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Steel_Rook

On "challenge" and "reductive combat"

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I've been around these forums for a while to see a variety of discussions around the concept of "challenge" in Warframe. After having a number of unrelated discussions on the same topic with friends, I'd like to speak on the subject a little bit today. Please note that I'll do my best to approach the subject from a neutral perspective. I don't mean to judge whether any of what I'll talk about is good for the game or bad for the community, etc. I'm just here to make observation and hopefully reach some level of shared perspective. As such:

 

What is "challenge?"

I don't think the dictionary definition of the word "challenge" is very useful in light of how people typically use it in relation to video games, so let's try and define what that might mean. First, however, I want to point out that I'm going to define "challenge" and "difficulty" as separate concepts. An activity can be difficult without being challenging (roll heads on a fair coin 10 times in a row) and challenging without being difficult (solve a Rubik's cube). Here, I'm going to define "difficulty" purely as one's ability or lack thereof to accomplish a certain goal or beat a certain piece of content in a reliable manner. Challenge, therefore, I'm going to refer to as the amount of complexity and the breadth of gameplay systems one needs to interact with in order to accomplish a certain goal or beat a certain piece of content in a reliable manner.

I'm also going to make a caveat here. While Warframe is an action game, it does have a fairly large component of mechanical knowledge and research. Much of the game's difficulty breaks down entirely around gear checks, thus a majority of combat encounters can be solved in the Arsenal, rather than on the battlefield. While this does present an avenue for challenge and difficulty, I don't believe the game makes full use of that. Because Warframe's build system is deterministic, a player is fully capable of simply copying another's build (assuming all pieces are available) and solve the issue that way. Because that appears to be how a plurality of people in this game approach creating builds and because I don't consider this to demonstrate personal performance, I can't really see "the build game" as contributing meaningfully to the game's challenge or difficulty. It absolutely does for some - those who create the original optimal builds - but not for most, I don't think.

And just so you know where I personally stand: I tend to look for challenge where I can find it but with as little difficult attached to it as I can. I want to interact with as many of a game's systems as is reasonable, but I'm perfectly fine having an easy and reliable victory every time as long as I do this. I don't look for thrills or adrenaline or fear. I look for reliable, repeatable victory as long as the process of getting there is not highly reductive. Which brings us to...

 

What is "reductive combat?"

I tend to describe a system as "reductive" when it has (or has the potential for) a large amount of complexity, but where best practice involves ignoring, sidelining and short-circuiting most of it. I could break an enemy's weapons and deny them their special attacks... Or I can just kill them. I could stun/hold/sleep my enemies... Or I could just kill them. I could jump around to avoid these attacks... Or I can just tank them. Complexity exists, but trying to engage with it is pointless. It's much easier to not bother, thus reducing the apparent complexity of combat in actual practice. Hence "reductive combat." If you've seen me talk about Elite Sanctuary Onslaught, you've probably seen me call it "reductive," and this is why. It takes a game with the potential for interesting and varied combat, then reduces it to a single aspect of AoE DPS while outright removing all others.

And just so you know where I personally stand (if it weren't obvious): I feel that reductive combat is objectively bad for any video game regardless of context. That doesn't mean SIMPLE combat is bad if that's how the game is designed. Rather, it means that a game designed with some amount of combat complexity which players simply rarely engage with is badly designed. Either combat is more complex than it needs to be, or balance is too poor to make that complexity worth the bother.

 

Is Warframe's combat reductive?

I would argue that yes - it very much is. Let me explain. Warframe's core combat system is designed using the tools of modern action games: free manual aim, direct character control, meaningful terrain both for line of sight and traversal, etc. However, in practice it all too often plays like an early 2000s Tab-target MMO. That is to say, combat almost always breaks down along the lines of a damage trade. Players win when they can out-DPS the enemy while healing faster than they take damage, ideally with as little else involved as possible. Now, an obvious argument to make here is that not everyone plays a Tank Warframe. Not everyone is Inaros or Nidus or Atlas or Rhino or Nezha or Wukong or... However, a damage trade doesn't necessarily need a lot of EHP. It simply requires that player damage outpace enemy damage, and this CAN be done with a Nuke Warframe. The likes of Saryn, Nova, Meas, old-school Ember, etc. can trade just as well. They have a lot less EHP, but they do a lot more damage. And then you have the various invisibility or intangibility Warframes. The likes of Limbo, Loki, Ivara, Octavia and I'd even add Garaa and Frost here as well - these can trade as well under some circumstances.

Sure, there are other ways to play and I'll get to them. My point here is that if a player can meet the game's gear check, there's really no compelling point to bother with anything more complex than a straight-up damage trade. It's the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to play. This makes combat in Warframe reductive and thus lacking in challenge regardless of whether this is easy or difficult to achieve. When the majority of combat mechanics are straight-up ignored, no challenge can be found. This is where people tend to argue that we're just too powerful and we should be nerfed. Reduce our AoE, reduce our DPS, reduce our EPH, reduce our TLA! While I agree that this would make the game more difficult since we'll have a harder time winning the trade... It won't make it any more challenging because Warframe offers no real mechanical complexity to fall back on when the trade fails. It's a simple paradigm - either I can out-damage the enemy and win, or I can't out-damage the enemy and lose. My input into this equation is minimal.

And because I can sense that a lot of you are screaming at me about "PARKOUR! DODGE!" let's address that:

 

Is Warframe's mobility reductive?

On its own, no. Warframe has one of the most open-ended, convenient and powerful terrain traversal systems I've ever seen. It has spoiled me on mobility, to the point where even games like Titanfall and Doom 4 feel slow and sluggish in comparison. Wile Warframe's "parkour" is a bit counter-intuitive at first and has its issues (Why do we need both slide and dodge? Why do we need bot sprint and "not sprint?"), it is undoubtedly one of Warframe's most polished, singular standout features. It has enough systems complexity to host an entire game all its own. But within the context of the broader game, though? Yeah, within Warframe as a whole, Parkour is highly reductive. Let me explain.

First of all, parkour doesn't really help mitigate the issue of combat breaking down into a damage trade. While, yes, doing parkour manoeuvres offers a certain amount of dodge, it also severely degrades one's ability to return fire. You, the jumping player, become a lot harder to kill but you have a harder time killing the enemy in return. As such, it's almost always better to NOT parkour during combat if you can afford to, and in a lot of cases you can afford to. It's not as cool, I'll grant you, but it is more optimal and that's what makes it reductive. Secondly and most importantly, though - just doing random parkour manoeuvres in random directions for the dodge bonus isn't really "using" parkour. Yes, you're engaging with the system in a pedantic, technical sense in that you're using its mechanics, but you're not actually DOING anything with them beyond triggering them for a secondary bonus. You're not trying to get anywhere, you're not trying to get away from anything, you're not going for any kind of superior positioning. You're just... Moving for the sake of tripping a passive bonus while moving. That in itself is a highly reductive way of engaging with the system. You can engage a boss on an endless flat open plain and spend your entire time circle-strafing and bunny-hopping around them for the dodge bonus, but that's not really "using" the parkour system - not to anything resembling its full potential. The example I tend to give is the old design for the Division 2 Liberty Pistol. I carried that thing and never once fired it, because it gave me bonuses while holstered. I was "using" the pistol without actually ever using it.

Let's compare this to a few games across genres. XCOM 2, Division 2 and Payday 2 all have substantially less mobility than Warframe, yet all of them employ movement in a far less reductive fashion. Now granted - those three games share the broad descriptor of being "cover-based," but that's sort of why they do better in this regard. In all three games, your character is designed to be weak relative to enemy damage, thus terrain plays a huge role. In all of these, players must always keep an eye on their positioning, the availability of cover, the availability of choke points, etc. Players must judge their own health and firepower in order to decide when they can stand their ground and when they can push aggressively, which path to take and how to flank an enemy who's otherwise not easily vulnerable. While the combat systems in all three games aren't individually very complex in their own right, having to adapt to terrain adds a lot of complexity, adds a lot of challenge and - crucially - gives these games' mobility systems actual meaning. You're not just running around, you're not just jumping around. You're trying to get somewhere, you're trying to get away from something.

Warframe is not a cover-based shooter, and its player base seems very proud of this fact... Which is fine, but then why does terrain matter if that's the case? Recent changes to shields and shield-gating did go some way to make terrain a bit more meaningful since players are encouraged to break sight from time to time, but even then - straight damage trades are more efficient. Few combat encounters take place in locations with any meaningful use of verticality, few enemies have AoE attacks which need to be dodged (and Flame Eximus waves can't be dodged anyway), few locations even have any meaningful high ground or other strong vantage points. Intuitively, using AoE weapons of our own would be best done by standing on some kind of high perch and firing down on enemies, but those rarely exist. Wall latches exist but they are heavily gated by duration and fiddly controls.

In short, we have a tremendously powerful movement system and almost nothing to actually do with it. Hell, we rarely even get to use it FOR movement. Think about it - what do YOU use Parkour most commonly? Do you use it to climb walls? Do you use it to outmanoeuvre enemies? Do you use it to reach high place it? Or do you mostly use it to flop around like a beached fish along flat hallways because it's faster than running? It reminds me of that commercial of the old guy chopping vegetables on his new iPad then putting it in the dishwasher. Jupiter Remastered does offer SOME use of parkour in a few of those floor-less rooms where the Ropalolyst destroys the catwalks so there's a BIT of that... But the majority of the locations are still pretty much designed to be navigated entirely along the ground.

In short: Warframe's mobility itself is not reductive, but the rest of the game doesn't seem to know what to do with it. It's handy, but one can do almost entirely without it. If Warframe wants to be a space ninja game which eschews cover in favour of constant motion the way Doom 4 did, then it needs to challenge us to use parkour properly, not "just use parkour in any fashion."

 

In conclusion:

I will full agree that Warframe's combat is not challenging. By this point, I'm so familiar with it that it genuinely puts me to sleep any more. Not trying to S#&$-talk, that's one of the reasons I've been focusing on other games. However, I don't think that making the game more difficult, nerfing us or buffing our enemies will fix this. Rather, I feel that Warframe needs to rethink its approach to combat, rethink its approach to game design and actually give us something to consider in combat beyond monitoring coloured bars. Sure, that could in part take the shape of straight nerfs and buffs, but that wouldn't be enough. If we are to stop passively trading damage with the enemy, we need some kind of mechanical complexity to fall back on which has a use, a purpose and actual game design behind it. Leaning into parkour would absolutely be a good idea, but that would require substantial changes to Parkour, to our environments and to our enemies.

If you want "push forward gameplay" on the level of Doom 4, then we need AI which stands out in the open, stands near exploding barrels, clusters together, fires predominantly slow-moving projectiles and charge-up telegraphed AoEs and otherwise encourages us to stay on the move, grab vantage points and engage in melee. Right now, Warframe's core design is that of an old-school slow-moving military shooter with enemies who crouch behind cover, spread out and pepper us with hitscan weapons from range, while the design of our own characters encourages breaking sight, recovering shields and trading damage from range.

I don't feel Warframe needs to be harder. If anything, that would make it even more reductive as it's going to start invalidating currently viable options. It doesn't need to be more mechanically complex, either - we have plenty of complexity as it is. I feel Warframe can be made more challenging if that complexity were given more of a reason to exist and we were given more of a reason to engage with it.

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Neat.

Maybe it's just a biased personal impression, but it seems that the amount of "boring" and "tedious" used to describe the latest (~1 year) gameplay implementations is sensitively raising. And i wonder if players are making this kind of thoughts, like yours, when picturing an ideal new mission, or they are just aiming at higher level enemies. 

On the other side i also see a lot of people perfectly fine with a bland linear 'reductive combat'. People that come off from work and are happy to turn off the brain for some simple but visually rewarding slaughter. And i wonder how would they react to a new game mode that requiers them to sit straight and concentrate.

After so many years i wonder if the developers will ever design anything with this thoughts of yours in mind or if they don't care at all and will continue on the copy-paste line. Or if DE will ever decide to let the community design their own new mission, like they are doing now with a new warframe, i wonder for what kind of line would players vote.

I wonder if and how many new players are sharing these concerns or if it is only a matter of veteran players.

I'm confident that DE, with their statistics, has a much clear view of the situation, and i would much gladly like to hear their point of view to these concerns in a dedicated devstream. After reading this nice post, of course.

