Armored Core VI is tough but it’s not impossible. In some ways it’s a lot more approachable and forgiving than the Soulsborne games FromSoftware is best known for. A couple of the boss fights absolutely wrecked me though, and Balteus was one of them.
The automated flying mech closes out Armored Core VI’s first chapter, and it presents a spectacle of hellfire missiles that make the encounter feel like a 3D bullet hell showdown you might find in arcade action games like Housemarque’s Returnal. Complicating matters further is Balteus’ pulse shield, which protects it from damage and constantly resets throughout the match. The second phase of the fight gets even harder. Here’s my advice for surviving it.
The weapon loadout I had the most luck with included a HI-16 GU-Q1 Pulse Gun in the right arm (great for taking down pulse shields) and a HI-32: BU- TT/A Pulse Blade in the left arm (great for taking down pulse shields and wracking up damage while the enemy is staggered). For my shoulders I went with the Vcc-70VPM Plasma Missile Launchers because they’re easy to use, track the enemy quickly, and can be fired off while running like hell. For the body, a double-jointed build would work well, but I got by with the standard, well-rounded Core you start with.
When it comes to actually fighting Balteus, stay close and try to group your attacks for maximum stagger potential. You can rush in at the very beginning of the fight and, if you time everything right, get your first stun.
Staying close will also make it easier to dodge the missile barrages. When you get the Balteus down to half health it will release a giant pulse wave attack and change up its pattern. Make sure you get out of the way so you don’t get hit.
This is also when the Balteus will start pulling out giant flamethrower blades as it tries to close the distance. Turn off your target lock-on and punch the assault boost to get out of there until the attack pattern is over.
Your best bet to dodge the flamethrower attacks altogether is to fly up and get some vertical distance. This will also provide a great opportunity to go on the assault from above and get some more laser blade swipes in.
The key throughout the whole fight remains simple: keep on top of the Balteus as much as possible while circling it. The moment it pauses, you can go in with a melee attack and unload the Pulse rifle. If you time the plasma rockets correctly, they’ll land around the same time to help you stagger the Balteus and keep it from getting back on the offensive.
If all goes well, the second phase of the fight should go quickly. Remembering to keep enough boost on-hand to dodge the front-facing rockets that beep before they fire will also go a long way to helping you survive. From there, it’s just about managing your attacks and dodges so that every other exchange results in the Balteus being staggered.
In the end, the chapter one boss fight took me about five hours spread across multiple nights. That includes time I spent going back and re-doing some old missions to unlock more parts to play around with. Hopefully the strategy above serves you well, but if it doesn’t, try experimenting with something completely different.
Fortunately, the checkpoint for the fight is right before it begins, and the load times on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S are lightning-fast every time you die. Armored Core VI is about trial and error and learning how different builds change the way you play. Embrace the failure and I promise you, you’ll beat the Balteus eventually.
Update 8/28/2023 9:22 a.m. ET: I originally mentioned using the HI-18 GU-Q1 Pulse Gun, but that’s a later model not available during the fight. I actually used the HI-16 GU-Q1.