It can feel good to put the controller down at the end of Armored Core VI, comforted by the knowledge that you survived its most brutal skill check bosses and learned to configure your complex mech for whatever new hazard Rubicon threw your way. It would be a mistake not to pick it back up again though, as Armored Core VI’s new game plus mode is where a great game starts to get even better.
After you beat the game’s final boss and the credits roll, Armored Core VI brings you back to your mech hanger and presents you with the very first mission all over again. At first it seems like you’re just repeating the entire game, only this time with all of the shotguns, missile launchers, laser swords, and new mech parts you collected during your previous run. But then little changes start to pop up—additional snippets of dialogue, unexpected new choices you can during various missions.
New game plus unlocks additional parts too, as well as more Arena matches to earn the chips needed to fully upgrade your OS Tuning skill tree. A lot of the missions stay exactly the same, but they’re perfect testing grounds for all of the gear you purchased but didn’t play with the first time around. Boss fights like Balteus and the Sea Spider, meanwhile, are incredibly satisfying to rip through with ease in less than 60 seconds. And some of my favorite characters in the entire game didn’t appear until subsequent playthroughs.
Armored Core VI has three endings total, the third and final of which is both the most satisfying from a narrative point of view and the most difficult to achieve, not least of all because it requires beating the game three times. I’m not usually one for toiling through the same levels over and over again with minor changes just to unlock a cutscene. The thematic resonance of “cycle of violence” stories can only take these thinly veiled attempts at padding so far. Armored Core VI’s new game plus mode, like its base game, doesn’t mess around though, and I’ve only fallen more in love with it each new time I’ve beaten it.
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