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MechaKnight

Steel Path: Durability is not Difficulty, Try These Instead

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Posted (edited)
This post and discussion thread will evolve with player feedback.

If you're not aware, the Steel Path's current form of difficulty involves boosting enemy levels and adding additional durability modifiers to health, armor, and shields to make enemies a bit more offensive and a lot more durable. This doesn't change the usual player approach of nuking crowds and dealing immense single-target damage to win any given scenario in the game, it just challenges players to find what overpowered loose ends DE left around to trivialize the game again. See this brief 2 minute video about Steel Path first impressions to understand how the mode currently works.

DE could have used the Steel Path to reinvigorate general gameplay to be more satisfying yet more balanced. I'll list a few suggestions that would make the game more engaging and strategic, and suggest other users posting do the same.

Forms of Difficulty Outside of Making Enemies More Durable

  • Enemies animate and move faster by at least 25%, increasing their damage output and movement speed.
  • All eximi gain the powers of Lich Thralls, such as jumping and charging.
  • Bring back special enemies permanently on the Steel Path--Grineer get their Nightwatch units, Ambulas and Bursas spawn as common heavy units, and the new Infested units introduced during Nightwave chapter 2 Emissary will become mainstay features of missions on this difficulty option.
  • Enemies scale upwards over the duration of every mission, even temporary missions like rescue or sabotage.
  • Dynamic field boss enemies that should be dispatched using a parazon finisher to prevent them from resurrecting. This kind of enemy can die by other means after resurrecting once.*
 
Modifiers to Be Added If Keeping Current Steel Path Implementation
  • Replace static health, shield, and armor sortie modifiers with randomly shuffling modifiers from any sortie or nightmare mission.*
 
Controversial Suggestions
  • Add new enemies to offset faction deficiencies--give Grineer a kind of nullifier, give Corpus another tank or a fast melee unit, and give Infested another ranged attack unit.
    • Players are divided on this option--more variety within each faction brings more challenge, but if this variety makes the factions too similar to each other it makes the game feel less varied. Players also seem to loathe nullifiers though DE keeps adding them.
 
Suggested Features Currently Retired as per Player Feedback
  • All player mod magnitudes reduced by about 50% temporarily within the game mode, like Grendel Modless missions.
    • Players considered this excessive as in some cases a reduction in player output would feel similar to enemies being more durable, and some players do not like to feel so restricted. Any changes DE wants to make to mod magnitudes or player power is best done proper in a rework.
  • Weak point modifiers to help with the current immense EHP upgrade.*
    • High-end veterans think the enemy S-curve rework was a sufficient decrease to armor durability that providing enemies weak points to artificially reduce their EHP isn't appropriate, and lower-end players would not like the accuracy required from their kit to aim at these points to make the Steel Path less tedious.
  • Enemies gain a homing flare grenade similar to the ones used to shoot archwings out the sky in open world areas. They will frequently be used to open combat and will come in either the nullifier or knockdown variety. Apply to enemies as desired.
    • Homing flares are very spontaneous with little warning time for adjustment, and tying knockdown and nullification effects to this kind of attack option would feel unfairly difficult to some players.
 
* = sourced from a player submitted concept
Edited by MechaKnight
Clarified how some effects will work. Added reference video to summarize current Steel Path function. Added user suggestions. Populated Retired list. Created Controversial list.
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55 minutes ago, MechaKnight said:

All player mod magnitudes reduced by about 50%

Wouldn't this just do the same thing as arbitrarily boosting enemy health? Instead of increasing enemy durability, you're decreasing player output. Whilst I'm not sure if this would turn out the same (since enemies and players scale dramatically differently), I imagine that, experientially, it'd be just as frustrating to play with, especially since some of the problem abilities that lie at the roots of Warframe's balance issues don't necessarily need mods in order to be problem abilities -  Limbo's stasis + cataclysm, for example.

