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.
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 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...
Walking Fortress Balam is primarily an anti-Erginus platform; towards this end it's got enormous endurance and its attacks have huge impact to enable it to effectively pummel the giant monsters to death with its massive metal fists. Surprisingly, Balam has a pretty diverse arsenal of moves; a series of formidable punching attacks, which can be blended into combos. Punches are thrown with the L1 or R1 button for the left and right arms, respectively. The combos are as follows:
Punch with same arm twice (jab, straight) > punch with other arm (slam) > punch with original arm (uppercut)
This combination is extremely effective against Erginus since both the Slam and Uppercut can knock Erginus down, allowing Balam to pummel the unfortunate Kaiju until it bleeds purple.
Alternate left-right or right-left (cycles between jab and hook)
This combo hits faster and is mostly useful for defending Balam from other targets.
In addition to its punching, Balam features a Stomp (executed with L2 or R2) attack with either of the Walking Fortress' feet. While the damage on this attack is mediocre (especially compared to the Balam's other attacks), it has a sizable blast radius (similar to the footfall of a Quadruped Fortress) and can help to weaken big groups of attacking Giant Insects. This attack does grind the Balam to a halt and takes several seconds to execute, however, and seems to have some issues actually dealing damage to enemies. In general, it is more effective to flail Balam's fists while looking downwards than try to use this move.
Two Balam variants have operational mounted turrets mounted on the hips of the machine; fired with either Square or Triangle, these turrets can only be manually aimed, have wide, sweeping firing arcs, and extremely limited ammunition reserves - but they make up for these shortcomings with hilarious amounts of firepower. Even a fraction of a full volley from the B-type Balam can do over 2000 damage, and a blast from the Laser Fort variant can do over 8000 - both rather impressive for the level they become available at, though with so little ammo, it's important to make it count.
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.
Due to its sheer bulk, Balam can simply walk through any buildings in its path, destroying them in the process.
While Balam is designed to be anti-Erginus, it can be used in numerous other scenarios with a little practice, though its high request cost is an issue. It is fantastic against Crimson Ants including both their Mutant variants, which it absolutely trivializes; even on Inferno, a comparatively mid-level Balam Walking Fortress can walk right into the middle of a crowd of such foes, fists flying, and simply demolish the lot of them. Balam is also excellent at dealing with Hectors packing Spark Launchers, Plasma Cannons, or their high-level variants; these units are not really balanced for such a high-HP target and go down in a couple of hits from an appropriately levelled Balam. The only Hector weapons that it will generally be seriously damaged by are the Particle Gatlings (and even there, Balam's sheer HP will make it a solid centerpiece). Hectors with one or more Shield Screen arms can also cause problems for Balam as it is tricky to angle a punch so it does not count as hitting the shield.
Balam is also a fantastic screener - with well over 100,000 HP on all but the weediest variants, Balam's sheer toughness means it can draw fire from allies with ease. This can be especially handy in missions against bosses that take place outdoors.
Unfortunately, Balam also comes with numerous drawbacks. Its first is its request cost; the Walking Fortress costs a lot to deploy and re-request - too much, in fact, to call one in when a fight initially starts. It is also incredibly slow-moving and it is terrible against most flying foes, with the notable exception of Flight Vehicles due to their tendency to fly straight towards it. It also has difficulty with skittish enemies that are powerful at close range: or, being less circumspect, Spiders. Since it is a vehicle and exists, Gold Ants will cheerfully tear a Balam to pieces on any difficulty level it has business being used in. Its nature as a melee attacker renders it entirely useless against several entire classes of enemies including Transport Ships, Quadruped Fortresses and Earth Eaters, though Balam actually can trundle up to a walking-mode Argo and punch it in the shins until it keels over from sheer frustration. Attacking a Shield Bearer is also something of a crapshoot.
In general, it's usually best to save Balam for fighting Erginus, though with practice it can be quite successful elsewhere. Giant Robots being what they are, Air Raiders are often finding creative new ways to abuse the thing. Regardless, make it count: it's too expensive in request cost to use pointlessly and its high learning curve and limited tactical role could leave a player high and dry if things go sour...
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||-|
|39||Walking Fortress Balam B Type||125000||Gun Turret x 2||400||0.125 x 50||20 x 50||720|
|58||Walking Fortress Balam Laser Fort||225000||Laser Turret x 2||1200||0.2 x 300||18 x 300||480|
|87||Walking Fortress Balam F Type||625000||Jab||-||-||5000||-|
- 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).