Warframe

An old TF2 player’s thoughts on Conclave

Warframe11 - An old TF2 player's thoughts on Conclave
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Introduction

It's that time again, dreamers. Time for the bi-monthly Conclave post. I've played this game for about a year and a half, but yesterday was the first time I played our PvP mode. And much to my surprise, I quite like it! It's certainly got its kinks, but I think it has a lot of unexplored potential. But before I get onto this whole subject, lemme start by giving a shorter, relevant background of myself, so you know where I'm coming from.



Background

My FPS career started some time in 2009 with Team Fortress 2. I've never been a competitive person so the genre's never been interesting to me, but the nine unique classes and their varied weapons and playstyles managed to really capture my interest. I started out as an Engineer main, and over time branched out from there until I became pretty good with most loadouts. (And believe me, I've tried them all.) I've never had the best hitscan aim, so loadouts that favored projectiles or being a flanking nuisance became my forte. Eventually, the game's updates dried out, and around that time, Overwatch was released.

I bought this so-called TF2 Killer and enjoyed it for a bit, but quickly found myself growing bored of it. It was just not my thing. It felt too competitive, even in the casual modes, and although the game sported a wide roster of heroes, they were all very set in stone in the way you played them. No alternative weapons or such customization. If you played Pharah, you played her the Blizzard way. And since hitscan was and still is king, you don't play Pharah, which broke my heart as a TF2 Soldier lover. I would come back to try out new heroes from time to time, but eventually I stopped doing even that as the gameplay itself wasn't fun to me. There weren't any sandwich-throwing Russians or spontaneous conga lines, only a constant fight to win every match.

Some time went by before I heard of Warframe but once I did, it was love at first sight; partly due to the fair monetization system but mostly due to the massive arsenal of both frames and weaponry, all moddable for even more personalization. So yeah, I've played this game for nearly a year and a half now, max ranked every frame and nearly all guns, which has brought me to MR 26.5, at which point I finally decided that muck it, I'm probably ready to try out Conclave now.



First impression of Conclave

It wasn't without some anxiety that I went and clicked E in front of the poster covering my Conclave station in the orbiter, dreading that I'd be stuck alone in a server with the only hardcore Warframe PvPer that's survived in this day and age. The fact that my selection of game modes all seemed very kill-focused didn't make me feel any better. I had haphazardly thrown together a Nidus/Sobek/Staticor setup, being pretty familiar with the weapons and hoping the health regen would prolong my inevitable deaths by some tenth of a second. After a bit of contemplation, I picked Team Annihilation. It was part relief, part confusion, when I found myself in a completely desolate arena, wandering around it for the full match duration without a soul showing up. I'd heard the Conclave was dead, but this was just silly. After the game, I noticed I'd been set to Invite Only. Whoops. I tried again, this time queuing up for the free-for-all Annihilation mode.

I was immediately loaded into a game with 3-5 other players, all of them seemingly as new to the PvP life as I was. I didn't win, I didn't even manage to land that many shots, but I didn't die constantly either. All in all, it was pretty fun and a fresh wind after fighting slow-moving hordes for a year! Nidus' regen seemed to work out nicely, but I switched out my shotgun for ol' reliable Ignis Wraith before I queued myself up for my next experience: Team Annihilation but with actual teams this time.

Imagine the horror of having an infested abomination tirelessly hunting you down, slowly grilling you with a flamethrower and shrugging off the little chip damage you score against this madly jumping beast. Now, imagine how much fun I had being said creature. It became even more fun when I noticed that my Larva slowed people down and prevented them from jumping for a while. I could essentially mark someone for death, then chase and torch them while they desperately tried to escape! Sometimes I found myself on the receiving end of something similar, like when the sniper-wielding Mag Magnetized me, forcing me to leg it fast as any grazing shot would likely spell death for my relatively squishy, shieldless body. Those experiences had a certain thrill to them, for sure.

Before I knew it, I had spent my entire evening playing PvP, something I hadn't done in a long time, in any game whatsoever. I got to experiment with what secondary suited my playstyle best (like whether I should try a shotgun or pistol for easy finishers, or Ballistica for long-range sniping, or something else), and what melee to use for those juicy slam attacks (settled for Dark Split-Sword for Radiation mayhem). Although I didn't experiment with different frame choices, I saw some absurd things like a Loki Javlok clone army, which I can't wait to try out. I won some matches, lost some others, but had some fun in each one of them. All-in-all, it was an enjoyable experience!



