I love Warframe,
But it really struggles to keep me playing.
I know the Warframe-Community is very protective when it comes to both DE and Warframe. And I can ensure you I really love DE and what they have done. I wrote this because I want Warframe to be the best game it can and share my perspective as a longtime gaming and sci-fi enthusiast. At first I wasn’t planning on posting this but I and the people I shared it deemed it worth publishing.
Let us start off with stating what Warframe does extremely well.
• It does an amazing job at customization for both visuals and stats.
• I can’t think of another game which is optimized this well in terms of performance.
• The voice acting as well as the later missions are top notch.
• The fast paced and smooth movement is unrivaled.
• And last but most importantly the general sci-fi setting is just the best out there. No other game comes close to the imagination and craftsmanship that went into the Warframe-Universe.
But sometimes it is not enough to just expand on your strengths. For years now the gameplay is falling further and further behind the listed strengths. The further you get into the game, the less satisfying the gunplay feels.
In this post I will dive into what Warframes weaknesses are in my opinion and a way to address them.
One of Warframes strong suits is also one of its downfalls when it comes to late game: Its Speed
While the movement is super fun and fluid it makes challenging and engaging content really hard to implement, especially if you consider the mostly “Horde mode” gameplay. It is really hard to make satisfying gunplay if you can just gap close almost instantly and slice up the entire pack of enemies in a single swing and at the same time, using guns most of the time keeps you somewhat open for counter fire. Bulletjumping like a madman and landing precision hits works against individual and tougher enemies like sentients. Which is the enemydesign I am hoping to see more of. The game in general would profit from fewer but tougher enemies on more spacious maps.
One issue I noticed, which makes gunplay a lot more clunky then it needs to be is a camera and the Warframe model blocking your view. When you look at your Warframe and at the environment in a lot of tilesets it feels like you are 10 meters tall and both you and the enemies cover ground so fast that you just never are in optimal range to use your actual gun. Keep in mind a lot of those tilesets are very old and designed with a completely different gameplay in mind.
DE recently showed off new Hit Animations for enemies. Those would go very well with some bigger and tougher enemies and make them feel less bulletspongy in the process, it would be good if hits will also slow down their movement for the moment of the hit. In general fewer but stronger enemies would improve the gameplay experience. Maybe reduce the amount of enemies to counterbalance. This should incentivize more accurate shots.
A lot of DE’s recent design choices for Warframes are giving the impression of DE wanting to move away from the AOE only play style. This is what I am really hoping for.
We have so many cool Guns. Make me want to use them! In the current endgame guns are kind of only worth using once you hit almost sortie level enemies. But those levels bring us to the next problem which is enemy damage and armor scaling. A majority or Warframes are either too fragile to be used in endgame missions or lack the raw power. From a design standpoint a behemoth like chroma or rhino shouldn’t exist and it especially shouldn’t be mandatory. While Warframe is all about bringing the right tool for the job, no Warframe should be the power of atomic bomb while others have place in an ordinary toolbox.
And those Jobs bring me to the next point: Mission Design
While newer missions aka Bounties have improved a lot I find myself not spending that much time in those compared to void fissures. The reactant system doesn’t feel very fleshed out and very rushed. If we need reactant to open relics why can’t we have a mission type based on it? Like protecting a device made to open our relics, which opens as soon as we have the total amount of reactant, similar to excavation. Not getting 10 reactant in 5 waves, because someone killed too fast or having to chase behind people running of in survival mission just to make sure to have your 10 reactant is so annoying that I ended up avoiding my favorite mission type for void fissures.
The reason why my personal favorite is survival is because you actually play the game, instead of just wanting to get through the mission with the least possible effort and skipping 95% of the content.
And then there is the opposite example in capture and exterminate, which is basically just “run through the map with some kind of AOE enabled”. The opposite of engaging gameplay. Void fissures need dedicated mission structures which aren’t reliant on random rotations. Void fissures got introduced to mix up endgame and bring a change of scenery. This was the initial intent why it got moved out of the void. But since we have a lot of different themed endgame now, moving “prime-part content” back into the void would be very fitting.
