right booster setup for their preferred combat style. It is unknown what kind of propulsion is used, but later generations revealed through gameplay that the boosters themselves generated waste heat.
- Generator - The generator is responsible for supplying power to the entire AC. While basic operations like locomotion and radar function do not impede the power supply of the generator, more strenuous actions like booster use or the firing of energy weapons and laser blades will drain the generator's supply of energy. It is unknown how exactly the generators in the AC universe create power, but the more recent fourth generation revealed that they utilize a silver-based compound commonly used in rocket fuel in order to generate power. It is still purely speculation as to whether or not any of the other generations of generators utilize this same process.
- Weapons - ACs carry a variety of weapons with them into combat. Any type of weapon imaginable could often be found mounted to an AC. Aside from weapon arms, the loadout of an AC's weapons primarily consisted of a weapon mounted to each arm and two weapons mounted on the core. Traditionally ACs often took a primary firearm in their right arm and a melee weapon or shield in their left, but as of the third generation left-handed firearms were introduced. The second generation introduced extension weapons and inside parts, auxiliary equipment that could be used to give an AC additional firepower or provide various support benefits like energy packs, decoys, or extra ammunition. Extension units were mounted onto the side of the shoulders, while inside units were either mounted underneath the shoulder armor or in the core unit itself. The fourth generation ACs saw a removal of inside parts completely, while the fifth generation replaced back units with additional firearms that were stored on the shoulders and swapped out by the pilot.
- Optional Parts - Various modular units that were installed into the core of an AC to boost its performance. Only a limited amount could be installed at a time, with the limit depending on the type of core part used. Optional parts were often used to reinforce weaknesses of an AC or to bolster its strengths. As of the fourth generation onwards, optional parts have been removed.