While not belonging to the Soulslike genre that its developers pioneered, ARMORED CORE 6: FIRES OF RUBICON does still carry a little bit of those games with it: namely, it can be quite hard. From grappling with the fast, frantic movement of your ACs to tracking enemy targets to even managing builds back at the Garage, there’s a ton of stuff that can overwhelm the player. Additionally, like many of FROMSOFTWARE’s other games, players will smash headfirst into a massive blockade a couple of hours into the game, when they’ve just started getting their bearings. In the case of AC6, this gatekeeper is Balteus, the final boss of Chapter 1.
Compared to everything else you’ve fought up until this point, Balteus is a nightmare. It’s fast, it’s tanky, it hits like a truck and it is relentless. Balteus’ main goal is to force players to learn about AC6’s main strengths – namely, its versatility and build craft – and those who cannot grapple with that will likely burn out after many, many deaths. Fortunately, there are several different tools and strategies you can employ to shut down Balteus for good.
Here’s how to beat the Chapter 1 boss of ARMORED CORE VI, Balteus, including a deep dive into the boss’ moveset and the best build you can use to beat it.
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AC6 Balteus Boss Fight
You’ll encounter Balteus as the final boss of the mission Attack the Watchpoint. This is the final mission of AC6 Chapter 1 and comes after a laundry list of more sequential, isolated jobs. In just this one mission, you’ll be laying siege to a well-armed facility teeming with high-powered lasers and battling against a highly skilled mercenary called Sulla before you even make it to Balteus.
When you do reach this mechanised behemoth, get ready for a world of hurt. This boss is aggressive, uses specific tactics that really put certain ACs at a significant disadvantage, and is incredibly well-defended. That isn’t even mentioning the switch-up from primarily ranged attacks in Phase 1 to a more melee-focused playstyle in Phase 2, which can completely halt your momentum if you aren’t prepared for it.
Balteus is the true skill check of AC6. Just like Father Gascoigne and Genichiro before it, if you can beat Balteus, you can beat the rest of ARMORED CORED VI.
As soon as the fight begins, Balteus will begin attacking you with a series of long-range missile attacks which come in a volley – a set of two lots of missiles followed by a barrage of three immediately after – before transitioning into regular combat. From here, Balteus can use any move in its arsenal in any order. In Phase 1, Balteus will use the following moves:
- Missile Barrage | Balteus will put up a circular cage around itself before sending out a swarm of missiles from its missile launchers which, after a few seconds, aggressively track onto the player. There are two variants of this attack depending on where the missiles were fired from. To avoid this attack, wait for the missiles to begin tracking and then begin rapidly Quick Boosting in the direction away from where the missiles will land.
- Rapid Dash | Balteus will fire its jets and then dash to another part of the arena. While this doesn’t deal any damage, it can reliably break lock-on and make things such as a Boost Kick or melee attack tricky to use. Once you see Balteus’ jets trigger, wait a moment before going in with a Boost to catch it for the few moments it needs to cool down.
- Homing Rocket | Balteus will fire a homing explosive rocket, similar to other units in AC6. If you are directly hit by this rocket, it will deal incredibly high base damage and Stagger damage, and it can still deal this damage if you get caught in the rocket’s explosion. Listen out for the lock-on sound accompanied by the red square on Balteus’ weapons to signify when you should jump and use your boosters to get out of the way.
- Charge Attack | Balteus will start firing at you with its front-loaded gun before charging directly at you. If you get caught in this charge or try to melee attack while it is ongoing, you will take a huge amount of Stagger damage. When you see this attack starting, back away into the air and wait for it to complete before coming back in. Sometimes, this attack will be combined with an immediate Homing Rocket which gives you very little time to react if you’re up close.
Once you get Balteus down to around 55% health, you’ll get a warning from Ayre that you should quickly get back. This will be followed by a massive Pulse Explosion from Balteus, who will then enter the second phase of the fight. In this state, he has access to all of the moves he used in Phase 1 but will prioritise several new melee-focused moves.
- Sweeping Flame Strike | Balteus begins with a small missile volley before rushing in from the right with a large sweeping melee flame attack. If you’re too focused on avoiding the missiles, you will likely run straight into Balteus’ melee and suffer a catastrophic amount of damage. Once you get clear of the missiles, dodge forward to avoid the brunt of the fire: dodging to the left or right will put you straight in the melee attack’s path.
- Downward Fire Geyser | Balteus will ready a Homing Rocket then swoop in and spray waves of fire at the ground. To best avoid this, get as high up in the air as you can once you hear the lock-on sound. This attack is quite lengthy and, should you avoid it, it gives you ample time to whale on Balteus.
