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Playing Warframe: One Year On.


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I thought I'd ramble a bit about my thoughts on Warframe after playing for roughly a year. 

First of all I'm a multi-system person.  I primarily play on my PS4 because I only recently bothered to get a controller I could tolerate for PC.  So much of my experiences and thoughts are naturally going to be centered on the console experience.

Second of all, I love this game and want it to continue evolving, so any criticisms I levy are because I genuinely want the game to be better.  It's one of the few fast-paced shooter styled games that I can enjoy without having the super duper twitch reflects of my teens or 20s.  It just feels nice to bounce around the game and know that if I failed it's generally for three reasons; I didn't understand the capabilities of my loadout, I picked a mission way above what my loadout can handle, or because I did not understand how the mission mechanics worked.  I think I've only quit two missions due to bugs, so that's a great record on DE's part.

I once answered a forum question from DE about the new player experience, so let's start there.

I personally consider the New Player Experience to last until finishing The War Within (which I only managed two weeks ago), and that's only because there's a bunch of game mechanics walled off until you get that quest.  If I didn't find the game so much fun, I might have quit after a month of play.  There's... a lot of things I have to go outside the game or DE's borders to learn and that's not a great thing from a UX perspective.  Most of these aren't the missions, fortunately.  It's the weapons and warframes themselves that are lacking the most in documentation.  And I'm the type of person who sees each weapon, mod, and warframe as having a purpose to which it is best used.  So when I say that I am struggling to learn Vauban and Ivara because I can't figure out how to switch trap types or special arrow types,  I'm not saying it because I hate their mechanics or abilities.  It yanks me out of the game if I have to go look something up and robs me of that thrill of discovery that seems central to the Warframe experience.

The other problem I have is that there's a big chunk of lore and dialog in Assassination missions and cinematic quests that make absolutely no sense to me as somebody who missed out on every single event prior to November 2017.  Who is Alad V and why is he vivisecting Warframes?  Why does Tyl Regor keep going on about tube men?  Why does Alad have grody scars and is suddenly helping us out in The Second Dream?  Well, the answer is that all that stuff references events that aren't there for new players to experience.  It's jarring and... honestly disappointing in a game that's as lore heavy as Warframe turns out to be.  As above, it yanks me out of the game to have to go read this stuff, and moreover makes me wish I could experience it for myself.

A few other quick notes about things that detract from the game IMHO.

  • Archwing missions don't even remotely feel like the core Warframe gameplay.  Worse still, the gear for Archwing has nothing to do with anything else you're working on.  The maps for Archwing are also very uninteresting and unvaried.  It's hard to get mods for your archwing gear too.  This all snowballs into making Archwing into a boring chore of a game mode.
  • Rivens aren't fun to unlock.  On top of that, the reward can be very lackluster for the amount of effort.  Relying on double RNG makes for a part of the game I don't want to touch.  I turn my rivens into endo or credits instead of bothering to unlock them.

Well okay, there's all this negative stuff I just talked about.  I can hear somebody telling me that I shouldn't play if I think it's bad.  No, I don't think it's all bad.  It's quite fun still; there's just bits that don't really mesh with the bulk of it.  It's great fun to zip around and play an epic killy space ninja.  The game rewards me for running around and poking obscure parts of the map, which I endlessly adore.  I get to explore new ways to play the game every time I swap out for a new warframe, companion, or piece of gear.  In essence, the game is varied enough with all the moving parts that it /feels/ novel enough to retain my interest.  There is a grind to the game, but because there's so many ways to change things up, I rarely ever feel like it's a waste of time.

On top of that I can customize lots of stuff.  I often do when I get bored with how my stuff looks.  I like that my fellow tenno get stuff when I buy a piece of Tennogen cosmetics; it makes me feel like we're a community and not just a bunch of random strangers blowing stuff up in a virtual world.  DE's community team only adds to this sense of community, and I think it's an important factor in keeping Warframe successful.

A huge draw of the game for me is that I can pick it up and play it at just about any hour I'm awake.  This is not to say that I'm glued to the screen obsessively playing the game; I just happen to have things that will keep me from sleeping until meds kick in.  It's really nice to have a fun game with lots of nooks and crannies to explore that I do not need to sit down and think "Now what was I doing in this game?".  There's no overarching story or strategy to keep track of between sessions, and that really helps when I'm sitting around at 3am waiting for pain meds to kick in.  Because man, critical thinking when half-awake and in pain is not in the cards.  Moment to moment gameplay, sure.

While I enjoy watching and listening to the community team's streams, I have to say that I enjoy listening to Steve Sinclair on streams.  I like hearing the stories about what goes into the proverbial sausage-making of the game as somebody who does software development for a day job.  It's also fun to watch him go silent as he marvels at the thing he had a hand in creating.

Anyway, here's to a good first year of playing and hopefully many more to come.  Thanks DE for all the hard work.

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