Armored Core 6: Players strategize on how not to be obliterated by Balteus
FromSoftware released ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON on August 25 for PC (Steam), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. It appears that yet another boss from the beginning stages of the game has many players letting out cries of dismay on social media.
Please note that this article discusses the beginning of the game (Chapter 1) and includes various in-game screenshots.
Shortly after release, the Steam version of Armored Core VI reached a peak concurrent player count of over 150,000 players (Steam DB). This number is impressive even when compared to other highly popular FromSoftware titles, coming second only to Elden Ring, which hit a peak of around 950,000 concurrent players.
The latest topic surrounding the game that is making the rounds on social media is the boss battle against AAP07 BALTEUS, which occurs at the end of Chapter 1. There has been a big reaction to the boss fight on X/Twitter in Japan, with some players lamenting the amount of time and retries that it took to defeat Balteus, and others declaring victory over their foe. You can also see many users who have shared tips on the boss, possibly in response to the great number of those who are struggling with the fight. The word “Balteus” was even trending frequently over the weekend.
On the day of release, many players could be seen having trouble with the heavy combat helicopter that serves as the boss in the game’s tutorial mission, and some started to consider it the first major hurdle that players must overcome (Related article). However, once triumphant, players must then face the mighty Balteus, who has provoked a similar reaction. Balteus boasts impressive offense and defense for a boss that appears in only the first chapter of the game, and a great number of players have been taken out by the ruthless machine. As of the time of writing, around 38% of players have the trophy for defeating Balteus on PSN, while just over half of players (53%) on Steam have been victorious. These numbers are quite low when you consider that this is the game’s first chapter. Even on Reddit, Balteus was a hot topic across the weekend, showing that players from all over the world have been getting trounced.
The autonomous PCA craft Balteus is far larger than the Armored Core that is piloted by the player and is decked out in a plethora of weapons. As soon as the battle begins, Balteus fires a barrage of homing missiles that come at you from every direction; it’s a visually stunning affair, to say the least. It also has highly damaging attacks, like grenades that are accompanied by a warning sound, and a wide-ranging flame attack that it uses once its health has dropped below a certain threshold. Balteus likes to chain these attacks together, and even a moment’s lapse in concentration can result in a large amount of your AP (health) being whittled away. Many players have likely thought to themselves, “I’ve still got enough AP to keep going,” before being taken out in the blink of an eye. I (the original author of this article) too suffered such a fate.
Another aspect that no doubt has players racking their brains is Balteus’ Pulse Armor, which negates a fixed amount of damage. This means that you are unable to deal damage to the boss’ main body until you first destroy its Pulse Armor. To make matters worse, even if you destroy the armor, it will regenerate after a certain period of time has passed, meaning that you must start all over again. Even once you crack Balteus’ shell and desperately go all out on its main body, it will use any opening it can find to launch its missiles and other attacks against you. The combination of a durable shield and fierce offense means that even veteran AC pilots will have their hands full.
The huge reaction to Balteus’ difficulty brings to mind the “Skill check” bosses that are common in FromSoftware’s other games, acting as hurdles for the player to overcome. The day may come when both the “Rubicopter” (tutorial boss) and the even more menacing Balteus are spoken about in the same vein as notorious bosses in the Dark Souls series.
So how does one go about giving Balteus a taste of its own medicine? There are a variety of viable strategies, and searching for the term “Balteus” on X/Twitter shows that players each have their own methods. Some like to break down Balteus’ Pulse Armor using Pulse Rifles, while others like to aggressively blast it with dual Shotguns. There are also players who like to fight fire with fire, using tank parts on their AC for improved durability and firepower before taking it head on. The things that all these strategies have in common are methods for dealing with the Pulse Armor and Assembly builds that aim to stagger Balteus and end the fight as quickly as possible.
When Balteus’ Pulse Armor is destroyed, it will become staggered and be unable to move for a short time. Additionally, any attacks that Balteus receives while staggered are treated as “Direct Hits” and deal much more damage than usual. This extra damage is dependent on your weapon’s Direct Hit Adjustment stat. With this in mind, using Pulse Rifles to deal with the Pulse Armor means that not only will you have more opportunities to deal damage to Balteus’ main body, but it also reduces the burden of dealing with that pesky armor again once it is restored. Before the might of the Pulse Rifle, Balteus’ Pulse Armor is almost like an ACS (stagger) gauge that you can easily build up strain on. So even once the shield is restored, it is relatively easy to stagger Balteus again, creating more chances to pile on the damage.
Once Balteus has recovered from its stagger, you can also deal with the Pulse Armor in a more indirect way by peppering it with attacks from weapons with high Impact (builds ACS strain), like the Shotgun or Pulse Blade. This works because accumulating enough ACS strain will also allow you to stagger Balteus. After breaking the Pulse Armor once, if you can successfully stagger Balteus repeatedly, then you will be able to deliver a great deal of damage before he can get his armor back up. This also has the added benefit of reducing the number of times that the Pulse Armor is restored throughout the fight. All that said, no matter which method of offense you choose in your attempt to close out the fight as quickly as possible, you must still remain wary of the threat presented by Balteus’ attacks. Its homing missiles, grenades, and flame attack all cover a wide range, and taking the full brunt of these attacks can easily result in fatal damage.
Another option to deal with Balteus is to use the high endurance and fire power provided by tank-style assembly parts and face it head on, attempting to do enough damage to finish the battle before you get taken out. Prior to writing this article, I tried this strategy against Balteus myself, putting together a bulky tank build that used heavy AC parts for the body and had Laser Cannons equipped to both shoulders. I came away deeply impressed by just how smoothly I was able to defeat Balteus this way—especially when compared to the lightweight, Reverse Joint leg build that I used to defeat the boss the first time. This is likely because of the extra AP and ACS that the heavier build provides, along with the fact that you can throw everything you have into your offense, frequently using high-firepower weapons that normally force you to enter a stance. Those players who just can’t manage to advance past Balteus no matter what they try may want to give this build a shot.
Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-08-28 09:41 JST)