- Flame Sword Combo | A two-attack combo where Balteus swings at you from the right or left with its fiery melee swing before rising and slashing once again. For this attack, you’ll want to remain as mobile as possible and try and stay behind Balteus while it performs each melee swing. This will put you out of harm’s way and give you an opening when the attack concludes.
Perhaps Baletus’ most annoying trait is the Pulse Armor it will don for basically the entire battle, including in Phase 2. This shield will stop any direct damage dealt to Balteus until it is torn down, which will cause Balteus to stagger. After about a minute since the Pulse Shield’s destruction, Balteus will summon a new one and the cycle will repeat.
It is worth mentioning that Pulse damage is more effective at shredding the shield than Kinetic or Explosive, so consider that when assembling your AC.
Balteus General Knowledge
Compared to what you’ve fought so far in ARMORED CORE VI, Balteus is a strange and terrifying switch-up. It’s halfway between the enemy ACs you may have battled before and the heavier autonomous units. This means that it has the mix of two bad worlds – it can zip around at high speeds, just like a piloted AC, while also having the bulk and protection of an autonomous target – which can easily throw off new players or those not experienced with fighting this kind of enemy.
Additionally, Balteus’ checkpoint is rather punishing. Not because it makes you retread all of Attack the Watchpoint, but because it throws you right into the thick of it. As soon as you respawn, Balteus will always go for a missile volley combo, massively limiting your options for engagement. If you know it’s coming, though, it can serve as great practice for dodging Balteus’ most infuriating attack, giving you ample opportunity to learn when you should be dodging, in what direction or whether you should rely on your Boost to do all the work.
Lastly, for general knowledge anyway, don’t be afraid to switch up your entire build to beat Balteus. As we mentioned, Balteus is the gatekeeper of AC6, the one who you must pass to prove that you understand how this game works. In Sekiro, Genichiro proved that you knew how to parry and deflect attacks; in Bloodborne, Gascoigne played a similar role; in ARMORED CORE 6, Balteus is here to make sure you understand optimising your build. Yes, any build can do anything – with a lot of elbow grease and a lot more luck – but this fight is the first one that will ask you to prepare beforehand. To beat Balteus soundly, you need to go in, get your teeth kicked in, head back to the Garage and come back with new tools. That is one of the core lessons in how AC6 works and Balteus will be your teacher.
Best Weapons for Balteus
Let’s start by discussing the best weapons to use for taking down Balteus in AC6. In terms of raw firepower and Strain build-up, the best tool for your R-Arm going up against Balteus is the HI-16: GU-Q1 Pulse Gun. This weapon deals decent damage but the main reason to bring it is to shred through Balteus’ Pulse Shield. Pulse damage deals additional damage to Pulse Shields and Balteus will summon up to 4 Shields throughout the fight, so having a weapon that can easily rip through them will give you plenty of opportunities for free damage. In fact, equipping one Pulse Gun in each hand will make the fight go much smoother and drain Balteus’ Pulse Shield at a drastically increased rate.
However, a word of caution about the Pulse Guns: compared to most other weapons in AC6, Pulse Guns have laughably little ammo and, if you’re firing willy-nilly, you’ll quickly find yourself out of bullets before the fight concludes. In a worst-case scenario, this will lead to you facing down against Balteus’ second phase – the one where you want to remain far away to avoid the flaming melee attacks – with only your fists and shoulder-mounted weapons. Of course, if you use them wisely, Balteus will be dead long before that point, but it is something to keep in mind.
If you find yourself running out of ammo too often, or if you’d rather use something a bit more hands-on, we recommend pairing the Pulse Gun with the HI-32: BU-TT/A Pulse Blade in your L-Arm. As another Pulse weapon, the Pulse Blade easily takes care of Balteus’ shield, getting it right within Stagger distance in only a few hits. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about ammo with this weapon and can just focus on positioning and maintaining momentum. Obviously, the main downside is that you’ll need to get very close to Balteus to actually land the Pulse Blade, making it better suited for a Lightweight AC. Master the Blade, though, and it will be a faithful companion in ripping down Balteus’ defences.
Lastly, while Balteus is tough, it still crumbles before the might of some of AC6’s strongest general builds. This includes the likes of double Shotguns or double Burst Rifles. While strong, these weapons aren’t made to deal with Balteus’ weakness directly (they won’t deal bonus damage to the Pulse Shield, for example) but instead aim to overwhelm with sheer force and might. Depending on the build build and set-up, these weapons can either prove super overpowered or nothing more than fancy paperweights.
