Though FromSoftware has carved out a solid niche for itself over the last decade or so with its Soulsborne games, which have become so much of a force in the industry that they’ve pretty much created a subgenre all by themselves, in its earlier days, the studio was synonymous with mecha-focused games. Armored Core was the series that FromSoftware banked most heavily on before Souls became their go-to franchise, but their focus has shifted away from mecha games in recent years.
While speaking with IGN, producer of the upcoming HD remaster Metal Wolf Chaos XD Masanori Takeuchi explained that the same can be attributed to a gap in mentality between the Japanese and western audiences, and how they both view mecha games, and the very concept of mechas. According to Takeuchi, while Japanese audiences look at the mechs themselves as characters of their own, for western players, they’re more of tools for the pilot than their own entities.
“I talked to a lot of people, asked a lot of questions, and my point of view is that, in Japan, in robot anime, the audience perceives the robots themselves as characters, almost the same as the people in the series,” said Takeuchi. “So a lot of mecha games are created with the concept that [the robot] is a character as well as the pilot or some other human being.”
“But in the west, I feel that robots are perceived as a tool, they’re an extension of a machine,” he continued. “Therefore, they’re not the character, they’re just something that you control, or something that you ride on. So, a Japanese-made mecha game perhaps feels weird for the western audience to play. Maybe there’s some kind of gap in the mentality.”
Takeuchi also explained that one of the reasons FromSoftware’s focus has shifted from mecha games to dark fantasy titles such as Dark Souls in recent years is simply down to how they’ve chosen to manage limited resources, and though they would very much like to keep pumping out games of both kinds, they can’t do that unless they know there’s strong demand for both.
“We didn’t intentionally say that we were going to focus on the Souls games,” he said. “Mecha games and dark fantasy games are the two main pillars of FromSoftware, but the game development cycle has become so long. We’re trying to readjust all our limited resources. So in an ideal world we’d keep pumping out both games, but that’s just the situation. But you should very strongly say you want another mecha game.”
Metal Wolf Chaos XD, which was originally due out in 2018, will be launching some time in 2019 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Meanwhile, if you’ve been waiting for FromSoftware to get back to Armored Core, there’s hope for that yet as well.