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Video Game / Armored Core: Verdict Day

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To secure peace is to prepare for war.

Armored Core: Verdict Day is the fifteenth game in the Armored Core franchise by FromSoftware and is the sequel to 2012's Armored Core V. It was published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in September 2013.

Countless years have passed and the events of ACV have been consigned to forgotten history. The pollution has cleared, but what should be a celebration of humanity's revival is turning into a prelude for a new apocalyptic war. Across the land, countless structures known as Towers remain from times past, so massive that their interiors are still not fully mapped, but stocked full of valuable Lost Technology. Eager to dominate the new world, the Three Great Factions prepare to battle for the Towers and the unpolluted lands: the wealthy Sirius Executives, the dictatorial Venide, and the inquisitive Ever Green Family, setting the stage for what will come to be known as the "Verdict War".

Verdict Day continues the gameplay set by Armored Core V and offers a number of tweaks. A large number of new parts and new part types have been added. Existing parts have also been rebalanced and renamed. The game introduces the UNAC system, which allows the player to program their own unmanned Armored Cores for use on the battlefield.

The game provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Zigzagged. It's averted with the UNACs at first. The trope then appears to be played straight when they start going rogue but it's averted again when it turns out that they were following the Foundation's orders all along.
  • All There in the Manual: The game's backstory is thoroughly explained in both the in-game manual and pre-release news. The artbook also has a lot of information, but it's a case of No Export for You.
  • Artificial Human: J. Word of God is that he's a Cultivater, an artificial human cloned from pilots throughout history of great skill.
  • Badass Boast: J gives one near the end, where he promises to kill the victor of a match between two formidable AC pilots. It's clear that he's confident that he can take on the victor.
  • Badass Family: The Fischer family. Both Dave and Natalie are experienced AC pilots and their son, Marcus, is following them in their footsteps. Dave and Marcus are encountered and killed quite early, which prompts Natalie to hire a mercenary and attempt to ambush you much later on.
  • Battle Intro: Appears with nearly every AC fight. The AC will appear, they'll say a few things, and the game will give a quick heads-up on who they are.
  • The Berserker: The mercenary Jack. Just watch his intro.
    Jack: Crush crush crush crush crush!
  • Big Bad: The Foundation Man changes the stalemate between the three factions by turning their own UNACs against them and unleashing lost technology from the towers, sowing chaos across the world. What's worse, Reaper Squad are effectively his subordinates, and carry out his secondary objective of eliminating potential AC pilots.
  • Black Box: The Towers, massive towers that contain mysterious Lost Technology. No one knows where they come from or who built them.
    Fatman: The Towers, huh? They're a mystery too.
  • Black Comedy: You and Erik are hired on a mission to repel wave after wave of Sirius UNACs gone rogue. How does Maggy react when Erik is defeated and seemingly killed?
    Maggy: Oh no. Nothing to draw their fire now.
  • Blood Knight: Plenty of characters. Many soldiers even become mercenaries because their superiors give them boring orders.
  • Boisterous Weakling: A lot of weak AC pilots have a tendency to boast despite not having the power to actually back it up.
  • Boss Bonanza: Story Mission: 08 has you fight multiple Reaper Squad ACs in a series of consecutive fights.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: You can buy DLC to unlock parts, workshops, emblems, and easily get reliable UNACs.
  • Bullfight Boss: Some of the Foundation weapon bosses have deadly charges that can take out ACs in two hits.
  • Butt-Monkey: Erik. He's the bipedal AC in the Workshop's test battles so you can beat him up all you want. In the story, he gets his ass handed to him in a curb-stomp battle against... standard military UNACs. According to his VoW profile, he actually survived that mission.
    Erik: You just sit back and let me show you the difference between man and machine.
    [Later on]
    Erik: This can't be happening! No! I can't let these rust buckets kill me! [Gets kicked by a UNAC]
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Foundation Man whenever he gets riled up.
  • Cliffhanger: The ending. The Foundation and Reaper Squad have been defeated but the war between the Three Forces is ongoing and the Foundation Man has made it so that the unmanned weapons will continue to fight even with his demise.
