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On Rivens, And Why Bad Items Are Needed In Warframe


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So I read this article the other day: http://www.pcgamer.com/why-bad-items-in-games-need-to-exist/?ns_campaign=article-feed&ns_mchannel=ref&ns_source=steam&ns_linkname=0&ns_fee=0

In thinking on how DE stated the purpose of Riven mods were to improve older, less popular weapons, the question comes up about if we really need to balance every weapon in the game. Many armchair generals on the forums, including myself at one point, thought that Warframe's "Power creep" could be solved be the pie-in-the-sky "Damage 3.0," a magical rework that would balance every weapon, enemy type, elemental combo, and mechanic all into one perfect jumble of balanced feng-shui.

Yet, as Steve stated in the latest Devstream, how would a system like that actually exist? When he asked, I stopped and thought, "We tell DE to fix the balance problem all the time, but how should they fix it? Can I think of a way to fix it? Is there a way to fix it? Is there even an 'it' that needs fixing?"

Then I stumbled on this article by PC gamer, as stated above. Think about Rivens: they try to bring up the "bad" items in Warframe by increasing their stats randomly. This is an interesting mechanic that has been widely panned by Warframe players, but why so?

After reading this article, I have a different theory on not just Rivens, but Warframe in general. Let's use the game Borderlands as a comparison. Warframe, at it's current core, is a game about acquiring stuff, similar to Borderlands. However, Warframe is not like Borderlands because the items we collect are all hand-made from stats to model to mechanic. This means Warframe does not share the exact same goal as Borderlands - where Borderlands is a looter of mostly generated weapons, Warframe is a hand-crafted experience.

Riven mods are not hand-crafted. They are not the fine pieces of art we expect to hold in our hands after achieving a set goal. Riven mods are given to us at random after working for them ad-nauseum. This means we can work for a long time trying to get something we want, and only get things we do not want. Where Borderlands is built around the same idea of Riven mods, Warframe isn't. Warframe is not a game built around random generation - sure, it's levels are randomly generated, but not completely. Maps are like puzzle pieces - hand-painted puzzle pieces. Randomly generated loot is not what Warframe players are accustomed to, or want. We are used to having "Bad" weapons, and expect our loot to be hand-made for a purpose.

So what do you think? Do the randomly generated Riven mods have a place in Warframe, or do they detract from the hand-crafted feel of the game?

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I'm not too fond of them actually.  I liked that they were created in hopes of bringing older weapons up to par with some newer ones, but by the time you acquire one that's actually usable, you no longer have a need for it.  After getting a Soma mod that decreased it's damage by up to 88% when maxed, I realized just how much I didn't like them.  Too much RNG for too much effort.

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The greatest strength of Warframe is its variety. There is an extremely wide variety of Warframes with diverse and unique Warframe powers, many dozens of weapons that look and handle very differently than other weapons within the same class, countless skins, accessories, color palettes, etc.

Compare that to a game like Destiny (I've never played it, but I know a bit about it) with a handful of classes, a handful of class powers, and a much less diverse pool of weapons.

While Riven mods have some potential to add more variety and to save a small selection of "trash" weapons, in my opinion properly rebalancing/reimagining the underpowered and underused weapons so that they're on par with viable weapons (not necessarily meta or top-tier weapons, but simply viable weapons) would prove much more effective at adding variety. Dozens of weapons with unique handling and mechanics already exist, but no one uses them because they just tickle enemies.

Case in point: The Tetra/Prisma Tetra. No Riven mod, no matter how strong, can save the Prisma Tetra. This is about the most damage you can squeeze out of it:



Which is significantly less than half the burst and sustained damage of a Boltor Prime with an identical mod loadout (both are primarily Puncture). No Riven mod can bring it up to par, and that goes for the Panthera, the Miter, the Hind, the Harpak, and many other rifles, too. Changing their handling and "feel" with +magazine size, -recoil, and so on won't make them any more usable if all they do is tickle enemies.

Riven mods add an annoying lottery system that benefits the lucky and those with excess platinum to trade to the lucky, while adding minimal genuine variety and salvaging very few underused weapons. Riven mods would have to be 2-3x stronger than Neutral to even begin to save some of these forgotten old weapons.

Thing is, expending the time and effort to rework old weapons would be of no immediate benefit to DE, because almost everyone who's been playing for awhile already has the old weapons, or if not, can rebuild them easily. It's the same reason why frames almost never get rebalanced until a premium skin or a Prime goes on sale.

Instead, we get Riven mods, because when little Timmy lucks into a top-tier Ignis Riven mod, he can sell the mod to Ralph, a long-time player with tons of plat, for 700p (or whatever). Little Timmy will then spend that plat on slots, taters, accessories and such, destroying the platinum and removing it from circulation; meanwhile, Ralph's treasure trove of platinum has been reduced.

That's what Riven mods are all about. They're a stimulus package for the player market. They're about getting stockpiles of veteran/whale plat into the hands of newer/less "rich" players so that the plat can be spent in the Market and destroyed, which is a vital aspect of DE's F2P business strategy.

Reworking the old weapons would be much more effective at adding variety, but it's not going to happen because that won't shake up the economy.

Edited by Kastorius
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Riven mods give us random stats from a list of hand-crafted stats. Whoever crafted those stats was apparently lazy and copy-pasted stats across the board, so we ended up with +impact damage for weapons which only have elemental damage, etc. Plus having things like negative damage as a stat is simply BS.

Edited by xXx_mtv_xXx
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If DE really wanted to improve underused weapons, they could have the disposition system effect all mods.

Low = base mod strength.

Medium = +25% increased mod strength.

High = 50% increased mod strength.  Karak with +248% Serration and a 135% split chamber?  After a bunch of elemental mods it would get it a bit closer to the boltor prime!  The negative effects of corrupted mods would either have to be untouched or reduced.

Maybe have players hunt down a Void Core and install that into their weapon of choice provided there's an Orokin Catalyst installed?  Just a thought.


I like the concept of Riven mods because they're something of a wrench in meta builds, but they're an extremely unreliable approach to getting players to use underused/weak weapons.  The disposition system is ironically their immediate answer, even if they don't realize it yet.

Edited by Littleman88
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