 

Besides, DE were quite clear with what they wanted the Steel Path to be - difficult, not necessarily more challenging or 'endgame'. I do like many of these suggestions (such as Eximus units having extra movement abilities instead of their baked-in passive fields, or the Nightwatch having a larger role), but I'm not really sure they belong in a 'challenge mode'. Rather, I feel like larger changes like that would be better suited for the base game. Addressing the core game and its problems, rather than having the 'fixed' version off to the side as its own thing.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Loza03 said:

Wouldn't this just do the same thing as arbitrarily boosting enemy health? Instead of increasing enemy durability, you're decreasing player output. Whilst I'm not sure if this would turn out the same (since enemies and players scale dramatically differently), I imagine that, experientially, it'd be just as frustrating to play with, especially since some of the problem abilities that lie at the roots of Warframe's balance issues don't necessarily need mods in order to be problem abilities -  Limbo's stasis + cataclysm, for example.

It would not be the same and would in fact be very different. As of currently, Steel Path enemies just soak up a lot of damage but all strategies involving nuking through walls, incapacitating enemies through abilities, and dealing massive damage are the same. As it stands now, the player likely still won't die but enemies take much longer to kill, so the new mode isn't more difficult, it's just less rewarding by being slower to fulfill the mission.

Mods do more than just deal damage. Regarding warframes, they also influence how much health we have, how long abilities last, how much range they have, and how dispensable they are. Players are quick to mention how trivial the game is around nuker frames like Saryn or how anything can die within 10 seconds to Khora, or how Primed Sure Footed became the best exilus mod in slot, but these options are significantly more difficult to utilize, which requires more strategy. The base stats remain the same but attempting to stack +180% range will only yield +90% range instead, etc.

Weapons mods are usually oriented to damage but can also provide bonus effects like recoil reduction, status chance, critical hit chance, or combo duration. The base stats of the weapons would remain the same, but the mods would supply a lesser magnitude.

This is just one of the suggestions I proposed, but it would make the game more challenging while being faster and more engaging than what Steel Path currently is now. As it stands, you just wait much longer to see something die. As I propose, you play with strategy and care to ensure you don't die but the mission is faster and more fun.

14 minutes ago, Loza03 said:

Besides, DE were quite clear with what they wanted the Steel Path to be - difficult, not necessarily more challenging or 'endgame'. I do like many of these suggestions (such as Eximus units having extra movement abilities instead of their baked-in passive fields, or the Nightwatch having a larger role), but I'm not really sure they belong in a 'challenge mode'. Rather, I feel like larger changes like that would be better suited for the base game. Addressing the core game and its problems, rather than having the 'fixed' version off to the side as its own thing.

As it stands currently, more effective health isn't always challenging but it is frequently slower. I do agree with you that I want to see the game improve in general on a larger scale, but the developers usually like to test their changes in a smaller area like an event, game mode, or unique weapon first.

Edited by MechaKnight

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Just now, MechaKnight said:

It would not be the same and would in fact be very different. As of currently, Steel Path enemies just soak up a lot of damage but all strategies involving nuking through walls, incapacitating enemies through abilities, and dealing massive damage are the same. As it stands now, the player likely still won't die but enemies take much longer to kill, so the new mode isn't more difficult, it's just less rewarding by being slower to fulfill the mission.

Mods do more than just deal damage. Regarding warframes, they also influence how much health we have, how long abilities last, how much range they have, and how dispensable they are. Players are quick to mention how trivial the game is around nuker frames like Saryn or how anything can die within 10 seconds to Khora, or how Primed Sure Footed became the best exilus mod in slot, but these options are significantly more difficult to utilize, which requires more strategy. The base stats remain the same but attempting to stack +180% range will only yield +90% range instead, etc.

Weapons mods are usually oriented to damage but can also provide bonus effects like recoil reduction, status chance, critical hit chance, or combo duration. The base stats of the weapons would remain the same, but the mods would supply a lesser magnitude.

