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The flaws of the Kuva Lich system: What can be done?

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TL;DR: There is none, these things can't be summed up in a few words. I have been as concise as I am able to be in this post.

So, I have played the game for 6 years, I just hit 10k hours according to steam (which tracks time online) and 5625 hours in game stats (which tracks time in mission) and I just hit MR28. I have run a clan for 4 of those years and helped many players learn the game in order to enjoy it. 

I do not say these things to show that my opinion is more important than others (it's not) or that I know more than others (maybe I do, maybe I don't it depends on the subject), but to show the amount of time and dedication I have to this game and why my next statement is so upsetting:

The Kuva Lich system, as it stands now makes me want to quit the game and never look back.

This is not hyperbole, nor a threat. It is not a "change this or else" ultimatum. It is me showing you how your current system of new content is making a dedicated player feel.

These are the major flaws of the system:

  • Conversion offers NO benefits. The liches freeze the game when they spawn, they do a pittance in damage, and they are only there for a minute or two.
  • Layered RNG:
    RNG for the Requim relics you need. With them dropping from the thralls this is not that bad, but it is still a layer
    RNG in getting the mod you need from the relic. 
    RNG in getting the weapon you want from the lich. This is by far the worst offender.
  • Demanding a significant gameplay time investment with no opt out once it has started
    Defeating a lich takes about 3 hours on average if you have the correct mods
    Gathering the mods takes about 30-45 minutes per mod needed on average
    For me it seems I always am mission one mod so total time on average for me to do this is 3 1/2 - 4 hours. The worst part is it doesn't matter if the new lich has a weapon you already have or if the bonus is smaller: You demand this investment once started even after the player knows for sure there is absolutely no return for that time investment.

I have defeated 16 liches since last thursday, in that time I have gotten only 7 of the 13 weapons and only 2 of the weapons have been upgrades to the ones I currently have. This means that over 24 hours of my game play in the last 10 days have been for no reward whatsoever. The worst part in instead of learning this at the end of the cycle, which can cause frustration, I knew it from the start, which means I knew that entire cycle was only being done to get another try, which is just disheartening.

Let's go over the specifics of my reaction to these flaws:

  • Having gone through that 3 1/2 hour gameplay loop just for a spawn that is less effective than a specter that takes me 5 minutes to farm only causes disaapointment. Half the times an allied lich has spawned has been when I am on my way to extraction and in no need of help.
  • My biggest issue with the requim relics and their part of the grind is the tedium. You have 2 missions that t5 fissures can spawn on, Kuva Survival and Rescue. I thought the whole purpose of the fissure system was to alleviate the tedium by offering more options. This just feels like void keys all over again.
  • The amount of time the system requires makes me feel like DE has no respect for my time. if the system had no impact on other aspects where I didn't lose resources due to a lich this might not be as bad, but losing sculptures, mods, resources and such on affected planets means I need to clear them out. This causes a demand to finish the lich ASAP. Between clan and gameplay I dedicate a lot of time to this game, the last thing DE should be doing is implimenting a system that demands more of it than what I am already putting in.
  • As I said, the Kuva Weapon RNG goes beyong being frustrating, it is actually disheartening. The difference is, with frustration, you may get angry, you may get motivated to try harder, stop playing and take a break, or you may just sigh and try again; feeling disheartened just makes you want to give up and never try again. To walk away because, what is the point?

What can be done?

