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On being heroic


voidctrl

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In the last year or so, I found the writing to be more frustrating than any mechanical change in the game.

The arc of going from

  • Pre Second Dream: as far as you know, you play a hyper-powerful robot combat suit
  • Second Dream: oh S#&$, you're just a vulnerable child that can't even stand up straight, Lotus has to carry you
  • War Within: the weak child is learning to defend itself and assert control
  • Sacrifice: the child has become selfless ("take away its pain") and confident ("let them come")
  • New War: you've reached peak ability and carry the Lotus in return

has been the most consistent and most satisfying thread throughout the game's story for me. The protagonist acquiring competence and confidence. There's lots of banter about the Tenno committing war crimes by killing thousands of Corpus employees who're just doing their job, so allowing the character to be heroic finally validates their existence.

Villains come and go (Vor? Hunhow? Grineer Queens? Ballas? Nef Anyo? Erra? Lotus? Ballas with a funny hat? Erra with a funny hat?), and the subversive The New War promising one thing and then throwing everything away has been equivalent to the calamitous last season of Game of Thrones in my eyes. So outside the "hero's journey", I found the story to be a complete mess. What has been even more disappointing to me was that this one good thing that they've got going, the Operator developing from shaky child to confident psi-warrior, has had no place in the last releases. I would like to give three examples on missed opportunites.

1. The New War: I know it doesn't quite work out with where characters are when, but still. Do you remember the 2006 movie "Superman Returns", and the opening scene with Superman saving the airplane? I would have loved to see that in some civilian location like Cetus or Fortuna - a transporter full of families trying to save themselves from the war has been hit by a sentient laser blast, threatens to crash and explode - and your Warframe swoops in on an archwing to catch the ship and place it safely on the ground. Short eye contact between a child inside the ship and your Operator. Warframe on archwing dashes off into the sky. Amazed, rescued child is left behind staring after it. Superhero stuff. Or even a short "video conference" in which your Operator tells Nef Anyo and the Worm Queen to shut the hell up and follow their lead against the common threat.

2. Veilbreaker: Aboard the Murex, Kahl is surrounded. The enemies become overwhelming. The brothers he has rescued are falling under heavy fire. There's no way out. The Tenno that had already been teased appears, their Warframe absolutely massacres the enemies, and that void devil child apparats in front of Kahl, reaching out a hand to help him to his feet. Demonstrate the power difference. Let the player see their character through someone else's eyes.

3. Angels of the Zariman: The story about your Operator being the messianic saviour of these echoes of long-dead people, the removal of the void corruption through forgiveness of their deeds would have been an A+ opportunity to show that the Operator hasn't just grown in his magic powers, but also as a person. Maybe let them throw out some Teshin quotes in dialogue with the Holdfasts. Instead, we get dead-eyes monologues of the NPCs staring off into nothingness. Yes yes, other syndicates also don't offer cutscenes where you speak, but here, it's so very much about the Operator, that missing out on this feels wasteful. In New War, we got a very brief walk through the Zariman - here, with unlimited time aboard, was also the opportunity to let the Operator reminisce about that lost youth. "We accept this memory, and move beyond its reach". Instead, silence.

What I mean to express is - I hope that the writers at DE understand that the character growth of the Operator is the most valuable narrative asset they have left after New War, and that they're willing to invest in this in further updates. It doesn't need to be hours long mo-capped cinematic missions - it's enough to remember that allowing the player to feel heroic is ok. 

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36 minutes ago, voidctrl said:

2. Veilbreaker: Aboard the Murex, Kahl is surrounded. The enemies become overwhelming. The brothers he has rescued are falling under heavy fire. There's no way out. The Tenno that had already been teased appears, their Warframe absolutely massacres the enemies, and that void devil child apparats in front of Kahl, reaching out a hand to help him to his feet. Demonstrate the power difference. Let the player see their character through someone else's eyes.

This sounds neat.  While they didn't do this exactly, I think that the optional conversations you can have with Kahl do a great job of showing his appreciate towards you as well as his perspective on you.  Be sure to talk to him multiple times each week!

58 minutes ago, voidctrl said:

Angels of the Zariman: The story about your Operator being the messianic saviour of these echoes of long-dead people, the removal of the void corruption through forgiveness of their deeds

This is an interesting interpretation, but I personally don't see much at all in the story about "forgiveness"; the bulk of the people hurt by the Holdfasts are in no position to offer them any forgiveness, and you as the Tenno can't offer forgiveness on their behalf, because that's not how forgiveness works. 

My reading is that the Holdfast's void corruption seems to parallel their lack of mental health due to being unable to cope with their respective traumas, which left untended, spiral into larger mental problems.  The Tenno cannot solve these traumas, nor can they directly help the Holdfasts cope with them.  However, what the Tenno can do is provide relief in other areas.  The Holdfasts have been struggling to keep the Zariman intact and safe, and to prevent the Void from seeping out of the Void.  By assisting them in these areas, you take some of the burden off their plate and give them two things: bandwidth and hope.  The hope gives them a reason to not spiral deeper into their trauma and to press on, and the bandwidth gives them the time and space to process that trauma so that they can move past it as best they can.

I think it's a beautiful story because it's kind of the opposite of a messiah coming to save and forgive them; you're just a person (super-powered though you may be) helping them with the day-to-day things you can help with, which gives them the energy and room to devote to their own deeper, more personal struggles.  It's an epic-scale reminder of a simple truth we can all live in our own lives, about how just by being a good friend/ally you can indirectly make a difference to those around you in profound ways that you might not even be aware of.