This is just one of the suggestions I proposed, but it would make the game more challenging while being faster and more engaging than what Steel Path currently is now. As it stands, you just wait much longer to see something die. As I propose, you play with strategy and care to ensure you don't die but the mission is faster and more fun.

This really doesn't address my main point - experientially speaking, this isn't increasing the challenge, it's just arbitrarily changing some numbers (which would, in part, result in just waiting longer to see something die). Instead of boosting the enemies, it's nerfing the players. Not to say some things don't need a nerf (they do) but those changes should be baseline - applied to the outliers and problem children themselves, rather than a blanket change that throws the baby out with the bathwater. Lets not forget this would affect underpowered abilities and mods as harshly as overpowered ones.

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1 minute ago, Loza03 said:

This really doesn't address my main point - experientially speaking, this isn't increasing the challenge, it's just arbitrarily changing some numbers (which would, in part, result in just waiting longer to see something die). Instead of boosting the enemies, it's nerfing the players. Not to say some things don't need a nerf (they do) but those changes should be baseline - applied to the outliers and problem children themselves, rather than a blanket change that throws the baby out with the bathwater. Lets not forget this would affect underpowered abilities and mods as harshly as overpowered ones.

You're right, but what Steel Path is currently is much worse. Enemy stats are aribtrarily boosted, which means we really do just wait longer to see something die. The developers are boosting the enemies purely to make them last longer because they feel the player is too powerful, but it does nothing to challenge the players themselves. Some abilities and weapons do need buffs, particularly abilities with no weapon mod scaling with no innate scaling mechanics within. What I propose is the beginning to something better than what DE is currently giving to Steel Path. If any of these features make it in and DE gets rid of the excessive health bloat that is making enemies so tedious, it would be a victory.

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1 minute ago, MechaKnight said:

You're right, but what Steel Path is currently is much worse. Enemy stats are aribtrarily boosted, which means we really do just wait longer to see something die. The developers are boosting the enemies purely to make them last longer because they feel the player is too powerful, but it does nothing to challenge the players themselves. Some abilities and weapons do need buffs, particularly abilities with no weapon mod scaling with no innate scaling mechanics within. What I propose is the beginning to something better than what DE is currently giving to Steel Path. If any of these features make it in and DE gets rid of the excessive health bloat that is making enemies so tedious, it would be a victory.

Does DMC's Hell and Hell or Legendary Dark Knight modes do more to challenge the players themselves? No, and they're not considered part of the core gameplay as a result - they're challenge modes, arbitrarily oneshotting the player or inundating them with dozens of enemies.

I view the Steel Path as much the same way - it's not a core mode, it's a challenge mode. DE, again, were quite clear about this in their announcement post, even calling out that it is not intended to be anything more complicated than 'the starchart, but enemies are stronger'. I'd like to re-iterate, I like some of these ideas, but I think they should be implemented into the core game, rather than relegated to a mode not intended to be sustainable, end-game content in the first place, especially since the mode wouldn't even be all that difficult with these changes since several of the problems with the game's challenge have nothing to do with modding - they have to do with the core design of many items and enemies being outdated.

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3 minutes ago, Loza03 said:

Does DMC's Hell and Hell or Legendary Dark Knight modes do more to challenge the players themselves? No, and they're not considered part of the core gameplay as a result - they're challenge modes, arbitrarily oneshotting the player or inundating them with dozens of enemies.

I view the Steel Path as much the same way - it's not a core mode, it's a challenge mode. DE, again, were quite clear about this in their announcement post, even calling out that it is not intended to be anything more complicated than 'the starchart, but enemies are stronger'. I'd like to re-iterate, I like some of these ideas, but I think they should be implemented into the core game, rather than relegated to a mode not intended to be sustainable, end-game content in the first place, especially since the mode wouldn't even be all that difficult with these changes since several of the problems with the game's challenge have nothing to do with modding - they have to do with the core design of many items and enemies being outdated.

