This started as comment in response to Brozime's recent YouTube video on Kuva Liches, and following the high response from there, I'm posting it here as well.
My experiences: about 27 Liches killed or converted, 5/7 Ephemeras collected, 11/13 weapons, and about a dozen hours in Shadow of Mordor couple of years ago. I'm also one of the people who has high tolerance for grinding repetitive activities, but most of this thread will be about how to make grinding Liches enjoyable.
This is also even more pie-in-the-sky ideas than Brozime's that would require more development time and much less likely to be implemented than some "knob tweaking" that DE is likely to do, but I feel like these opinions and ideas need to be expressed anyway.
Kuva Liches are directly "inspired" by the Orks in Shadow or Mordor / War, so I'm going to be making comparisons, because they are inevitable, in particular what Liches lack that Orks do and what can be implemented despite the vastly different play styles. LETS TALK ABOUT DYNAMISM
Orks in SoM have roughly three levels of dynamism. These are:
- Personal dynamism: How Ork looks, sounds, what weapons they have, what are their weaknesses and resistances.
- Your approach: How you can interact with the Ork, things you can do directly and indirectly to them
- Group dynamism: How Orks interact with each other in their hierarchy, i.e. duels, rivalries, murders, promotions, etc.
Liches have basically one level:
- Personal dynamism: Lich can have procedural appearance, weapon + bonus, resistances, maybe a quirk, *cough* one of two personality types*cough*
- Your approach: Always the same. Stab roughly 130 thralls, collect the right mods from Requiem relics, stab the Lich, pick one of two options.
- Group dynamism: Non-existent. Obviously, there's no other Liches that your one personal Lich interacts with, but it also doesn't interact with the world outside of making a new layer of missions in the star chart, that's basically it's own island.
What this results in, is that despite procedurally generated "personal enemy" all everyone thinks about EVERY Lich they have it "3-4 hours of grind for maybe a Ephemera and maybe a weapon I don't have yet". I had done 27 Liches, as I've mentioned, and I only remember ONE of them because I guessed all 3 Requiems before I even filled in one Murmur circle and converted that Lich while it was at Rank 1 and got him out of the way in under half an hour. It doesn't matter how Lich looks, sounds, what weapon they have, if you only have one method of approach to them they will never feel "personal". I have more emotional connection to Kela De Thaym than I do with any of the Liches despite the fact that I haven't done her boss battle in over a year.
This leads us into the next topic:
Again, going back to Orks, the reason you would research their weaknesses is because it would save you time and effort in taking them down in the long run. You could always beeline straight for the Ork Captain, stab your way through twenty guards and have a long and prolonged fight, or you could find out that he's vulnerable to ranged attacks and one-hit headshot him from a bush and run away without fighting anyone.
The ONLY time I feel a degree of satisfaction when grinding Liches is when I guess a Requiem before I unlock it through Murmurs and jump my progress ahead by essentially another 30-60 minutes. The best time I felt that was when I guessed the Requiem right as I was almost done with second Murmur circle, that transfered the progress on the third Murmur, and I ended up with third Murmur progress filled up 80% by itself. TL/DR TAKING SHORTCUTS FEELS GOOD
In a game that's all about grind it feel good to be able to skip parts of the grind. Unfortunately, currently only shortcuts we can take are purely luck-based, and as was established many, many times over the years of Warframe, having to be lucky to get something is more frustrating than it is satisfying *cough* Veil Anomaly, Shedu Parts, Tenebreous Ephemera*cough*
So lets talk about different ways we might be able to approach our Lich:
- Capture, Spy and Interception missions are all about stealing information. Instead of being told all weaknesses, resistances and immunities of the Lich from the get-go, we can complete this missions to unlock that information. Elemental resistances matter little when we can go 12x melee combo Blood Rush on a Lich, so we can have more fun weaknesses. "Takes 500% damage from Bows", "Immune to Shotguns", "Can be sneak attacked", "Not immune to Heat status effect", "Takes 500% damage from CORPUS weapons", etc. Something that could actually make us sit for a second and change a loadout for this Lich specifically, rather than never-ending meta of Mesa / Wukong.
- Disruption, Survival, Sabotage, Exterminate are all about weakening enemy forces. This ties into a bigger conversation about Lich Influence, Rank and other things, but doing this missions can somehow debilitate Lich or their "Empire".
- Bonus objectives. Every mission type can have a bonus objective just like Bounties, i.e. "Not letting Defense Objective go below 50% health", "Kill everything within 4 minutes", "Do all Vaults in Spy without triggering alerts". Doing those would speed up your progress = give you an achievable SHORTCUT, that's directly tied to your skill or gear, and not luck.
