Hello Warframe Reddit Community,
At the risk of sounding a touch narcissistic, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with the community to see if there’s any insight I can glean from fellow veterans, while also contributing to the ever growing pile of feedback the game has received. Probably goes without saying that I am not a game designer. Tried studying to become one, because working on Warframe was a dream, but eh, stuff happened. I’m just a tired veteran player who’s trying to figure out a reason to come back.
Hello to any of the folks from the 2013-2015 forum era. I am back from hiding. Sorry to all the folks I disappeared on. Hello to the old Ash and Fire RP community as well, if any of you are still around.
I’m hoping to share with the community something that has been making it rather difficult for me to get back into Warframe. I’ve put in maybe 20-40 hours over the last three years, and most of that is trying to dip my foot into the content being released, only to give up after finding out that the grind is exceptionally bad, or that the content itself is not to my taste. I wholly admit that those two boil down to personal preference and resilience, the former of which I am very picky about, and the latter of which is waning as my mental health continues to deteriorate.
A Trip Down Memory Lane (Feel Free to Skip)
Warframe was introduced to me in 2013 by a YouTube video creator named LevelCap Gaming. The Warframe in particular that got me interested in trying it out was Ember. The video showed Ember decimating enemies with fire, and I really like their weird Guyver-y art style quite a lot. Big props to Mynki by the way. I hope you are doing well wherever you are brother.
I still clearly remember the name of the update that had released a little prior to the time I joined the fray. It was Update 8: Rise of the Warlords. Vauban was released, Warframe’s first trapper/engineer type character, the Void was released, a whole new tileset. I started the game, and played through the first planet’s star chart. I faced off against the final boss, Vor, who at the time was a bigger melee Grineer enemy with red paint. Halfway through the fight to the boss I ran out of ammo, and had to run for my life and break barrels and open containers to scrounge up enough ammo to fight the boss. I remember a tense fight with the dude, and I killed him with some effort (Lato ftw). That mission got me hooked.
I soon entered Venus, and found out about a Warframe called Rhino. I saw a YouTube video on him and I really wanted him. Being able to become invincible for 12 seconds (old Iron Skin) seemed incredible, as well as have two giant AoE abilities. It took me quite a bit of grinding and struggling against the Jackal until I got all the component blueprints, and then it took me some more time to gather the parts to build him. I got the big guy, and never looked back. Popping Iron Skin and going to resurrect fallen teammates while an army of Infested were whaling on me made me feel like a god. A while later, they released Valkyr, who came out on my birthday 😄 She was my girl, and I will always be thankful to DE for that birthday gift.
I also made a YouTube channel around 2014 or so, my memory on it is a bit fuzzy. I made guides for the game, since there weren’t that many Warframe channels at the time. The king at the time was Mogamu. The videos were based on little tricks I had picked up over the several hundred hours I had clocked in rapidly over the course of the Open Beta. I used to play sometimes upwards of eight hours a day just doing missions over and over, especially Xini at the time, because that was the only way to get the chance at a Banshee part at the time (1% drop rate if I recall correctly). The YouTube channel went a bit of a ways before I deleted it from harassment.
Why do I bring this up? Because I was and am a very lonely person. I found a home in Warframe, in the game, and on the forums. I met some great people there, and had plenty of good times, and laughs to boot. Funnily enough, I went back to the forums a little while ago, and it’s great to see some of the old guard be moderators now. Happy for them.
As the years progressed, my rose tinted glasses began to dull, and I started to notice more and more issues with the game. Things started to get very repetitive and grindy, and I found myself logging in less and less, till there were days when I didn’t play Warframe at all. I guess it makes sense that would happen after 800-900 hours of play. Burnout happens. But it was also because I was not happy with the wild additions to the game without refinement. I think one of the big nails in the coffin for me was the release of the Sibear or the Hema. That absolutely insane grind, especially since my clan was built to provide blueprints for newer folks (which meant I shouldered the added resource costs for research on my own). I stopped caring after that.
That concludes the brief history/nostalgia trip. Now onto the feedback.