I agree, but I feel DE struggles to implement challenge in the face of a community that sees challenge without reward as a pure detriment. DE pushed out what was the start of a new balance direction during the Vivergate debacle, but players understandably rebelled against the changes because it got in the way of their reward earning potential. Steve has said before he regrets allowing mods of the same kind of stat to stack. Many of our problems in challenge are related to stacking beyond developer intent, and for DE to change the game as it is now adversely affects earning potential and casual fun for a community that has grown to become acclimated to this environment.

Hard mode really shouldn't be a replacement to designing the base of the game better, but it can serve as a fun test environment to reward players for being in a more challenging environment and posing the question of whether they want to see some of that content across the game at large.

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I edited the original topic with a note: if players very much dislike temporarily reduced mod magnitudes within Steel Path missions this feature can be reworked or removed from the list.

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After reading player feedback, temporary mod magnitude reduction has been moved to the retired list and given a description of why.

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Nice suggestions dude
I couldnt agree more
Steel Path should be dangerous+fun rather than long+boring

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hace 5 horas, MechaKnight dijo:
 
  • Bring back special enemies permanently on the Steel Path--Grineer get their Nightwatch units, Ambulas and Bursas spawn as common heavy units, and the new Infested units introduced during Nightwave chapter 2 Emissary will become mainstay features of missions on this difficulty option.

Perfect time for Sparky to join the party again.

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Posted (edited)

Some of those ideas are bad and would make it very annoying ie : more nulifiers and knockdowns (homing too, really?). I don't think you've even played Arbitrations.

Weakpoints already exist. If you think this is 'immense EHP upgrade' and need help with it then you are not the audience for this mode, honestly. FYI all high-level scaling got removed in around March  - which ruined the game for high-level players, everything is a pushover now. This is rather putting it back where is used to be. and apart from acrchwing we have more than enough tools to deal with it easily.

Edited by Monolake

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Monolake said:

Some of those ideas are bad and would make it very annoying ie : more nulifiers and knockdowns (homing too, really?). I don't think you've even played Arbitrations.

Weakpoints already exist. If you think this is 'immense EHP upgrade' and need help with it then you are not the audience for this mode, honestly. FYI all high-level scaling got removed in around March  - which ruined the game for high-level players, everything is a pushover now. This is rather putting it back where is used to be. and apart from acrchwing we have more than enough tools to deal with it easily.

I have played arbitrations and still do. "Weak points" was an idea submitted by a player in another thread, and they referenced the Glass Maker enemies with invulnerability so I rewrote it a bit to more closely imply something like Banshee Sonar. Knockdowns are already mitigated by 3 exilus mods including a prime variant, and a nightmare mod so it's not the worst obstacle. Nullifiers are already routine for Corpus and we adapted just fine, simply use a gun or more range on your melee and use an energy pad occasionally. As for needing help, I'm fine using Khora, Saryn, Titania, Gara, Mesa, Inaros, Hildryn, and Frost but that doesn't change the fact that for most kits the EHP boost just makes everything take longer. I recall the changes to enemy EHP by implementing an S-curve and the rework to Tenno health, armor, and shields with the addition of shield gating but that surprisingly doesn't change much since players were still running arbitrations to level 4,000 enemies anyway and are still capable of killing level 9999 demolysts within 5 seconds of encountering it.

Just because veterans can deal with that though doesn't mean it's worthwhile for Steel Path to feature no changes besides tankier enemies in exchange to a paltry boost to resource and drop chances. The goal of making this thread was to make challenging obstacles outside of making enemies bullet sponges. Some people will consider some of these obstacles more difficult than enemies that are supposed to be tougher to kill but are still fragile against some player kits, and that's intended. The goal is difficulty that isn't just a durability increase.

Edit: If more players believe providing enemies weak points to compensate for their EHP would be excessive and in poor taste for the Steel Path this idea can be sent to the retired list.

