Choose My Adventure: Anniversary groupings in Warframe

    
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It should look like the logo is going to be shot.
Last week’s poll on Warframe was a nail-biter, but it ultimately came down in favor of me not buying a new frame for my explorations this week. So I didn’t. But I did heed the numerous people telling me to go run those anniversary missions.

I also, belatedly, realized that my access to Amazon Prime meant that I also had access to that Twitch Prime promotion from a while back, which would have been really useful if I had realized this before now. Of course, I didn’t know that I’d be playing Warframe at the time, so perhaps my lack of precognition doesn’t qualify as a character flaw.

Regardless, my first goal this week was to get in those anniversary missions and the rewards which went along with them. Of course, that also meant that I’d be largely useless in those missions, but that would also serve the purpose of giving a sense for how the game plays in a group instead of just running solo.

Ping.Let me tell you, that was a big change.

When running solo, a lot of people have assumed that I like to be hyper-stealthy. This isn’t entirely accurate. Yes, I put a lot of effort into being sneaky and taking out enemies without being seen, but that’s less a function of slipping ghost-like behind enemy lines and more of simple logic. If I can winnow the enemy numbers without getting into a stand-up firefight, so much the better; battles in Warframe are not savagely brutal, no, but when you’re all by your lonesome you are reasonably vulnerable to being overwhelmed.

By contrast, in a group, the very idea of stealth seems laughable. You start by going loud and then you keep rushing forward like a wall of death. Hopefully, anyhow; whether or not it works is variable, but that is the goal.

It’s a rather sharp contrast from normal, but it also does work on some level because the equation changes with more people on your team. Standing alone, you can get overwhelmed and knocked out, but your teammates can pick you up in a group mission and you have more first-strike capability. Just unloading on everything is harder to screw up than trying to sneak around while someone else walks right in front of an enemy view.

So forget stealth, let’s just blast forward and slaughter everything in our path! It still works, but it’s a pretty significant change from the solo way of playing the game; I suppose it’s arguably a testament to the game itself that it still works both ways.

Each of the anniversary missions also comes with a significant limitation in terms of weaponry. You can only use your primary weapon, or your secondary weapon, or nothing but melee. In a group, again, this isn’t a huge change; your frame powers are still available and at least your initial armaments should be able to do something through the mission. Solo, it might be more limiting.

The rewards, though. That’s where things get a little unbalanced; all of the rewards offered not just a new piece of equipment (well, a cosmetic piece in one case) but also a huge boost in experience for the weapon in use and your chosen frame. My Excalibur rocketed up in levels, and I actually went back through the missions a couple of times to further level the unranked gear rewarded during the missions.

All three rewards are definitely useful. The two swords feel like the smallest change from the katana I was previously using; by contrast, the Sybaris rifle fires in quick bursts with a shorter clip, reminding me of nothing so much as the Vindicator rifle from Mass Effect. The twin SMGs provide a solid mid-range outfit, and wielding those along with the Sybaris feels like closer to the build I actually like to play.

I also found and tried out the Paris bow, the one you can get wholly for credits without assembly. It’s all right, but it’s just all right; as I mentioned above, my goal has never really been “stealth forever” so much as “taking out enemies before combat starts is an advantage.” The bow does allow you to snipe through certain enemies you might otherwise miss, but it’s far slower in an actual firefight and not really to my tastes.

Beyond that, I covered a few more of my bases, starting with the unlocking of the Venus junction to aim for the next planet. That was just a brief boss fight against a frame specter, nothing terribly interesting; it was over before I even noticed it. I had expected more, although the laundry list of things you have to do first was notable.

Cut.More interesting was taking a brief jaunt over to the Plains of Eidolon, which was something I could do on my character (I hadn’t expected it) but also felt like brushing up against a much bigger nest of systems that I did not yet understand. There’s clearly a lot of stuff going on here, and my visit was enough to give me a slight positive evaluation without really exploring what could be done there. I have no doubt the comments will be filled with people telling me how to get the most out of this particular content.

Beyond that, though, it was mostly the same suite of missions with different maps, different enemies, but the same core gameplay. The leveling process (which got a big shot in the arm from the anniversary missions) is very much a game of inches; more mods, better mods, slight upgrades, but the same core abilities all the way down. It’s steady like that.

