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Walking Fortress Balam in a rare state of not falling over

Walking Fortress Balam is an enormous, silly powerful vehicle that the Air Raider can call for in Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair. It is particularly used for fighting the monster Erginus.

Description

Balam is a 50-metre giant, a smaller variant of the Moving Fortress X-4 developed for an unclear "operation" that concluded before it was ready (possibly a reference to Earth Defense Force 2017's Vallak Dino Mech battles) and placed in storage. With the emergence of the monster Erginus the Balam was hurriedly made ready for combat and deployed to deal with the new threat.

Though powerful, its incomplete state means it is lacking in defensive armament; while it mounts two gun turrets on its hips, these are disabled on most variants due to the need to focus the vehicle's energies on close combat.

Balam is the only vehicle in the game which can be controlled by any class; normally, Fencers and Wing Divers cannot drive a vehicle.

Missions

BATTLE

A Wing Diver regrets forgetting that today was Kaiju Punching Day.

Balam first appears in mission 53: Crash. As a transport squadron moves to deliver the incomplete vehicle to fight an Erginus threatening the city, the pilot somehow manages to get himself eaten by giant insects. This forces a member of Storm Team to take control of it instead. Despite the force of high-energy combat threatening to permanently damage the Walking Fortress, HQ urges Storm Team to "keep smashing him!" and eventually the Erginus is defeated.

Having figured out from this experience that it is probably best to deliver the vehicles with the pilots in them, the EDF sends a phalanx of Balams to take on a force of Erginuses in a destroyed area in mission 67: Battle of Giants. Storm Team's main role in this mission is to assist a large EDF force protecting the Balams from sporadic giant insect attacks while they stomp around punching Erginuses, with both sides receiving reinforcements as the battle goes on. Finally, a Mutant Erginus rears its ugly head and one last Balam is deployed without a pilot, allowing Storm Team to assist in defeating the remaining lizards.

The Walking Fortresses dropped in missions scale according to the level and difficulty; they never have working turrets, but like the BMX10 Proteus in 4.1's version of Mountain Giants, the Inferno-level Balam can surpass the stats of any deployable version: in Battle of Giants it will have 999,999 health and its attacks deal almost twice as much damage as those of the F Type.

Walking Fortresses are also added to some of the DLC missions, generally where they would do as little good as possible; in one mission the EDF has the brilliant idea of deploying one against Hornets, while in another they discover that a group of them are not very well matched against Gold Ants. Amusingly, in one mission of DLC 2, Storm Team must support an EDF tank division fighting a group of Erginuses without Balam support because none are available. Can't think how that could have happened...

Strategy

Balam is primarily useful in missions that feature Erginus, since it can absorb significant damage from the monster and stun-loop it easily. Balam possesses two main combo attacks:

Punch with same arm twice (jab, straight) > punch with other arm (slam) > punch with original arm (uppercut)

Alternate left-right or right-left (cycles between jab and hook)

The slam and uppercut moves will both knock an Erginus on the ground, and this can easily be repeated until the monster keels over.

Balam can also stomp on enemies using the triggers that do not operate its arms; as with the footfalls of the Quadruped Fortress, the stomp deals damage in a substantial area around Balam's foot. The attack is surprisingly weak, however, and brings Balam to a complete stop for several seconds, usually meaning it is facing more of whatever it was trying to kill with the stomp attack.

Holding down the L3 button appears to allow Balam to enter a guard state, where it will receive less damage, much like the guard boost a Fencer receives while using his Shield or certain weapons like Vibro-Rollers. If Balam is knocked down, pressing L3 just before it hits the ground will allow it to recover, instantly reversing the knockdown. This is important since Erginus can trigger another knockdown while Balam is getting up from the first, which can lead to it being juggled to death. The recovery animation seems to prevent this from happening.

Two of the deployable Balam variants mount turrets, which can be fired with the square or triangle buttons (default controls). Both fire a huge, ragged burst of fire in whatever direction the camera is currently pointed, with half of the volley fired from each gun. Unlike other vehicle-mounted weapons, there is no laser sight provided for aiming these.

The F Type's description notes that development of these versions led the EDF to conclude that Balam is simply not cut out for fighting giant insects and led to them focusing on fighting Erginus as the vehicle's sole function, hence disabling the turrets again in the final model.

Balam is incredibly slow and has no real ability to engage airborne targets. Like the BMX10 Proteus and E651 Titan, it can simply move through any buildings that get in its way, destroying them without even slowing down.

Balam is more or less entirely ineffective in any normal battle situation for anything other than drawing a lot of aggro while other players with more sensible weapons pick off enemies attacking it, though it can be tremendously enjoyable to walk around punching Hectors. It is possible to look downwards and swing Balam's fists to hit smaller enemies like Ants, though this quickly devolves into flailing.

Variants

All Walking Fortress Balams have a crew of 1 and require 8,000 credits to drop. They cannot be dropped at the start of a mission and require 7,200 more credits to be accumulated before they can be deployed.

Level Name Health Armament Ammo Fire rate (shots / sec) Damage Firing range (m)
20 Walking Fortress Balam 50000 Jab - - 400 -
Straight - - 1200 -
Slam - - 2600 -
Upper - - 3200 -
Hook - - 800 -
Stomp - - 200 -
39 Walking Fortress Balam B Type 125000 Gun Turret x 2 400 0.125 x 50 20 x 50 720
Jab - - 1000 -
Straight - - 3000 -
Slam - - 5000 -
Upper - - 8000 -
Hook - - 2000 -
Stomp - - 500 -
58 Walking Fortress Balam Laser Fort 225000 Laser Turret x 2 1200 0.2 x 300 18 x 300 480
Jab - - 1800 -
Straight - - 5400 -
Slam - - 9000 -
Upper - - 14400 -
Hook - - 3600 -
Stomp - - 900 -
87 Walking Fortress Balam F Type 625000 Jab - - 5000 -
Straight - - 15000 -
Slam - - 25000 -
Upper - - 40000 -
Hook - - 10000 -
Stomp - - 2500 -

Trivia

  • Balam is rather blatantly inspired by the Jaeger robots from Pacific Rim.
  • As further proof of this, Balam is the only vehicle that does not explode instantly in deep water: in fact, it can wade all the way out to the border that is in the sea on the Beach map.
  • Equally, it has many design elements from Gllang the Castlekeep, one of the "Megnite" robots from Sandlot's 2002 game Robot Alchemic Drive, and its blocking move is similar to one of Vavel's gestures. It also uses a simplified version of that game's control scheme: Robot Alchemic Drive put punching on the analog sticks and had the player alternate presses of L1 and R1 just to walk.
  • Balam is either named after Balaam, a diviner who appears in the Biblical book of Numbers, or Balam, a demon king of Hell with three heads who controls 40 legions of demons and has the power to give perfect answers to questions of the past, present or future and to make men invisible and witty.
  • NPC Walking Fortresses have very simple AI that will move towards and attack whatever enemy is nearest to them. This is turned into a feature of the mission Battle of Giants since if the Fortresses have giant insects climbing on them they will try to attack them instead of the Erginuses, and so the player(s) must work to prevent the Balam team becoming separated and being picked off piecemeal.
  • Power Assist Guns and Power Posts do not increase the strength of Balam's physical attacks, they will only boost the damage of the Balam's guns (if it has any).

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