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12 minutes ago, voidctrl said:

Superman saving the airplane

Tenno ways are different.  Instead of saving small amount of people in that airplane, we deal with the core of the problem by obliterating all airplane factories along with their owner and engineer crew.  No airplanes = no falling airplanes.    

No, really.

Never saw them as "heroes".... They are used to strike more than to save.  And they are well payed for that.     

And I prefer it that way.   Cheesy, cringeworthy superman stuff is not to my liking. 

 

 

Also, Kahl is capable enough to save himself.    And there is no need for any "power flexing" here..... You kill Grineer Lancers every day (Kahl, btw, is a normal Grineer Lancer). Not even a Commander or Eximus.    "Just you wait till Kahl scales above lvl 9000"

1 hour ago, voidctrl said:

it's enough to remember that allowing the player to feel heroic is ok. 

But in a different, less cringe inducing way.  Avoid all "emotional" scenes with "kids in awe" and "hands reaching out".... those are so bad.

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Tenno are neither heroes nor villains, they simply do something with what directly affects them or try to change what they can see and that they consider to be wrong, after all, a Tenno cannot be everywhere, so even if they are immortal beings, they are not omnipotent. The clearest way to define them will be mercenaries (ronin ninjas) who lost their purpose and that's why they went to sleep and came back because the lotus woke them up nothing more nothing less.

In the course of the story they has many emotional ups and downs since they have forgotten almost they entire life  (which suggests that they has been asleep for a long time) many of the memories were sealed by lotus before hibernating as well and they gradually remember fragments of their memories in the course of the story which helps them identify enemies and targets.
 

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2 hours ago, voidctrl said:

2. Veilbreaker: Aboard the Murex, Kahl is surrounded. The enemies become overwhelming. The brothers he has rescued are falling under heavy fire. There's no way out. The Tenno that had already been teased appears, their Warframe absolutely massacres the enemies, and that void devil child apparats in front of Kahl, reaching out a hand to help him to his feet. Demonstrate the power difference. Let the player see their character through someone else's eyes.

That one would be fitting, your #1 however wouldnt. Frames arent universally super strong or durable, catching a ship would just not be possible for them. We cant even carry a heavy weapon to the same degree we can carry normal weaponry, not even when they are modified for atmospheric use. So if we could catch a ship, it would result in either us punching through the ship hull, ending in it still crashing, or us getting forced into the ground, which also would end in it still crashing. The archwing is likely not powerful enough to let us act like an extra engine even.

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3 hours ago, voidctrl said:

1. The New War: I know it doesn't quite work out with where characters are when, but still. Do you remember the 2006 movie "Superman Returns", and the opening scene with Superman saving the airplane? I would have loved to see that in some civilian location like Cetus or Fortuna - a transporter full of families trying to save themselves from the war has been hit by a sentient laser blast, threatens to crash and explode - and your Warframe swoops in on an archwing to catch the ship and place it safely on the ground. Short eye contact between a child inside the ship and your Operator. Warframe on archwing dashes off into the sky. Amazed, rescued child is left behind staring after it. Superhero stuff. Or even a short "video conference" in which your Operator tells Nef Anyo and the Worm Queen to shut the hell up and follow their lead against the common threat.

 

A major theme of New War is that everyone fails and we lose the war. Kahl, Veso, and Teshin all storm the beaches, smash the bunkers, kill the enemies in a show of defiance against all odds... And nothing they do actually matters, Ballas and Erra still win. Kahl? Captured. Veso? Shoots the wrong Murex. Teshin? Fails to disarm the trap

And us? We fall right into that trap and die. We do not subvert the pattern just because we're a superhero, we are in the same series of failures 

So while there COULD have been a short scene of us doing something heroic (more heroic than just piloting our Railjack to shoot another Murex) I'm not sure how much it would really matter

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3 hours ago, TARINunit9 said:

Veso? Shoots the wrong Murex.

Your fantastic point still stands but minor correction: Veso's ship is being assaulted by the nearest Murex, which is "red-beaming" it (to me it looks like these are energy tethers, which fit with Alad V's negotiation of a takeover) and that's the one Veso shoots, so they made their shot.  However, if I'm interpreting the results of the shot correctly, it had next to no effect, and a few moments later the Murex responds by sending out a destructive wave that destroys the entire ship.  So like the others in the story, Veso doesn't fail due to incompetence, but due to being outplayed by a vastly superior force.

(hopefully the link has the correct time but it's 122 seconds in)

 

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9 hours ago, voidctrl said:

Superhero stuff.

yeah, I wouldn't really say we're all that heroic though, especially when you consider our perpetual war with the Grineer and Corpus has cost civillian lives (destruction of the Relays) at best we are anti-heroes.

10 hours ago, voidctrl said:

Let the player see their character through someone else's eyes.

this would have been nice, and it works better than Kahl meeting us simply because we were his ride out of the Murex. it would probably have made for an awkward moment, since every other grineer that comes face to face with our tenno is killed an instant later by our powers or weapons. missed opportunity, just like the moment a truce between the factions was formed in order to fight the Sentients. still, at least we get funny dialogue between Kahl and Kaelli.

10 hours ago, voidctrl said:

was also the opportunity to let the Operator reminisce about that lost youth.

I wonder if maybe part of this not being expanded upon is because now we are able to play as Drifter: some of the dialogue might not make sense for Drifter to say as they've been in a completely different place until New War.

otherwise, most of the Tenno's heroism is found in the Leverian, and throguh some limited time events. ultimatley I don't think DE wants clean-cut heroes and villains in their story and that's fine by me, since it's ultimately subjective; all well written villains have a good reason to be as they are and see the benefits of their philosophy, and are able to make valid counter-points to the hero. 

"Everyone thinks they're the hero of their own story" - Handsome Jack. 

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