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My Take On Warframe's Gear Progression


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I have recently been enjoying Warframe less and less, to the point I just started playing other games. I really love the universe DE has created and the general idea of Warframe (being a space ninja operating in a small squad), but the gameplay was starting to feel really boring and unengaging to me. I have been thinking a lot about why that is and I concluded that basically all of the problems I have with Warframe stem from its gear progression and scaling, subsequently enemy design and mission design. Everything just feels like a gearcheck.


What do I mean by the term gear progression? In the majority of MMOs (and generally RPGs) after you fully leveled your character the main focus is getting better gear, and by that, reaching higher power level with your character. In Warframe this is done by mods from basically the beginning of the game. And while mods are a really great concept promising lots of variabilty in builds, in reality they have major flaws:

1. The presence of mandatory mods

By mandatory mods I mean the mods you put on every build of every weapon. The obvious being flat out damage increasing mods (Serration, Split Chamber and their equivalents) and elemental mods, which are also straight up damage increases if put on a weapon. The main problem with these mods is that they significantly decrease the build variety, as they just increase the power level of a weapon in all situations whereas other mods are more situational and utility focused. And sacrificing power for utility isn't really a thing the vast majority of players does because as a consequence to how Warframe's scaling works, in high level missions the power always wins.

2. The Bonuses Mods Give

As of now a fully ranked Serration gives +165% damage, elemental mods +90% each. Pair that with a weapon focused on critical chance and damage and mods enhancing these respective stats. This results in players doing collosal amounts of damage and to counter this, enemies have their health and armour scaled way up.

There are a lot of problems with the way Warframe handles scaling. The difference between a modded weapon and an unmodded one is just so big, and enemies's health also to account for this, that if you go in a lower level mission with your fully modded weapon you just one-shot everything, including bosses, which is not particulary fun. The high-level content which should be difficult becomes just a DPS-check most of the time and plays basically the same as low-level missions. The enemies just take one more bullet to kill, and they kill you faster. No new mechanics you have to learn, no skill required, it's just a gearcheck. In the end it just comes to having a frame which makes the mission really easy/basically obsolete and a weapon with enough DPS. 

The way difficult content should be, is that there are various new enemies added to missions, with increasingly difficult mechanics required to master in order to defeat them. Bursas or Noxes are good examples. The reason why these types of enemies are really rare in Warframe is that balancing them is really difficult because of how scaling works in this game. To prevent one-shotting these types of enemies (and bosses) DE has utilized mechanics such as invulnerability phases, damage caps and weakspots (these aren't actually a bad mechanic on it's own, but they don't really solve the issue of one-shotting the enemy, and are often really annoying to hit - Looking at you Vay Hek). In my opinion these are just bandaids, and are actually pretty frustrating to deal with, as they artificially slow down the gameplay and the enemies themselves are no more dangerous than before.

Scaling enemies in high-level missions is a pretty big conundrum because there are so many interactions between Warframes and weapons that even if the enemies are scaled to match the damage of an experienced player's weapon, it doesn't mean that they can't be one-shot and made obsolete. And scaling them according some meta interaction isn't a good solution either, as they just become another gearcheck and they are no more dangerous or fun to play against. The way Riven mods work isn't really helping this either. 

The next issue with high-level missions is player's health compared to enemies's damage. There is a point on the scaling curve, where some enemies start to deal so much damage that they just insta-kill the player. Dying this way isn't fun and is very frustrating because the player can't really prevent it by his skill in the game, or really react to what is going to kill him, as he goes from full health and shields to the Warframe heaven. In the ideal scenario the only attacks that should one-hit the player are some really slow, telegraphed ones, not a barelly visible Bombard rocket.


Okay, I have estabilished that the majority of my problems when it comes to Warframe's gameplay originate from the steep scaling in the game. The fact, that there are so much mods that are just a straight up damage increase, and they give such a huge damage increase result in a scaling curve that is generally unbalanced and difficult to design fun-to-play-against enemies around. The ideal solution to this is making the difference between unmodded and fully modded gear smaller, so that players can't just blast through everything facing no challenge whatsoever, but keeping the difference big enough, so that players really feel their progress. There should be a bigger emphasis on skill and learning enemies's mechanics than there is now. To achieve this I have put together a system I think could work if properly thought through.