Feedback Category 1: Communication of Information to Players
I will start this section primarily approaching the matter from a philosophical standpoint. Broad strokes.
Warframe is a game with a rather large quantity of mechanics, keywords, archetypes, and information in general that would benefit the player to know in their journey from the cryo chamber during Vor’s Prize to their fight against the Sentients in the New War. The game does adhere to some standard video game principles and mechanics, but does have some elements of subverting tropes, which might make things a touch difficult for people to understand should they not have experience with these subversions. Of course none of this is intended as a slight against the game. I am merely stating things as objective truths.
From feedback I have gathered from friends and new players over the years, one element that seems to be common amongst all of them is the sometimes overwhelming nature of these systems, especially when the player is introduced to them.
Let us approach these concepts through a few examples.
Upon the conclusion of the introductory cutscene of the game, the player is prompted to use their abilities to kill some enemies. This is telegraphed well, with a message that appears in the world, prompting them to use their abilities based on their keybinds. Very good, and in my humble opinion, could improve with some changes and additions.
The Lotus mentions that the Warframe’s systems are souped up for this fight, and more astute new players might notice that the energy bar at the bottom right drains with every use of the Warframe ability, and then immediately goes back to 100 capacity. Something I would suggest would be to add a notification to the player (be it through a pop up or an in world message similar to the earlier Ability use message), explaining that abilities cost energy, directing the player’s eyes to the energy UI bar, and explaining that Energy Orbs can replenish energy. This sets into place for players a system that Abilities rely on Energy, similar to how abilities in other games relies on other currencies such as Mana or Stamina. This also sets into place an understanding that Abilities do not have Cooldowns like in traditional RPGs. You can use them as much as you’d like without having to wait. The only real limiting factor at this stage is Energy.
I believe that having the player go through a prompt explaining that Abilities have no cooldowns and rely on Energy as a resource is good enough information for the player to be able to manage their Energy economy. You could expand upon the system more by providing the player with some destructible containers that perhaps block their way, that they can either shoot through, fire abilities through, or break with melee strikes, to show that destructible objects and enemies can drop resources, including Energy.
This addition would involve making some modifications to the tutorial level, with the addition of some prompts, and some more destructible elements. I do understand that developer time is precious and intensive, and do feel that this information being relayed to the player will be very helpful and as such worth the effort and dev time.
It should be noted that a similar approach could be applied to the rest of the tutorial, although even if that would not be feasible, the next stage of feedback might remedy the issues with the first experience players have.
Feedback Category 2: Reducing Chances of Overwhelming New Players - The Discipline Chamber
The next element introduced to the player is basic mobility. Jumping, crouching, etc. They’re pretty self explanatory and I don’t have many issues with that. But their combinations and use cases means that things can spiral out of control rather rapidly.
Warframe is an exceptionally mobile game. Players have immense amount of freedom of movement and some specific movement actions are pretty much deemed essential for optimal play, that being the spamming of bullet jumping to traverse great distances quickly, and if employed correctly, can cancel out some mechanics such as heavy landings altogether. I do believe it to be essential that the player is taught and guided to practice mobility techniques in an actual world space, instead of tool tips or a codex entry. This leads me to the dev teams making use of the simulation environments used currently with Mastery Tests.
I would like to propose a new system integrated into the game that is called the Discipline Chamber. It’s access point can be up for debate, and the devs might know best where to set up this access point, but the Discipline Chamber should be at minimum accessible the very moment the player enters the Orbiter for the first time. Including a mini-quest for the player to complete every stage of the Discipline Chamber with a reward of some kind (specific Syndana, Sigil, Ephemera, Armour, Dyes, or a combination of all of these) at the end to serve as an added carrot could encourage players to access the Chamber and perform all the drills there. The purpose of this Chamber would be to introduce new game mechanics to the player in a controlled environment. The Mastery Tests have shown that there exists tools for devs to include specific challenges, enemy placements, and objectives, all of which could be used to facilitate drills to teach players mechanics in a sequential, layered manner.