The mission design should also reflect the rewards you get from it which brings me to my next point: Reward Structure
This basically goes hand in hand with the previous topic. Having rewards tied to fitting activities gives your missions identity for example raiding a Grineer ship has the option to yield Zaw or Kitgun parts of Grineer design with slightly randomized stats to encourage more runs. This was basically what I was hoping for when they announced dark sector reworks. Multi level roguelike dungeons with fitting rewards instead we ended up with another horde mode. Having riven based rewards tied into mission would be nice aswell. For example having different types of treasure rooms after every X levels of the roguelike you completed. Example for those rooms would be:
• Rivens based on the faction
• A machine allowing you one or multiple rerolls on a Riven with higher reroll counts requiring deeper progress into the dungeon
• Zaw/Kitgun parts of the faction, Vandal/Prisma/Wraith weapons or parts
• The option to dismantle a weapon with a chance for a fitting Riven (could require a veiled Riven of matching type) with higher chance for dismantling a prime or faction variation. This would also serve as a type of itemsinc similar to ducats
• A small collection of relics
A system like this would be going well with the Railjack expansion, if you structure it like a escalation mission in EVE Online. You finish a spy mission for example and have a chance to learn the location of Corpus ship. You then use your Railjack to get there and raid it.
Also having meaningful random drops during missions would go a long way enhancing the gameplay loop.
The next topic I want to talk about is general balancing and scaling
I don’t want to go too deep into this topic because it is way too big to give it the coverage it needs.
The scaling is pretty good early levels until you reach around level 50 enemies. After that point it starts to get out of hand though. DE needs to figure out how far they want to go with the scaling and what level they want people to encounter the enemies. Because as it stands right now endgame enemies encountered in the game are too strong for a lot of Warframes even before you start the infinite scaling. The fact squishier Warframes can’t take a single shot in sortie3 or high level bounties is bad. Not every frame needs to be able to tackle endurance runs, but every frame should have its place in certain endgame missions. The problem is the huge discrepancy in defensive capabilities. There is an abyss between the EHP of Banshee and Chroma, which needs to be filled.
Making real challenging content will need to be curated and won’t be achieved with artificial stat scaling, because you will need to hit sweet spots. Scaling difficulty will still be nice for endurance run playstyle but it won’t have a place in most people’s day to day gameplay.
I also hope the Railjack modding system Steve mentioned will carry over to Warframes and weapons to make actual challenging/engaging content achievable.
And then there is the elephant in the room: Armor
Why percentage damage reduction does need to scale in the first place? It is already a multiplier to the scaling health value. Having both scale at the same time just makes enemies scale exponentially.
Next up: Warframe abilities
Cut down on the AOE. While it might be fun at first, it is very unhealthy for the game in the long run. Abilities like Maim are just boring and are the opposite of engaging. I introduced a lot of player to Warframe. The majority of those left again with the reasoning “The farming is boring. You only press the same button all the time” Those people came from very grindy games and aren’t shying away from a huge grind. It is how you grind in Warframe. Garuda for example is in my opinion the best designed Warframe in the last years. Both offensive and defense capabilities are very fleshed out and in a good state in terms of power.
Just to be clear, I am confident DE knows what they are doing and where they want to go with the game, but getting perspectives is important. Most of the issues listed here won’t be apparent until you hit like 2000+ hours played. But as time goes on a lot more people will hit those numbers. Especially in the current market it becomes a lot more visible that growth from new players is finite and retention is king. I am well aware that some of the listed issues and recommendations got addressed in recent Devstreams and I am really looking forward to updates like The Wolf of Saturn, but I started writing down my thoughts before those and there is still value in them.
I am looking forward to your responses. Please be reasonable and constructive.
There is nothing left to say other then:
I love Digital Extremes.
I love the community.
And I love Warframe.
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