Whenever a numbered Armored Core title rumbles onto the scene, there are two things you can be sure of: the mech combat game will feature more component parts than your average Lego set, and From Software will build upon its core with at least one expanded sequel. (Armored Core 3 was followed by no less than five games that built upon the same engine.) Every game tests the player's piloting and designing skills across one of the most consistently challenging legacies in gaming - and with Armored Core: Verdict Day, the follow-up to last year's Armored Core 5, From shows no signs of going soft.
Much like its predecessor, Verdict Day is a multiplayer-focused game that lets you join a team of fellow mech enthusiasts, build yourself a humanoid tank of improbable proportions and wage war against the competition. But it doesn't forget about those gamers who prefer to sortie alone. The returning Story Mode offers 60 missions that range from the standard AC (Armored Core) face-off to wiping out a turret-packed base, and while the story of renegade AIs and ancient technology feels recycled, series fans will appreciate the knowing nods nonetheless.
While the last game allowed players to access their workshop during a mission, the missions in Verdict Day are noticeably more compact. The fact that you can import your save from Armored Core 5 also means that returning players can brush aside the starter AC (the equivalent of a Kia Rio) for whatever monstrosity they engineered in the last game. This has the potential to dumb down the difficulty, but thanks to a new Hardcore Mode that unlocks after you clear the main campaign, Verdict Day is arguably From Software's most punishing game to date.