This is going to be a bit personal, but I feel like Digital Extremes needs to know about how this update is affecting some of its most ardent fans. Thus, I will share the experience that my girlfriend, two clan-mates. and I had during our Railjack misadventure this evening.
All four of us are at least "decent" Warframe players, though it would probably be fair to say that we are on the upper end of "average" to the lower end of "high-skill" in this game. My girlfriend got me into the game about two years ago....right around the time of PoE's release. After experimenting and getting the Vectis Prime from the Twitch drops that were going crazy for that release, I was hooked. This game gave me something that few other games could in my substantial library on Steam...it gave me an ever growing and never ending universe to focus on when I was in extreme pain. I was in an aviation accident years ago, and ever since, I have lived in progressively worse physical pain due to the injuries I sustained. Similarly, my girlfriend grew to love Warframe because it provided her with an anchor for her own, very different, medical difficulties. When she had to move away for professional and family reasons, Warframe became the replacement for going out on dates together and whatnot. As such, there is a large degree of emotional attachment that goes with playing Warframe, as it has become "our game," for lack of a better term. We have both purchased, and have continued to purchase, Prime Access when it's something we're interested in, and have multiple Clem noggles and other Warframe merchandise decorating our home now that we have moved back in together.
With all of the above considered, the past year's relatively sparse content has been frustrating for both of us, but there was the light at the end of the Solar Rails in the form of Railjack for which we were holding high hopes. Further, "The New / Old War" and "The Duviri Paradox" also had us looking forward to the future of Warframe. We prepared our Dojo, helped our clanmates to level up, farmed liches, and did all kinds of prep in excited anticipation for Railjack, while still tempering our expectations because we recognized that DE was basically giving us a whole new game. Obviously, bumps were expected for launch, but while watching Dev Streams and Prime Time we could see the confidence DE staff maintained throughout the "content drought," and figured that it was due to their confidence in the product they were cooking up for a year-end release. I won't lie, this may have somewhat inflated our expectations, but not ridiculously so.
Come Rising Tide....and DE gives us a chore. Fine, whatever, we need a way to get introduced to Cy and such, but it would be kind of impossible to call it fun or rewarding for players with hundreds of hours spent in the game. I got it done, she....didn't. She described it as being as if DE....an entertainment company...was bossing her around. I would kind of have to agree, as Rising Tide felt more like it was a quest given by "DE" rather than any in-world entity, with ridiculous time gating and little actual reward. I got it done, we had a Railjack to use, a couple members of my clan mostly got their own Railjacks together, but mine became something of a go-to. I suppose I got it done mainly because I wanted someone to have one in our clan, as more than one said that they would "get the ship when they could actually use it." So, rough roll out, but it built some excitement.
Eventually, the Game Awards came around, and we could guess what was coming that night. We were more excited than Tyl Regor. While I certainly don't thing [DE]Reb at all poorly represented the game at the Game Awards, it was kind of apparent that most of the stream-chat was Warframe fans waiting for the word to update (which then immediately slowed down), and very little in the way of "hook" for potential new players. It felt unnecessary, but, who could care? Railjack was released! Time to be SPACE NINJA PIRATES!
We try it out....and it's incredibly buggy (a tad more so than anticipated, but DE always fixes their stuff with time), the Railjacks have weaker weapons than the Viper (surely it's just the starter gear), and we get multiple crashes (the real killer) resulting in a very-upset bed partner that evening. As a result, and in legitimate respect for DE, she decided to avoid the game too much during the period of instability, while I tested out the waters. Within very short order, I have an almost all MkIII Railjack (despite multiple painfully frustrating crashes and progress-stops that caused a large amount of loot-loss), and she and my clanmates are getting more and more into it. To add even more excitement, we hear word of a new quest hidden in Veil Proxima, indicated with a blinking icon.