  • Cool Old Guy: Again, those from since Fatman's time. Fatman himself is over 60 by the time the story starts.
  • Crapsack World: As is expected of an Armored Core game. A hundred years have passed since Armored Core V and the world is still at war. As it's heavily implied to be the same world as 4 and For Answer, it's a bigger crapsack than it initially appears.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Surprisingly mostly averted. Unlike in previous games, AC enemies in Verdict Day don't get any special advantages. The sole exception is Maggy in Story Mission: 09, where she gets to fight one more time despite being already defeated once.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Many of the stronger mercs and Reaper Squad are famed in-story to be invincible. Naturally, you get to kick their asses as the story progresses.
  • The Dragon: J to the Foundation Man.
  • The Dreaded: Reaper Squad. They appear out of nowhere to cause chaos and are pretty much unstoppable.
  • End of an Era: For the mercenaries. The world is now ruled by the Three Forces, so the neutral mercs now find themselves ostracized by the Three Forces for refusing to take sides. The rising number of AC kill missions have also dwindled their numbers.
    Caspar Dunbar: I guess the days we could make a living as mercenaries are over, huh?
    Sammy Germain: That's not something anyone can dictate. Same goes for life and death.
  • Evil Laugh: The Foundation is just plain Laughing Mad. J, on the other had (at least, in the Japanese version) gives out a little sinister chuckle at the end of Story Mission: 08.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: In the Japanese version, Reaper Squad's D and J.
  • Face–Heel Turn: After Story Mission: 07, Maggy leaves you and Fatman to go join the Foundation. She returns as a Reaper out to get your head.
  • Famous Ancestor: Averted with Maggy. Maggy being a direct descendant of Francis Batty Curtis would give her clout at EGF but it never comes up since Fran didn't even know of the EGF's existence and thus never told her descendants about her connection with the EGF's forebearers. Maggy instead joined the EGF as a soldier and rose in the ranks thanks to her natural talent as an AC pilot, something which Fran did not possess.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Word of God is that Sirius represents America, Venide represents Europe, and the Ever Green Family represents Asia.
  • Four Is Death: The Reaper Squad has four members: D, K, N and their leader, J. Maggy eventually joins them as "M", but by the point you actually fight her, D, K and N are already dead.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • UNACs - UNmanned Armored Cores.
    • EGF - Ever Green Family.
    • VoW - Voice of War.
  • Future Imperfect: Enough time has passed that not only are the events of Armored Core V half-remembered with the events of 4 and For Answer all but forgotten. Few if any even know what many of the continents and placenames being fought over were originally called. North America is known as the "North Frontier", for instance.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Part of Maggy's backstory. During her days as "Blue Magnolia", she was a talented AC pilot said to be unstoppable on the battlefield. However, she eventually ran into a Reaper who proceeded to kick her ass. Not only was it her first and only defeat, but the loss of her left arm rendered her incapable of piloting an AC ever again.
  • God Is Evil: In the "Dark Raven" legend. The "God" that's trying to "save" mankind is actually the same A.I.s as Chief and Carol from Armored Core V.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Just like the previous entries in the series, there's really no "good" side here given how it's a Crapsack World. The Three Forces are warring for control, and the mercenaries just fight to survive. That said, the Foundation is definitely a "Black" carrying the same elimination objective as Armored Core V's Corporation.
  • The Grim Reaper: This is the Reaper Squad's theme. J appears to take it to heart.
    J: And when I have my champion, I will kill them. I am the Reaper, after all.
  • Hard Mode Perks: One of the options in Hard Mode gives you a massive damage boost that makes the game way easier than harder. It's entirely possible to win the mode with a junk AC. Said option happens to be the most picked by players, as seen in the Master of Mercenaries listing.
  • Hidden Depths: Fatman may seem like a carefree bag of fun but as one of the oldest combatants still active, he is much, much more insightful than he looks. He has a firm grasp of the conspiracy at play and repeatedly gives helpful advice. His final talk with Maggy also implies that despite his appearance, he's already exhausted by the endless warring in the setting.
