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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, it’s time to bring this particular adventure to a close; I hope you’ve been enjoying it!