I will try and lay out a few drills that the player could be introduced to, with the goal of teaching them mobility techniques, as well as some of the quirks of the mobility system. Note that in the mobility drills, all ability usage must be disabled to even the playing field. All Warframes should be limited to specific amounts of health and shields as well, depending on the specific drill.
Drill 1: Sliding/rolling. Provide the player with an obstruction that forces them to crouch, roll, or slide underneath. Provide a tooltip that shows how to slide underneath it while sprinting. Player repeats this two more times, and then is locked in place. Hazards move towards the player in different positions (Left, Right). The player is taught to roll to the side to dodge the hazards. Do this section for a little while. Drill concludes.
Drill 2: Wall running. Provide the player with a chasm that is too long to jump across. Encourage them to wall run with instructions. Once the horizontal wall run is complete, do the same with a vertical wall run. Teach the player that they can mantle over edges with another tooltip. Provide them finally with a section that tests their wallrunning skills, perhaps a time trial of some kind. Drill concludes.
Drill 3: Bullet Jumping. Provide the player with instructions on how to Bullet Jump. Then have them race to the finish line, where just running will not let them reach it in time. Drill concludes.
Drill 4: Aim Gliding. Provide the player with instructions on Aim Gliding. Provide the player with a challenge to kill 5 enemies while aim gliding. Enemies can be stationary initially (enemies 1-4) and the final enemy could be moving. Drill concludes.
Drill 5: Obscure Mechanics. This could be an optional drill, but I would consider it important, if not for anything but holistic knowledge. The drill could teach players that while rolling they take 70% reduced damage from attacks. Perhaps have a Bombard firing rockets at the player, and they can only survive by rolling while being hit. This could encourage them to time their rolls as well, which is a healthy mechanic to teach. The same drill can also go over Heavy Landings, with a tooltip explaining to them ways to counter Heavy Landings. Drill concludes.
Perhaps completing the Mobility Techniques Drills awards the player with one column of a dye pack. Or the dye pack as a whole. Rewards can be debated at dev discretion.
Similar Drills could be provided in the Chamber for the following mechanics in the game:
Critical Hits/Weakspots (I will take this time to also suggest adding weakspot information of the enemies when they are scanned and in the codex)
Such drills can be added for much more in depth systems, such as melee combat, where the player is introduced to combos in a controlled environment and can practice some combos.
Feedback 3: Breaking Down the Mod System for New Players
The biggest culprit for Warframe in terms of understanding is the mod system. When opening the modding interface in the Orbiter for the first time, I am confident that players will struggle to comprehend what they are looking at. I believe that it is essential for players to be able to understand the modding system in a sequential process, just like how the Discipline Chamber teaches mechanics in a sequential process. This could be done in quite a few ways, but I will attempt to suggest a few ways that I consider good ideas. Happy to be disproven and provided alternative ideas!
Ordis could explain to the players that Warframes have eight mod slots. This means that eight mod cards can be slotted into the Warframe. Perhaps allowing the player to only see the eight slots first would be helpful in reducing the load on them. Perhaps adding some colour coding to the slots and the mods could denote which goes into which slot, but that might clutter the cards too much. To conclude this particular step, Ordis could ask the player to slot in two mods, both with no capacity markers whatsoever. Once the player slots in the two mods, Ordis can move to the next step.
Then, Ordis could explain to players that mods have capacities. Each mod card has a strength value for lack of a better word. Let the two used mod cards unequip from the frame, and display the number on the cards. Allow the player to slot the mods into the slots, and show that the total capacity of the Warframe is reduced by the two mod cards.
Next, Ordis could explain to the player that mod cards have levels. Show the notches in the cards now. Guide the player through the process of using Endo to level up a mod card by one level. Notify them that the mod card’s capacity has gone up by 1 point, and so has the power of the stat changes the mod offers. Explain to them that the mod card can be upgraded a number of times, corresponding with the number of notches in the card, with more and more Endo needed per level.
Then comes the symbol of the mod cards. Unequip all mods, and apply two symbols to the mod slots and the mod cards, one matching a card, and one matching neither. Instruct the player to match the symbol with the card, showing them how the mod card capacity goes down when matched. Slotting in the unmatched card with the second slot would show an increase in the capacity. Ordis can mention how matching these symbols will allow the player to add higher capacity mods at a lower cost.