Obviously, yes, one of the goals of the game is to constantly fight for new weapons, be able to make better versions of old weapons, level up your mastery there, and so forth. One could argue convincingly that is the game. I’m still finding that this part of the game unfolds almost painfully slowly, though; having the options of a few additional weapons vastly expands the gameplay right there, for example, and some of the things that are difficult to get at first (fighting stances) seem like fairly basic and core options in most games. Yes, I understand, you want better things to be locked away behind effort, but the fact that even basic stances remain locked behind waiting for drops and praying for rain…

Ah, well, I suppose I’ve harped on this point often enough by now. It’s not a bad game, but the lack of options is every but as harmful as its lack of guidance for new players. It’s just harmful in different ways.

There’s no poll this week, as there’s not really something heavy to decide in terms of direction, but you can feel free to voice your suggestions (as people have done the past few weeks) in the comments or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, it’s time to bring this particular adventure to a close; I hope you’ve been enjoying it!

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Gosh, that frame bundle would have been super useful to have. Maybe another one will come up. That would be good.

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Exxar
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Exxar

Before the anniversary event, I played warframe for about a month in total, exclusively in solo mode. Tried public matchmaking for the event missions, never looked back. The difference is big – progression is much faster and the game is easier. Not that it’s hard in general, but when playing solo you encounter noticeable roadblocks from time to time, which public groups blow away completely.

I am MR 5 at the moment, started Uranus yesterday. Bought one frame for plat (Ivara) and have two in the works, should be done for the weekend (Rhino and Excalibur). While frame selection definitively is thin at this point, I have the possibility to craft a shitload of different weapons. Though I must agree that not being able to test out a frame or weapon before crafting it is a problem, much more for frames than for weapons though since most of them are rather easy to craft.

Though the biggest problem while leveling would be getting mods I’d say. I have yet to find any which strengthen frame powers (besides a flawed one increasing my energy pool). My Ivara is thus parked until I can reached that fabled permastealth because without it she’s just a squishier version of my Mag (worst starter frame btw).

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Actually, what you want for more efficient Stealth is to start with Ability Efficiency. Strength with Prowl is largely about stealth kill powers.

Easiest way to do this is to focus on three mods:

Streamline (for basic efficiency)
Flow (for power pool)
Energy Siphon (for energy regen out of stealth)

From there, you can focus on Duration (which also has some efficiency effects).

If you are in a rush and have a wee bit of platinum to spare, you can get all three of these for 10p.

Exxar
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Exxar

Huh, haven’t traded in the game yet although I did have some ideas about how it works. One of them was that you can only trade prime items. So that’s only true for weapons and frame parts/blueprints? Aside for those two and mods, is there anything else that’s tradeable?

Exxar
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Exxar

Oh, the joys of market manipulation. I guess that without spending a crazy amount of time learning about the market, the best thing to do is to go by the current selling prices on warframe.market?

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Yes, warframe.market should ALWAYS be your price indicator. Don’t necessarily open with the lowest possible price — I usually scroll 1/4 down the page to get past the super-lowball sell offers. But once you’re there you should get a good idea for what people are charging. Some awesome stuff goes for surprisingly low amounts! (Usually a matter of oversupply.)

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

Prime Warframe Blueprints, Prime Weapon Parts, Mods, Platinum, Void Relics, alternate Arcane Helmets, Companion Imprints, and Special Weapons (Syndicate, Wraith, Vandal or Prisma) can all be traded. I’ve bought some incredible mods for very little platinum!

One warning: if you’re buying a Primed (platinum-level) mod, you need at least 1 million credits for tax. (This is likely to discourage P2W gamers.) But everything else is taxed regularly.

A lot of the Aura mods (like Energy Siphon) come up frequently in Alert missions, but they are game-changing for solo stealth play so I did buy one for plat in trade. No regrets, even though I have like 5 now. Makes a HUGE difference and it even applies to the whole group when you’re playing on Public (as all Aura mods do).

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

It’s not a bad game, but the lack of options is every but as harmful as its lack of guidance for new players.

