Armored Core 6 Smart Cleaner boss: How to beat the lava-spewing Chapter 2 monster

Armored Core 6 Smart Cleaner boss
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Is a videogame really a videogame if, at some point, you don't fight a lava monster? Debatable, I say—but Armored Core 6 avoids us having to make that call by throwing you into battle against a giant lava-spewing machine at the start of chapter 2. The Smart Cleaner boss shoots fire out of its smokestack and has two enormous arms that chew you up and turn you into mulch if it manages to hit you. So for this fight, we're sticking to the skies.

Here's an ideal AC build for the Smart Cleaner boss fight, and how to easily take down the Smart Cleaner in Armored Core 6.

Best AC build for the Smart Cleaner

(Image credit: FromSoftware)
  • Right arm weapon: Laser shotgun
  • Left arm weapon: Bazooka or plasma blade
  • Back weapons: Vertical missile launchers (at least one)
  • Legs: Tetrapod
  • Booster: Prioritize thrust
  • Generator: Prioritize EN capacity
  • FCS: Prioritize medium-range assist

This AC build has a specific purpose: floating in the air for a long time while shoving damage right down the Smart Cleaner's smokestack. I recommend the laser shotgun for excellent damage and its ability to fire fairly quickly or be charged up; vertical missile launchers on each shoulder to score easy hits on the Cleaner's weak point; and a bazooka for excellent impact damage. Most essential are the tetrapod legs, which let you maintain a hovering position by tapping jump while in the air. We want to stay well out of reach of the Cleaner's big ground attacks.  

How to beat the Smart Cleaner boss in mission Infiltrate Grid 086

Boss attacks to watch for 

  • If you spend long on the ground, the Cleaner will rush towards you and smash you between its arms in a clapping attack or give you a nasty uppercut. Avoid these by staying in the air as much as possible. And if you do land when the boss isn't staggered, put as much distance between you as possible—they can potentially be one-hit kills
  • After it's taken some damage, the Smart Cleaner will start spewing damaging fireballs out of its smokestack. These are fairly easy to dodge and don't do a ton of damage; it's mostly okay to stay directly over it to rain down your attacks

Quick strategy tips 

  • Use the tetrapod's hover ability to stay in the air for most of this fight
  • Make sure your attacks are landing inside the smokestack rather than hitting the exterior, where they won't do much damage

On the ground, the Smart Cleaner is a menace, with attacks so powerful they can crush a less armored AC in a single hit. But once you're in the air, there's really not much it can do to you. You'll make this sucker look like an oversized Roomba with the build recommended above. Launch your vertical missiles while targeting the smokestack to build up some quick impact damage, then fire away with your laser shotgun. When you've got an angle directly into the smokestack, launch a bazooka shot in there to really amp up the stagger meter. Another volley of missiles or a few more laser shotgun blasts should stagger the boss, opening its face up to a pounding.

Quickly tap jump to stop hovering and land right in front of the Smart Cleaner. Retarget the hatch that's now open, then unload with your bazooka and laser shotgun. Save the vertical missiles—they'll bounce harmlessly off the Smart Cleaner's roof due to the angle of attack here. But you can still do plenty of damage with your left- and right-hand weapons; as soon as the Smart Cleaner gets back up, haul ass back into the air and start targeting the smokestack again. A couple more rounds of this and you'll be in the clear.

If you decide to take the plasma blade instead of the bazooka, or use one vertical missile launcher instead of two, it may take you a bit longer to build up the Smart Cleaner's stagger meter, but in exchange you'll be able to damage it more quickly when it's in its weakened state. Up to you which approach you prefer. Either way, as long as you're not spending much time on the ground, the Smart Cleaner won't have a chance to sweep you up in its deadly arms.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).