Notify the player that Endo can be obtained from enemies and containers in missions.
End basic modding tutorial.
I believe this process of breaking things down will help reduce the strain on the players. For a game as complex as Warframe, newer players will need some assistance. Telling players to go to the wiki to understand this stuff is not welcoming, and I would posit that in this current stage of the game, everyone benefits from more newer people. And that would need more accessibility.
Only make the Aura slot for the Warframe be visible when the player obtains an Aura mod from their gameplay. When they return to the Orbiter, Ordis could notify them of a new category of mod for their Warframe, and guide them through the Aura mod process. Ordis can explain how Aura mods increase the maximum mod capacity of Warframes. The same principles taught to the player with standard mods and slots applies here as well, so only one new mechanic is being introduced this time.
The same should be done for Exilus mods. Game unhides the slot after the first exilus mod is looted. Ordis teaches that the mod can only be placed in that slot.
The same should be done for Stance mods. Game unhides the slot after the first stance mod is looted. Ordis teaches that the mod can only be placed in that slot on the melee weapon.
Last thing on the docket would be regular Forma. I suggest that a similar approach be applied to Forma. Allow Ordis to notify the player upon receiving their first Forma or Forma Blueprint that the Forma will allow the player to modify the symbols on a mod slot. When the Forma is obtained or built, Ordis should warn the player that Forma can only be used on a level 30 Warframe, weapon, or Companion, and that it would reset the level of the object to 0.
If need be, Ordis could be used to teach players about Augments as well, providing a little blurb about how Augments modify Warframe abilities and function like ordinary mods.
In conclusion, I believe that holding the player’s hand through a system as convoluted as modding in Warframe can go to great lengths to reduce the sense of being overwhelmed in players. Only display what information is needed at the time, and let them get acclimated to the reduced load first, before introducing more variables.
Feedback Category 4: A Sense of Direction
One of the more common bits of feedback I’ve gotten from friends who I’ve tried to get into the game, as well as some YouTube comments on other Warframe videos is that once the Vor’s Prize quest is complete, there is no real purpose for anything the player is doing. The quest ends, and you’re dumped into the Star Chart. More observant players might notice the Junctions, and work their way through the missions to them, and the Junctions do admittedly provide some direction to the player, but they act as more of a supplier/gatekeeper than a guide. The potentially second Junction for example, is the one leading from Venus to Mercury. It states “Defeat 5 Eximus in any region”. This is said without letting the player know what an Eximus is. Of course, it is possible that the player might have encountered Eximus class enemies in their journey so far, but there needs to be clarity.
As of now, there is no real carrot on a stick for the player to progress, besides curiosity and the junctions. Perhaps providing them with an overarching quest of some kind to work their way through the enemies in the inner solar system and reach the outer edges. The end goal would be to get them to the Second Dream and the subsequent plot quests.
This end goal would imply that there needs to be a proper timeline established for the player, as well as a questline. As of now, Warframe’s earlier quests are mostly isolated events. It would greatly benefit the player if each planetary region had a quest of some kind. There’s already bosses at the ends of most of these places, but perhaps the writing team could weave together a cohesive story that would have the player move through the nodes on the Star Chart, working their way towards the bosses and the Junctions. These quests could serve as filler content while the player works through the quests unlocked by the Junctions. Any way to provide the player with some kind of direction would help greatly.
Here is an example:
Upon finishing Vor’s Prize, the player is notified by Ordis that the death of Vor has created a power vacuum in this region of the Solar System, causing Grineer forces to struggle internally, lashing out at the people of Earth. The Tenno could be charged with weakening their ranks, to reduce the threat of the Grineer in the area. As the Tenno nears the Junction, they are notified of a stirring Corpus force near Venus planning an incursion into Earth, to take over the power vacuum. The Tenno is encouraged to fight the Corpus head on, and one of the primary means to disable the Corpus forces would be to scuttle the Jackal assembly plant and its associated auxiliary plants. This puts a target on Fossa for the player, encouraging them to work towards the node.