1. Cores

The first part of this system are Weapon/Warframe/Archwing/Whatever cores. These would be the part of the vertical gear progression and replace those "Mandatory Mods". I'll try to explain how they would work. Each piece of gear has a core installed in it, and there are various components you can put in it. For weapons  there are components increasing damage, multishot, crit chance, crit damage, fire rate... basically all the stats that straight-up increase your DPS. These components are not in any way randomized or upgradable. You can pit a minimum of 2 of these components into a core. You can put more than 2 there, but the bonuses of the components are reduced. This way you will be forced to decide if you want to have less stats more enhanced or more stats less enhanced. The maximum of components that could be put there should be about 4 (probably more for Warframes). The cores themselves are upgradable with endo and credits. Upgrading them increases the bonuses all the components give when installed into a core (increasing the power of the piece of gear for which the core is). There is one core for each gear type (each with its specific components), meaning there is 1 for Rifles, Secondary Weapons, Melee, Warframes,... they are not bound to one weapon or Warframe, they are global to one of them. So when you upgrade a Rifle core you increase the power of all your Rifles. The bonuses cores give should be significant, but nowhere near todays' mods. Also, the there aren't any +elemental damage components, but I will talk about this topic later, when I get to the mods part of this system.

Balancing this core system for Warframes is probably going to be a lot harder than for weapons. I would overall apply the same rule as for weapons, meaning that straight power-increasing mods should be replaced by Core Components. By power-increasing mods I mean mods that universally increase your survivability (Vitality, Steel Fiber) and enhance your Warframe's abilities (Intensify, Continuity). Of course, a big part of modding Warframes are Corrupted Mods, which I will also discuss in the mods section. Also, since there are in general more stats on a Warframe worth upgrading than on a weapon, there should also be a bigger maximum of components that can be put in the Warframes' Core. Similar pattern would apply to pets and Sentinels.

2. Mods

Mods in this system serve a similar role as attachments in a multiplayer FPS, meaning that they aren't just overall power increasing upgrades, but they are meant to specialize your piece of gear. They are basically a horizontal gear progression thing in this system. These are various utility mods (faster reload, bigger magazine,...), Corrupted mods (they have a downside to equpping them, so you are trading some stat for another), Augment mods, Exilus mods, Elemental mods (instead of adding elemental damage on top of the weapon's base damage, a percentage of a weapon's base damage would be converted to the respective element - by equpping the mod you are specializing against a specific faction or enemy, same applies for IPS mods) and various Activated mods (Berserker, Acolyte mods). The mods are upgradable for credits and Endo as well.


This system (or a variation of it) and its standardizing players' damage and EHP could open many new opportuinities for various enemy types and game modes that are actually really challenging and aren't just a gear check, for example Raids. It would also improve the variability of builds, as the mods would now work as a horizontal progression tool, and make the vertical progression more clear and less tidious.


Alright, if you came all the way over here, thank you for your attention and patience. Keep in mind that all of this is just my opinion, and I am not speaking for anyone alse than for myself. Also, don't perceive this as a hate or something on DE. I really admire them for what they have made out of Warfame, and I think they are passionate developers who genuinely care about the game and listen to the community. That is basically the reason why I have written all of this. I want Warframe to succeed and live for a very long time, but these issues I've outlined aren't good for growing the game, and they will become a big issue in the long term. 









Edited by Repotion
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A possible solution to this could be:

Instead of mods like Split Chamber and Serration, make damage increases part of the natural weapon abilities as it ranks up, with rank 30 having the abilities of a fully max'ed Serration. Another option would be to have elementals not ADD more damage, but rather CONVERT a percentage of your damage to a certain element type.

Obviously either one of these ideas would have to come alongside a damage rework so that people can still kill things.

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Remove multishoot! This should be a shotgun thing only, its double damage on one bullet for crying out loud.

Nerf main damage mods to 100% and elemental mods to 50%, adjust ranking level to them.

Also remove the replenishable pizzas for mana and shields.

While at it, why not make all regular mods add 50% bonus to whatever they add, corrupted mods adds 100% but takes -50% and gold mods add two 50% bonuses and remove all the while aiming, while zooming, while castig, while whatever mods and turn them into normal no conditioned mods with 50% flat status, so you can normally stack them.

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