  • Humans Are Bastards: How the Foundation Man sees things. He even predicts that humanity will bring about its own downfall.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Said word-for-word by Reaper M in Story Mission: 09, even as her AC is on the verge of exploding at that point.
  • Insult Backfire: Happens in a quick exchange between Fatman and J. In the Japanese version, J doesn't mind the insult and even laughs about it. In the English version, he takes it seriously.
    J: I am the Reaper after all.
    Fatman: You are not right in the head.
    J: And what is wrong with that?!
  • I Owe You My Life: The case between Severin and Wanda. Severin was about to be executed when Wanda bursted in and (unintentionally) saved him. As a result of her saving his life, he's utterly devoted to acting as her shield, even though she doesn't care one iota about him.
  • Irony: Sirius and the EGF, two factions that had their roots from Rosary and Fran respectively, are waging bloody war against one another.
  • Large Ham: A few characters here and there but the Foundation Man takes the cake.
  • Laughing Mad: The Foundation Man starts cackling in the final mission as he leads you you into a false sense of security as you bring down J's N-WGIX for the first time.
    Foundation Man: No! It can't be! [Beat] Ahahahahah! Is that what you wanted me to say? Hahahaha! All is proceeding as planned! Muahahahaha!
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Downplayed. The player character of Armored Core V is now known as the first Dark Raven, a harbinger of death and destruction who opposed "God"; however, it's rarely brought up and only a few people seem to actually know about the tale.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Maggy's is "Blue Magnolia".
    • Reaper Squad's is "Vendetta".
    • J's is "Mechanized Memories", a remix of "Remember" from Armored Core: For Answer.
    • Exusia returns as a Special Sortie boss and once again has "STAIN" for its boss theme, this time as a creepy remix by the name of "STAIN - A Perfect Day".
    • The Spirit Class Moving Fortress has "The Mother Will Comes Again", a remix of "The Spirit of Motherwill" from For Answer.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • Any AC with the needed speed, defenses, and firepower.
    • The Final Boss is also one. N-WGIX is fast, hits hard, and has way more health than even the most AP-heavy ACs.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Pretty much the relationship between Fatman and Maggy. It's even noted that Maggy's young enough to be Fatman's daughter.note 
  • Lost Technology: The Foundation has access to plenty of this from The Towers. The full name of J's mech, revealed in artbooks, heavily implies that the Towers are in fact either the landed or crashed remains of the Cradles from the era of AC4 and For Answer. It's never outright stated, however, leaving it open to interpetation.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Shields have been reintroduced. Thanks to the game's defense mechanics, they are viable weapon choices and are heavily used in the online multiplayer.
  • Military Maverick: A number of mercenaries you fight are former soldiers who started disobeying orders.
  • Mission Control: Fatman and Maggy serve as yours. Near the end, Maggy leaves and you're left with just Fatman.
  • Motive Rant: Happens here and there, usually involving characters related to either Reaper Squad or the Foundation or both.
  • Mythology Gag: Between the two phases of his boss fight, J paraphrases a line from Joshua O'Brien, who is heavily implied to have been at least one of his genetic templates.
    Joshua: Hey, I guess there's little need for words.
    J: Enough words. They are meaningless now.
  • Nerf: This game reuses all of the parts and weapons found in Armored Core V, but some were tweaked with.
    • Shotgun pellets are drastically reduced in power and serve more of a stagger tool.
    • Jammers are made less effective to prevent stacking them up and recreating situations where enemy ACs just couldn't budge.
    • HEAT Cannon muzzle velocity has been reduced to where they are slower than Battle Rifles (which are already low on the list).
    • The X00 MOONLIGHT Laser Blade has been given a much longer swing interval, effectively limiting its huge damage output.
  • Never Found the Body: M. One of the post-mission news reveals that her body was not found in the wreckage of her AC.
  • No Name Given:
    • As usual for an Armored Core game, the player character's name is supplied by the player, so other characters just call him "mercenary." The game's opening cutscene even refers to him as "a lone mercenary".