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2 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

would argue that yes - it very much is. Let me explain. Warframe's core combat system is designed using the tools of modern action games: free manual aim, direct character control, meaningful terrain both for line of sight and traversal, etc. However, in practice it all too often plays like an early 2000s Tab-target MMO. That is to say, combat almost always breaks down along the lines of a damage trade. Players win when they can out-DPS the enemy while healing faster than they take damage, ideally with as little else involved as possible. Now, an obvious argument to make here is that not everyone plays a Tank Warframe. Not everyone is Inaros or Nidus or Atlas or Rhino or Nezha or Wukong or... However, a damage trade doesn't necessarily need a lot of EHP. It simply requires that player damage outpace enemy damage, and this CAN be done with a Nuke Warframe. The likes of Saryn, Nova, Meas, old-school Ember, etc. can trade just as well. They have a lot less EHP, but they do a lot more damage. And then you have the various invisibility or intangibility Warframes. The likes of Limbo, Loki, Ivara, Octavia and I'd even add Garaa and Frost here as well - these can trade as well under some circumstances.

That os such a gooe term do describe the situation warframe has so many moving parts but more often than not you are better of ignoring most of then and fight dps race.

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1 hour ago, DebrisFlow said:

On the other side i also see a lot of people perfectly fine with a bland linear 'reductive combat'. People that come off from work and are happy to turn off the brain for some simple but visually rewarding slaughter. And i wonder how would they react to a new game mode that requiers them to sit straight and concentrate.

I should have mentioned this in the OP, but you're right - there's nothing specifically wrong with reductive combat. Sometimes, simple repetitive activities can put us in a state of "flow," able to play the game while holding a conversation, listening to music/podcasts or just lost in thought. There's nothing fundamentally "bad" about that. You're not going to find a lot of challenge in this kind of design, however. The main thrust of my argument was to try and add some definition - words to put on our feelings - when it comes to discussions of "challenge." Plenty of people like Warframe for the fairly brainless, simple combat that it has - for the power fantasy. A friend of mine tends to prefer that, and indeed finds some of the games I've mentioned before to be "just not fun." We had a fairly lengthy discussion about why he considers The Division 2 "just not fun" a few days ago while I tend to enjoy it greatly, and it really does come down to personal preference.

The problem is I don't see how you can have it both ways. I don't see how you can have combat be both a state of flow with simple mechanics and still make it challenging to any capacity. If a game is to challenge me, then it needs to wake me up, make me sit up, make me think about what I'm doing, make me learn its mechanics and actually use them - make me try, essentially. Again, that doesn't necessarily need to be difficult once I've figured it out, but it should require me to figure it out. Another friend of mine generally plays "sniper" in any game that lets him. He has the kind of aim I can only dream of and the muscle memory to boot. He recently picked up an Exotic sniper rifle in The Division 2 which works like the TF2 sniper - hold down fire to build up damage, release fire to shoot. It sounds like a simple concept, but it went SO hard against his own muscle memory that he ended up having to basically retrain himself from scratch. This didn't necessarily make the game HARDER for him, but it did require him to learn a new skill.

The majority of Warframe's learning curve comes not from having to develop new skills or internalise new concepts, but rather from giving everything a random gobbledygook name and not explaining any of its mechanics. Once you've wrapped your head around the difference between a "Tenno" and an "Endo," the majority of the game's ACTUAL learning curve is the Parkour system - Movement 2.0. That's the part which requires the most manual dexterity and works in the most unique fashion that I ain't never seen in another game ever. It's the one thing that seems to consistently trip people up even after thousands of hours. Can't tell you how many people I've seen get stuck in the ceiling in that one tunnel on Earth moving from Condrix to Condrix, and these are MR28 players doing it. But that's it - the rest of the combat system is fairly "vanilla," and it doesn't even have much use FOR the parkour system itself. Sentients are slightly more complex since most of them have destructible pieces, I'll grant you, but they're the exception.

 

2 hours ago, DebrisFlow said:

Maybe it's just a biased personal impression, but it seems that the amount of "boring" and "tedious" used to describe the latest (~1 year) gameplay implementations is sensitively raising. And i wonder if players are making this kind of thoughts, like yours, when picturing an ideal new mission, or they are just aiming at higher level enemies. 

That's my fear, as well. When people say "more challenging," they almost always seem to be picturing "just higher level enemies." As I said before - those are more difficult, not necessarily more challenging. Yes, the level of damage they do and the amount of damage they take make the game more difficult to play, but this is where Warframe's reductive combat system bottoms out. More difficult enemies don't make the game more complex. They don't force players to play smarter or use more advanced mechanics because there aren't any. Pushing enemy stats higher doesn't stop people from trading damage. It just limits the configurations which you can use TO trade damage safely. Sure, you might push people into CC a little bit, but mostly you just push them into min/maxing. And while I understand people who've already done this min/maxing and can reliably trade with level 200, 300, 400+ enemies being disappointed in not having content which lets them do that, I'd argue that they've simply shifted the status quo. Warframe with those builds against those enemies is just as reductive, but the numbers on-screen are larger and of a different colour.

My own personal journey with Warframe has been one long attempt to describe why I enjoy Warframe's core gameplay loop so much, yet why I also get so bored so quickly doing it. It's not that the game isn't difficult. It's that the game lacks depth and complexity. There used to be a time I could handle this. I played City of Heroes for eight years and that game was FAR more reductive in actual play. That was 15 years ago, though, and I've since managed to kick that habit. These days, the games I gravitate towards tend to be the games which "keep me awake." It's one of the reasons I still praise Payday 2 to this day, even with all of its flaws. Any game which can keep me thinking about where I'm going, what I'm doing and how I'm trying to achieve it is going to feel challenging even if I'm never in danger of dying or failing or even doing poorly.

As I said originally - I don't define "challenge" as the difference between winning and losing that game. That's where "difficulty" comes into play. I feel challenged when using a game's full breadth of systems feels justified. Jacking up enemy levels and stats doesn't bring additional challenge. If anything, it all too often strips challenge from the game by stripping options. I've often said that the point of enemies in video games isn't to stop the player from progressing. Rather, well-designed enemies force us to engage with the game's rules and tools. The relationship between player and developer is seemingly not adversarial. Developers' goal isn't to kill us, and our goal isn't to beat them. When we manage to work together is when we can craft an actually challenging experience.

At least that's my view of it, anyway.

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First off, I want my applause reaction back, that was good S#&$.  Well said. Read the whole thing, agreed with a lot of it, but I have a few issues and another point to bring up.

 

10 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

While, yes, doing parkour manoeuvres offers a certain amount of dodge, it also severely degrades one's ability to return fire.

Not true for everyone.  Some of us are the S#&$.  To state bluntly, because this is the internet, the tone there should be taken as a joke, but I'm also being sincere.  I don't have trouble returning fire while John Woo-ing my way past enemies.  One of the most satisfying uses of the parkour system for me is getting stylish, Devil May Cry types of maneuvers going on.  I switch weapons a lot.  I use everything in my loadout conjunction, and have gone so far as to use the Tactical Reload type mods in exilus slots on weapons because they reload your guns while you're sawing a nullifier in half.  Flitting about like a bat out of hell and blasting the enemy midair like you would see in a trailer rather than just standard shooter gameplay footage is very important to the flavor and feel of the game, which imo are as important as the challenge you face.  A Rubik's Cube might be challenging, but it's also a snooze fest for me.

The other thing I want to address that you hit on is the idea that skipping combat and ignoring the fights and not needing to take the enemy seriously is reductive.  Hard agree.  But I have a problem with the idea of it changing from what it is.  Grind.  They once tried to spice up certain mission types by adding random extra exterminate objectives to the mission and the players hated it so they gave up and left the corpse of their idea in the game to rot.  They never took the time to look at why it failed.  If I want newly released Lith relics, I go run Hepit in the void.  I can run through Hepit in less than 60 seconds, and it takes less than 60 seconds to load in and out if I'm solo.  I can get a Lith relic every 2 minutes or less.  (It should be noted, if a dev is reading this and polishing up their nerf bat, that I am a very late-game player and this is not something lower level players can do.)  I've timed it many times because I do weird stuff like that.  It's on average 1:45 to load in, hit the objective and load out and hit repeat.  Unless it hits me with the extra exterminate objective.  That extra objective does nothing for me.  It presents no extra challenge or difficulty, just extra work.  It does not change the reward structure of the mission at all and that's the other important bit.  Elongating missions by putting mechanics in place that make each encounter matter, that make combat less reductive, will increase grind substantially.  If those mechanics don't ship with a completely reworked reward structure, it will really screw up progression pacing and really piss a lot of people off.

I would LOVE a reworked set of star chart missions that took longer, were more challenging and complex and had actual dynamics for the player to play off of.  I have probably pages of ideas in my head for things they could do to make the regular star chart more interesting, but I don't think anyone would really care to read through all that, and I know the devs wouldn't even notice, so I've never typed them out anywhere.

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Good food for thought, @Steel_Rook. There were a handful of things that you said that have run through my mind as well, though we diverged at points along the path those thoughts took us.

Definitely worth a read, obviously a lot of consideration 👍 We come from different directions in our search for what we ultimately want in this game, but I’ll gladly mull over what I’ve read in this topic

edit: I agree focusing on the movement would be great

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11 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

Not true for everyone.  Some of us are the S#&$.  To state bluntly, because this is the internet, the tone there should be taken as a joke, but I'm also being sincere.  I don't have trouble returning fire while John Woo-ing my way past enemies.

OK, that is fair enough 🙂 I did somewhat failed to account for personal player skill in the OP and you're right - there are people with the kind of manual dexterity required to do "stand in place" DPS while flying through the air and benefiting from the dodge buff inherent in that. To explain where I'm coming from on that one, though, I want to relate an anecdote. Years ago (2007-2008, maybe?) I was trying to play characters of the Blaster (glass cannon) class in City of Heroes. For the longest time, I tried being tactical and making heavy use of the control abilities my characters had on hand to stay alive. And while that had the outward appearance of working, it had one central flaw - the time I spent flinging web grenades and caltrops and shooting Beanbag shots and throwing sleep gas grenades was time I wasn't dealing damage. It dragged fights out quite a bit, which meant enemies who weren't being controlled were still dealing damage to me. In the end, I was putting myself in greater danger trying to defend myself than if I had simply opened up and damage-dumped into the enemy, killing them quicker. Ultimately, I ended up having to abandon Blasters and indeed reroll several level 50s to other classes, just because I simply couldn't manage their intended gameplay.

All of that is to say that I don't mean to disagree with you or question your skill. In fact, I should have made allowances for this in my OP, honestly. I just feel that the proper use of the Parkour system in Warframe right now is excessively high-skill, which causes a lot of people's performance to actively degrade when trying to use it. I don't know if I talked about it in this thread, but I feel that better gamification of Movement 2.0 could give the less capable of us more of a leg up, more of a reason to actually lean into the system. Things like making all enemy weapons into projectiles that we can physically dodge if we move fast enough would be a start... Though I know that may have an impact on performance. Giving more enemies large, telegraphed AoE attacks that we can dodge out of the way of and which leave them self-staggered for a few moments may be another way to approach this. Giving us infinite Wall Latch might also work, since it would give us a way to stay out of melee and indeed stay off the ground more consistently without having to manage our movement to quite the same extent.

I'm also approaching game design from a somewhat cynical perspective here. "Players will optimise all the fun out of a game if you let them," so I imagine most people would stand in place and trade damage if that were more efficient or at the very least more easily made consistent. Nailing headshots from an aim glide is a lot harder than nailing headshots while standing still, after all, and a lot simpler to boot. I don't know if firing WHILE doing parkour will ever really catch on simply because I don't think most people can really do that... But firing AND doing parkour alternately could, if the system accounted for it. If combat didn't revolve so much around bullet-spongey enemies that we NEED to trade damage with and if optimal performance left room for "things other than shooting," then I believe combat could be made a lot less reductive, with a lot more people willing to give the parkour thing a try.

