Hi, my name is Elise. I'm a longtime on and off casual player (I've been playing since beta and have taken multiple year long breaks in the past, but I always came back), but in the past couple months I've gotten more serious about the game – playing it, theorycrafting, and thinking of changes for it. My understanding of the game has grown a lot recently, and with it I've seen more and more problems with my favorite frame, Valkyr. I fucking love Valkyr. She's my most played frame. She has a unique flavor, she has a personality, and she has a gameplay style that I love, but my girl has some issues (and I'm not just talking about that whole "berserker rage" thing, although that should probably be addressed at some point. My girl needs a hug). I'm talking about gameplay- She's one of the poster children for a kit aging badly, and even though she's still viable, she could use some serious boosts to her quality of life, gameplay flow, and general strength in comparison to similar frames. I want to go through her abilities one by one, and address their problems and potential fixes.
Before I dive in, I want to briefly go over Valk's current playstyle, as far as I'm familiar with – She goes in all melee, with a good combo weapon bolstered by Warcry. When health gets low, she goes into Hysteria and quickly lifesteals up to full, which doesn't just make her very hard to take down, it also frees up a modslot on her melee that would otherwise be used for Life Strike or Healing Return – Hysteria is also used for tank shredding, with its insane damage potential and charge attack that auto-transitions into a boosted finisher. Buildwise, she'll be stacking health and armor because of her fantastic base values, Hunter Adrenaline, and a good amount of power strength, efficiency, and dumpstering range in favor of duration with Narrow Minded. Valk will almost never build shields – this is the norm, of course, but she especially doesn't want them because of how much she loves Hunter Adrenaline.
Ripline is a toy. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. It's something that I hardly ever use – I only use it occasionally for mobility, and the only enemy I consistently use it on is drones. Both of its uses have major, major problems – and I feel these problems can be mostly resolved by taking notes from other games.
Problem 1: Using Ripline on enemies is unreliable. They get flung behind you in an unpredictable arc, sometimes ending up the same distance away from you but on the other side now.
How it should work: Ideally, Ripline's purpose when cast on an enemy would be to bring distant or otherwise unreachable enemies into blender range. I would propose that when used on an enemy, Ripline work like every other hook and pull ability from any video game, as seen with Scorpion (MK), Blitzcrank (LoL), Pudge (Dota2), Roadhog (OW) – The enemy is pulled to a stop in front of you, and briefly stunned. Similar mechanics seen on the lacera and mios' charged attack, and the harpak and paracyst's alternate fire could also be helped by this treatment.
Problem 2: Using Ripline on terrain is unsatisfying, and doesn't offer enough of a mobility boost to be worth the energy cost. One would imagine that you'd zip to the point like in Just Cause, but currently the pull is more of a short sharp tug that only builds a usable amount of momentum when going straight up.
How it should work: You all know what I'm going to say here. We all want the same thing for terrain!Ripline. We wanna swing from that damn line like spiderman. Personally, I feel the mechanics of the swing should be modeled after the Grapple from Apex Legends and Titanfall. You're pulled towards the targeted terrain for as long as the button is held, gaining significant momentum, and you can point your camera to swing yourself and slingshot into the distance when you release. This would give her a unique (among warframes) style of movement, and would be more satisfying, skillful, and fun to use. Admit it, DE – you wanna see Valkitty swing around on her lines just as much as we do. This change is less a matter of balance and more a matter of principle, as I can't imagine a situation in which this would not be a good change.
Warcry is good. It's quite good, actually – with its augment, it's one of our girl's saving graces right now. It has one major problem and one minor annoyance, but a few tweaks would bring it into line and make it feel quite a bit smoother and more worthwhile.
Major Problem: It's Volt's Speed, but worse. Let's compare and contrast – Both grant an attack speed buff, and grant their benefits to allies who were nearby when it was cast. Speed provides movement speed and reload speed, Warcry grants an armor bonus and slows enemies who were nearby when it was cast. Speed costs 25 energy, Warcry costs 75. Speed is cheaper and grants not just more stats overall, but more universally useful stats. Warcry's armor bonus certainly sounds nice, but it's based on the base armor of the affected frame – before strength mods, it's worth the same as a rank 4 steel fiber, for context. Warcry's enemy slow also sounds nice, but it only effects enemies that were within your range when you cast it – a range that you'll likely dumpster with Narrow Minded to get more uptime for the attack speed buff. Warcry has triple the cost and cast time of Speed for less benefits. The only thing Warcry has over Speed is its augment, which can boost its uptime significantly.
How it could be better: Replace the armor buff with a straight damage reduction buff, which would be more useful for her and let her bolster her more squishy teammates. Make the enemy slow a persistent aura around her with the same range, so she can push her attack speed advantage even harder. Additionally, it could also grant a stagger resistance buff, to fit with both her theme and her gameplay style. Finally, for the love of all things good and holy, reduce its cost to 50. It has no place costing as much as it does right now.
Minor Problem: It has a long casting animation that interrupts game flow, leaves her vulnerable, and eats into its duration. This is another comparison with Speed – Speed is instant cast, Warcry requires you to stand still for around a full second, which is a lot more significant than it sounds. With the augment, you would ideally cast this before starting a fight and using the augment to keep it up, but if your build doesn't have room for it for whatever reason, then it leads to frustrating moments where you have to cast it again and again and again, sometimes having to make a "tactical retreat" so you can recast it safely. Additionally, Warcry's duration starts ticking down at the BEGINNING of the animation, rather than the end, which often isn't significant enough to matter, but is still frustrating.
