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The orb system is bad, please fix or replace it


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In Warframe, throughout the game, the only way to recover health and energy that is always available are the health and energy orbs which drop from killed enemies. The problems with this system are:

  1. You need to kill things to recover your health and energy, but your ability to kill things decreases when your energy is low, and the risk involved in killing things increases when your health is low. The more you need them, the less able you are to kill things to create them.
  2. Orbs drop from enemies randomly, so there is no guarantee that health or energy orbs will appear when you need them, there is nothing you can do to make it more likely that they appear other than to kill more enemies, and there's no guaranteed way to get an orb when you need it.

These two problems, taken together, mean that if the orb system is your only way of healing or recharging, then your ability to succeed at any mission in the game is entirely random. It's possible to fail a mission because you played poorly, but it's also possible to play perfectly and still fail, because the game randomly decided not to give you the resources you needed. This feels frustrating and unfair.

EDIT to add: While you can also get orbs from breaking containers, that way of getting orbs is 1) situational (i.e. only available if you're in an area where containers show up) and 2) non-renewable. (i.e. if you already broke all the containers in the room, tough luck) For these reasons, I don't think that getting orbs from containers significantly affects this discussion. Or, to measure this a different way, when was the last time you were desperately low on health / energy, and you thought "I know, I'll break containers, that will save me." It's happened to me, but very rarely.

 

The orb system is bad. It takes what is otherwise a skill-based game (power creep notwithstanding) and creates a random source of failure. Fortunately, as you play the game you unlock ways to opt out of the orb system - team composition, consumables, mods, spoiler-mode abilities, and Helminth infusions give you access to healing and energy recovery which is reliable and accessible regardless of your choice of Warframe. The fact that these things are necessary is underlined by how ubiquitous they are - it's rare that an experienced player ever goes into a mission without the Zenurik school active, unless their Warframe is using the Rage mod or has some other innate way of recovering energy. But none of these options fixes the orb system, they just let you escape it.

Also, because none of these alternatives are accessible early in the game, this problem creates a barrier to entry for new players. I'm glad that I stuck with this game, because it's a great game and I really enjoy it. If the orb system was the only way of healing and recovering energy in Warframe, I probably wouldn't play the game at all, and I wonder how many people started playing the game, experienced the frustration of the orb system, and just quit without knowing there are ways around it.

The problems with the orb system become especially obvious when DE decides to take away the alternatives, as they did recently with Operation: Orphix Venom. By disabling all other sources of healing and energy recovery for Necramechs, DE forces us to rely on the orb system, and the orb system is bad. Fortunately, they also added the Necramech Repair and Necramech Rage mods at the same time; if they had not done so, I suspect that this update would have been a failure overall, due to the inherent frustration of running survival missions with no way to improve your survivability.

 

I don't have a perfect solution for this problem, but here are a couple of ideas:

We could add a feature to heavy melee attacks, where they are guaranteed to generate an orb when they kill something, and would generate more orbs when used with a higher combo count. This would give us something specific we could do to try to recover. The recent Doom games use an approach like this, and I think it would do a good job of balancing difficulty and skill, risk and reward.

I also think that flat, continuous energy regeneration would be a big improvement; a Warframe without energy is mostly indistinguishable from every other Warframe, and most Warframes run out of energy after using their 2 once and then their 4 once. Continuous energy regeneration makes sense in the lore of the game, given what we know about how Warframes and spoiler mode work together. The Energy Siphon aura is not enough; 0.6 energy per second means you get to cast your ultimate once every 3 minutes if you use no other abilities. I would suggest that you get rid of Energy Siphon entirely, and give every Warframe innate energy regeneration at 2 energy per second. This way you can use your 2 every 25 seconds, or your 4 once a minute. Energy orbs and other means of recharging energy would still be useful, since they let you use your abilites more often, but they would not be as essential as they currently are.

Edited by (PSN)digitalgabeg
Added comment about orbs from containers
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Adding on to the consistency thing:

  • Health Orbs do not naturally drop from (most) enemies whatsoever. You only get reliable health orb drops through certain frames/functions (like Desecrate) way beyond the general early-player's need for them (and by which time you likely have better healing sources).
  • Energy Orbs do not naturally drop from some enemy types whatsoever, most notably Eximus variants of units (You thought Parasitic/Energy Leech Eximi were the whole reason why you run dry in those stronghold Sorties? Nah, they just don't drop orbs to top you back up!)
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1 hour ago, (PSN)digitalgabeg said:

In Warframe, throughout the game, the only way to recover health and energy that is always available are the health and energy orbs which drop from killed enemies.

Oh, no, only in the early game. There are mods that give health/energy, there are weapons that give health/energy, there are arcanes that give you health/energy, there are [spoilers] that give you health/energy.

Keep playing - you're missing some big pieces of the energy economy.

Edited by (XBOX)KayAitch
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