To give you a very rough example of what I mean: Every single AoE ability in The Division 2 is telegraphed with a large red circle denoting its location and range. This is displayed the moment the ability is triggered - the moment a grenade is thrown or fired, say. While that's not a very movement-heavy game, there are still a few instances where players need to manage pretty heavy firefights while dodging mortar fire at the same time. Give people a clear enough indication, give people enough time and you'll get a lot more people moving around in response to enemy fire. I played the Manning National Zoo with a friend yesterday, and I ended up running pell-meld out of cover trying to bait enemy mortars so the sniper buddy in my squad could pick up the people shooting at me and we could get the hell out of there before we got mortared to death.

I call Warframe's combat system reductive not because it LACKS complexity - it has a fair amount. I call it that because its design naturally distinctnesses the use of said complexity, and because it fails to design around it. Warframe STILL has all the hallmarks of a really old, somewhat slow shooter with rapid movement added later and never really fully integrated into its core design. And that's honestly a cryin' shame, because I REALLY love the movement system and wish less of the game broke down with me standing stock-still trading damage with hitscan enemies with tons of health and armour.

 

11 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

The other thing I want to address that you hit on is the idea that skipping combat and ignoring the fights and not needing to take the enemy seriously is reductive.  Hard agree.  But I have a problem with the idea of it changing from what it is.  Grind.  They once tried to spice up certain mission types by adding random extra exterminate objectives to the mission and the players hated it so they gave up and left the corpse of their idea in the game to rot.  They never took the time to look at why it failed.

Agreed completely. If I had to make a list of all the things I don't like about Warframe, probably the first ten entries would be some variety of "mission design." Warframe has the mechanics and tool necessary to create some really clever, really cool, really memorable missions yet Digital Extremes consistently design content with all the complexity of your average iPhone clicker game. The majority of our Star Chart missions are comprised of what in any other game would be a minigame or a side activity or just one objective of many. Go in, kill a guy, leave. Go in, kill 100 people, leave. I've heard tell of DE not wanting to design missions that take more than 5 minutes to complete because "something something bite-size," but THAT in itself is heavily reductive. Let me explain.

You're absolutely correct that in the game's current incarnation, missions are little more than a grind making them longer or more complex just makes the grind longer. You have people phrasing their playtime as "if I want X, I'll go run Y" and that right there is the source of that reductive design. DE seem to want to motivate us with rewards, but individual rewards are usually gated behind individual missions. Even though Warframe has a STAGGERING amount of content variety, we rarely if ever run most of it because... Well, most of it doesn't drop the loot we want, it drops loot at a S#&$ percentage or it's just too long to run. DE's progression and rewards system has the effect of sucking potential complexity out of their mission design. When everything is a grind, nobody cares about compelling gameplay. They just want a task which could be reduced to as simple and quick of an action as possible so that they can repeat over and over again in order to play the odds against the game's RNG. This is part of why I feel damage trades are more popular in Warframe than "cinematic" combat. Why bother trying to be fancy when you can remove complexity and probably get through missions faster.

And don't even get me started on "jumping past all the enemies." While I don't have a problem with this in principle, it can be heavily reductive without a robust objective structure underneath to make up for it. Take Payday 2, for example. Killing enemies is never the objective. No, your objectives are guarding a drill or a hack, getting to a location, finding a thing, moving bags, securing hostages, etc. Now granted - killing enemies does absolutely help in creating space, keeping them off the defence objectives and generally staying alive, but it's never THE objective in itself. In fact, it's all too often smarter to run past the enemies than fight through them if you can find a safe route. However, Payday 2 still has plenty of staggered, staged objectives which ensure plenty of firefights before escape becomes available. Warframe, by contrast, has pretty much nothing for objectives - pretty much nothing to put us in confrontation with our enemies. As such, entire mission types become reductive because the majority of their maps and the majority of their enemies end up being entirely ignored.

And it's not like Warframe can't do better. Look at Defection. I know people hate it and I'll address that, but look at the core design of that mission type. You have a countdown during which to identify where Kavor defectors will show up and charge up that point's healing station. You then need to meet them on the way, escort them, defend them until they heal up fully, then send them on their way to the next point. It's not rocket science, but it still gives you a number of things to consider beyond staying alive and killing things. Sure, Defection has issues. It's all but entirely trivialised by healing Warframes, especially Trinity. Also, Warframe somehow manages to have early 90s style pathing issues after 8 sodding years, so Kavor defectors often get stuck and die from the spores. Plus it's REALLY slow, with each wave requiring two groups of defectors. That's a LOT of fun solo, lemme' tell ya! But rewards aside, though? That's the kind of game mode which keeps me awake, because it actually gives me things to consider beyond DPS and EHP.

Or take Disruption. Yes, it's a defence objective mission at its core, but done so much better. I don't need to just bubble the Conduit and clock out for lunch, I need to listen for the Demolyst. And because you can hear them better when the door to a tile they're coming from is open, it makes sense to check the doors rather than sitting on the Conduit. Multiple players on the team can check doors faster and good communication can call the whole team down on a Demolyst as soon as a single player can identify it. Or hell, take something as simple as the Condrix mission from Scarlet Spear. Yeah, it's pretty basic but it still has a few stages to its objective. Shoot the Condrix, it closes up. Clean up the Sentients, it opens up. Do that a few times, then place and defend your OpLink. Because the mission is a mix of Grineer and Sentients, though, target recognition plays a vital role. Players need to identify and prioritise the Sentients while mostly just clearing out Grineer in order to stay alive.

All of these missions task you with doing combat WHILE working on an actual objective, rather than combat BEING the objective. You can get away with reductive combat in missions where combat itself is just a secondary concern. It's only when the game's mission design itself becomes so reductive that combat is all they have to offer that these issues come to the forefront. I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think Warframe's combat is strong enough to carry the game purely on its own. I firmly believe that combat needs help from mission objective design, map design and player mobility. Even if each of these individual aspects themselves are reductive, their interplay still creates interesting and semi-unpredictable dynamics which require if not our full attention then at least require us to stay awake. Unfortunately, Warframe's approach to "grind" means that complexity often slows down our progression...

 

1 hour ago, (NSW)Greybones said:

Good food for thought, @Steel_Rook. There were a handful of things that you said that have run through my mind as well, though we diverged at points along the path those thoughts took us. Definitely worth a read, obviously a lot of consideration 👍 We come from different directions in our search for what we ultimately want in this game, but I’ll gladly mull over what I’ve read in this topic

Thank you 🙂 My primary goal here was to try and put into words some of what I've seen discussed on the forums and some of my own feelings on the matter. Maybe offer an interesting perspective or at least start a discussion. Honestly, I was expecting more disagreement just given the charged nature of what's being discussed here. We all look for something different in video games, and that's simply the nature of personal preference. As long as we can clearly communicate where we stand, I still consider that a win.

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24 minutes ago, Savire510 said:

jesus christ

tldr

Here it is:

Warframe combat has a lot of moving parts but at the end of the day you better off competing on DPS race them engaging on complex strategies using all the game has to offer. 

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2 hours ago, keikogi said:

Warframe combat has a lot of moving parts but at the end of the day you better off competing on DPS race them engaging on complex strategies using all the game has to offer. 

More or less, yes - this is what I believe. Warframe has enough mechanical depth with which to create decent challenge without necessarily leaning into high difficulty, but most of those mechanics are either entirely unused of simply overshadowed by just piling on more DPS, more EHP and more sustain.

I just want to point out, though, that my primary goal here wasn't to make a statement evaluating Warframe's combat system. More than that, I wanted to draw a few distinctions, specifically between "difficulty" and "challenge," as well as to highlight how the EXISTENCE of gameplay complexity doesn't always translate into complex gameplay in actual practice. As I said - this is an exercise in trying to put words to my thoughts and hopefully try to bring a bit of a novel distinction, maybe enough of one to influence how we talk about difficulty/challenge or at least open up a few extra considerations.

If you want a full thesis, it is this: Warframe's combat can use more challenge, but I don't think just making enemies more difficult is a good way of attaining it. There's more to challenge than just the level of the enemies we face, more than just their stats or their abilities or their AI. It requires game design which convinces us to want to engage with Warframe's complexity, rather than trying to circumvent it.

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1 hour ago, Steel_Rook said:

More or less, yes - this is what I believe. Warframe has enough mechanical depth with which to create decent challenge without necessarily leaning into high difficulty, but most of those mechanics are either entirely unused of simply overshadowed by just piling on more DPS, more EHP and more sustain.

I think that the biggest culprit is warframe damage system. It is out kf control on the player side ( man people posting videos of something doing so much damage that the HUD is unable to cope is silly ) and unbalanced on the enemy side ( does not take a genius to figure out the Health x Armor will scale better than just health or just shields ).

Even an enemy given as much bullS#&$ defenses like the Nox , people can still just power trough thr damage cap with Mesa peacemakers. Even a proposal as simple as shoot the enemy in the head cannot be achieved without using straight up invunerability. 

Don't even get me started on the out of whack player durability that goes from 500 EHP to 200 k EHP. Pretty much preventing any chance of creating a "fair " amount of damage for thr enemy output. To make maters worse this is a invisible problem because player durability is a hidden number because players EHP comes from armor and DR instead of HP. I'm pretty sure if the HUD just showed nidus with link with something like 100 k HP , this durability gap would have been adressed a while ago because it would be a visible problem.

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On 2020-04-04 at 9:35 AM, Steel_Rook said:

snip

I'm just going to paraphrase quotes rather than quoting you a billion times, or having the entire post reposted, since that takes up a lot of space.

"no more enemy hit scan."  Yes.  Giving players the option of actually dodging enemy fire should have been a design feature from the start, though I understand there are probably technical limitations.  Telegraphed attacks that actually leave the enemy open to fire is another super common feature that feels silly for us to not have.  The enemy has almost no chinks in its armor other than its AI and the fact that we have insane damage.  There's no trade off for the enemy having a sea of nullifier bubbles.  There's no drawback of every grineer heavy having an AOE knockdown.  Considering the fact that enemies that grapple you can complete that grapple animation and still knock you down after they're dead, and the Ancient Infested so infamous for spamming knockdown drags also come with really strong support auras, there's zero downside for any of those enemies either other than the fact that as soon as I get up I'm pissed off and I still have my Reaper Prime in my hands.  I complain about nerfs a lot in this forum.  One of the reasons for that is that we're constantly having things stripped from us in the name of balance and risk vs reward, but the enemies never have any trade-offs.  There is no "risk/reward" mentality behind their design which makes them the one dimensional fodder they are.  Add in the constant enemy spawn from broom closets you just cleared out and you have a hoard slaughter game.  

I would accept a ridiculous nerf to power if it meant proper, fully overhauled enemy and mission balance.  No more endless waves of enemies unless it's a mode that calls for that.  Instead, harder enemies that you NEED to engage with that are an actual threat to the players beyond non-telegraphed AOE one-shots.  Alarms that actually matter, maybe even calling in harder units on top of a harder to get rid of lockdown mechanic.  Pressure units like nullifiers that are properly balanced.  Like a wider, flatter cylinder of nully influence, but instead of straight wiping all your abilities, they're only turned off while inside the field.  You can risk going in to attack directly with all abilities turned off, or try and snipe the drone to take the field out.  Make it harder to just burst the shield down or make it only damagable with certain types of damage, like void and magnetic.  It would no longer just wipe your abilities if you brushed against it, but it would also be more of a pain to deal with with actual risk involved.  

As for grind and their desire for "bite-sized" missions.  They need to pick one.  They don't like our speed through missions and have stated that explicitly, but are also the ones designing away from longer missions, which players only dislike due to reward structure imo.  I think a better reward structure with more complex missions would do wonders for the game.  Having a primary objective that only takes a few minutes and offers one decent reward (NOT a Vitality mod on the last planet in the star chart, DE.) but having several optional objectives that offer extra rewards for taking the time to actually go through the whole tileset would be a great start.  Both listed, and unlisted objectives, to encourage exploration.  Imagine a capture mission with several different ways to get to the capture target, depending on playstyle.  A stealth path, sneak and stealth murder your way to hack a console to get to the hardened location of the VIP with no alarms.  Alternate stealth through a hard parkour area where you avoid most enemy contact while going through vent shafts and maintenance paths.  A guns-blazing "screw your alarms and lock downs and harder alarm response teams" path where you do have an actual chase with the target, and there's a very real risk of them getting away if you screw any of those paths up.  But because difficulty is linked to failure which is linked to grind, which is why this game is so easy, instead of them failing when they "get away" have the objective change.  On the Corpus Ice Planet tile set they run to a vehicle which drives off.  Most people have never seen it because most players don't fail captures unless it's on purpose, to see what happens.  What if instead of it being a fail-state, the objective changed to racing the vehicle to a hack point so that you turn the mission into a hijack?  Multiple places to fail or succeed.  Dynamic mission structure with harder but balanced enemies enemies and actual threat.  Rewards that coincide with skill and time investment, except if you fail steps along the way the rewards take longer to get, which is on the player at that point, not the devs.  That would be hard to implement for DE, probably, but worth it imo.

