clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What makes Armored Core 6’s Balteus such an effective gatekeeper?

A cruel Balteus thesis

Clayton Ashley , senior video editor, has been producing and editing videos for Polygon since 2016. He is the lead producer of the tabletop gaming series Overboard.

Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon stays true to many of the franchise’s core tenants, but one area where the game feels quite Soulsian is its boss design. Clearly, FromSoft learned a thing or two in the decade since Armored Core debuted, and that’s no more apparent than in the bloated offensive nightmare known as Balteus.

Sitting at the end of Chapter 1, Balteus is a gatekeeper boss, a clear difficulty spike that blocks progression in the game’s story. Much like Elden Ring’s Margit, Balteus plays a big hand in teaching you valuable lessons you’ll need for the rest of the game. And it teaches those lessons by killing you, over and over again.

A screengrab from Armored Core 6 shows the large mech Balteus, which has a jetpack larger than its body and a ring that encompasses its entire body. In the image, lightning crackles around Balteus and fires rage behind it.
Not mentioned in the video somehow: how sick the Balteus design is
Image: From Software via Polygon

It’s not a secret that there are multiple strategies for tackling this boss, as can be seen in the wide variety of armored cores players have used in guide videos on YouTube, so what’s Balteus’ deal?

In the video above, we skill check this skill checker to figure out exactly what makes it tick. This isn’t a guide (we’ve got one of those here) but an exploration of boss design. What exactly is Balteus trying to teach you? And why is it so good at killing you?