Daemon X Machina is a Spiritual Successor to Armored Core on Switch

We check out the Switch's new mech game.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

One of today's more intriguing games was Daemon X Machina—a new mech action game with designs by Shōji Kawamori (Macross). Introduced during this morning's Nintendo Direct, it looked fun and interesting, but offered few details. I finally learned more this afternoon, and as I discovered, its mech pedigree runs even deeper than I first supposed, as many of its developers worked on Armored Core.

Armored Core, of course, is FromSoftware's long-running mech action series. It's known for its hyper-detailed mechs, grim future, and customization that has you obsessing over arcane details like heat sinks and sensors. It has a loyal following, but otherwise it's not especially well-known outside of mech circles.

An Armored Core sequel has been rumored for ages, but has failed to appear, so a breakaway group headed by former AC developer Kenichiro Tsukuda is stepping into the fray. His vision can basically be summarized as "Armored Core with destructible environments," and while it doesn't have quite the same amount of crazy customization as FromSoftware's games, you can still carry a host of weapons, from laser swords to bazookas. You can also unlock new mechs, pick armor, and customize for durability, mobility, and more.

As with Armored Core, missions revolve around "Orders," which are mercenary missions that will earn you variable amounts of money. The orders you choose will determine how the story progresses as well as your allies. The money you earn can subsequently be put toward new weapons.

All of this will be familiar for Armored Core fans. What differentiates Daemon X Machina, apart from its much more colorful palette, are its aforementioned destructible environments. This mainly applies to the buildings, which you can send tumbling down upon enemies if you get the timing right. You can also pick up cars and throw them, rip out sign posts and use them as swords, or pick up weapons from fallen enemies and use them.

The result is an environment that feels more dynamic despite appearing fairly small. Tsukuda also wants to have hidden items on top of buildings, encouraging you to explore and make use of your surroundings.

So while Daemon X Machina is in many ways a spiritual successor to Armored Core, it's still going its own way. I remarked that the colorful graphics, which resemble those of No Man's Sky at times, make it seem like he's going for a broader audience than AC's core group of mech nuts. He told me, "We deliberately made this easy to get into, but there is depth to the gameplay as well."

I believe him. Armored Core games were nothing if not deep—sometimes self-defeatingly so. A more balanced approach is definitely welcome.

Tsukuda intends for Daemon X Machina to be a full packaged game—not an eShop game—and is working on the Unreal Engine. Asked what kind of multiplayer options it will have, he said, "We're thinking about ways for everyone to play together, but we'll introduce exactly how we plan to do that at another time."

I'm currently reserving judgment on Daemon X Machina, as it currently looks pretty early, but I like the idea behind it. Mechs seems to be on the rise again thanks to the success of games like BattleTech, and it's been forever since we've had a proper Armored Core. I very much welcome a new game like this—especially one with this sort of aesthetic.

Daemon X Machina will be out on Nintendo Switch in 2019. Keep an eye on this one; it could be really good. Also keep your eyes on our E3 2018 hub for all the latest news and previews.

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Comments 13

  • Avatar for riderkicker #1 riderkicker 4 months ago
    I hope you get to go to Tokyo Game Show this year. And they better reveal a Super Robot Wars game.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #2 MetManMas 4 months ago
    Oh man, I could tell there was some Armored Core oil in DAEMON x MACHINA's pipes. Really hope I can get a Switch before it hits.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #3 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 months ago
    I want to meet someone whose beaten the first armored core:

    I finally got my hands on it a few years ago and the only way I was able to beat it was through that death cheat - where if you gain an enormous amount of debt through failed missions, they take your damaged body and perform permanent operations on it 5 times. (this gives you a chance to buy the equipment you need to carry over to the new game and functions as a new game+)

    Very late in the game, the missions become next to impossible to beat, to the point where, it seems like you need to know what happens before hand in armored core, in order to complete the game successfully?

    ...This is kind of why I want to meet someone whose actually played it and finished it. For an early 3D game released in the late 90s, it felt like it had a really steep learning curve. It felt like Diablo or a Formula 1 Racer, where you can easily screw yourself up if you don't by the right equipment at the right time in the game.Edited June 2018 by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for pdubb #4 pdubb 4 months ago
    Mech games coming back is great.

    I mean you dig giant robots. We dig giant robots. Chicks dig giant robots.

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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #5 The-Challenger 4 months ago
    The first AC had it's moments. But the final missions had some of the worst platforming I had ever experienced at the time.
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #6 ojinnvoltz 4 months ago
    Well, hopefully it runs smoother than the recent Armored Core games.
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  • Avatar for docexe #7 docexe 4 months ago
    They got my attention at the mech part. Then the mention of Shoji Kawamori clinched the deal.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #8 chaoticBeat 4 months ago
    This game looks like someone mashed the design aesthetic of Auto Modellista with Armored Core.

    Looks utterly brilliant.
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  • Avatar for discohospital #9 discohospital 4 months ago
    Honestly, this was the highlight of the Nintendo presentation for me. The first game shown! Yet the mention of Shoji Kawamori and any connection to AC somehow passed me by. I welcome more Switch exclusives like this one (assuming it is an exclusive). It would be nice to see the Switch become a home to more (third-party) games that don't lean so heavily into the genres that are most fashionable at present.
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  • Avatar for SkywardShadow #10 SkywardShadow 4 months ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue I played the original obsessively when it first came out. I don't think I beat it without obtaining enhancements either. I recall the missions getting pretty hard, but I tended to play a slow tank with the most powerful laser arms, and I seemed better able to handle some fights better than my friends.

    There were no accurate guides at the time, and it was probably one of the last games where we swapped info as we learned it.

    I can't remember if this was the original or the first sequel, but we also used the PlayStation link cable to play multiplayer with our own screens (I spliced it with a phone cable to stretch between rooms). We'd play with no radar and hunt each other through massive arenas.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #11 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 months ago
    @SkywardShadow This is a super cool response! thanks man! :)
    Yeah, all the Armored Core games on PS1 supported the iLink cable.
    Man, I wish I played Armored Core back when it was originally released!!
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  • Avatar for nilcam #12 nilcam 4 months ago
    This is the highlight of E3 for me, full stop. It's been too long since I've played a mech action game! I think the last one was Gundam Senki Record UC 0081 on PS3 in 2009. I cannot wait!
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  • Avatar for Concession #13 Concession 4 months ago
    Saw the video and as soon as I saw the mech design I just thought "Is this armored core??". Kinda glad it is from people from armored core because I was kinda thinking it was ripping off its mech designs.

    I beat it my first time like 2 months ago (bought it on ps3 ps1 classics a long time ago and finally got around to it)

    It wasn't that bad? It wasn't the first AC I've played but I'm not even close to a series veteran or hardcore. Main thing was having a basic idea of what I wanted before I started throwing money around and saving as much money as I could. Similar to how I wouldn't accept my best units dying in Fire Emblem I would restart if I completely failed a mission and try to conserve money.

    Money is kind of the name of the game as the more money you make from doing well in missions the more money you have to buy "better" stuff which'll make it easier to make more money in missions. Then you only a finite amount of money so try not to buy stuff you don't want to keep using.

    I guess the bit of series experience I had helped as it helped me tell that there aren't "best" parts, just parts that help you build the type of mech you want. That and starter parts stink. Like a high weight head, arm and body pieces are a total wastes of money if you want a mech with some movement. (and movement lets you dodge stuff == saving money. Energy weapons and the sword have free ammo, which make them awesome for saving money. Generators let you boost for movement and use more energy weapons which lets you save even more! Can you guess how I built my mech?)
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