    • The Foundation Man is never given a name. In fact, "Foundation Man" is just what the VoW reports call him.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Part of the reason Erik is so popular with clients is his miraculous ability to cheat death. Goes hand in hand with his status as the designated punching bag.
  • Old Master: Daiji Shinjin, the leader of the Iron Path mercenary group and its founder. He's one of the few characters whose VoW profile doesn't give an age, and attacks you several missions after you killed members of the Iron Path.
    Daiji Shinjin: You! You're the one who killed my disciples! You will pay for rousing these old bones!
  • Old Soldier: Some of the best AC pilots are already quite old, especially those who have once fought under Fatman's wing. Fatman himself is 62 and still goes around the battlefield towing your AC between missions.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Some of the tracks in the soundtrack, especially those which are remixes of tracks from For Answer.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Foundation Man.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Much like the Ravens of old AC games, AC pilots and Storkers usually go by callsigns; for example, Maggy (full name Magnolia Curtis) went by "Blue Magnolia".
  • Order vs. Chaos: The Dark Raven legend, where God represents Order, and the Dark Raven represents Chaos.
  • Out of Focus: Ultimate Weapons in Story Mode, where they aren't mentioned or seen even once.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Some of the Battle Intros count, coupled with Badass Boast.
  • Prepare to Die: Happens twice in Story Mission: 09. Once with Maggy (or "M" by this point in the game), and another with the Foundation Man. Both times they are referring to you.
    M: Now it's time. Time for you to die.
    Foundation Man: There's nobody left worth mentioning except for you. And now, it's your turn to die.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: J, the leader of the Reaper Squad. Two years before the events of the game, he defeated the unstoppable Blue Magnolia and gave her a traumatizing Game-Breaking Injury. In the final story mission, he's the Final Boss and is the strongest Story Mode enemy by far.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Ray Shark used to be an ace pilot for the EGF. He was so powerful that his superiors feared that he would usurp them so they had him promoted to a position where he'd rarely ever see combat. Being a Blood Knight, he left the EGF and became a merc for this reason.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Scattered across the vast wastelands are the crumbling ruins of old cities and military bases, while the great Towers loom overhead.
  • Rule of Symbolism: M's AC loses its left arm during the second fight against it, reflecting not only her gradual defeat but also how Maggy lost her actual left arm before the start of the game.
  • Sad Clown: Fatman has a joyful and carefree attitude in spite of living in a Crapsack World, but there are hints that he isn't as happy as he seems.
    Fatman: All I've known my whole life is war, and this whole time all I've done is watch others like you throw your lives away on the battlefield.
  • Sniper Duel: Entirely possible to do with sniper builds.
  • Social Darwinist: The founder of Venide, Cesar Venide, came back from the Towers with the mindset that the weak must die and only the strong survive, and subsequently transformed the organization into a major superpower that's both brutally dictatorial and highly militarized. By the time he died, rather than name a member of his family as successor, Cesar passed leadership onto one of his officers who would carry his ideals, and purged his own family when they protested. This unique line succession is on-brand with Venide's belief of power and skill prevailing over any form of pedigree.
  • Sphere of Destruction: Available to some of the mechs. One example is the Final Boss, N-WGIX, which uses NEXT tech like Assault Armor.
  • Stealth Sequel: The appearances of elements of the 4 universe (in particular a Spirit of Motherwill Arms Fort and the N-WGIX being at least based on White Glint) and the Forgotten Day text story strongly imply that 5 and Verdict Day are actually set in the distant future of the Armored Core 4 universe.
  • Superboss: The Unindentified Weapons featured in World Mode, a mechanic that returns from V's own defunct online mode, are meant to be fought with an entire team, making them appropriately difficult. Each of them is tied to the territories of the factions you didn't enlist for the active season, and are only fought if your Special Sortie (which is made available by completing 6 normal sorties) doesn't match you with an enemy player team, or if you wait for the end of the season's grace period (during which all territory bosses are made available for a limited time).