Improvements:

There were however a couple of things I would like to see improved; both regarding stuff that happened which I wasn't too fond of, as well as some other things I think would be a neat addition to Conclave. While some of these changes and additions would work well together, they're all relatively stand-alone.

Balance the time-to-kill (towards the longer end of the current spectrum)

One of my main gripes is how short the time-to-kill was at times. While my Ignis Wraith took a fair amount of time to kill stuff, I often found myself randomly dying to slam attacks from nowhere, which felt about as fun as you can imagine. Sure, I was playing a pretty weak frame versus burst damage, but still. There was also that one match where some Chroma brought his Arca Plasmor and two-shot everything he came across. While this might be somewhat balanced out in the current Conclave by everyone flying around like overcaffeinated ping pong balls, dragging out fights due to the difficulty of landing any shot to begin with, it is a change worth keeping in mind when reading the upcoming ideas. But yeah, balancing out the time-to-kill to allow some (currently) weaker weapons to shine would be awesome.

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One thing I gotta applaud DE for is that (allegedly, haven't tried myself), MK1 weapons like the Furis is still competitive. While this might seem weird to some, I love that their is a strong default loadout of sorts for the Warframe newcomers. One can make an easy comparison to TF2 here, where the default loadouts of most classes were very solid. If you saw a fully default Scout come running towards you, chances were that either he'd be a free kill, or you'd be a free kill. And that's neat.

Focus on the Impaired status

I really like the Impaired effect (which, for those who don't know, slows movement speed and disables a lot of parkour maneuvers, like bullet jumping, for 4 seconds but provides immunity to this effect for 4 seconds afterwards). Hitting an enemy with it is like the trigger for a fight. I used my impairing Larva as an opener, tagging enemies right before I pounced them. They were gonna have a hard time getting away and they knew it, thus some of them chose to stand their ground and fight back (although most panicked). Due to them not Impairing me in return, I won a lot of these fights, but there were also a good number of times when I died or had to retreat, and some when I didn't manage to kill them in time and they retreated. No matter the case, landing that Impair made the match go from chaotic combat to spontaneous skirmishes in whatever spot we happened to be. And that was pretty cool, in my opinion!

If I had the choice, I would thus re-balance Conclave to be more about these Impair procs (particularly tied to "skillshot abilities") as I imagine it would make each match more comprehensible while still offering some tactical decision making. Should you Impair the enemy before you shoot to ensure you land it? Should you shoot first and Impair afterwards so you still have the surprise advantage for that shot? Do you duke it out first and Impair once they try to escape, to secure the kill? If you get Impaired, is it better to Impair back to equalize things, or fight defensively and Impair back once you can move freely again?

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There are currently about a dozen frames possessing some way to Impair, but I could definitely see it being expanded to cover most of the roster, barring a select few exceptions. It makes sense from a balance standpoint to not give highly mobile frames like Zephyr a tool to make her foes even less mobile in comparison. On top of this, the Impair ability's cost and debuff (+immunity) duration could vary to give each frame some uniqueness, as well as to balance it out with their other abilities.

There are probably some who think this would slow down our PvP too much and thus not make it fun to play anymore, but there's an easy solution for that. According to the Wiki, there are currently 6 frames and 3 mods that counter Impair in some way. This could be expanded to give some more frames without an Impair ability a way to remove it from themselves, thus evening the play field back to the current high mobility gameplay!

Health/Mobility/Firepower/Range

If I were to arbitrarily boil down TF2's character and weapon balance into a small number of variables, it'd be the following four:

Health: A stationary characters survivability as a combination of HP, HP regen and damage resistance.

Mobility: A character's movement speed and various available maneuvers.

Firepower: A weapon's (or loadout's) damage potential if everything hits, taking both damage and fire rate into consideration.

Range: A weapon's (or loadout's) functional range, counting both damage fall-off, bullet spread and difficulty in landing projectiles.

So for example, the Scout (with default loadout) has low Health, high Mobility, average-to-high Firepower and average-to-low Range. His speed and double jumps allows him to get close and personal with his shotgun, while also helping him survive. As another example, we have the (default) Heavy, with high Health, minimal Mobility, incredible Firepower and around average Range. He's basically a turret on legs, mowing down everything while relying solely on his HP to do so. Let's do a quick, third and final one. The (default) Sniper: Low Health, average-to-low Mobility, high Firepower and top-end Range. All of these characters have their arsenals balanced around who they belong to, as equipping the Heavy's powerful minigun to the Scout or the Sniper's rifle to either would likely be overpowered, while trading the Sniper's rifle for a shotgun would be awful. Meanwhile, the tankiest, most mobile Warframes are free to equip whatever weapons they choose, maximizing their values in all four categories.