Come this evening, and I'm having multiple runs that play flawlessly following the hotfixes. The day was physically taxing for medical reasons on both of us, and seeing that one of our favorite shared experiences had a major event occurring, I got her and two clanmates together for our first Railjack run of the evening together. Low and behold, I have a blinking icon on a mission node, and ALL OF US GET EXCITED. We felt as if we were going to get to be a part of the history of our favorite video game....or, honestly, hobby, in the case of gallantblues and I. The mission starts off great, our teamwork and communication is strong, and we're knocking enemy units out of the sky one by one. Then, the first sign of trouble appeared, as one of our clanmates encounters a glitch that prevents him from exiting Archwing, and he ends up stuck outside of the Railjack. As I'm piloting us through the clouds of enemies, I compensate for this by directing my other clanmate and gf to shift their roles, while our glitched friend takes on full Archwing duty. It's looking like we'll be able to work through this when suddenly I get the "no HUD glitch," making piloting essentially impossible. Alright...fine.....I have no ship info, no aiming reticle, no target boxes, and no waypoint markers....I can't pilot us anymore because enemies are naturally small and space is big. To deal with this I have my gf man the gunner's seat and engineering, place my un-glitched clanmate into the cockpit despite his lower skills and unfamiliarity with my ship, and start using myself as a cannonball with the Archwing Slingshot. This is working *okay* and we cut through most of the enemies that remained, up until the final straw. During the final phases of the battle, my girlfriend gets the dreaded "black screen glitch" while moving around the ship using her multitool. At this point, all that's left is to go to the anomaly and whack it with a Paracesis or whatever...the big finale we were planning to all do together when all threats were put down. However, at this point I can't see where it is, one of my clanmates can't land to go in, and my girlfriend can't see ANYTHING. Of four players, three were critically glitched, and what we expected to be an awesome experience of Digital Extreme's greatest update yet....ended up in all four of us to agree to abort, restart....and give up for the day....or maybe week....or however long it takes to fix the mess we just suffered. All of us left deflated. One of our clanmates decided to stop playing Railjack to focus on his lich for the rest of the evening. The other went back to selling his Ivara Prime sets, putting what just happened behind him for the time being. Probably being bigger Warframe fans by a large margin than either of our clanmates, my gf and I turned Warframe off and played other games for the evening, as our hype had been thoroughly killed. I would not be exaggerating in saying that it affected my gf to such a degree that I became concerned about her medically.
I've taken over 30min of my evening writing this not because I am angry at DE, or want to hate on what they have published; quite the opposite. If I didn't care, i would have just gone and spent my entire evening playing some other game. I took the time to write this because the relatively small team at Digital Extremes has created and maintained one of my favorite fictional universes, which has in a real way both made my relationship with my partner better, and positively impacted me in dealing with my physical disabilities. I took this time to highlight that when you release something to your dedicated fans that's unfinished, or even broken, it can impact them in ways you wouldn't expect while pushing release schedules to the left, and figuring that hot fixing will solve the problems.
I want to see a Warframe that lasts longer than even certain MMORPGs, but if SteamCharts following this update is any indication, I may not see that hope fulfilled. Unlike with PoE, my introduction to this franchise, there was no celebration around Railjack....it was just kind of slowly....there. The gaming media only took mild notice of Warframe effectively doubling in size. But most troubling of all.....in game, while playing.....many random teams I'm with essentially leave the Railjack behind as a liability, and complete the missions mostly with their Archwings. Railjack, as a mode, is being bypassed. Or, worse, it's not even bringing back old players because they aren't seeing its potential.
As a newer fan of this game, with only two years spent playing, I doubt anyone could call me anything less than one of Warframe's biggest fans. I know DE ALWAYS fixes their product with updates and hotfixes. You proved this with Sanctuary Onslaught, with Arbitrations, and dozens of other additions. However, I feel this was different. Tonight, we felt failed by DE, as we were denied entry to view the future of the game....and not through paywalls or low-brow milking techniques of other games. We were denied our part in this game's future for the evening by a poor quality product. While the other methods would have assured that we never would have been fans, the latter makes us concerned as fans. We know you'll fix it, but tonight, our experience to be part of two years of buildup died an ignominious death, withering on the vine in hopes that this entire harvest will not be similarly consumed by blight.
So, to the amazing team at DE, I ask you to please push your schedules out farther to the right if you need to in the future. Your fans cannot and will not be your beta testers. They will close the game and do something else, for the most part, while a very, very few will come here to tell you that they did not have a good time because it was too full of glitches to play. We want you to succeed, we actually want to give you our money....but you have got to give us something that works and doesn't cause our significant others' evenings to be ruined, and provide a capstone to already bad days. We already waited two years to play Railjack, what makes you think we won't wait another few weeks / months / even years? Perhaps calling this "Empyrean: Beta" would have been more appropriate, with a full release in 2020? I know that would have left me in a far more forgiving place this evening, even if literally everything else had played out the same.
I'm too tired to edit this, and while much of this is "emotional feedback" rather than "technical feedback," I felt the team at DE deserved whatever I could provide this evening for how hard they've worked over the past year. I want you to have the best shot you can....and so, as one of your biggest and most consistent fans of the past two years, I wanted you to know how you missed the mark rather heavily with this one. Here's hoping that it's only a matter of days before I get to come back to this post and edit it saying "hey, we tried again after the hotfix and had a great time!" but I won't be overly optimistic, so as not to have unrealistic expectations.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like further remark. I'd be happy to lend what hand I can.