    • The Spirit-class Moving Fortress fought in the South Frontier is a Legacy Boss Battle that takes from For Answer's Spirit of Motherwill Arms Fort. Much like the original fight, your approach towards the fortress consists of avoiding the missiles and laser cannons that try to eliminate you from afar. Once you reach the base of the fortress, you still have to climb it up to destroy the cannons and missile launchers while being pursued by Hellkite ACs and even more missiles. Because of the sheer amount of targets required to destroy to complete the sortie, you'll likely throw your lot with KE and CE weapons that boast a high ammo count.
    • The Grey Lotus, a very beefy floating boss on its own, is fought in Mission 07 of the story mode, but in World Mode, you fight four of them in the Middle East territory. The mini-drones that normally distract you in story mode now actively attack you and deal increased damage, and the Grey Lotus's ramming attack can typically oneshot lighter ACs
    • The South Islands are home to the To-605 automatons, and you fight two of each variant (A, D and S, with S being a sniper variant exclusive to World Mode) for a total of six bosses on a single map.
    • The North Frontier Special Sortie pits you against five Scavenger-type unmanned weapons (one Scavenger, two Hunters and two Predators) on the Galef Plant map. The Hunters will perch themselves atop the tower to snipe you while the three other units will bullrush you, necessitating a divide-and-conquer strategy to manage the close-range combatants and distract the snipers.
    • The LiV, or "Lady in Vortex", is the small, but deadly humanoid unmanned weapon of the Mid-Continent combat zone. Not only is she extremely agile and liberally fires an array of lasers and homing missiles, but her jammer is very effective, requiring your team to build their ACs with parts that have high jamming resistance.
    • A red-and-black variant of Exusia, who was the final boss of V, is featured as the boss of the Far East combat zone. Not only is its health close to a million AP (900,000 AP, to be exact), but its focused laser beam and lunge attacks spell doom for lightweight ACs that don't get out of its way. For added nostalgia, this boss's BGM is a remix of "Stain", the boss theme for the original Exusia in V.
    • The New Frontier combat zone has the N-WGIX/v, which is the final boss of this game's story mode. Unlike its story mode counterpart, though, you actually have to dismount it from its fast-moving VOB pack, and it wields two laser blades once it's grounded, making it very dangerous up close.
  • Super Mode: In the final mission, J's N-WGIX removes its limiters and maximizes its power output, setting up the second phase of the boss fight.
  • Theme Naming: The Reaper Squad. N, K, D, J, and M. Notice a pattern? Supposedly, said letters come from the first letter of their respective given names, as is the case with M, Magnolia Curtis.
  • Time Skip: The game takes place a long time after Armored Core V. To drive the point home, many of the urban locations in the previous game are now wastelands, and wreckages of ACV machines can be seen sticking out of the ground.
  • Title Drop: Happens in the prologue cutscene.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Acknowledged in-universe for the protagonist, who goes from an unknown with uncertain potential in the eyes of many to a dreaded, one-man army "monster" who many would rather not fight alone. He ends up becoming the last target of the Reaper Squad, and his continuous and rapid growth majorly contributes to Maggy's decision to become a Reaper just so she can pilot an AC again.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The "No Future for Mercs" trailer spoils a lot of the story.
  • Uriah Gambit: Happened to Severin in his backstory. His piloting skills and overly frank attitude earned him the ire of his superiors so they engineered a situation where he'd be captured by the enemy. Thanks to them, he was captured and was to be executed.
  • War Is Hell: Hinted to be how Fatman sees things.
  • War Is Glorious: Aside from the automatic Rule of Cool provided by mech warfare, the Voice of War news organization pretty much thrives on this. One of their members is even explicitly stated to love the sound of guns firing.
    VoW catchphrase: Have a nice war!
  • Was Once a Man: When asked by Fatman if he's human, the Foundation Man answers yes... before adding that he "was".
  • Wham Shot: Even without knowing its name, seeing J's Armored Core with the White Glint's iconic design and the clear features of a NEXT slams home that all along 5 and Verdict Day have been set in the far future of 4 and 4 Answer.
  • Worthy Opponent: Reaper Squad slowly comes to see you as one after you defeat N.