Of course this is just an example, to show how a basic plot thread could be woven together to encourage the player to keep moving through the Star Chart. It could be done much better by actual writers, I am confident 🙂
I do believe that providing a direction for players will help greatly in retaining interest. Tying the individual planets together into a cohesive world will make it far more motivating to a newer player to keep trucking along.
Feedback 5: The Great Stat Squish
There used to be a time, long ago, when the highest damage weapon in Warframe was the Paris. A yellow crit headshot with a souped up Paris hitting 1000 damage was considered insane during the Update 8-9 times. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see players dumping out millions of damage, and not just through damage accumulating abilities like Nova’s Antimatter Drop. As of now the damage range between players is absolutely incredible and I doubt that it could ever be bridged. Newer players start off with doing hundreds of damage if they’re geared properly, while a kitted out veteran is atomizing foes with millions of damage. The way multipliers work in Warframe means that numbers get way out of control, way too fast.
Before I continue, I do want to make a few points clear. My intention is not to nerf players. Not immediately anyways. My goal is to implore the dev team to look into the stats and multipliers in this game, to account for the crazy power and stat creep over the years. Reining it in will allow the devs tighter control over the encounters and scenarios the player is faced against. Consider this a starting attempt to reshuffle the sandbox to make it a bit less of a nightmare for the developers.
A common tactic a decent number of games have used to account for power creep over the years involved what they called a crunch. Cut everything down by a factor. Revisit multipliers, resistances, damage taken, damage dealt. This is a tall order, I am aware. Tweaking the sandbox of the game is not an easy task but one I believe to be essential. As of now, in Warframe, the only true way to make an enemy not get decimated in one hit, including bosses, is to introduce invulnerability phases, which can be agreed upon by anyone to be an infuriating mechanic. It makes fights exceptionally binary.
The goal would be to make it a touch easier to handle for the developers, by reining in the range of numbers being worked with in the game. After all, dealing with three digit numbers is far more manageable than dealing with eight digit numbers. By reducing the wild range of numbers achievable by players, devs can control the gameplay balance. There would need to be some more changes in my opinion, which I will try and list out in some time. By reducing the wide range of potential damage and resistances, the developers would potentially have a chance to design less binary encounters.
I’ll end this section of feedback by saying that Warframe has done something like this before, but only with enemy levels. It was a very long time ago, so I doubt many people remember it anymore.
Feedback Category 6: Essential or Mandatory Mods
This has been an issue with the game since time immemorial in my opinion. Warframe, a game with over 1000 mods on deck currently does not support as much mod diversity as it probably could. A lot of this stems from what I deem “essential” mods for every build of everything, especially weapons.
As a rudimentary example, secondary weapons have three mods that are almost alway, if not always in any build: Barrel Diffusion, Hornet Strike, and Lethal Tempo. These three mods increase flat damage. It could be argued that elemental mods do a similar role, since they increase damage while adding some elemental effects and procs potentially, but I am confident that the prior three are pretty much universal.
In a game about killing things, and killing them fast (or risk dying quickly), it makes sense to stack as much killing power as one can feasibly manage. Raw damage, crit chance, crit multipliers, status chance, and elemental damage, all of these crank up the damage dealt by weapons. Some could argue that crowd control is vital, and in a prior time, I would agree. Veterans would remember the map wide Chaos spam from Nyx players in Xini, the practically global blinds from Mirage, and the current situation with Limbo, Gara, Frost, and Khora. Control effects are fine, but enemies are being designed more and more to be resistant to those effects. So what’s the solution? Stack obscene damage and outright kill them before they can serve as a threat.
