Neural Simulation Spotlight: Joseph – Hardened

Tips and tricks to help you dispatch the mechanized menace, now back for round two.

Joseph, an old Coyote now with new augmentations courtesy of the Military. The strong firepower and armor added to his mech require and even stronger will to control on the battlefield.

Somehow, Joseph returned.

Joseph - Hardened is the boss of the special Perilous Snowpath story chapter, and is the first boss in the game that prevents you from doing any damage until you fulfil a set of conditions first. I feel like it’s a first we could have lived without, though.

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Attacks and Behaviour

Joseph has three different phases.

Phase 1

In this phase, Joseph is completely immune to damage. You must break the two weapons on either side of him to proceed to the next phase. These have parts HP. At higher difficulty levels, Joseph summons two additional drones.

Breaking the right side weapon
Breaking the left side weapon

Breaking a part will interrupt any attack Joseph is currently performing.

Drone Summon

Joseph summons a swarm of flying drones that periodically fire missiles towards you. Joseph can perform other attacks while the drones are active. Breaking his right side weapon will disable this attack. I usually break the right side weapon first, so I don’t see this attack a lot. If you find that the drones are too much of a nuisance, consider doing the same.

Rocket Launcher

I know it looks like a big cannon, but Seasun says it's a rocket launcher.

Joseph jumps and positions himself in the corner opposite to your initial spawn point. He then begins charging up a large explosive attack with a map-wide area of effect. Being hit will knock you back. At higher difficulty levels, the explosion will also release rings of fireballs. Breaking Joseph’s left side weapon will disable this attack.

Casual players: If you’re struggling to deal with this attack, you can Paralyze Joseph while he’s charging up to cancel it. You can also take cover behind one of the pillars that spawn around the map.
Speedrunners: Get the timing of the explosion down and dodge it. You can also just use Para, but having no CC lockout on Joe can be important for the end of phase 2 and Joe is a completely immobile target while he’s charging up anyways.

Artillery Strike

Joseph places down electric fences around you, then fires four ground-targeted attacks that stagger on hit.

Casual players: Breaking a part of the fence and running out of the enclosure is the easiest way to dodge this attack. If you interrupt this attack, the fences will also automatically self-destruct, letting you move around again.
Speedrunners: If you can’t interrupt this attack by breaking a part or applying Para, just reset. The timing to dodge the attacks is pretty tricky, and you also end up dodging into a fence half the time anyways, which also staggers you.


This attack comes in two forms.

The first has Joe firing several salvos of missiles towards you. This is not particularly threatening and can mostly be ignored, even with an extra salvo being fired at higher difficulty levels.


In the other, Joseph continuously fires his cannons and shoots a constant stream of missiles at you. This is a very dangerous attack, being able to track you even while running. It’s recommended to interrupt this attack or reset if it’s too much to handle.


Joseph hovers into the air and crashes down, knocking you back if you’re in the impact area.

Phase 2

Once the two side weapons are destroyed, you’re now tasked with breaking Joseph’s chestplate, which also has parts HP.

The fight will proceed to phase 3 once this chestplate is broken.

Joseph now gains new attacks along with the ones from phase 1 that haven’t been disabled.

Flying Kick

Joseph flies into the air, then  dives towards you, knocking you back if hit. At higher difficulty levels, this attack will spawn an electric fence around you.

Casual players: Like with the artillery strike, breaking the fence and walking out of the target area is a foolproof way of avoiding this attack.
Speedrunners: In phase 3, this attack isn’t too bad as long as you can dodge the impact. In phase 2 however, it’s worth considering a reset as the angle that Joe positions himself in while preparing the attack makes it difficult to shoot his chestplate.

From testing, it seems that Joseph will not use this attack if you’re too close to him, instead opting for a different attack.

Melee Strike

Joseph dashes forward, attempting to grab you. It then fires an explosive point-blank that knocks you back if the grab was successful. It will then dash forward again while spinning, knocking you back again on hit. If you’re far away from Joseph, he can also rapidly advance towards you in a zig-zag pattern to get in range before beginning this attack.

Casuals: When Joe tries to grab you, dodge to the side (to the right is ideal), as dodging backwards might not put you out of range.
Speedrunners: If you can put enough distance between you and Joe to be able to DPS even when he does the spin, this attack is fine enough in phase 3. However, the zig-zag dashes he can do make it very difficult to land your shots, and is worth resetting over. This entire attack is also basically an instant reset in phase 2, as there’s really no way you’re going to be able to hit his chestplate consistently while he’s spinning like an oversized Beyblade.

Phase 3

Once you break Joseph’s chestplate, the fight moves to phase 3. Note that Joseph is still invulnerable while the phase transition animation plays, but this can be skipped altogether if you break the chestplate while Joseph is in mid-air.

As well, you can also apply Paralyze to Joseph to skip this animation. This is why it’s important to not CC Joseph too late into phase 1 or during phase 2, as he may still have his CC lockout active.

The only thing that changes once you enter phase 3 is the fact that you can actually do damage to Joseph now. You can also break the four cannons on his back now, but there’s not much reason to.


I’m going to keep it real, this is a really annoying fight. In his Hardened form, Joseph is probably the most punishing boss in the game damage-wise. Along with his plethora of stagger/knockback moves, he can make for quite the frustrating experience. Fortunately, you can play around many of his attacks, and (hopefully) cancel the rest by applying Paralyze or breaking a part. The ones to consider cancelling are the extended barrage as well as the flying kick or melee strike when necessary. Speedrunners should also consider cancelling the artillery strike as well.

It’s recommended to finish the first two phases as soon as possible to avoid taking unnecessary damage, though it’s especially important to be ready to break Joseph’s chestplate once you enter phase 2. Ideally you should break it before or right as Joseph recovers from the down state caused by you breaking its last weapon attachment in phase 1. This is because once he gets back up, the new attacks he has access to make it very difficult to have a clear shot on his chestplate.

For speedrunners specifically, your options for cancelling attacks are more limited unless you choose to (and are able to) break Joe’s chestplate in mid-air. This is because the alternate method of skipping his phase 3 transition animation is to apply Paralyze. Because of that, you can’t Paralyze Joe too late into phase 1 or in phase 2 as it will apply a CC lockout that won’t expire before you finish phase 2 (at least if you’re progressing through the first two phases quickly). This can lead to more resets

Team Building

Before you can do damage to Joe, you have to break his armour first. This means that a part breaker of some kind is mandatory. A full list of options can be found on the general overview, but the shortlist here is Fenny - Coronet due to her support skill that can boost attack speed and Eatchel - The Cub making use of her ultimate skill to do extra parts break. As well, Yao - Winter Solstice and Katya - Blue Bolt can double as both DPS and parts breaker, though this will make the fight harder as you don’t get to tank as many attacks as you could with a dedicated parts breaker.

As for operatives to do damage to Joseph once you peel off his outer shell, most of the top choices will do fine. However, it’s also worth noting that if you choose to use a dedicated parts breaker, you’ll have one less support slot, which can hurt the effectiveness of some DPS operatives. One notable exception to this is Fritia - Hush, who gets to bring her preferred supports (Tess - The Magician and Eatchel - The Cub) anyways. As well, Joseph has three scannable parts in phase 3, which gives Chenxing - Ethereal Cloud a noticeable boost.

Paralyze is arguably the best form of CC in this fight, as it works on Joe in all three phases (Slow does too) and can be used to skip animations. Joe can technically be Stunned as well, but only during phase 3. Because of this, having some source of Paralyze is recommended. Newer players are also advised to consider bringing a healer, as Joe hurts a lot.