This just off the top of my head. There's more ideas on how to interact with Liches and have them interact with you, but that leads us to the next issue:
THE ISLAND PROBLEM
As [DE]Steve put so succinctly, Plains and Fortuna are essentially islands, disconnected from the rest of the game, that you go to for a while, usually when they release, do a thing, and then never visit again, and that DE in general wants to stop making islands and wants to start connecting things. Sadly, Liches are essentially an Island system as well. They have their Influence nodes, that are a separate layer of star chart, they are completely passive in that they only affect you by stealing things if you do missions on those planets, and even then you can get all your things back three hours later when you stab them. They send you a taunting message every time you login, but that is basically nothing. Every Lich is a tiny little island that you can easily ignore, and when you deal with them you essentially have to go to their island.
Going back to Orks, Orks have group dynamics in how they interact with each other. Liches are always just your "one, personal Lich", but they can interact with many things in the world given a bit of work. Examples:
- Syndicates. Lore-wise Syndicates are not too different from Lich Empires: a network of people who do... things. Most of us already have three Syndicates that hate our guts and three that love us. Syndicates are also a bit of an island in that they sit on Relays and their missions are their own layers on star chart, so how about connecting those two archipelagos? Lich can hire the particular Syndicate that hates your guts to help THEM, the Lich. Lich levels up to Rank 4 and allies themselves to New Loka, and now suddenly their thralls have bonus toxin damage on their weapons, or they hire Red Veil and Red Veil sends their squad of Spooky Edge Lord assassins (not Charger Eximuses) straight from Chains of Harrow to fight you in a random mission. Or you can hire the Syndicate that you are revered with for Syndicate rep points so that the Syndicate sabotages the Lich empire somehow. Gives them a new weakness, diminishes their Influence, gives you Syndicate allies like in Syndicate missions every time you do a Kuva Lich mission, sabotages Lich directly so they have less armor or their weapon does less damage.
- Converted Liches. I have another pet peeve with those that I will touch on later, but right now Converted Liches don't do anything other than show up for 2 minutes when you get killed and ineffectively walk about menacing their gun while you kill everything before they can aim at it. Similar to Syndicates above, you could send your Converted Liches to go after Active Liches independently of you, Assassins Brotherhood style. You could even have another layer of procedural generation to Liches, giving them different abilities they can do when you Convert them. Smart Lich could spy on your enemies, Cunning Lich could sabotage them, Brutal Lich could decimate their forces. This would add a level of management to your Converted squad, and give you additional incentive to Convert specific Liches, other than "they have a bad weapon" PARAZON AND REQUIEMS
I specifically logged into the game to double check this one, but the introduction to the Kuva Lich system is really... Brisk. I honestly can't imagine what it's like for a new player who just done War Within and haven't read patch notes / watched Devstreams. You come across the Grineer with no armor, game prompts you to stab them, then when you finish the mission you get a taunting message, and the only information on how to proceed forward is a text box that's behind a small "TUTORIAL" button in the bottom of the menu. Even worse, BEFORE you can start going after your first Lich you need to farm Kuva Syphons (again, you only find out about it in one sentence in an out-of-the-way text box), then run Requiem Fissures, and then RNG your way across eight different mods, that work completely differently like all the other mods in the game, but are still kinda sort mods. Now that Thralls drop Relics I have than I know what to do with (about 30 of each), but onboarding is really, really discouraging.
My proposed changes:
- Get rid of Requiems as mods entirely. Not of Requiems, the MOD part. Have relics drop "Requiem Shards" or "Requiem Charges" or "Requiem Pages". So that instead of having to juggle mods with charges and Defiled mods you just have 7 Charges of Khra.
- Make an entirely new menu for Requiem part of Parazon. When you click "MODIFY PARAZON" in Kuva Lich screen it would take you directly there, instead of Parazon Arsenal page.
- I understand that current Requiem "fail or success, one by one" system is implemented this way so it's easy to understand for as many people as possible, rather than "out of this three mods, two are correct but in wrong position" that many people, including Brozime are talking about. Have this new, completely separate window, track as much of that as possible and show it to people via UI. Maybe expand to 4 Requiems per Lich if needed. Change the system to "Mastermind" version ("this Requiem is in right spot", "this Requiem is correct but in wrong spot"), so that you actually have to logically figure it out, and have dedicated UI to help people who can't.
Have Requiem Parazon part as it's own, stand-alone, Kuva-themed, lore-heavy, spooky window where you sequence the Requiems into the right order, on the fly. Make it accessible during missions same way Nightwave menu is accessible during missions. This ties into the next bit: THRALLS
Currently, thralls are... Absolutely boring. A random Grineer unit in a mission that glows blue that you stabbity-stab and fill in a small section on the circle and after you stabbity-stab a hundred or so of them you can stabbity-stab the Lich and start the cycle of stabbiness all over again. The emphasis is to kill them as fast as humanly possible and run to the next one, turning every mission into speed run, or setting up dedicated farming spots in Survivals by keeping the Lich alive and having them convert nearby mobs into thralls. This has basically no lasting impact and considering how little progress thralls give per unit, they are, if anything, more frustrating than other mobs in the mission since you need to spend couple of seconds of stabbing animation on each one.