Edited by MechaKnight
Added clause to retire a suggestion.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, MechaKnight said:

t surprisingly doesn't change much since players were still running arbitrations to level 4,000 enemies anyway and are still capable of killing level 9999 demolysts within 5 seconds of encountering it.

yeah because the scaling was removed so the normal max lvl10000 now is weaker than lvl~250 before, everything is a joke

Quote

Just because veterans can deal with that though doesn't mean it's worthwhile for Steel Path to feature no changes besides tankier enemies in exchange to a paltry boost to resource and drop chances. The goal of making this thread was to make challenging obstacles outside of making enemies bullet sponges. Some people will consider some of these obstacles more difficult than enemies that are supposed to be tougher to kill but are still fragile against some player kits, and that's intended. The goal is difficulty that isn't just a durability increase.

Edit: If more players believe providing enemies weak points to compensate for their EHP would be excessive and in poor taste for the Steel Path this idea can be sent to the retired list.

These ideas wont make it more challenging, only more annoying to play with knockdows and nullifying of abilities - that would simply disqualify frames that rely on their abilities. There could be better ways to create engaging and reactive gameplay and if anything the attacks and hazards should be dodgeable and counterable - like a projectile grenade that you can see and jump away from.  And from all Ive read most testers agree that the difficulty for ground missions is about right for high-level players and the maxed gear we have.

Edited by Monolake

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Monolake said:

These ideas wont make it more challenging, only more annoying to play with knockdows and nullifying of abilities - that would simply disqualify frames that rely on their abilities. There could be better ways to create engaging and reactive gameplay and if anything the attacks and hazards should be dodgeable and counterable - like a projectile grenade that you can see and jump away from.  And from all Ive read most testers agree that the difficulty for ground missions is about right for high-level players and the maxed gear we have.

I don't yet fully understand this logic. Removing knockdowns from the game is one mod away, or players can keep the knockdowns but significantly reduced for a lower point cost. DE adds magnetic procs and nullifiers in almost every update now, and arbitration drones indirectly act as nullifiers by disallowing abilities from being applied to enemies. There aren't nullifiers in the other two factions or space yet proper, but that can change at any time. I've become jaded to encountering this obstacle, but some players consider them monumental. Maybe it has something to do with stopping extreme options like Chroma, Revenant, and Octavia dead in their tracks if they're nullified, or hooking glass cannons like Mirage when not paying attention, but at this point one needs to ask what DE's expectations for gameplay are if they keep adding these features to the game. They seem to intend for these scenarios to happen.

I'll keep accepting feedback for the thread and relegate some of the more controversial issues for DE to confront if they ever choose to do it.

Edited by MechaKnight
Grammar fix.

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I noticed at least one topic come up multiple times in a mix of approval and disapproval, so it has been placed in the new Controversial section.

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I just tried Steel Path and it is very underwhelming. I feel DE could add my above recommended suggestions and increase our benefits by adding resource and affinity boosters too.

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Forgot the Feedback forums exist, so here's a post I made under a different forum topic;

  

35 minutes ago, Hectoncheir said:

I was hoping for the start of every Steel Path missions, enemy wave compositions would spawn in to be equal to as if the mission had progressed 30 minutes (6 reward rotations).

As it currently stands, Steel Path is slapping enemies with +100 levels and a few defensive modifiers, and we still see the lower-tier enemies instead of the difficult elite/eximi ones. This is bad. It is just not what I wanted for 'harder' content; I did not want to have to play for 6 reward rotations in order to start seeing the crazy-ass enemy compositions that are thrown at us.

I will be a happy Tenno if I see eximi units all over the place.

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Still Path was literally only made to provide players with easy access to high level enemies to test their best gear without sitting for an hour in endless missions. Plain and simple.

+150% health modifier is going against that goal though. Another proof that scaling of everything in warframe is fundamentally broken.

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