Best Builds for Balteus
Lightweight AC builds are pretty strong against Balteus if you know how to master them. When used correctly, a Light AC can easily bob and weave between Balteus’ missiles, allowing them to get in close with a melee weapon, Pulse Gun or some other method of shredding the Pulse Shield. They also will have the easiest time exploiting Balteus’ Strain Stagger because of their high QB scores, allowing them to boost and dash in to maximise those few seconds of the enemy’s stunned state.
However, while they can be very effective, Light ACs will also take a much longer time to get a handle on. Their lower Load and AP scores mean that you’ll simultaneously not have enough ammo for a drawn-out encounter and be too weak to survive many head-on collisions. If you aren’t pushing the offence and staying within range of your weapon, you likely won’t be dealing enough damage to justify your low-weight class. Playing a Light AC during this fight is all about balancing safety and recklessness, you need to learn when it’s safe to push in and when it isn’t: for example, wait until after a Homing Rocket has already been fired before pushing with your Pulse Blade, as Balteus will sometimes immediately counter your first swing with a rocket to the face.
Ironically, Light ACs are all about patience and timing as opposed to relentless, mindless aggression. If you want an easy, quick to make build Light AC build for Balteus, use the following parts:
- Head: HD-011 MELANDER
- Core: NACHTREIHER/40E
- Arms: NACHTREIHER/46E
- Legs: KASUAR/42Z
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Heavyweight ACs. Through sheer bulk and destructive power, they’re able to shake off Balteus’ full frontal assault, resisting many of the high AC Strain attacks that will cripple Lightweight units. Specifically with the Tank-type legs, you can remain relatively mobile while maintaining your high defence. This type also grants you a very high Load capacity, allowing you to equip a wide range of different tools and weapons without consideration of the weight limit: With this in mind, you can even take the Weapon Bay OS Upgrade and outfit yourself with some more heavy duty Main Weapons that you can switch to while your Pulse Guns are on cooldown.
However, the main difficulty with this kind of AC is more of a mental battle: it’s easy to feel invincible and untouchable in a Heavyweight AC because you can take so much punishment, which can inadvertently put you in a lot of danger and result in some stupid deaths if you play too recklessly. Just like with a Light AC, you still need to watch for Balteus’ openings and when you can safely engage the enemy. The main benefit to a Heavy AC is that you can make more mistakes and still complete the mission.
If you want a quick-to-build Heavy AC for the Balteus battle, consider using the following AC Parts:
- Head: DF-HD-08 TIAN-QIANG
- Core: CC-2000 ORBITER
- Arms: AC-2000 TOOL ARM
- Legs: LG-022T BORNEMISSZA
How to Beat Balteus in ARMORED CORE VI
An important thing with the Balteus fight is knowing when to drop lock-on. When Balteus dashes away, it will immediately break your lock-on and can be super disorienting but, if you drop the lock-on early, you can preemptively dash to where it’s going to go and land a few free hits while it gets into position. There are a few moments like this during the fight – such as when it begins using its firey melee moves – and learning when you drop lock-on is extremely important for saving your precious Repair Kits.
Additionally, we recommend taking the Assault Armor OS Tuning Upgrade. This only costs a single OS Chip and will allow you to release a damaging area-of-effect shockwave which also cancels out any enemy fire. Landing this attack will guarantee that Balteus stuns, giving you a free opening for damage once per battle. Your best chances to use this are either right at the beginning, where you can quickly Assault Boost in during Balteus’ initial rocket barrage, or just after it enters Phase 2, allowing you to skip a lot of Balteus’ stronger fire-based moves. Lightweight ACs will be better at using and planning for this ability than Heavier ones.
Finally, the best strategy for Balteus is to simply stay on the offensive. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t back off when you need to use a Repair Kit or to avoid certain attacks, but it does mean that you shouldn’t play this fight passively. If you stay away from Balteus, it will continue to blast you down with an endless stream of missile volleys – easily its worst series of attacks because of how iffy they are to consistently dodge – whereas it will prioritise other moves if you engage it in CQC. Even if you aren’t playing a melee or close-range build, staying in that mid-range will provide infinitely more value than playing in the back as you can quickly swoop in and exploit Strain Staggers far easier.
Keep all these tips in mind, keep bashing your head against Balteus and learn how to counter everything it throws at you. With a couple of tweaks to your build and some good old luck, the gatekeeper of AC6 will eventually fall and you’ll be set to continue towards the rest of what Rubicon has to offer you. As we said before, if you can beat Balteus, you can 100% beat everything else in the game.
That was how you can beat Balteus, the final boss of ARMORED CORE 6 Chapter 1.