  • As far as conversion, First, they need to be buffed. They should be engines of snarky destruction that lays waste to rooms. I don't know if anyone is old enough to remember this but in old arcade games there used to be a power up or ability called a Smart Bomb that would clear away every enemy on the screen. An allied Kuva Lich should aspire to that level of power. Instead of their spawning being random, use the system you already have in place with the Landing craft. Let us make a x10 consumable that will summon the a converted Kuva Lich. The item can have a long cooldown (like an Air Support charge) and the lich can only be in mission for a set amount of time (enough to clear one room or the heaviest part of a wave. You could make the lich spawned random from those you have converted, or you could have us select an active ally that spawn the way you do lith landing craft. You could have them start off not so powerful and give us the ability to upgrade them (oh look a resource sink, something this game desperately needs). This would bring meaning to their arrival, as well as tactical thought to their use.
  • With the changes to how you get relics, the Requiem relic system is the easiest to fix. Shift the percentages to favor the mods more, not a whole lot, just enough that a radiant relic drops a mod half the time instead of 40%, this means on average, in a 4 player rad share, you will get the choice of one of two mods. Also, get rid of the weapon exilus BP. These are availible from Syndicates, and cheap on the market. Since syndicate offerings are spare as is (only one repeatable offering, relics) that system can easily bear the weight of providing the BP, You really want to make the gold drop feel like you actually got a good drop? Leave the percentages as is, but have the gold drop be BOTH requiem mods from the relic. This way the chance of getting at least one from a relic is still 50% at radiant, but the gold reward doesn't feel like a boobie prize
  • It was said on this week's Prime Time that in order to trade a lich we would still have to convert them, in order to prevent players from using the system to keep roling liches until they get one they want. My question is why is this a bad thing? I understand you want to get as much mileage out of the system as you can, but look at it from this perspective: Every major content update you have done to this point has required at most 10 hours of work, you have spread the time through the use of standing caps or limits of some form or another, but the time investment has always been relatively low. With the current time costs, if a player wanted to just get the weapons for MR and never touch the system again, it would take them over 45 hours! That's more than triple of any other of your content releases by comparison and impressive in it's own right. It doesn't need to get padded through forced gameplay. Mind you, this 45+hours is just for access to MR, and each of these weapons still need to be leveled 6 times, as well as a player looking for the best will continue to do so for better bonuses. You really feel the need to limit the ability to reset the liches, then have them costly, or only allow it once per day, but give the player a choice. Giving your players agency in their gameplay shows a respect, one that I feel is currently lacking, for their time.

I have one other observation for you to consider. The Valence Transfer feels a lot like the system Destiny 2 now uses where you can improve a weapon with better traits with the same weapon with a better power level, and that's fine. I like that DE is willing to take what works in other games and apply it to Warframe. But I think you may want to consider, as far as liches are concered, drawing inspiration from something else they do in that game: Exotic quests. These quests are long, challenging, and can take a fair amount of time anywhere from 6-16 hours, but you know what you are getting at the end of them, and the time spent on them feels like you accomplished something, regardless of the quality of the exotic you get at the end of them. Kuva Liches should have that feeling attached to them, one of accomplishment, rather than luck.

I'm not trying to speak for anyone but myself, this is just one players thought process and opinions, but as I said, 16 liches, at least 50 hours of my life. According to steam I have been playing for over 120 hours in the last 10 days. All I have done are liches. In that time I have gotten 6 of one weapon (the khom, and each one after the first had a worse bonus), 3 of another, 2 of three of the others (with only two of those repeats being upgrades) Any other game I spend 50 hours on, I feel some sense of accomplishment. Here, I just feel most of it was wasted. I just made number 17 and its weapon is another, inferior, copy of one I already have, as well as being the same weapon I just got from my last lich. The thought of doing that cycle again actually nauseates me (although, to be honest, I may have the flu). When I saw it, I turned off the game, and now I don't want to play it. You have to understand, for the last 6 years I have ALWAYS wanted to play Warframe. I have taken breaks during content droughts, but I looked forward to playing the game again. It didn't matter that I had everything, if a friend was playing or someone needed help, I WANTED to play. Maybe it's just me, maybe after all this time I'm coming to the end of my warframe career.

But I don't want it to be over, I want to want to play. I just can't right now.

Edited by GrimKonstantin
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Gonna add something here : I think a third option to do upon defeating your Lich would be excellent for those who aren't interested in converting the Lich or getting a new Kuva weapon. I suggested in a few threads to make a "harvest" option where you could suck all the Kuva from your Lich, killing it in the process and earning a very large quantity of Kuva. Some people also suggested the ability to get a good amount of Riven shards.

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28 minutes ago, D20 said:

Gonna add something here : I think a third option to do upon defeating your Lich would be excellent for those who aren't interested in converting the Lich or getting a new Kuva weapon. I suggested in a few threads to make a "harvest" option where you could suck all the Kuva from your Lich, killing it in the process and earning a very large quantity of Kuva. Some people also suggested the ability to get a good amount of Riven shards.

Either of those options sound awesome.

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Definitely agree with OP here. 'Disheartened' is not a good feeling to have when looking at lots of hours of future game play. Conversion needs work here, I imagine there is more to it in Empyrean, but we don't have that so as it stands its just pointless. 

Additionally, this game has no systems in place to make duplicates that don't have higher %s worth getting, and you are stuck with the Lich for hours. It feels bad as a player, and thats really a shame. I don't understand why they drop the weapons directly, and not an item of some sort [Kuva Lich Phylactery?]  that you use to 'upgrade' an existing Grineer weapon to a Kuva variant from an approved list or destroy as mentioned above for straight Kuva goodness. This would remove the dupe problem and allow more player agency in what weapons they get and when. You could then have the item randomize a percentage, but honestly I despise % grinds for weapons it doesnt fit Warframe to me. 

