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.
Armored Core VI has “good” and “bad” endings, and a few branching missions along the way, but its new game plus mode is more than just a chance to take the road less traveled. There are entirely new battles and narrative twists that add new depth to the game’s thrilling but barebones story. If you’re playing and enjoying FromSoftware’s latest mech game, do yourself a favor and don’t sleep on its new game plus.
Read More: 13 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Armored Core VI
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The first wrinkle comes in chapter one’s Attack the Dan Complex sortie. You’re hired by Balamb to join its squad of “Red Gun” jarheads and destroy Rubicon Liberation Front MTs and facility generators. Only this time the rebels radio you halfway through and promise to pay you to double-cross the Red Guns and defend the dam. Adding to the drama is the fact that the fight is legitimately hard, punishingly so if you try to sleepwalk through, and still challenging even if you go in with your best late-game loadouts.
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.