“It was a time when I had to learn a lot”: Neither Bloodborne nor Elden Ring Taught Hidetaka Miyazaki as Much as One Early FromSoft Game

Tran Hanh
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June 08, 2024

The unsung hero of Hidetaka Miyazaki’s game design journey.

bloodborne, elden ring

SUMMARY

  • Hidetaka Miyazaki’s early work on Armored Core laid the groundwork for his later successes.
  • The challenging mechanics of Armored Core shaped Miyazaki’s approach to game design.
  • Armored Core VI’s success and critical acclaim highlight its lasting impact on the industry.

Few names carry as much weight in the gaming business as Hidetaka Miyazaki’s. The mastermind behind critically acclaimed titles like Bloodborne and Elden Ring, Miyazaki has established a reputation for creating immersive and, frankly, difficult gaming experiences.

However, a recent revelation from the legendary developer has shed light on the often-overlooked game that played a key role in shaping his approach to game design: Armored Core.

Cutting His Teeth on Mecha Combat

Picture of Hidetaka Miyazaki receiving the game of the year award for Elden Ring at The Game Awards 2022.
Miyazaki at The Game Awards 2022. | Image via The Game Awards

Hidetaka Miyazaki‘s journey with FromSoftware began not with the dark fantasy worlds he’s now famous for, but with the fast-paced mecha action of Armored Core. In an interview with IGN, Miyazaki revealed that working on this series was a transformative experience that tested his limits as a developer.

It was a time when I had to learn a lot in regard to both the technical aspect and the design aspect of game development. So you could really call it my starting point for game development. One thing that hasn’t changed is that core competence of Armored Core.

Miyazaki emphasized the steep learning curve he experienced while working on Armored Core. The game’s complex mechanics and customization options presented unique challenges, forcing Miyazaki to think creatively and adapt quickly.

The Building Blocks of Greatness

Magazine advertisement banner of 2005's Armored Core: Last Raven.
Armored Core: Last Raven: The future studio president’s debut project. | Image via FromSoftware

While Armored Core may seem a far cry from the likes of Bloodborne and Elden Ring, the series laid the foundations for many of the design principles that would come to define Miyazaki’s later works. The emphasis on player choice in combat, the intricate mechanics that reward experimentation, and the challenging gameplay that demands skill—all of these elements can be traced back to Miyazaki’s time with Armored Core.

It was during this period that Miyazaki honed his skills as a game designer, teaching himself valuable lessons about balancing complexity and accessibility, crafting engaging narratives, and creating worlds that players want to explore. These lessons would come in handy as he moved on to the dark fantasy realms that would propel him to fame.

Armored Core’s Legacy in Modern Gaming

A gameplay screenshot from FromSoftware's mecha action game, Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.
Mecha Combat in Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. | Image via FromSoftware

The impact of Armored Core goes beyond Miyazaki’s personal maturity as a creator and innovator. The series has left a lasting legacy in the industry, inspiring a new generation of developers and players.

When FromSoftware released Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon on August 25, 2023, the excitement was obvious. Fans were eager to see how the lessons learned from the original series would be applied to this new installment and how it would continue to affect the future of gaming.

A still from the reveal trailer of Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon.
A highlight scene from the game’s reveal trailer. | Image via Bandai Namco

Armored Core 6 brought back the intense mecha combat and extensive customization that fans love, while also incorporating modern advancements in game design. As a result, the game was highly welcomed by fans, reportedly selling over 2.8 million copies worldwide within just around a month and a half of its release.

With a “Generally Favorable” 86 Metascore on Metacritic, the game has also garnered positive reviews from critics. It has undoubtedly served as an inspiration to many developers, showcasing the massive potential that mecha games still hold to deliver engaging, meaningful, and memorable gaming experiences for both die-hard and new fans of the genre.

Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon would also go on to become a genre-defining game when it won the esteemed ‘Best Action Game’ title at The Game Awards 2023.

Review : 4.3/16
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