Love this game and think the Lich system is a great concept, just needs more work.


Edited by Arbalest2
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The problem is much more basic than we might think.
Kuva liches, are simply a subject that should not be affected by the "farm aspect" of warframe.
A Nememis ? Which we grind ? Does it seem logical to you ? Does it seem credible to you ?
Personally, I find that makes the whole concept ridiculous.
I would much prefer that we take days or even weeks to kill a lich.
That it offers a whole gameplay, like a quest, like a piece of solo game (with coop).
There would be a real sense of accomplishment.
I mean you have seen the requiem mods.. They have poem on it.
It's lore ! Their place is in some specific quest missions with enigma ! Not in a rng system !
The weapons ? Yes there are 13, and yes, some players want them quickly.. Well, some weapons take very long time to obtain.. Zylok ? Wait the reconstruction of a relay xD
You know why some people want it quickly ?
Because warframe glorified the grind too much..
But players who have dedicated 6 years to this awesome game, want immersive adventures to play with their "favorite super-heros"
They have 90% of the game, aside, where they can grind, it will always be there, no worry.

Personnaly I only hope that this update is only a beta version of the final form of kuva liches. Because we are very far from an adventure a Nemesis could offer.

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I have faith that DE will make the Kuva lichs much more enjoyable to fight later on, but I am glad people are already voicing possible ways to fix the system, cause the sooner they hear our feedback. The sooner they can work out the flaws.

Personally I like that the Kuva lichs CAN show up randomly to help when you convert them, but I only think it should be ONE way to summon them, not the only. I love the idea of an item that lets you summon them on command, but I think it should still be possible for them to just show up when they want to. [maybe make it so some lichs can only be summoned on command? Like the Loner quirk Lich? Rather than only by command across the board?] Though if we keep randomly spawned lichs, I don't think they should prevent you from summoning an on command lich.

I've yet to see an allied lich use the powers they wield back when they were fighting against them, I understand that's likely part of the conversion process... But I think the OP's idea of upgrading them could be a great way to fix that. Re-unlocking the power you took away from them, and slowly have it come to your side.

As for my thoughts on Requirm mods... Maybe make a way to recharge used up ones? Like since this is all about kuva anyway, and one of the drops from the Requirm Relics IS kuva. Maybe make kuva more useful by letting it be used to recharge spent requirm mods?



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I think we can talk for hours, even days, about every single problem with the Kuva Lich system we received in detail, but at the end of it all, I'm still sitting here, wondering when we're going to get the Kuva Liches we were promised with the Empyrean trailer: I completely agree, the current progression path through Kuva Liches is massively grindy and RNG-dependent, conversion is yet another useless gimmick, as is the entire Parazon, and the Kuva weapons attached to the whole thing make Liches even more frustrating when we start running into duplicates we can't quickly cycle through. However, if we were to fix all of these aspects individually, I personally still wouldn't be satisfied, because at its core, the Kuva Lich system we have now is yet another grind for finite rewards that we'll eventually run through, then abandon. There is very little of the promised Kuva Liches or Kingpin system that currently exists: we have our personalized enemy, but there is no real personal relationship between them and us. The custom missions they generate are just regular missions with higher enemy levels and basically another Eximus variant. The climactic confrontation with the Lich that we saw in Tennocon is currently just another assassin fight. The Lich poses no threat, and raises no stakes: we generate Liches only when we want to now, and the whole of Lich progression is this entirely optional set of missions that we can ignore freely if we choose to, as the tax typically doesn't affect anything we care about at that stage. None of this lends itself to any of the interesting gameplay or narrative I wanted out of the Kuva Lich system, and because of this, I want Kuva Liches redone entirely, not simply "fixed" from a technical or implementational standpoint.

Personally, I'd like Kuva Liches to be implemented in the following manner:

  • Kuva Liches should start out as actual Liches, rather than Larvlings, and have their own dedicated stronghold node we could attack immediately to kill them.
  • Liches would still invade nodes, but doing so would actually disrupt our regular mission, rather than merely tax us or generate mission variants. This could mean assassin teams, Grineer incursions into Corpus or Infested nodes, or even the Lich personally paying us a visit.
  • The Lich could generate dedicated side objectives and missions that, if completed, would either weaken them, making a direct attack easier, or alleviate their influence over the System.
  • Our Lich would never actually die; killing them in their stronghold would simply make them disappear and have them come back later, with perhaps some mounting disruptions in-between to indicate their imminent return.
  • Kuva Liches should need no special resistances or weaknesses, but should be able to dynamically "steal" the abilities on the warframe we use to kill them, rather than rely on mostly prefab kits.
  • Kuva weapons should be separated from Liches entirely, and should neither require 5 Forma to grind nor have an elemental modifier.