Easier to implement would be the optional objectives to encourage thorough playing, rather than just skipping all of it.  Something like Caches, but worth the time to find them.  Optional exterminate or destroy component objectives that would add bonus rewards.  Unmarked objectives where exploration can pay off by the players actually finding things in all these end tiles that most players never see.  There are so many things of varying complexity they could add to make even base star chart missions worth playing and play in general being less "reductive" and I really hope they get around to it at some point, because I'm getting tired of them re-releasing the same star chart once a quarter and calling it new.

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1 hour ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

-snip-

A nice detail list of things that honestly should of been present to begin with.

  • Yes, if enemies actually had weapons that were more like REAL projectiles, instead of working via hit scan, your evasive maneuvers would make hell-uva lot more sense since you actually have a reason to trade off aiming accuracy while flying around the place to drastically reduce the chance to die. This is kind of why i see often that games EITHER, make player characters sturdy, till you flip on the super hard mode OR  they make enemies have projectiles with actual travel speed, even if you yourself are using hitscan guns, so you have the window of getting away from the impact point and greatly reduce the damage your about to take.

 

  • INDEED, Even if they did trim back some of the stuff we could pull off, i would not mind if instead of playing hoarde simulators, the enemies were more along the count size of what a Destiny Strike feels like, instead of enemies infinitely spawning in from all across the map and auto converging at you. Where it certaily would be better to deal with up to 50 enemies that are MUCH more durable and have some tactics to them, thru an entire mission, VS the 150-300 grunts we kill them so fast that they dont realize they are dead yet till we hit the extraction point. Which could have D.E. also redesign some game modes in more smarter ways and get rid of the crap like Exterminate, Mobile Defense, Interception and Salvage, in favor of reinventing the remaining ones in fun ways. Because Exterminate is just non-endless survival, mobile defense is just non-endless Defense and Interception is a F-You Fest cause they dont shut off 1 or 2 of the towers, if your in a group of 2 or soloing it And Salvage is basically survival except everywhere is lava except the safe space bubble.

 

  • I WOULD ADORE if we had more interesting type of mission expansion states, Such as if we talk corpus/grineer capture, if the target gets to the ship, We just frocking chase them in our archwing for a higher level one instead and chase that frocker down similar to that one Archwing mission except a whole lot more simplified. By having multi-state stages for a single mission, It would certainly be loads more fun then being forced to do extra objectives which can be a bad idea in some cases since someone has to babysit the main objective. Sort of like how i ENJOY the emergency Trial system in Phantasy star online 2 where quick burst tasks can pop up mid-quest, such as defeat X enemies of a species that will spawn on you, gather a bunch of rare crystals nearby, PROTECT a fallen support ship. WHICH adds an extra bonus of simple consumable items, a chunk of money and experience points for clearing them. Instead of this change of plans, hidden resource cache or set off too many alarms crap, Just have stuff like that can spawn in missions that in the case of endless missions, could provide boons like a huge overshield in defense, an overcharge of life support in Survival, Stun-lock enemies for about a minute if they get near interception consoles and so on and so on.~

 

 

  • Finally, I have to agree that its annoying to find stuff like vitality, ammo drum and so on mods just littering the reward tables. Honestly i just want D.E. to really double down on a exchange system and have most common/uncommon mods not be obtained via DROPS, but instead you would exchange Endo to get copies of them and the amount of endo gained would be a alot more common and the normal ways to farm it like arbitration and statues would be boosted. This would be an absurdly lazy and easy way to make newer players have less trouble getting essential mods but for higher end uncommon mods and Rare ones, they would have to do the leg work in some way to farm for them. While in the case of those common and lower-end uncommon mods, they would need to get a large stock of endo. But overall if they do some actual modernizing frustrating elements in warframe, i feel that it could be more pleasant, but sadly me demanding that fissures need a redesign is clearly falling on deaf ears once more, like im sure many have thrown a fit on how badly designed fissure farming can be, amongst many other pieces of content.

Overall, i would honestly like to say D.E. needs to fix alot in the game, but also do a simplification of any many elements, into a much user friendly design, before they can get back to making it complex & fun, sort of like resetting the foundation itself of a game, so it can be back to being simple & enjoy enjoyable, With people able to expand upon it to greatly amp up what kind of fun it can be. Though honestly D.E. needs to not be letting events spook them into hard nerfing a bunch of frames because they did not balance frames and think its a SWELL idea to nerf the only frames that can make a boring piece of content actually tolerable, then clearly they got thar priority even more screwed up, then them dropping an entire event which is suppose to be part of not just 1 but 2 new elements (Railjack & OpLinks), but they clearly fail to actually test the dang thing and make sure all the actual bugs were fixed before even THINKING about releasing it, cause they still should of swept thru a it a few more times to make sure everything was properly optimized.

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On 2020-04-06 at 6:37 PM, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

no more enemy hit scan."  Yes.  Giving players the option of actually dodging enemy fire should have been a design feature from the start, though I understand there are probably technical limitations.  Telegraphed attacks that actually leave the enemy open to fire is another super common feature that feels silly for us to not have.  The enemy has almost no chinks in its armor other than its AI and the fact that we have insane damage.  There's no trade off for the enemy having a sea of nullifier bubbles.  There's no drawback of every grineer heavy having an AOE knockdown.  Considering the fact that enemies that grapple you can complete that grapple animation and still knock you down after they're dead, and the Ancient Infested so infamous for spamming knockdown drags also come with really strong support auras, there's zero downside for any of those enemies either other than the fact that as soon as I get up I'm pissed off and I still have my Reaper Prime in my hands.  I complain about nerfs a lot in this forum.  One of the reasons for that is that we're constantly having things stripped from us in the name of balance and risk vs reward, but the enemies never have any trade-offs.  There is no "risk/reward" mentality behind their design which makes them the one dimensional fodder they are.  Add in the constant enemy spawn from broom closets you just cleared out and you have a hoard slaughter game.  

I would accept a ridiculous nerf to power if it meant proper, fully overhauled enemy and mission balance.  No more endless waves of enemies unless it's a mode that calls for that.  Instead, harder enemies that you NEED to engage with that are an actual threat to the players beyond non-telegraphed AOE one-shots.  Alarms that actually matter, maybe even calling in harder units on top of a harder to get rid of lockdown mechanic.  Pressure units like nullifiers that are properly balanced.  Like a wider, flatter cylinder of nully influence, but instead of straight wiping all your abilities, they're only turned off while inside the field.  You can risk going in to attack directly with all abilities turned off, or try and snipe the drone to take the field out.  Make it harder to just burst the shield down or make it only damagable with certain types of damage, like void and magnetic.  It would no longer just wipe your abilities if you brushed against it, but it would also be more of a pain to deal with with actual risk

Doom erhernal show us the value of visible projectiles vs high Moviment players. Just a few ajustments on projectile speed and change the roll for a quicker and with less recovery dash. 

As far as enemy desing is concerned DE has to give enemies either doble edged swords or powers with drawn backs. The player has to feel like he is out playing the enemy not outstating. When the player loses he Also has to feel like it was his duck up not bullS#&$ enemy skills. Warframe invisible energy drain auras and hitscan weapon are contrary of that. As far as how I would do it have a bit of a pet project. A pitch for the TUBEMEN of regor. Here how they would work. They are modular enemies that roll on a few tables for skill and stats. Here is the list. 

First table, birth defects table ( I find it odd , that the grinner keep referencing birth defecrs on the lore but it never reflects on the gameplay ). 

Weak heart , this TUBEMEN was born with defective heart. Tyl Regor transplanted a Omega Dreker Kubrow ( has a external heart like a tyrant from resident evil ). This unit has increased speed but The player can shoot of the armor protecting the heart and deal massive damage. 

Weak lungs , this TUBEMEN eas born with defective lungs. Tyl regor replaced his lungs with an Iron lung. This unit come with gas grenades but the player can shoot the gas cylinders ( causes an explosion , if the target survives it has its Moviment speed permanently reduced ).

Healthy boy , this is a healthyTUBEMEN has increased HP.

Second table , helmet table. This table focus on countering some common strategies. Sometimes the game would Rig the roll so the counter unit will always spam ( if this happens the player receives an announcement from Regor ) 

Gunner helmet. Allows the user to see invisible units , the user has a ink grenede to atttemp to reveal the target. However this helmet has a laser sight pointing where the user is looking at.

Medic helmet , can purge debuffs and gives temporary imunty to the dispelled buffs. But has a audible cue and charge time.

Melee helmet, gives a jetpack to this untit and after two melee hits this unit will purge. 

The last table roll their hand ( they have attachable hands like Tyl Regor). This roll has a it's results limited by the helmet  roll. 

Ack and Brunt ( gives heavy residency to all forms of ranged damage coming from the front) . limited to Melee helmet.

Knux ( can Launch the fists, if the target is a defensive structure ( snow globe, gara wall and so on ) the first hit will crack the wall and the second one will break it ). Limited to melee helmet 

Frontal shield, has a frontal shield like Heinhart ( block aoe coming from the front ). Limited to gunner 

Glue gun , launches a stream of glue slowing down the targets hit. Limited to gunner 

Medic Gun , heals the target and can turn the target invulnerable 

Medic seringe claw , can revive fallen grineer as ghouls 

A last note is a later levels they would be spam along side either a grineer sentinel or a Omega Dreker Kubrow.

 

A think this is good enemy desing because they have a strong lore gameplay conection. They also have really powerfull abilities but they either have some tradeback , conterplay or are situational.

On 2020-04-06 at 6:37 PM, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

for grind and their desire for "bite-sized" missions.  They need to pick one.  They don't like our speed through missions and have stated that explicitly, but are also the ones designing away from longer missions, which players only dislike due to

Good point.

On 2020-04-06 at 6:37 PM, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

Easier to implement would be the optional objectives to encourage thorough playing, rather than just skipping all of it.  Something like Caches, but worth the time to find them.  Optional exterminate or destroy component objectives that would add bonus rewards.  Unmarked objectives where exploration can pay off by

Good idea.

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

I would accept a ridiculous nerf to power if it meant proper, fully overhauled enemy and mission balance.  No more endless waves of enemies unless it's a mode that calls for that.  Instead, harder enemies that you NEED to engage with that are an actual threat to the players beyond non-telegraphed AOE one-shots.  Alarms that actually matter, maybe even calling in harder units on top of a harder to get rid of lockdown mechanic.

While this is subjective, it's also kind of a matter of genre, though. Warframe is a Horde Shooter in the vein of Payday or L4D more so than it's a tactics game in the vein of The Division. While I'm always in favour of more mechanically complex units, I feel there are pretty severe diminishing returns there. If you face players with a large number of gimmick enemies, each with their own gimmicks, then you're going to overwhelm your audience pretty quickly, likely pushing them to try and circumvent complexity entirely rather than dealing with it. Payday 2's Shield SWAT are a good example. They are mechanically sound, but they show up nearly all the time in groups of four, so most people fight them with either explosives or shield-piercing abilities (or staggers, in my case) rather than bothering to try and flank around them. The pace of the game simply doesn't allow it.

I should also note that simply having large groups of dumb, simple enemies presents complexities of its own. For one thing, they put extra emphasis on terrain. In games where that matters, taking cover from hordes of enemies often involves clearing out and protecting cover spots. One of the BIG things in surviving the Bonus Wave in Space Marine's Exterminatus was prioritising Chaos Heretics who spawn with line of sight of our cover spot. Even if they don't do a lot of damage, they keep our shields and health from regenerating, meaning we need to keep clearing them out to hold our position. Even in games where cover doesn't matter, corners and choke points still help cause the AI to bunch up together and so become more susceptible to AoE. While it's true that kiting and pulling large groups of enemies is more of an early 2000s MMO sort of thing, it can be viable even in a relatively fast-paced action game like Warframe.