I think every single Warframe veteran would agree with you on the lack of in-game guidance (tutorials or otherwise). But I am a little confused about what you perceive as a “lack of options”. I have the exact OPPOSITE impression. I don’t mean to be condescending, but you seem to be confusing the speed of progression with the depth/variety of progression. As others have (very frequently, at this point) suggested, playing most of the game solo will result in a very slow progression indeed. Once you’re over the Public mode hurdle, the extent to which this game proliferates in options is pretty crazy.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah, for me the only stuff I ever do solo are the obvious story missions and then sometimes I’ll do Spy missions solo since I have a Loki Prime that’s built for maintaining stealth and being sneaky for those missions. That and it removes the human error element from whatever randoms might join me, which is much more important in Sorties that have Spy missions.

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Leiloni

Can you play Rift Prime for your next adventure?! It’s my new old obsession.

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sophiskiai

I think the Plains are something best left till you’ve done the Second Dream / War Within quests past Uranus, which give you new abilities to help deal with some of the enemies there and also give you the background to lots of the lore behind the Plains.

That ‘frame specter in the first Junction is easy, but they get a lot tougher later on!

Regarding gameplay goals and progression speed and grind, it’s never bothered me much as Warframe is basically a game I play because I enjoy the gameplay and everything else is mainly there just to lend some structure and sense of progression to that and give me things to aim for in the long term.

One of the interesting things mentioned in the documentary is that Warframe’s lack of guidance for new players is (indirectly) Raph Koster’s fault! Apparently he’s written about all the changes made to the Star Wars Galaxies new player experience having barely any affect on new player attraction or retention, so the Warframe team read that and decided to put their efforts elsewhere.

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Jon Camp

You watched the NoClip documentary too, did you? :D

I think they should at least add a spot where it tells about bullet jumping, but other than that I think the tutorial is decent, overall. they have done SOME updating — I’ve watched a few “let’s play” videos of people from 2015 through early 2017 and the tutorial has additional signage and whatnot to tell a little more now than it did back then…. but it still doesn’t mention bullet jumping at all.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

I can see where a new player might think the rapid ranking up from the anniversary missions might be unbalanced, but it really isn’t. The main thing is that exp in group missions is significantly higher than in solo. That’s the big difference there.

Up until now you played solo. You now went into your first group missions and got the exp rewards for doing so. This isn’t unbalanced, this is intended. Enemy numbers vary based on group number. A full group gets max enemy spawns. More enemies to kill means more exp to gain. You also get an affinity link bonus which means that affinity is shared between group members. These combined factors mean that playing in a group is the fastest way to rank up.

Eventually you get to a mission node called Hydron on Sedna. This is the current group exp hotspot. I typically rank up a weapon from 0-30 there in about 2 runs. 1 if I use a booster. A frame can take around 3-4. This is also fine as you will also get access to a little piece of Warframe crack called “Forma”. Forma is an item that lets you add a mod polarity slot to a weapon or frame that reduces mod cost so you can equip more/better mods. However, when you add that slot it resets the weapon or frame to rank 0. You have to level it all over again. For each Forma you use. So for example, my Akstilleto Prime has 3 Forma on it. That means I’ve leveled it 4 times. Once for the initial rank up, and 3 more times for each Forma.

Once you take that process into consideration, the exp rate gain is more or less where it should be and isn’t unbalanced at all. Again though I can totally see where you would think that. Going from solo to group really is a huge change, so you aren’t at fault here. I also don’t think the game explains any of this to you at any point, so there’s that as well.

As a side note, you do get some stance mods for completing Junctions. One of them gives Swirling Tiger which matches the shiny new Dex Dakra you have. Alternatively, many of us vets have massive stockpiles of them which we often give away for free. I’d be willing to give you a bunch of them for free but I’m not sure how we would do that. I don’t really want to post my game name up here and there’s no PM system on MOP as far as I know.

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Kickstarter Donor
Rees Racer

Perhaps you could send Eliot an email (listed above) with your particulars, and you can meet up on Cetus or the Larunda Relay perhaps. Keep it private that way, yes?

CapnLan
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CapnLan

Ohh right. That makes too much sense, which is probably why I didn’t think of it. Heh, thanks. I’ll toss him one with my details.

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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Willis

The main thing is that exp in group missions is significantly higher than in solo. That’s the big difference there.

Emphasis mine.

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Jon Camp

Not only is it more, but it also applies to your frame and all weapons simultaneously, while when solo you only got xp toward your frame and the weapon used.