I propose that there be sweeping changes to the weapons and Warframes that would reduce the amount of essential mods. I suggest the following changes to the game systems to achieve these goals, but am definitely more than open to folks poking holes in my idea. The goal is not to dictate changes, but suggest them. Let’s talk about other ideas if need be 🙂
Every weapon needs to be adjusted to be able to deal the same raw damage as a weapon with one primary raw damage mod by default. For clarity, a Braton should, at level 30, deal the same base damage without any mods as they do currently with a maxed out Serration. The system could be set up so that every gun starts off with a rank 0 raw damage mod’s worth of damage as base. Every three levels, the damage dealt by the weapon ramps up by one level of the damage mod. This would add some weapon progression as well. A rank 0 Braton would be statistically different from a Rank 30 Braton. This would free up a mod slot.
As for the other essential mods, such as Multishot, I propose a system that might be disagreed upon by the playerbase since it could be counted as a nerf. I will say this: I propose an overall tweaking of the sandbox, and refactoring resistances, damage, kill times, and all other combat variables. So no, it won’t just stop with a nerf to players. Enemies will be tweaked as well, in an ideal world. Back to the multishot situation. I suggest that multishot operate in a manner that doubles ammo consumption. From a logical standpoint, as of now, Multishot magically creates a new bullet in the weapon and fires it off at no cost. This makes it a no brainer choice, since there are no downsides. I propose that Multishot takes a shot from the magazine and fires it alongside the primary shot. So a Braton with Multishot in my system would fire two bullets at a time, and consume two bullets at a time. Would this shaft ammo economy? Possibly, but it would be a tradeoff the player must consider. They would do more DPS, but their economy lowers. This would have an added effect of boosting ammo mods, which could be slotted into the new mod slot freed by integrating raw damage mods into the weapon.
Corrupted mods in Warframe are some of the strongest in the game, and they make the player decide on means to work around the penalties to them. This by itself is a far more interactive system than just stacking as many no penalty mods as one can. If you want the most of a stat, you must be willing to sacrifice some other stats. It should become a balancing game.
Now it could be argued that the ammo mods could be considered essential, and in a sense you would be right. But you have ways of working around it, meaning that there is more than one option. I would also state that the sandbox of the game should be balanced around not needing these bonus damage methods unless you’re doing endurance content. A weapon’s raw damage should be enough to deal with the Star Chart in my opinion.
If players are not comfortable with the idea of raw damage being tied to weapon levels, there is another option. Taking a page out of Corrupted mods, new ones could be introduced to the game, while simultaneously retiring Serration, Hornet Strike, and Pressure Point (refund players endo and credit cost with a script). Introduce the following mods (placeholder names):
Heavy Caliber v1 : Increase weapon damage, reduce weapon accuracy (for those unaware, Heavy Caliber upon release used to work this way. It was adjusted because some beam weapons had no accuracy penalties being applied to them)
Surging Serration: Increase weapon damage, reduce magazine capacity (can never go below 1 ammo in magazine)
Gradial Serration: Increase weapon damage, reduce reload time.
Surefire Serration: Increase weapon damage, increase accuracy, greatly reduce fire rate
These are just a few placeholder examples I am suggesting to explain the thought process I am hoping the game implements with its mods. Warframe’s modding system is at its most fun when the game makes you think and weigh choices, instead of slapping on every multiplier without any consequence.
For Warframes, I would suggest doing the same stat appending for Redirection and Vitality. Let all Warframes have those two mods implicit as base stats. Would this make frames tankier than some are currently? Absolutely, but I don’t think that’s an issue. Frames like Banshee need all the help they can get in the current sandbox not to get blown away whenever a non Star Chart enemy sneezes.
This section of feedback is perhaps the most up for debate. I am not very good with numbers, so I am just resorting to explaining conceptually, the changes that may help revitalize Warframe’s modding.
I’ll conclude this post here, just so I can actually post all of it here on the forums and on the subreddit. Health permitting, expect part 2 of feedback in the next little while. I hope this post doesn’t serve to antagonize the devs or community members in any way. Don’t believe those emotions would help in facilitating a healthy discussion. My goal is to try and revitalize the game, and work on its core systems to be more entertaining and satisfying.
In part 2, I aim to discuss the following points of feedback:
Distinction between Earlygame and Endgame
Unifying the Islands of Warframe
Quality of Life Feedback
And perhaps more as the ideas come to mind.
Be safe, stay healthy, and stay inside 😄