After playing and playing with Saryn for quite some time now I have developed an opinion on this spores rework. I was going to post my own thread but this seemed to be an appropriate place.
Saryn as well as a few other warframes seem to undergo these buff/nerf cycles. Her most recent rework changed some things for the better and introduced some new things that I think need to change. She was my favorite frame before the rework but now I'm not so sure. I would like to go through her rework, specifically spores, and examine it from a fun gameplay perspective while making some suggestions on how I would like to see her change. I know she has received a lot of attention lately and poor Pablo is probably happy to not be dealing with her right now, however I don’t think Saryn is in a good place right now.
Let’s look at what spores use to do and why it was changed. This ability was changed because it was used by most to stand still and cast on your own molt to nuke maps. Spores used to spread viral around very quickly and detonate when popped. Viral is a proc that scales endlessly, it is an extremely sought-after proc. This viral proc was combined with a team using all corrosive projections it could make the game easy. A less widely used aspect of spores was that it also used to spread the highest toxin proc around to all those affected. This was a very buggy interaction but was quite fun to play around with and mod for (see Frozenballz old Saryn video).
Now let’s examine the reworked spores. Swapping Spores and Miasma’s damage type was a brilliant balancing aspect of her rework. But since corrosive does not automatically half an enemy’s health (Viral proc) some instance of damage was implemented. This is where the “endless scaling” damage comes into play.
I really dislike the scaling damage that is now on spores. Saryn was changed from a debuff frame to a killing frame. And in my unpopular opinion she kills way too fast and in a very boring way. If you get a player who has modded Saryn for her spores on your team you know that it will be rare for you to see an enemy until you are past one hour into the mission. Most level 100 and under enemies simply disappear once spore has been cast. Lets all acknowledge that most content in the game is under the level 100 mark (not my preference but hey that’s where we are). While this is effective and does help in survivals when trying to keep up life support, it is not fun, nor is it engaging. If you are the Saryn, casting spores, waiting for it to ramp up and then chasing the damage numbers so that you can spread the spores using toxic lash feels more like a chore than an engaging gameplay mechanic. If you are a team mate, well good luck trying to find an enemy with enough health left to shoot at.
In my opinion warframe at its core is an shooter game with an amazing movement system. Warframe powers should be used to supplement this core. It takes skill and time to learn how to effortlessly parkour and aim at the same time. But once you have played for a while it becomes so much fun. When you have mechanics in game (be it warframe powers or things like spin to win) that do so much damage that they detract from the ability of other players to experience the core of warframe (the shooting and the movement), then you have people complaining that those mechanics are over-powered. This is a seemingly absurd statement since it is a pve game and all players benefit form the supposedly over-powered mechanic. My philosophy is that powers should help you do the work, not do the work for you.
Lets now explore a few suggestions for how we can make spores more engaging.
1. Increase the base status chance to proc corrosive from 50% to >60%. [ % is affected by power strength (currently this is in game)]
This is to help return Saryn to her roll as a debuffer. Has the issue that teams with CP or fighting most infested will find this useless. Does open the ability to not run CP (nani!?) and explore some of the other auras in the game.
2. Remove the increasing damage from Saryn altogether.
This is due to the previously mentioned issues. Don’t worry we will get damage in another way.
3. Spores now have X% chance to spread Z% of toxin damage (not proc) received by the infected host to all other infected individuals.
This is where Saryn’s main damage will come from. It synergises well with the changes to toxic lash (awesome change). The corrosive procs and viral proc form Saryns 1 and 4 will also synergize will with this (condition overload and potential reduction in armor). The reason why I suggest toxin damage as oppose to toxin status proc is because it caters to crit weapons such as snipers which are not as commonly used in tough missions. This system puts the onus on the player to hit things like headshots. But it is not only the Saryn player who can deal toxin damage. Team mates can also deal toxin damage to the infected individuals and spread their damage around. The augment [Venom dose] could also be changed to apply toxin damage to allies. This results in an astonishing amount of damage inflicted. It essentially multiplies your one damage instance by the number of enemies infected by spores. This system however relies on player input and encourages skill (getting headshots for more damage). It also encourages other players to contribute. Enemies would not appear to die for no reason, there would be player feedback; when enemies died you would know, oh yah, my team mate just shot one.
Issues with my idea:
A. Should the toxin damage that gets spread be affected by warframe powers? If a Vex Chroma or Roar Rhino, a Harrow and a Banshee are the Saryn’s team mates this could lead to nuking maps very easily. However, this kind of frame synergy and pre-mission planning that does make warframe powers fun. I would suggest that damage Mesa’s Peacemaker be excluded. Mesa’s power is already automated and discourages player input buffing it in this way would not be conductive for team play.
B. How the spores handle two simultaneous instances of damage (either from different players, from multishot or from punch through) would need to be properly organised. Either they add together, or the largest source of damage takes priority (the latter is a bad solution as it discourages team play but may work well for damage caused by multishot and punch though).
C. Fire rate may cause a problem. If you were to shoot a toxic twin grakata at an infected enemy the math that would need to be done to spread that damage around to each enemy could cause serious performance drops.
Overall I think that changes need to be made to Saryn’s spores power. Currently it discourages player input and does not encourage team play. The changes I propose would really spice up the current Saryn and make her more engaging to play. However, my idea is not without issues and suggestions for overcoming these issues are welcome.