Thralls spawn in SQUADS in any mission. These are heavy, specifically Kuva troops, menacing tough armor and weapons, maybe using same procedural generation as Liches do. Think Grustrag Three but with more black and red. They have special abilities based on a Lich they are thralls to. Make Thralls INDIVIDUALIZED.
You can test out Requiems on Thralls. Only one or two squads would spawn in a mission, and stabbity-stabbing their leader would confirm or fail partially confirm ("right Requiem, wrong spot") one of the Requiems on your Parazon. If we have 4 Requiems instead of 3 that would compensate for more instant feedback from thralls. This would make every thrall encounter meaningful because it would give you DEFINITE feedback from every encounter, rather than a small sliver of a progress.
Being able to access dedicated Parazon Requiem window mid-mission would mean you can swap out sequences before you encounter the next Thrall squad, and you can have more than 1 Thrall squad in mission.
LICHES AND REQUIEMS
This directly continues from Thrall interactions with your stabby-stabs.
- Testing out Parazon on the Lich would give you feedback on ALL Requiems in the sequence, not just one, but it would have a price.
- Instead of killing you, which is a clunky mechanic because there's no way you can save against it and you HAVE to use limited revives, which are a bandaid solutions to enemies instakilling you anyway, the LICH dies, but the more off your Requiem guess is, more Lich "comes back wrong".
- LICHES come back to "unlife" every time you kill them with a wrong sequence, but they mutate. Their resistances and weaknesses might be reset and you might need to have to find them out again. They might gain a new immunity or a new ability, that's not tied to "stolen Tenno power". Have their new powers be more Kuva-focused, signifying them turning more and more Kuva-like. Have a mutated Lich throw Kuva spikes at you, infuse or resurrect nearby mobs, disrupt your Transference, or have something akin to Legendary Resistances from D&D, where you have to bring them down multiple times before you can Parazon them, and they would automatically block first few attempts, just knocking you away (without killing). And other mutations can be debilitating to the Lich, like reduced health or armour, a new Quirk, taking away some of their abilities.
- Liches would still have a chance to spawn in regular missions, but after you complete some objectives it would unlock Lich Assassination node, where you can confront Lich directly. Your venues of approach then would be either to rush Lich assassinations, with possibly faster outcome, but Lich getting much tougher through mutations, or going slow and steady by taking out Thralls and confirming Requiem sequence and killing the Lich in one go without making the fight tougher. LICH INFLUENCE
Right now the Influence, and Tax in particular serves basically one purpose: to make you increasingly annoyed by having you stuff stolen so that you go stabbity-stab and take it back. It doesn't express the growing power of the Lich's Empire other than this passive drain on your resources and occasional "YOU BASTARD" moment when they steal a Riven from your Sortie reward. Going back to the Island Problem, have growing Lich Rank and Empire spread result in more varied and active outcomes.
- Higher Lich Rank is, more Syndicates they can hire against you, with more dramatic results (stronger buffs to Thralls / Lich, stronger hit squads against you). Have Liches send their own Thrall hitsquads after you in regular missions.
- High Lich Ranks would result in tougher Lich Assassination missions, with you requiring to do objectives before you can confront the Lich (do a Sabotage or Spy objective to open doors to Lich boss arena), they would gain dedicated bodyguard squads, and could have your antagonistic Syndicate help them out in a mission (a bunch of Red Veil guarding a Lich, for example).
- Have Lich gain bonuses depending on what planets they are on. Eris = Infested weapon for special Thrall hit squads, Lua = Something related to Sentients or Orokin, making Lich understand Transference and being able to sabotage you in that way, Earth or Venus = Thralls can spawn in open worlds, Jupiter = Lich is doing something funky with Corpus gas. Show that Lich is not just an abstract red blob on the map, but that they actually interact with planets they have influence on, and them being on a Grineer planet is very different from a Corpus or Infested one.
Influence Node system also contributes to the Island Problem. Brozime proposed having Liches influence PLANETS, rather than nodes, and you essentially playing on regular nodes with high-level Thralls spawning there. I feel like it should be possible to have both Thrall Squads spawning in regular missions to harass you, to signify Lich going after you, and dedicated Lich missions with high level enemies and bonus objectives to signify you going after the Lich.
This is the final section that I can think of. I've expressed ideas above like being able to send Liches on their own missions against other Liches, but all I really ask for is explanation for what and how. There's NO lore in-game that I can think of that explains how exactly we are converting them or why they suddenly work for us after we defeated them. My Little Lich: Defeat Friendship is Magic? There's a vague idea that we are purging them of Kuva with correct Requiem sequence somehow, but this needs elaborating upon. With the dedicated window for Parazon Requiems and Kuva Lich mutations this can be made more explicit and spelled out.
TOO LONG DIDN'T READ
- Give us more ways to interact with a Lich rather than just stabbing Thralls.
- Give Liches more ways to interact with the world and with us.
- Give Converted Liches more interactions and purpose.
- Give Requiems and Parazon more dedicated UI, explanation and depth.