Warframe

[Opinion] “Endgame Rewards” Will Never Be Satisfying

Warframe4 - [Opinion] "Endgame Rewards" Will Never Be Satisfying
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If you don't care about a "midgame" player's opinions on "endgame," this post ain't for you ( ˘ ³˘)♥

(I'll be making lots of statements with an air of certainty, but I am by no means an expert on how to design a rewarding gaming experience for millions of fans.)

Even before I started playing Warframe I'd heard opinions online about "Warframe's lack of Endgame," but I think the problem is more fundamental and nuanced than "lack of content." In a game with well over 1,000 hours of "midgame" content, I don't think that even a dozen new quests, a dozen new weapons, and a dozen new mods would be more than a bandaid on an issue which seems to be festering among players who have put those 1,000+ hours in.

As I see it, there are two core problems; expecting endgame modes to be able to deliver rewards at all, and treating available game modes as a means to an end.

I ask you, is it possible to create and offer a valuable reward for someone who has maxed all focus schools, all syndicates, forma'd an army's worth of weapons and frames, and can walk into any mission available with the confidence of a god walking among mortals?

What reward could be given to a person with everything, that wouldn't also serve to further trivialize the content currently available?

Sure, people want new rewards, and new content that requires those rewards to complete, but isn't that just kicking the can further down the road? What happens when you complete the new content, and forma those new weapons, and those new mods are max rank? We come back to where we are now. Of course new content is necessary to maintain interest, but if our motivation to play is solely based on rewards we'll still be crying for content thru 2020, 2030, etc.

Gaming has changed a lot in the last decade or two. I remember a time where you played a game until you "beat it;" the final boss is dead, the kingdom is saved, whatever conflict in the game's plot that motivated your decisions has been resolved. If you wanted to play more, you either ran around collecting every last little thing to 100% the game, or if the gameplay didn't allow returning to older levels, you restarted the game (with or without new game+) and tried to beat it with extra conditions, often conditions created by the players themselves with no in-game recognition or reward (ie Skyrim no fast travel, MGS no kills, etc.)

In Warframe, there is no final boss to defeat, the origin system remains in chaos indefinitely, and at some point you've collected multiple copies of every reward available, and there is no longer an external motivation to play. This point comes comparatively much, much later than in other games, but it happens. This leads me to personally categorize Warframe along with progressionless or plotless games I've enjoyed; PUBG, BF4, etc. Those devs didn't create a story to experience with a beginning and an end, they created an arena for players to enter and play in. In the case of PUBG specifically, even after 1,000 hours you weren't given a single reward that increased your power; you played the game to play the game, not to obtain a reward. Of course WF and PUBG are drastically different games, but the source of the motivation to play is my point.

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Some of us are so conditioned to play a mission for it's drop table that we've forgotten the simple joy of killing hordes of enemies, aka the core gameplay mechanics.

That being said, I'm not here to say that "content drought" is solely the fault of the community's expectations. In my personal progression thru Warframe, I'm at a point where the first 20 minutes of any mission are sleepwalkable. That's a real issue. But the ramp up after 20mins still feels great; I love when ambulas/bursas/eximus nox's/etc are everywhere and I'm saying "shitshitshitshit" while I frantically dive and shoot and struggle to get a reload completed in time while spamming CC abilities. That rush from feeling like winning isn't guaranteed, that my skill is being tested, that's the core of why I play each day. Sure, the rewards are nice, but it's not why I started a mission; it's why I picked a certain planet or faction to fight.

I won't offer criticisms without some sort of solution, even if those solutions are merely starting points for discussion. When I think of an "endgame" mode, something to play without thinking of the rewards, I envision missions that are difficult from the start; missions that I don't need to clear 20/30 minutes of fluff before it's challenging. Somewhere to bring my 6+ forma frames, my 6+ forma weapons with maxed primed mods, my stacks of 99 pizzas. I would love if the entire starchart could be made 50 levels harder. Earth nodes starting with lvl 50-60 enemies, Sedna having 80-90. My current favorite mode is void survival during a void fissure– no wacky mechanics like arbi drones or seemingly impossible efficiency requirements like ESO, just a total slaughterfest with increased enemy spawns. I love the difficulty of eximus bombards spawning underneath nullifier bubbles right in front of me when a second ago I thought I knew the enemy pathing and had everything under control.

"All dressed up with nowhere to go" is a problem in many games. BoTW, which garnered incredible critical acclaim, included a both a motorcycle and a custom, placeable fast travel point as a reward for completing it's paid DLC. By the time you earned it, you had already completed everything else you might need to warp to. In the same way, a new gun or floof isn't going to solve that problem for WF.

We need a "somewhere to go" that is challenging. But if we as a community fail to recognize the value of post-reward content and cannot find motivation to play a mission for the pure fun of the gameplay, we may very well be condemning ourselves to experience "content drought" indefinitely.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the relationship between rewards, community expectations, and late-game content/game modes in regards to replayability and entertainment.

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