How it could be addressed: I see 2 options here. First, you could just speed up that cast time – I know Natural Talent exists, but for our "all in berserker" frame, it just makes more sense for her abilities to be smooth so she doesn't have to stop her rampage. Alternatively, she could be granted momentary invulnerability – this would make it much safer to cast, and stay within her theme. Either way, the ability's duration should start at the end of the animation, and it is absolutely vital that the scream isn't removed. Valkyr's screams and battlecries give her so much character and personality, and I would hate to see them ever NOT be a part of her kit (Also shout out to Megan for providing the voice, you did a fantastic job and played a huge role in making Valkyr as unique and cool as she is.)
I sometimes forget this ability exists, and I play Valkyr more than any other frame.
The Problem: It's radial blind, but much worse. It briefly makes enemies in front of her stumble and opens them to finishers for a fixed duration (Also, let's acknowledge that having an ability that doesn't scale with mods for its primary purpose is pretty frustrating). Compare this to Radial Blind, a similar ability on a frame in a similar niche – Radial Blind is an aoe around Excalibur that blinds enemies for 15 seconds at base. Despite its reduced cost, Paralysis simply cannot compete.
A potential buff: Make the pull from the augment baseline (I would love to see this also receive an FX change where she's pulling multiple enemies with her ripline, to make that element a bigger part of her kit and make her 1 feel less out of place), make its duration scale with duration mods, and make its angle scale with your range with its base angle increased to around 180°. These changes would warrant an increase in cost, but that would be more than worth it to make it an ability worth its slot.
I can't help but feel like I'm forgetting something about this ability…
The shield scaling.
Not gonna lie, I have no idea how that could be made useful. Having damage that scales with a stat that most players simply won't build and is also constantly in flux is an interesting choice, to say the least. I guess you could increase the scaling to make "Max Shield Nuke Valkyr" builds a thing? I'm not even sure where to begin with that mechanic, but I'm no game designer. please lend us your brilliance based Pablo
This ability has… depreciated, shall we say. Its ever-increasing energy cost and the fact that it doesn't render the player fully invulnerable anymore have caused it to fall from favor. Its lack of range doesn't help. It offers a lot of damage and survivability, but it needs some help. Let me address its issues one by one.
Range: Her claws do simply incredible damage, but they do it to one enemy at a time. She's the premier melee tank shredder, but this is a horde shooter and more often than not your priority is going to be spreading that damage out to as many targets as possible, hence the popularity of polearms and whips. It's usually far more effective to deal n1 damage to a crowd of enemies than n3 damage to one enemy, especially since for most of the games content you'll only need n.6 damage to kill most enemies outright.
Long lasting invulnerability on a dps frame is not healthy: This is why her energy cost was nerfed and she now has her "self damage bubble". If she were able to stay in Hysteria for prolonged amounts of time without that bubble, she would trivialize a significant portion of the games content.
The invulnerability only starts at the end of the cast animation: It's still frustrating, and it's gotten me killed far more times than I'd like to admit.
Melee 2.9: With the introduction of quickswapping between melee and ranged with Melee 2.9, it's become incredibly easy for Valkyr to accidentally pull out her ranged weapon, causing her to lose the invulnerability and lifesteal while still losing energy until she either melees or deactivates the ability.
A potential bandaid fix to her issue with range and Melee 2.9: make it so she keeps the invulnerability even after switching to a ranged weapon.
A potential bandaid fix to her issue with Melee 2.9: make it so she can't switch weapons while Hysteria is active.
A more in-depth fix to her range issue: To add some range to her Hysteria, why not make it so that with certain attacks, she's also swinging riplines like dual whips attached to her claws – she'd deal full damage with her claws, and riplines would deal much reduced but still useful damage. It would give her more ability to clear trash mobs, and it would be nice to see her riplines as a bigger part of her kit. This would almost certainly involve tweaks to her attack animations, but I think it would be worth it for the extra flavor it would add.
A more in-depth potential fix to the issue of easy to access, long lasting invulnerability: From the look of Wukong's rework, it seems that having Melee weapons be tied to gauges in the vein of Baruuk will be a more widely used balancing choice in the future. I can't believe I'm saying it, but I think that Valkyr's Hysteria would take very well to being tied to a meter. The Hysteria gauge, which builds when you take damage and depletes while Hysteria is active. This would keep Valkyr's current gameplay style of using Hunter Adrenaline to dip into Hysteria when things get dicey, and make it a natural part of her kit.
Well, you made it to the bottom. Thank you so much for reading, or at least skimming, through my far too long-winded post. I want to make it clear that I do not hate Valkyr, or this game, or DE – I love all of those things, as a matter of fact, which is why I just spent 3 hours writing and editing this and innumerable hours beforehand thinking about it (Okay I don't know if I'd say that I love DE, we don't know each other that well and I just don't feel our relationship is at that stage yet). A lot of Valkyr's issues are a result of the game growing more complex and gaining quality in general. I'm gonna keep playing her as my main frame for the foreseeable future as I can't imagine any other frame replacing her in my heart. As I write this conclusion, I can't help but think about how strange it is, the emotional connection that I've formed with this fictional character. I've known and played Valkyr for longer than I've known some of my close friends – Hell, I've played Valkyr for twice as long as I've known my girlfriend! I'd like to end this post with a plea to give our beloved angery cat a boost, and major thanks to DE for creating a game that could bring me so much fun, and a character that I could get so passionate about.
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© Post "I love Valkyr, so I wrote about her abilities and changes/buffs they could use for almost 2500 words." for game Warframe.
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