The idea being that instead of making Kuva Liches this grind wall behind a Mastery reward, they'd be actual persistent enemies that would constantly be on our mind, and would generate tangible threats to our missions. Fighting the Lich should feel like a raid, one the player could attempt off the bat with extreme difficulty, or try to soften up through side objectives. That way, we could have the scenario we had in the Empyrean demo, where we'd fight the Lich on their capital ship and defeat them, with potential side objectives along the way that could make us change our approach.

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-Requiem mods run out of "ammo". These mods are required in order to kill a lich. No other mod has this ammunition drawback.

-When stabbing a lich with the incorrect mods, you die in a cutscene after you've already won the fight. Who the hell thought that this was a good idea? Cutscene incompetence is one of the most frustrating things in any video game.

-Duplicate weapons are useless if they have a lower roll.

-Allied liches freeze the game when they enter your mission.


-Get rid of the stupid ammo mechanic on the mods. It's stupid and it's un-necessary. Seriously. Who asked for that in the first place? Also get rid of the T5 void keys. The mods should have infinite charges and come from a questline which starts after you create your first lich. Ammunition problem removed, and the quest gives a chance for some nice worldbuilding about liches, kuva and the queens.

-Get rid of the idiotic cutscene incompetence death. I've won the fight. My lich is a bleeding heap on the floor. It is not going to beat me down. If I have the wrong mods, I'd go up, stab them... and nothing happens. Perhaps I might even lop off a limb or something during this process if I'm really angry and go nuts on their corpse with a sword. In any case, the corpse stays, it does not despawn, it can't be desecrated, etc. Either way, the lich just lies there, "dead". If I do have the right mod setup, I get the kill/convert thing as normal.

Now, if I don't have the right mods, stab the lich and walk away, then at the end of the mission I get a little cutscene. In this case, the lich, shock upon horror, acts like an actual lich, its wounds knit together, any severed limbs reattach in a cloud of kuva and it stands up. It's now very angry at me, or whatever the consequence of failing an assassinate attempt on a lich is (I haven't even attempted a single one, the system is such a broken mess that I don't want to).

-Valence transfer is almost there... but not quite. Picking up a +30% weapon is only useful if you've got a +29% weapon or lower. If you have a +31% weapon, you've just wasted a lot of time. The mechanic should have been either an overwrite if your new gun has a higher ranking, or a flat +5% (or some other number) if it's a lower ranking.

-Game freezing on lich spawn? That's a coding issue. Still annoying, but I have no idea what they're doing behind the scenes to make the games of every single person in the squad lock up when someone's lich spawns.

Edited by DoomFruit

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Maybe in addition, valence transfer can up the ele % - that would make getting repeat crap rolls more stomachable - eg get 25% and 27% seers, the combined form keeps the forma/exilus progress, and goes to 35% ele instead of 25 or 27, that way getting duplicates that are equally crap (or maybe even worse variants) isn't so much of a waste of player time. Then say you get another 28% seer, combine that, and your "master" weapon goes to 40%, etc.  This would allow player agency to improve their weapon mitigating some of the RNG frustration, keep duplicate liches relevant longer giving the whole system longevity, and maintain the covert/kill decision relevancy for longer as well.

Otherwise, even with murmurs going faster, it's hard to feel good about grinding for a turd when you get low % elemental rolls.

Also, what if we also took a maxed disposition weapon out of the spawn rotation?  Like say you get 5 cold seers, by combining them you wind up working up to a 60% or whatever max is cold seer.  From that point on, you have a 0% chance to spawn a lich with a cold seer (could still proc rad seer or toxic, etc by choosing to use a different frame for that element).  In terms of lore, maybe say the lich knows through kuva-magic of it's brethrens failure to off you with the cold seer, so they refuse to try again with a weapon that has proven a failure.

This would encourage people to keep playing even when they keep getting the same, because not only will it always make their existing one better (whether higher or lower % roll), but it also gives a finite amount of repetition where by completing the weapon you guarantee other drops. Added to my intial suggestion of a guaranteed improvement to ele % it means every lich would guarantee progress in some way - either improving a weapon you have, or spawning a weapon you don't.

IE I pretty much agree with everything you've said.  We had 6 patches last week, here's hoping this week brings more improvements, so I can actually want to play WF again soon!

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