What I'm trying to get at is that you don't need EVERY enemies to be complex in order to have challenging combat. As I said, combat in video games is something of a covenant between developer and player, both of whom actually want the same thing - fun combat. Players will always push for easier, simpler combat if given the choice. It's developers' job to not just create challenging, complex combat but to actually coerce their players into engaging with it as designed. I'm of the opinion that we as players need to be pushed into more challenging content in one way or another, but that we need to also not be pushed TOO hard. Ideally, we should be playing by the system's rules and respecting its design, not being frustrated and looking for ways to circumvent it. By its very nature, that requires that developers and the game in general cut us some slack at least some of the time, giving us some mindless slaughter of enemies who can't really fight back here and there for the sake of variety if nothing else.

My personal preference - and you've probably seen me post this before - is a mix of simple and complex enemies, weak and tanky enemies, harmless and dangerous enemies, heavily weighed towards the former over the latter. I believe that combat which is predominantly both easy and unchallenging is the necessary backdrop against which spikes of challenge can really shine. I would want players to feel powerful most of the time, maybe even overpowered. I would also want players to run into seriously nasty enemies every once in a while - the kind which deserve their own mechanics and their own engaging gameplay. Most of the enemies, though, I don't feel need to add anything more to combat than noise and distraction.

However, that requires a clean delineation between "These enemies are worthless, I'll just offhandedly shoot them..." and "Not good! That's a tank! Incoming!" and Warframe simply doesn't have that. Rather than throwing more enemies into the game, or indeed throwing existing enemies out of it, I feel Warframe would benefit from a somewhat more "discrete" enemy design, where different enemy types are made more distinct from each other and given their own roles. If I can not care about most of the enemies I fight, then I will gladly be on the lookout for the few enemies worth caring about.

 

21 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

Easier to implement would be the optional objectives to encourage thorough playing, rather than just skipping all of it.

That's a good point, and something I should probably have gone into in a bit more detail. On the "intrinsic vs. extrinsic rewards" spectrum, DE seem to rely on the latter almost exclusively, and seem to have done so for many years now. Unfortunately, what that does is precisely what you describe here - players want to skip as much content as possible in order to get rewards faster. NOTHING you design in such an environment is ever going to be challenging, because challenge is a two-way street. Yes, the game has to require us to engage with the complexity of its combat, but WE also have to want to do that. If all I want is that last Pangolin Prime piece and I've already run 8 rounds of Lua Defection multiple times without getting it, I'm not going to care about "challenge." No, I'm going to pick the cheesiest build I can find so I can make it go as fast as possible while trying as little as I can. The same goes for trying to generate a Lich for myself. I'm not going to bother exploring the Capture mission. I might need to repeat it 30, 40, 50 times or more, so I just want it to go away as quickly as possible and give me as many runs as I can cram into my spare time. When I only care about the reward and see gameplay as a cost, that's bad mission design.

Personally, I agree with you that we'd benefit from longer more complex missions replete with side objectives that we are encouraged to pursue rather than ignore. I'm not going to pretend that there are simple ways to do that, of course. It has to do with player burnout, with game monetisation and with the fact that some people simply enjoy being efficient. It's why speed runs exist in game where that doesn't matter. However, I do feel we should move away from gating ALL rewards behind JUST mission completion, and instead spreading them out across mission objectives. Cetus and Fortuna, for instance, offer I believe an extra roll of the final reward rotation if all missions were "aced." That's certainly made me care about doing those objectives well a lot more. Same with Spy missions. Once I learned that there actually WAS a bonus to hacking the vault without tripping an alarm is when I actually started trying to sneak rather than barging my way in.

We're never going to be in a situation where all Warframe players are playing for fun. Ain't gonna' happen with any Live Service. I do, however, believe that there are ways to get people to stay in missions longer, explore larger portions of them and bother with optional objectives. Something as simple as offering extra end-of-mission reward rolls seems simple enough, but we ARE going to need side objectives worth a crap. Once again, I feel Warframe has all the systems necessary to create some pretty elaborate missions but DE just never seem to want to use them. We can carry Cannisters, but we almost never do and never in any large quantity. Never as loot, either - always as a mission objective. We can unlock doors to loot the items behind them, but we almost never do outside of that one Blast Door during Sabotage missions. We can look for secrets, but they're incredibly rare and just as rarely worth a crap. The reason I bring up Payday 2 as often when talking about mission design is because that game almost always keeps players working on secondary objectives WHILE still trying to find time for their primary one. All too often, Warframe boils down to missions with a single objective (maybe repeated three times) or worse - "kill stuff until further notice."

Players will always complain about longer missions. What Payday 2 showed me, however, is that attaching meaningful extra rewards to side objectives, people WILL do longer missions and WILL look for bonus objectives. Not all players not all of the time, but most players most of the time - enough to safely assume that pubbies will stick around for more loot rather than trying to escape with the bare minimum. There are ways to do this, I think.

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21 hours ago, Avienas said:

get rid of the crap like Exterminate

Exterminate currently does not even have a reward table outside of the void (where every mission type drops relics, I'm pretty sure.) the caches on Lua, Jupiter and Kuva Fortress, and Archwing, which is a content island.  Exterminate should be an optional objective on most mission types.  The one exclusion that comes to mind is Sabotage, because the whole point of Sabotage is to destroy a reactor that will destroy the ship/facility that it's in.  That destruction will most likely complete the exterminate in the end anyway, so the optional objective there would be to sneak around and shut off enemy egress paths from the place you're about to blow.  Lock them in and light the fuse. 

Aside from the fact that the Tenno are apparently just hilarious jerks that will show up to murder everyone and blow your stuff up for no reason paltry rewards, we're never really, truly given any sort of compelling motivation for why we're in conflict with the Grineer and Corpus.  Even looking past that, there's hardly an explanation for why we're on this ship about to murder a specific number of enemies and then leave.  The only thing that can be assumed is that we're in a war of attrition with both factions and someone is paying us to do it, considering there's a credit payout at the end of each mission, with one odd reward or another.  If we're being paid to wage a war of denying the enemy resources and personnel, then every kill we make, every container we open every locker we raid every glass window we shoot out, should all be paying us dividends.  Exterminate optional objectives, as well as raiding the place and breaking stuff should all provide a mission bonus.  One of the things that would fix affinity balance, loot balance etc would be if completion of these sorts of "war of attrition" optional objectives provided a small multiplier on gains from the mission, credits/xp/drops all of it.  An idea I had while scouring Jupiter for the partnership fragments and kurias I was missing is that the 3rd hidden cache could have an uncommon drop of a "mission booster" that would double what you gained from that mission at the end.  Things like that are almost always worth finding for even some experienced players, but especially new ones. 

Good reward structure that matches time and effort put in makes even longer missions feel worthwhile.  Having a core objective that can be spammed in 5 minutes with meaningless optional objectives that aren't worth the extra 10 minutes they stack on means no one will do optional objectives and will engage with the mission as little as possible.  Rewarding the player meaningfully for constant engagement can result in players engaging with the totality of a mission, even if they do so in a reductive manner, like completing the optional exterminate with a Saryn.  Fixing the "cheese everything" mentality is something that has to be done with game balance and can only be worked on if done in an open, honest manner, where total balance is key and end goals are clearly defined.  Or, like the other guy said, it's a hoard shooter, leave it as is and let people keep the power fantasy.  

I'd prefer it if they could have "power fantasy" modes and nodes and also have "everything you do is important, engagement matters" modes and nodes.

2 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

snip

Mostly addressing the idea of enemy balance within their own ranks, and how some enemies should be weak.  You bring up Payday, I would like to bring up DOOM 2016.  Not even Eternal, they got it right 4 years ago too.  Every enemy matters.  They put the enemies on the map like chess pieces for you to pick apart or fail miserably.  Even the most basic zombie type enemy is important.  Even in decent numbers, by themselves they aren't much of a threat unless you ignore them.  They do decent damage, but are slow.  The danger in them lies as soon as anything else shows up, because now they're basically an environmental hazard that can change situational awareness, preventing movement and damage you if you run into them while trying to maneuver around something like an Imp.  Imps are also easy to kill, but will straight send you back to the last checkpoint if you ignore them while trying to deal with a bigger pressure unit like a Summoner, meaning you have to divide your time, keep moving, and take any and all opportunities as they come up, or die.  Hell Knights show up and look like a bigger threat than a Summoner, but leaving the Summoner on the field while running from a Knight is a mistake.  You end up in a combative dance where the decisions you make are all important, the danger is real and yet you still feel the power fantasy.  Obviously one dude with a handful of guns is easier to balance than 40+ warframes and hundreds of weapons, but the point still stands that combat could be made far more engaging than it is.  The main issue I have with them balancing down players is the lack of clear communication on any intent to properly re-balance and completely overhaul enemies to match.  You can't balance players for a tactical shooter while leaving enemies in the hoard mode state they're in.

 

2 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

We're never going to be in a situation where all Warframe players are playing for fun. Ain't gonna' happen with any Live Service

The most fun I've personally had in a long time was Kuria hunting.  I like exploring, which is why I'm shilling for it so hard in this thread.  There are end tiles I had never seen the entirety of in 1700 hours, until I started hunting.  There's an end tile in the Shipyard map that has a "secret" vertical area that goes up for what feels like a few hundred meters with pipes and alcoves.  It feels like something besides Kuria should be up there.  Exploration should be rewarded with more than just a poem.  People play for rewards and progression, not for fun.  You're right about that.  Clicker Heroes exists.  But if you tie rewards and progression in with things that some players consider fun, then you can have both.  For people like you (assuming, based on your stance.) they could have actually scaling rewards and increasingly dense waves of enemies with more pressure units in a new, better endless mission.  They could do that challenge tower idea a few people have been kicking around in various forms for years.  They could have exploration reward you with actual rewards instead of just a Kuria.  Nothing worse than finding a cave behind a waterfall with nothing in it.

 

21 hours ago, keikogi said:

paraphrase "tons of new and varied pressure units."

Direct quote:  "Good idea"

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5 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

These enemies are worthless, I'll just offhandedly shoot them..." and "Not good! That's a tank! Incoming!" and Warframe simply doesn't have that. Rather than throwing more enemies into the game, or indeed throwing existing enemies out of it, I feel Warframe would benefit from a somewhat more "discrete" enemy design, where different enemy types are made more distinct from each other and given their own roles. If I can not care about most of the enemies I fight

Good thing you brought up left 4 dead. I think they nailed the tiered enemy desing , shaft , enemy with a unique mechanic ( spiter , hunter ... ) and mini boss ( tank , witch ). It is a good formula the keeps the player engaged but is not overly taxing. This formula could work on warframe as long as DE fixes the damage system and gives lore to the enemies. 

Giving lore to the enemies sounds like a odd request but strong enemies should be backed up by the universe. Take nulifiers as an example. It is literally a guy with a backpack , the true arch nemesis of the tennom. The corpus have the nulifer technology so well developes that they can thrown nulifiers grenede. At this point you ask , why the duck isn't the corpus selling this to the grineer or why aren't the sentient just copying the blue print. It Also kind of immersion breaking the a dude with a backpack can stop literally every single form of space magic. It would be way easier to digest the nulifier bullS#&$ if he had a lore behind it. Something as simple as a crewman that could not pay his debt gets grown into the void , if he reapers into a ship he will be argumented and become a nulifier because he became a void lighting rod.

5 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

Players will always complain about longer missions. What Payday 2 showed me, however, is that attaching meaningful extra rewards to side objectives, people WILL do longer missions and WILL look for bonus objectives. Not all players not all of the time, but most players most of the time - enough to safely assume that pubbies will stick around for more loot rather than trying to escape with the bare minimum. There are ways to do this, I think.

It would be a good reward structure , I remeber when they intorudced void sabotage ( ancient times , void keys were a thing ) , people always looked for all the caches to maximize the loot of single relic.

3 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

Direct quote:  "Good idea

I was trying to create new units that can fight agaist the layers lf cheese the players can put up but not feeling overly cheese themself. I tried to create a set for the corpus reworking the nulifiers and another for the infested using zealot herald. But I've run out of sound ideas for mechanics for them.