Now I don't want to limit certain weapons to certain frames. That'd be a horrible idea, partly due to severely limiting loadout variety. What I instead suggest, to spice up the meta, is first off to tweak each frame's Health, Mobility and abilities some more to give each one some more uniqueness. There is already some difference in stats, but from the little I've seen, I don't think it'd be a bad idea to nudge those stats some more since, in the current Conclave, local ninja Ash is less mobile than Vauban, and is only equally fast as a gentleman in full suit and top hat.

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As for the weapons, (apart from balancing their stats to give them a more unique feel,) I think it'd be cool to make them give you a passive Health and/or Mobility buff/nerf when equipped in your loadout. For example, equipping a heavy-hitting gun like the Arca Plasmor would lower your Mobility while increasing your Health, making you more tank-like. Equipping the strongest Sniper Rifle might lower your Health considerably as compensation, while a weaker one might not affect you much at all. You could make some weak secondaries or melees more like stat sticks, buffing your Health and/or Mobility while sacrificing their roles as good back-up weapons. If done right, I believe this would open up a lot of build variety and thus spice up the meta.

More game modes

Of all the things to change, this should probably be the easiest one, and by the Lotus, it's definitely one of the most needed! Conclave currently has just four modes: Annihilation, Team Annihilation, Cephalon Capture and Lunaro (which gonna disregard from this discussion since it's so much it's own thing with the lack of weapons and whatnot). This is our PvP's biggest shortcoming, in my opinion. We have two modes focused entirely on killing, and one focused on killing the one player trying to run away with your flag/cephalon. (I have only played one round of CC, which was on that outdoors Index map. It's pretty sad when you can cap in two bullet jumps and a slide. Larger maps are needed for that mode.) When your only goal is to kill stuff while staying alive yourself, the meta becomes pretty easy to figure out. Worse than that, it all becomes very stale and same-y across the board.

What I would like to see is simply more, varied game modes, particularly objective-based ones as well as some asymmetrical ones. King of the Hill is an FPS staple that could easily be reconstructed by reducing the number of nodes in Interception, which would also promote frames that are good at bunkering up in one spot. Payload (and possibly Payload Race) could be created with the mobile capture points from MR test 23 and 26, where you'd likely see AoE options shine due to the predictable target areas. A normal Attack/Defend mode, as well as a multiplayer Index (without credit wagers or returns), would also be some fun additions. This is just some obvious genre staples, but I'm certain we/DE could come up with much more!



A few other tidbits

To round it all off, here are a few random thoughts that wouldn't fill up more than a paragraph each. (There's also the "no dedicated servers" thing, but you've heard that one before so I won't go over it yet again in this post.)

I must say I like that the Conclave's mod offerings is very front-loaded. That really helps new players wanting to try some PvP! However, I would love to see more mods and augments being usable in PvE as well. It'd give PvE players something to grind out, or buy from Conclave regulars. Mods like {Rumbled, Thundermiter} would certainly be a ton of fun to play around with versus the daily hordes! Likewise, I would love to see more augments (for both frames and weapons) added to the Conclave, be it as offerings or mission rewards.

Whether you'd add it to the PvE side of the game or tied it to Conclave in some way, I think it would be fitting to add a healing weapon to the game. Could be an Embolist-like sidearm that heals in a cone, a beam primary like the Synapse, or something else entirely, but as long as we'd get a gun that can heal allies, I'd be happy. Could even be an augment, though I'd rather take a new weapon so everyone can immediately tell what you're running by looking at your loadout.

And finally, my craziest idea yet. I think it'd be pretty cool if there was a Warframe farmed solely through Conclave (though still buyable with plat), possibly themed around Lunaro. A sports jock of some kind; a big tanky thing with lots of team support and synergy. Obligatory exalted Arcata for super-powered ball throwing, of course!



Conclusion

So yeah, those were my thoughts after my first Conclave experience. I doubt all of these things will be implemented. Hell, I'd be super happy if even a single one of these ideas made it into the game in some form, or if our PvP got any revitalization at all. There are currently 9 classes and 168 weapons in TF2, and 30 heroes in Overwatch. We have 40 frames (excluding variations) and 373 weapons (including variations), more than both of those two combined! If you ask me, Conclave has the potential to become a fantastic, varied and fun class shooter PvP experience. All it needs is love. Anyway, that's enough babbling on my part, now I wanna hear what your thoughts are!

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