With Railjack on the horizon, this discussion has been long time coming. With DE discussing Archwings and Itzal dominance in the Devstream, it seems to the Prime time to address the elephant in the room about the Archwing: Archwing content sucks.
DE say that the Itzal is above most Archwings, and they are right. Because all of other Archwings have flaws that make them just less fun to play than the Itzal. Let's start with several ones:
In regular archwing your vacuum range is too small for the maps you are playing on. Oh yes DE, it's so fun to play a FAST PACED LOOT SHOTER where you don't get the loot with most Archwings. The ONLY thing that gives you the ability to reliably get loot is Itzal's 3. The difference on the amount of loot you get without Itzal 3 is staggering. It's basically feels like playing without Vacuum feels in normal mode. Let's also not forget that vacuum is disabled in open world when using AW, so Itzal's 3 is the only way to get loot reliably in Atmosphere AW use as well.
No way to just STOP and just meh movement overall. The brakes on all the Aw's are terrible, and compared to how precise and fun the movement is in normal mode, AW movement just feels bad. From all AW's only one has reliable brakes – Itzal with its 2.
Open world areas pretty much discourage using AWs in combat as pretty much anything can kick you out of aw. The focus of aw in open world is heavily shifted towards out of combat mobility and stealth. And guess what is the focus of Itzal? Stealth on Itzal 2 allowes you to use it more without being knocked out instantly.
Let's discuss Archwings themselves.
Odonata (Prime) is the Jack of all trades with the shield on his 1 being the best ability – basically a fire based version of Volt's shield. Its 2 is ok for AW content. Its 3 is ok for AW, but absolute dogshit in open world, as past LVL15 it might as well be confetti (but looks amazing tbh). 4, is basically the same but scales a bit further and that's it.
Elytron is the "heavy damage" Archwing. The quotes are there because that only applies to star chart AW combat. In open worlds the damage soon becomes obsolete. Its 1 and 4 are basically the same, his 1 being "boom" and 4 being "BOOOOOOM". 2 is ok, and its 3 is just "ember's 4 in a can". It is also the tankiest AW without using abilities. It's pretty fun to use in space for me. But, most of its abilities are soon made useless in open world,the fact that it's the slowest one and its tankiness meaning nothing, basically makes it useless there in it's entirety.
Amesha is, long story short, all support warframes rolled into one. Heals, protection, energy generation. It's at the same time one of the most overpowered AWs, but the fundamental design flaws of AW still just makes it less fun to use than Itzal.
Now let's look at Itzal – it's 1 is amazing movement ability in both AW and Open world. The 2 is great break, somewhat becoming a band aid to bad handling, AND allowes to use it in open world somewhat reliably without being knocked out evry damn time a tusk butcher looks up into the air. 3 allowes you to continue playing the loot shooter and reliably get stuff in archwing. 4 is great in AW and low level open wolrds, but soon becomes mostly negligible, but drones do proc electricity a lot, so it's ok. Oh, and let's not forget that it's the fastest AW to begin with.
TL;DR Archwing content is terribly designed and makes only one Archwing viable because it has either has a workaround or a band aid to the issues that plague archwing in space and atmosphere. As it stands, there're 3 bad AW'a and 1 good one. The conversation shouldn't be to make other Aw's viable by nerfing Itzal, as that brings us to 4 bad Aw's. We need total AW rework, we are looong overdue with Archwing 2.0.
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