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On 2020-04-03 at 11:42 AM, Steel_Rook said:

In conclusion:

I will full agree that Warframe's combat is not challenging. By this point, I'm so familiar with it that it genuinely puts me to sleep any more. Not trying to S#&$-talk, that's one of the reasons I've been focusing on other games. However, I don't think that making the game more difficult, nerfing us or buffing our enemies will fix this. Rather, I feel that Warframe needs to rethink its approach to combat, rethink its approach to game design and actually give us something to consider in combat beyond monitoring coloured bars. Sure, that could in part take the shape of straight nerfs and buffs, but that wouldn't be enough. If we are to stop passively trading damage with the enemy, we need some kind of mechanical complexity to fall back on which has a use, a purpose and actual game design behind it. Leaning into parkour would absolutely be a good idea, but that would require substantial changes to Parkour, to our environments and to our enemies.

If you want "push forward gameplay" on the level of Doom 4, then we need AI which stands out in the open, stands near exploding barrels, clusters together, fires predominantly slow-moving projectiles and charge-up telegraphed AoEs and otherwise encourages us to stay on the move, grab vantage points and engage in melee. Right now, Warframe's core design is that of an old-school slow-moving military shooter with enemies who crouch behind cover, spread out and pepper us with hitscan weapons from range, while the design of our own characters encourages breaking sight, recovering shields and trading damage from range.

I don't feel Warframe needs to be harder. If anything, that would make it even more reductive as it's going to start invalidating currently viable options. It doesn't need to be more mechanically complex, either - we have plenty of complexity as it is. I feel Warframe can be made more challenging if that complexity were given more of a reason to exist and we were given more of a reason to engage with it.

This. It needs to be seen by DE. 

Difficulty in Warframe almost always is associated with high level enemies with bigger numbers than the rest. It would be great to see DE rework some enemies and tilesets as to establish at least some basic gameplay role for certain enemy AI that would encourage smart use of the parkour system.

Warframe really needs some enemy redesign/rework if it wants to find any sort of challenge that isn`t resolved in the arsenal screen.

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I have to say, it's very refreshing to see someone define what they mean when they say "difficulty" and "challenge".  I've seen a thousand and one posts from people asking for more of both without once explaining exactly what it is they want.

I agree that parkour is underutilized by the game on the whole.  Part of it, I suspect, it outdated level design.  I was not here since the beginning, but my understanding is that parkour as we know it today wasn't in the game at all at first.  As the result, the older maps weren't built with it in mind, and neither was the basic enemy design/AI.  Even things that came later inherited a lot of their design DNA from what came before, carrying the limitations forward after parkour was introduced.  The Jupiter remaster took some steps in the right direction in that regard I feel, with a good deal of vertical space used and those floorless rooms you mentioned.  I'm hopeful that the upcoming Corpus ship remaster will push this direction even further.  It is the oldest set of tiles in the game, after all.

This also reminds me of a similar problem I experienced recently while playing a Railjack mission.  It struck me that movement in Railjack is completely unnecessary until the enemy ships have been eliminated.  I destroyed every single fighter and crewship in a higher level Saturn node without firing my engines once.  I rotated, I aimed, but I didn't leave my spawn position.  It was not only possible, but advantageous.  Without worrying about movement, I was more free to focus on minding my hull integrity and, as a bonus, all the loot drops were confined to a much smaller radius for easy collection.  By completely ignoring mobility, I was able to reduce the combat section of the mission to the complexity of a turret defense game.  One homing missile to get the attention of that first fighter, and everything else came to me until I filled up the quota.  If Warframe doesn't know what to do with parkour in ground combat, then I don't even know how to describe its relationship with Railjack movement in space combat.

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14 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

Aside from the fact that the Tenno are apparently just hilarious jerks that will show up to murder everyone and blow your stuff up for no reason paltry rewards, we're never really, truly given any sort of compelling motivation for why we're in conflict with the Grineer and Corpus.  Even looking past that, there's hardly an explanation for why we're on this ship about to murder a specific number of enemies and then leave.  The only thing that can be assumed is that we're in a war of attrition with both factions and someone is paying us to do it, considering there's a credit payout at the end of each mission, with one odd reward or another.

Bit off-topic, but I wanted to comment on the lore for a moment because DEAR GOD YES! That right there was one of the biggest problems I had with Warframe as a new player. I completed Vor's Prize where my motivation was to save my own ass, and then... Nothing. No further questline, no hint at my motivation, not even a general idea of what I was supposed to DO. Why am I? Who are the people I just murdered? Why am I going on these missions? Who is this "Lotus" that I'm trusting implicitly? In-game, there's almost no world-building, no direction, no narrative. We progress through the Star Chart because we've played video games before and we can recognise level progression. We earn stuff because we've played video games before and we recognise loot. At no point, however, is any context given for why we do any of what we do.

I watched an old NoClip documentary on Warframe back in the day, which had some interesting insights. It seems Warframe started out not as a space ninja game so much as a space pirate game. Players were supposed to be effectively raiders, hitting these larger ships, looting them or doing some other quick hit, then extracting back to their own base. Something like a futuristic space Payday, if you will. The original setting that - hilariously - the majority of the game right now is built on seems to be no more complex than "Grinerr and Corpus bad, go steal their stuff and kill their crews." Yet somehow, even THAT much isn't really communicated to a player just starting the game. Finishing Vor's prize feels like the player is a small child playing with toys, then turning around to see that their parents have walked out the room when the child wasn't looking. It's a mix of confusion and anxiety that DE really need to consider rectifying, sooner rather than later.

 

15 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

Mostly addressing the idea of enemy balance within their own ranks, and how some enemies should be weak.  You bring up Payday, I would like to bring up DOOM 2016.  Not even Eternal, they got it right 4 years ago too.  Every enemy matters.  They put the enemies on the map like chess pieces for you to pick apart or fail miserably.

Just for the sake of context, I need to disclose that I... Kind of didn't like Doom 4. I get what the game was trying to achieve, the "push forward gameplay" design everyone's talking about. Maybe I just didn't get it, maybe I was doing it wrong, but that never really worked out for me. It worked at the start when enemies were weak and I had free reign of the map. It sort of worked out when only individual large demons spawned. By the end, however, it felt like every other minute I was locked in an arena with bullet-spongey enemies in large numbers and could only proceed when I've killed them all. Somewhere around my second visit to hell is where gameplay entirely collapsed for me. I couldn't be arsed to do the "bullet dance" at that point any more because it was just taking forever and feeling repetitive, so I defaulted to using the biggest gun I had ammo for (usually the Rail Rifle, the Chaingun or the Rocket Launcher), standing in a spot where I could break sight with most of the enemies and just mag-dumping into the biggest enemy I could see. Lack of player mobility (double jump and not a lot else), lack of reliable melee options (Chainsaw always out of gas) and wide open arenas with next to no meaningful terrain features just made combat in that game feel reductive.

The reason I bring up Doom Eternal is because it seems to be addressing a LOT of my criticisms towards Doom 4. This time around, the player has a lot of extra mobility options - double jump, air dash, swinging on things, etc. This time around, the player always has a reliable melee kill option in the form of regenerating chansaw fuel and a shoulder flamethrower. This time around, the demons have weak points that can be exploited so I'm not always just mag-dumping into big targets. I get what Doom 4 was going for and it's not inherently BAD, but that game never managed to pull me into its covenant. It never managed to convince me to actually play along with its design, because it simply never managed to respect its own rules - not in my opinion, at least. By trying to make late-game fights more difficult, it fundamentally undermined its own mechanics. When I'm presented with a large number of very tanky enemies in an open field, I default to a reductive gameplay approach simply because I start to feel cheated and so feel compelled to cheat the game right back.

This is why I tend to favour L4D2 and Payday 2 over Doom 4. While I'm not claiming those games are necessarily "better," both are designed with an understanding of the mentality I highlighted above. If you overwhelm the player, the player will defer to a reductive playstyle. That's why both of those games deliberately design the majority of their enemies to themselves be reductive, budgeting complexity for individual rarer enemies who have all the interesting mechanics, for mission objectives and for terrain interaction. More so than even L4D2, Payday 2 I feel does terrain interaction the best simply because of how important it is to know where you can go to recover and where you're going to get shot to S#&$ if you linger too long. Now granted, neither of those games has the same "push forward gameplay" as Doom 4 so it's not exactly a fair comparison. And if anything, Warframe is closer to Doom 4 than to either of those two other games.

Here's what I'd recommend taking away from all of the above: Players have something of an attention budget. Most people are willing to engage with some amount of complexity some of the time. If you throw too much complexity at them too often, then most players will naturally default to reductive gameplay because constantly dealing with complexity gets really old really fast. Now obviously, this is subjective and some players will really "click" with that sort of gameplay. However, I feel that broad appeal requires at least some amount of restraint in applying complexity. Dirt simple enemies with ranged weapons in large numbers need do nothing more than gain sight of the player and shoot in order to add enough complexity to be meaningful without really requiring any special attention from the player beyond point-and-shoot. That's more than enough when more challenging individual enemies who require care and attention are mixed in with them.

We may be arguing the same point here. I just felt it prudent to add context on where I stand.

 

15 hours ago, (XB1)TehChubbyDugan said:

People play for rewards and progression, not for fun.  You're right about that.  Clicker Heroes exists.  But if you tie rewards and progression in with things that some players consider fun, then you can have both.  For people like you (assuming, based on your stance.) they could have actually scaling rewards and increasingly dense waves of enemies with more pressure units in a new, better endless mission.

I may have misrepresented my own position a little 🙂 I'm actually predominantly an exploration type player, especially when playing alone. Back when I played City of Heroes, I explored every pixel on the minimap. When I solo Warframe missions, I break every container and open every locker. Always carry both a Master Thief and a Master Key with me, as well. The reason I criticise exploration in Warframe is that after doing that for two years, I'm REALLY starting to feel silly doing it these days. Say I run a Lich Spy mission. When I look at my stats at the end and I see a 30-minute completion time with barely 20K XP on the one gun I was levelling and $&*^-all progress towards my next requiem, I start wondering what I'm doing with my life. I mean, it WAS fun, but I'm never going to get anywhere doing that. Then I jump into an ESO and get 200 000 Focus (not XP, Focus) in 20 minutes. How the hell am I supposed to feel at that point? Do I play what I actually like and never make any progress? Or do I bite my lip, grind what I really don't enjoy but actually level up? It's a no-win scenario. By Warframe's very nature as "a grindy game" (remember - that's a BAD thing), we're forced to optimise our time with the game otherwise it starts to feel depressing.

But ultimately, I WANT more exploration in Warframe. I WANT longer more complex objectives. I WANT more in the way of scavenger hunts for extra loot and secrets. Yet every time I bring that up, people always say "Eh, the rewards suck. I don't bother." Every time I go into a mission with pubbies and even friends any more, everyone just runs to the objective skipping everything on the way. "Who cares. I have enough Ferrite." So, if I want to do actual exploration, I have to go solo and simply accept that not going to be engaging with the game's progression system for a time.

This is why I'm in complete agreement with you. I WANT to tie progression into exploration in some fashion. Right now, players are encouraged to stay in the same mission for 20, 40, 60 minutes doing the most reductive kind of gameplay, but no such encouragement exists for players spending an extra 10 minutes finding cashes, or an extra 5 minutes opening lockers and breaking containers. Invasions are probably the biggest offenders. If you get a Defence mission, you're there for 5-6 minutes and that's the entire mission. If you get a Sabotage mission, you could be there for half an hour if you (like I used to) wanted to open every locker. There ought to be some incentive to do that. Even something as simple as an XP/resource multiplier added to the end of the mission, which can be boosted by locker/container drops. In fact, get rid of the Affinity drops altogether and boost my end-of-mission bonus for every Affinity drop I take, instead.

I don't want to go too deep into specific suggestions here in this thread since that's one massive rabbit hole, but I do agree with mission objectives and mission rewards promoting exploration. Put Hidden Caches in every mission, give players an extra roll at the mission's reward rotation for each one. You did a Spy mission and found all three Caches? Congrats - you get 4*A rotation, 4*B rotation, 4*C rotation. It's like you ran four Spy missions. And that's at a bare minimum. I'm still of the opinion that Warframe's mission structure itself needs a redesign from the ground up to allow for secondary objectives, more hidden loot, possibly even physically carried loot (i.e. valuable Data Masses). You captured the target. You can leave now, or look for their personal files. Crap, their files are in a locked room. You need to find a security key. There should be one on the ship captain. Great, you got their primary data storage, but the target also had three Data Masses' worth of additional back-ups. You can leave now, or try to bring those with you, as well.

People will do complex missions, people will pursue bonus objectives, people will explore the map for collectables if they feel rewarded for it. Again - Payday 2 is an objective example of this. The moment that game went from fixed rewards for mission completion to scaled rewards based on side objectives, players started doing side objectives with aggressive determination.

 

12 hours ago, keikogi said:

Good thing you brought up left 4 dead. I think they nailed the tiered enemy desing , shaft , enemy with a unique mechanic ( spiter , hunter ... ) and mini boss ( tank , witch ). It is a good formula the keeps the player engaged but is not overly taxing. This formula could work on warframe as long as DE fixes the damage system and gives lore to the enemies. 

I covered some of this above, but I wanted to address this point in particular: Completely agreed. I firmly believe that a L4D-style tiered enemy system could work in Warframe. It already kinda-sorta exists with the likes of Nullifiers, Noxes, Ancient Healers and a few others, though it exists more by chance than by design. I've often proposed a 2/4/1 system, where existing factions are broken up into individual Corps, with each Corps consisting of 2 Common enemies with no unique mechanics or individual threat whose only purpose is to add girth to the enemy forces, 4 Special enemies with a lot of health and armour and unique mechanics and destructible weak points which modify those mechanics, and a single Miniboss who demands players' full attention and involves a little dance in fighting it. My ideal state of flow (and this is purely subjective) is cutting my way through hordes of enemies who couldn't hurt me if I let them, but always on the lookout for those few enemies who very much CAN hurt me if I'm not careful.

I don't believe in game design which makes every enemy on the map individually meaningful. To me, that's too much complexity for a horde shooter with often 20-30 people on-screen. Common enemies should not be a threat so much as a distraction - something I'm going to need to take care of eventually and which can be problematic if I ignore it, but equally something that's never going to require my full attention. Ideally, I should be able to fight Common enemies AND explore at the same time, rather than having to focus on one or the other. When Special enemies show up is when I'm going to need to drop what I'm doing and deal with them.

 

10 hours ago, UnderRevision said:

I have to say, it's very refreshing to see someone define what they mean when they say "difficulty" and "challenge".  I've seen a thousand and one posts from people asking for more of both without once explaining exactly what it is they want.

Happy to oblige 🙂 I'm a fairly pedantic person in real life, and tend to find that A LOT of arguments come down not so much to a disagreement but rather a misunderstanding or semantics. As such, it's always important to define your terms so that everyone's on the same page. Speaking generally is always easier, but rarely productive.

 

10 hours ago, UnderRevision said:

I agree that parkour is underutilized by the game on the whole.  Part of it, I suspect, it outdated level design.  I was not here since the beginning, but my understanding is that parkour as we know it today wasn't in the game at all at first.  As the result, the older maps weren't built with it in mind, and neither was the basic enemy design/AI.  Even things that came later inherited a lot of their design DNA from what came before, carrying the limitations forward after parkour was introduced.  The Jupiter remaster took some steps in the right direction in that regard I feel, with a good deal of vertical space used and those floorless rooms you mentioned.  I'm hopeful that the upcoming Corpus ship remaster will push this direction even further.  It is the oldest set of tiles in the game, after all.

Yes on all fronts. From what I've seen, Warframe used to have a movement system closer to Prince of Persia, with fairly little in the way of high jumps and mostly limited wall-running. You can see that design all over the Orokin Tower tileset. And while I can somewhat understand old tilesets not being built with Parkour 2.0 in mind, even Jupiter Remastered kind of... Isn't. There are I think three or so tiles which require any kind of parkour, usually a long wall run or wire-walking, but most of it takes place on flat ground. There are a few secrets and loot areas up high where you need parkour to reach them, but - as we've established - Warframe does a piss-poor job encouraging exploration so few ever go there. Yes, it's a larger tileset which much better ALLOWS for parkour, but it still feels designed to let players mostly walk their way from one end to the other if they don't like parkour.

Enemy design is the one I can't really excuse, though. I know at the very least Cetus, Fortuna and Jupiter have come out after Parkour 2.0, and I can really only think of ONE enemy among all of those that really ties into parkour to any real degree - that Mortar Moa from the Terra Corpus. You know - the one which fires shots in the air and marks the ground where they fall so you know to parkour your way out of there to avoid damage? Pretty much none of the other enemies have been designed with mobility in mind. Not unless you count constantly being on the move and not even noticing grappling hooks and charging enemies. Tusk Grineer mortars could have been a good addition... If they'd marked the ground where they're about to fall. I suppose Terra Corpus grappling enemies (and grappling enemies in general) could have been a good addition... If they telegraphed their moves in any real way. Hell, why do Bombards still have homing missiles? Wouldn't THAT be the first thing to go if you want players to stay on the move?

If Warframe is to make full use of parkour in combat, then I'd argue that more attacks need to be telegraphed with their AoE range and fewer attacks should be hitscan. Yes, that would require a redesign of a lot of enemies, but we're due for that anyway.

 

10 hours ago, UnderRevision said:

This also reminds me of a similar problem I experienced recently while playing a Railjack mission.  It struck me that movement in Railjack is completely unnecessary until the enemy ships have been eliminated.  I destroyed every single fighter and crewship in a higher level Saturn node without firing my engines once.  I rotated, I aimed, but I didn't leave my spawn position.  It was not only possible, but advantageous.

Railjack is... An odd situation. There are advantages to moving the ship, certainly, just... Not many. Moving the ship doesn't seem to reduce incoming fire from Fighters. I don't know if they use hitscan weapons (it feels like they do) or just very fast projectiles, but I've never successfully dodged any of it. You'd think movement would be crucial when dodging the main guns of Crew Ships - the ones that hurt by far the most. Nope! Crew Ships fire homing projectiles that you can't really dodge. I mean, you kind of can with the slide, but they fire continuously so it's kind of pointless to bother anyway. Plus, we always have, like, four Crew Ships on the map anyway. Additionally, the Railjack is really sluggish outside of boost, and Boost is both limited and not that fast anyway. Maybe I could improve that with movement-specific build, but... Well, loot availability. And then there's the Slide, aka the Railjack Bullet Jump. For one thing, it's awkward to trigger, having to trigger a dodge THEN boost. It's effectively a much, much faster version of Boost, you can boost in all directions and it ends with an awkward shut forward regardless of the direction you're facing. Personally, I would ditch Boost entirely, make Slide the new Boost (i.e. using the Boost control inputs), get rid of Dodge entirely and replace it with the "end of slide shunt" but in all directions. That ought to make the ship feel a lot more numble and cut out a lot of pointless complexity that barely ever gets used.

The thing is, though, that I as a pilot have been able to pull off some pretty cool stunts every now and again - when I care to engage with the system. I've used mobility to pull away from Ramsleds, giving my side gunners time to shoot them down, I've chased down fighters for easier shots on them (they fly away from you when you chase them, around you when you're stopped), dodged missiles and such. Unfortunately, it is as you say - Railjack combat is reductive because very little of this complexity is worth engaging in, very little of it is in any way communicated to the player, and it's all too often better to use cheap tactics over trying to be fancy. SO MUCH of Railjack's performance is tied up in Avionics and other gear that the starting ship is basically worthless... And that's people's introduction to it. It's like DE learned not a single thing from Operators and Focus...

Long story short - there IS complexity in Railjack. Stiff controls and simplistic combat mechanics don't give us a lot of reason to engage with it, though.

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On 2020-04-03 at 3:42 PM, Steel_Rook said:

I will full agree that Warframe's combat is not challenging. By this point, I'm so familiar with it that it genuinely puts me to sleep any more.

Can confirm, have also dozed off in the middle of certain Sortie missions on some occasions. I woke up immediately after, of course, but as fun as the game can be, there are times when it really isn't stimulating.

As for the post overall, I think it's first worth commending it for how eloquent and well-structured it is. A lot of otherwise interesting opinions tend to get lost on these forums because the person expressing them didn't put as much effort into formulating a well-written post as they did into thinking about a particular design problem, which is a shame. I also have to largely agree with its main points: combat in Warframe has a ton of complexity, but very little depth, and while its parkour system is amazing, most of the game doesn't make use of it at all. My thoughts on the individual points:

Combat I agree is very much reductive, and I also especially agree with this:

On 2020-04-03 at 3:42 PM, Steel_Rook said:

This is where people tend to argue that we're just too powerful and we should be nerfed. Reduce our AoE, reduce our DPS, reduce our EPH, reduce our TLA! While I agree that this would make the game more difficult since we'll have a harder time winning the trade... It won't make it any more challenging because Warframe offers no real mechanical complexity to fall back on when the trade fails.

When I played the Grendel missions, I was expecting the lack of mods to open up at least some more interesting gameplay, in spite of frustrations -- yet that wasn't the case. Most of my weapons were anemic, which wasn't fun or interesting, but at the end of the day, despite the lack of mods, despite the overstretched length of the missions, they weren't difficult to complete, just tedious. At the end of the day, there was still a way of cheesing the missions, and even without the cheese, the core combat wasn't especially challenging -- enemies mostly fought and died the same way, and there wasn't anything especially skilful one had to do to survive or defend the objectives. As such, I think there are three main problems behind the reductive nature of combat:

  1. Balance. While I do agree that it's not the only or even main reason why combat is reductive, it nonetheless plays a strong part -- there is no reason to aim for a weak point, for example, if one can one-shot an enemy with a single bullet from a full auto assault rifle.
  2. Our ability design. Limbo is a topical example of this, as his Stasis was always known to be cheesy, yet has come to the forefront in eliminating most, if not all challenge from Scarlet Spear's missions, even after the nerfs. The key problem here is that most of our abilities are designed to output power, not gameplay, and so using our current abilities all the time tends to make the game easier, but also less engaging.
  3. Enemy design. There are only so many variations of "mook with a gun" one can have before combat starts to feel repetitive. Also worth bringing up in relation to parkour, but there is also virtually nothing to most enemies that typically encourages us to use our mobility, no weak points to target other than the head, or blind spots to run into. When DE does try to make an enemy more difficult, though, the results are often less than impressive, because the developers keep forgetting to make that difficulty interactive -- Bursas, Shield Lancers, and Thumpers do have specific defenses or weak spots that require the player to outmaneuver them, but can also turn on a dime, invalidating that gameplay. Nullifiers just flat-out remove our agency, and most bosses are a confused mess of invincibility mechanics that turn fights into more of a waiting game than anything else.

As for mobility, I don't quite agree with the core criticism: yes, choosing to parkour vs. stay put isn't an incredibly deep choice, but that's fine, because I don't think parkour in general should be about presenting the player with deliberative problems, so much as it should be about making the player react and spontaneously use parkour and the environment to their advantage. As such, parkouring at the right moment to dodge could be fine... if it worked. It doesn't, because enemy hitscan weapons and RNG aim means they can still hit and damage us when we do try to use our parkour for evasion. On top of that, most of our abilities still have animation locks, forcing us to constantly interrupt and even stun ourselves as part of our regular play: not only is this utterly horrible for game flow, it further detracts from our parkour system by grounding us unnecessarily. A lot of mission design also discourages movement, namely any mission with a static defense objective, and as mentioned above, the state of combat doesn't encourage parkour -- there's nothing that requires us to aim at enemies from on high, or catch them at an angle, because currently one can automatically mow everything down with the right build. Environments should be designed to let enemies take cover, and have us maneuver around it, but with the possible exception of the new Corpus Gas City, no other tileset really does that, and in fact most environments are still not adapted to Parkour 2.0 after all these years (including the Kuva Fortress tileset, which was made long after).

Where I do agree mobility is reductive, however, is in the way it lets us ignore all of gameplay when going to a mission objective: for missions like Capture, Spy, Sabotage, and the like that require us to go to an objective to make the mission advance, regardless of enemies, parkour basically enables us to bypass every enemy we encounter. The dodge bonus lets us avoid most (but not all) hits, our EHP+revives take care of the hits that do land, enemies are far too slow to catch up to us, and alarms can be disabled at no real cost other than a few seconds of time. As a result, missions are reduced to one big sequence of salmon-jumping from spawn to extraction, punctuated by the occasional mission objective. There are a lot of factors that play into this, but the core problem I think is that currently there is no incentive to engage in combat when one doesn't care for their loot or Affinity, and no real consequences for barrelling down a tileset while ignoring the enemy and their actions.

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mob wise, challenge should come in more forms than just scaling up hp/armour/shields, every X amount of levels above level 40 or so we should have difficulty change by also throwing in new abilities/gear loadouts for mobs so they become more challenging through variations, a weak level 5 grineer trash mob should not remain a weak slow moving trash mob at level 40+.  We should be seeing them upgrade their weapons, temporarily equip things like held shields as well as throwing unique grenades and the likes at us.

We have numerous unused garbage mods such as cold/rad/fire resist mods that nobody uses and pretty much never has, those damage types remain as little seen environmental hazards, mobs should eventually be using these damage types in the form of grenades or upgraded weapon damage to maybe give a use to trash mods like warm coat.

Mobs should also gain occasional AI tweaks every so often, again mostly so they do more than twawl slowly towards us like inept zombies, all sorts of things could be done like this to give a better challenge while not having our fights feel pretty much the same from level 5 to infinity with only health/shields/armour being the noticeable difference.

If someone can be bothered knocking up something brilliant, that would be awesome, here is a barebones version of what i was thinking of.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZLCK-Z69_Vg5dMEZO4R2_EdfIqWLSByBPSswR7v5VJg/edit?usp=sharing

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3 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

Yes on all fronts. From what I've seen, Warframe used to have a movement system closer to Prince of Persia, with fairly little in the way of high jumps and mostly limited wall-running. You can see that design all over the Orokin Tower tileset. And while I can somewhat understand old tilesets not being built with Parkour 2.0 in mind, even Jupiter Remastered kind of... Isn't. There are I think three or so tiles which require any kind of parkour, usually a long wall run or wire-walking, but most of it takes place on flat ground. There are a few secrets and loot areas up high where you need parkour to reach them, but - as we've established - Warframe does a piss-poor job encouraging exploration so few ever go there. Yes, it's a larger tileset which much better ALLOWS for parkour, but it still feels designed to let players mostly walk their way from one end to the other if they don't like parkour.

Enemy design is the one I can't really excuse, though. I know at the very least Cetus, Fortuna and Jupiter have come out after Parkour 2.0, and I can really only think of ONE enemy among all of those that really ties into parkour to any real degree - that Mortar Moa from the Terra Corpus. You know - the one which fires shots in the air and marks the ground where they fall so you know to parkour your way out of there to avoid damage? Pretty much none of the other enemies have been designed with mobility in mind. Not unless you count constantly being on the move and not even noticing grappling hooks and charging enemies. Tusk Grineer mortars could have been a good addition... If they'd marked the ground where they're about to fall. I suppose Terra Corpus grappling enemies (and grappling enemies in general) could have been a good addition... If they telegraphed their moves in any real way. Hell, why do Bombards still have homing missiles? Wouldn't THAT be the first thing to go if you want players to stay on the move?

Jupiter was a step in the right direction, a lot more steps are needed to really get us somewhere with parkour in the tilesets.  As you say, with the exception of a couple of rooms, you can still just run through the whole thing on the floor.  Strong agreement on the enemy design issues.  I would love to see those ground markings from the Corpus mortars ported over to the Grineer mortars, and removing bombard homing might help.  Even if you could just break the lock by bullet jumping it'd be more interesting.  Add in a visual cue that you're been locked onto, perhaps, like with Ballistas. 

I've also wondered for a while if giving enemies more mobility would encourage use of our own.  It'd almost demand that tiles be designed for it, but having to pursue enemies that can move vertically could be a way to get our own feet off the ground.  The Infestation might be a good candidate for that.  I could see crawling on walls fitting them very well thematically as well as possibly making them a greater threat.  They rely almost exclusively on melee attacks, after all.  Having them able to come at you from any direction and any angle might make them more interesting to fight.  I was very disappointed when Zealoids didn't become a part of the game at large after Arlo's Nightwave wrapped up.  Infested that could use the arsenal of Infested weapons we have available is a missed opportunity in my opinion.

3 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

Railjack is... An odd situation. There are advantages to moving the ship, certainly, just... Not many. Moving the ship doesn't seem to reduce incoming fire from Fighters. I don't know if they use hitscan weapons (it feels like they do) or just very fast projectiles, but I've never successfully dodged any of it. You'd think movement would be crucial when dodging the main guns of Crew Ships - the ones that hurt by far the most. Nope! Crew Ships fire homing projectiles that you can't really dodge. I mean, you kind of can with the slide, but they fire continuously so it's kind of pointless to bother anyway. Plus, we always have, like, four Crew Ships on the map anyway. Additionally, the Railjack is really sluggish outside of boost, and Boost is both limited and not that fast anyway. Maybe I could improve that with movement-specific build, but... Well, loot availability. And then there's the Slide, aka the Railjack Bullet Jump. For one thing, it's awkward to trigger, having to trigger a dodge THEN boost. It's effectively a much, much faster version of Boost, you can boost in all directions and it ends with an awkward shut forward regardless of the direction you're facing. Personally, I would ditch Boost entirely, make Slide the new Boost (i.e. using the Boost control inputs), get rid of Dodge entirely and replace it with the "end of slide shunt" but in all directions. That ought to make the ship feel a lot more numble and cut out a lot of pointless complexity that barely ever gets used.

Odd is right.  For a solo player, the advantages of movement are insignificant.  Like you say, moving doesn't let you dodge incoming fire, especially not from crewships, so your time is better spent destroying them and just tanking the damage.  What other choice is there?  You can't outrun the enemy because they're faster, you can't out maneuver them because they're more maneuverable, you can only outgun them or board them.  I'll admit that I'm not sure what changes would benefit boost.  It's a situation where I'd need to be hands on with the alternatives to judge which approach is best.

3 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

The thing is, though, that I as a pilot have been able to pull off some pretty cool stunts every now and again - when I care to engage with the system. I've used mobility to pull away from Ramsleds, giving my side gunners time to shoot them down, I've chased down fighters for easier shots on them (they fly away from you when you chase them, around you when you're stopped), dodged missiles and such. Unfortunately, it is as you say - Railjack combat is reductive because very little of this complexity is worth engaging in, very little of it is in any way communicated to the player, and it's all too often better to use cheap tactics over trying to be fancy. SO MUCH of Railjack's performance is tied up in Avionics and other gear that the starting ship is basically worthless... And that's people's introduction to it. It's like DE learned not a single thing from Operators and Focus...

Ramsleds are, in my experience, best dealt with via homing missiles.  If they're too close for that, I just let them impact and deal with the boarding party.  That does remind me of one of my earliest disappointments with Railjack: Galleons.  The first Galleon I encountered was exciting.  When Cy told me that there were missiles incoming, I was ready to have to fight and fly my way through a barrage of incoming fire to reach my goal.  Then I watched the small batch of missiles launch, travel very, very slowly in my general direction... and then self destruct three kilometers short of my ship.  Over and over and over, missiles would launch, Cy would yell, and then the missiles would just give up and go away.  Disappointing is not a strong enough word.  You know what would encourage me to fly my ship around?  If those Galleons and missile platform objectives would actually send out periodic barrages of long range missiles that marked the battlefield like those Corpus mortar moas, albeit in three dimensions.

Avionics are a particular gripe of mine.  I've seen comparisons to starter warframes, but I don't think that comparison holds water.  For one thing, the tutorial is balanced with the starter warframe's modless status in mind, which railjack really isn't.  Plus, there is a fundamental difference with their abilities.  Warframes come with a single ability unlocked and three more that become available as you use the frame.  Railjacks come with no abilities.  I got halfway through Saturn before I found my first battle avionic, and it ended up being less useful than spending my capacity on mods that made my railjack able to withstand a light breeze.  It have found a couple of more since then and they've all met the same end: collecting dust in my inventory.  I'm aware that avionics like Particle Ram and Void Hole can be very powerful, but those aren't the ones I've found.  As it stands, there's an entire aspect to my railjack that I was first prevented from using, and then discouraged from using, and then prevented again when I absolutely could not progress any further without devoting all my capacity to survival and turret damage avionics.  Capacity I can only hope to increase by fighting harder enemies, which means I need survivability over all else, which just reinforces the decision to never use battle or tactical avionics ever.  I can't even put in an orokin reactor to alleviate the issue, I have to grind for a ship reactor drop from the hardest railjack enemies available.  Is essence, I can have my battle avionics when I've proven that I don't need them and when there's nothing left to use them on.

It's worse than not being encouraged to use railjack's complexity, I'm actively encouraged not to.

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9 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

I covered some of this above, but I wanted to address this point in particular: Completely agreed. I firmly believe that a L4D-style tiered enemy system could work in Warframe. It already kinda-sorta exists with the likes of Nullifiers, Noxes, Ancient Healers and a few others, though it exists more by chance than by design. I've often proposed a 2/4/1 system, where existing factions are broken up into individual Corps, with each Corps consisting of 2 Common enemies with no unique mechanics or individual threat whose only purpose is to add girth to the enemy forces, 4 Special enemies with a lot of health and armour and unique mechanics and destructible weak points which modify those mechanics, and a single Miniboss who demands players' full attention and involves a little dance in fighting it. My ideal state of flow (and this is purely subjective) is cutting my way through hordes of enemies who couldn't hurt me if I let them, but always on the lookout for those few enemies who very much CAN hurt me if I'm not careful.

I just wish we had faction wide defensive mechanics instead of health types. This way the shaft would have a bit of flavour. For example

Grineer - (I´m removing armor as a stat ) , hard a armor point , grineer have external armor plate ( shooting at the plate deals damage to the plate instead of the health pool ) , the unit may have unamored points.

Corpus - Shield link, corpus units may link their shields ( linked shields deal recoil damage when destroyed , linked units have a visual link between them )

Infested - infested health infested unit have a chance of ignoring damage or death ( can self revive once with half HP if the body was not destroyed)

Since it is a faction wide mechanic it would not really Increases their complexity expectantly because they are visually communicated.

9 hours ago, Steel_Rook said:

Enemy design is the one I can't really excuse, though. I know at the very least Cetus, Fortuna and Jupiter have come out after Parkour 2.0, and I can really only think of ONE enemy among all of those that really ties into parkour to any real degree - that Mortar Moa from the Terra Corpus. You know - the one which fires shots in the air and marks the ground where they fall so you know to parkour your way out of there to avoid damage? Pretty much none of the other enemies have been designed with mobility in mind. Not unless you count constantly being on the move and not even noticing grappling hooks and charging enemies. Tusk Grineer mortars could have been a good addition... If they'd marked the ground where they're about to fall. I suppose Terra Corpus grappling enemies (and grappling enemies in general) could have been a good addition... If they telegraphed their moves in any real way. Hell, why do Bombards still have homing missiles? Wouldn't THAT be the first thing to go if you want players to stay on the move?

If Warframe is to make full use of parkour in combat, then I'd argue that more attacks need to be telegraphed with their AoE range and fewer attacks should be hitscan. Yes, that would require a redesign of a lot of enemies, but we're due for that anyway.

As for the Warframes , they also need a faction wide mechanic. For us the defensive mechaanic should be mobility, blocking and parrying.

A few minor changes to mobility

  • Roll is replaced with a short dash , the dash has a few properties
  • Dashing into melee attacks parries them (parry stun the enemy them a after image of your frame strikes them )
  • Dashing into a explosive projectile ( any missile or ball of energy ) deflects it.
  • Dashing backwards has increased range
  • Melee striking during the dash increase it´s range and striking enemies on its path (no longer can parry ).
  • Slide attacks no longer exist ( the dash attack replaces it )
  • If no melee weapon was equipped the Warframe will use their fists.
  • Blocking works as is

This change would retroactively fix the homing projectiles because you would be able to parry them.

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It pains me that in the complaint threads (which I myself have also started and participated in.) there might be dozens of people all screaming at each other.  

In one of the only actual discussion threads I've seen on here lately, there's only a handful of people and it will probably go unnoticed by the devs.

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