What is “content” in Warframe.

Warframe15 - What is "content" in Warframe.

There have been usefull discussions about this topic and eye-rolling low effort ones, constructive criticism and hyperbolic reactions. I'm honestly tired of seeing this, so here's yet another post on this topic, only this time from a different angle.

First of all, we can split a game into a few parts:

  • Concept: Includes concept arts, ideas, writing etc. Everything that will or will not make it into the game, aka the pre-production phase.
  • System design: Everything that goes behind the scenes, the script.
  • Graphical design: Everything that we can see and interact with. Backgrounds, objects, models etc.
  • Sound design: Everything that we can hear. The game's music score, voice acting, sound effects etc.
  • Gameplay: What we as the players experience. This can has multiple categories with the two major ones being static gameplay (lore, exposition etc) and dynamic gameplay (combat, movement etc).

A game's content is a combination of all the above and as a result affects gameplay in some way or another. First you have the idea of the new thing that will be implemented, you create the systems, graphic & sound design to support said idea and then it becomes something playable, something that the player can directly or indirectly interact with. Generally it is split into (for the most part) three major categories:

  1. Launch content: Everything in the game during the time of the game's release, aka the base game.
  2. Post-launch content: Everything else added to the game after the release. This can be either sustainable (continuously adding new things) or one-offs (planned DLCs).
  3. Post-launch external content: A subcategory of the above, anything created outside the main developing team, aka fan-made mods. Might not exist depending on the game.

The main thing that most people are complaining about lately is that Warframe has no new content. I'll get to that in a bit, but first of all let's get something out of the way. The game already has a lot of content. Warframe has a lot of years on its back and with them many things exist in the game. That's not to say it doesn't new new stuff, it absolutely does. Warframe's model is that of sustainable content, the devs keep releasing stuff and keep adding to the pile, thus keeping the game ongoing and the players engaged. The three major flaws of DE's handling of the game's content in my honest opinion are these:

  • Unbalanced focus between creating something new and repurposing something old. For a game of this scale, while you always need something new to add in-between certain time intervals, you also have to respect and repurpose everything else that came before it. Currently DE is more focused on creating new content instead of fixing older issues, which have been piling up over the years to a pretty big size. The players see old/current content daily, not the new one, all of those issues need to be addressed, not all at once but steadily. From bux fixes, to rebalances, to breathing new life in older content (like how Infested Invasions were included in the Nightwave). If new content needs to be implemented constantly, the old content needs to be repurposed and altered at an even faster rate.
  • The thing that Steve has mentioned a few times, that he tries to find a good balance so that gameplay ends up being both fun & rewarding. Currently this is not the case as a whole. There are certain missions that are engaging and rewarding (such as Spy and Sorties) and others that feel like a chore without offering much as rewards (infested salvage is prime suspect imo, also endless missions suffer from this).
  • The blame-shifting. I don't want to get into things other people have talked about in more detail, but this also applies to missions. Rebecca was mentioning Lunaro during the No-Clip interview Part 2 about how that was a failure of an experiment because people do not play it. This is directly related to point #1, when something has issues and said issues are neglected in favor of new content, less and less people will be willing to tolerate said thing. Lunaro received no care or additional love and was eventually forgotten by most. It's not the players that forgot Lunaro, it was DE that forgot about it first.

I strongly believe that Warframe needs a 40-60% split between new content and old repurposing. But wait, many players NEED new content, creators are leaving and all that stuff. That atittude is what prevents the game from being fixed. Many blame DE that they neglect old content when they also demand new stuff. If you demand and need new stuff in order to enjoy the game, you have also forgotten old/current content. That part of the game no longer satisfies you. When you only care about the new stuff being added, it sends a message to DE that only that matters, the old stuff can wait. Why repurpose an old mission when you can add a new one? Why rebalance an old weapon when you can powercreep it with a new shiny one?

I mentioned the game has a lot of content right? But surely not everything is "endgame" or can keep you engaged for a long time. Let's see:

  • Riven Mods: Literally the best counter-argument you can make about "endgame content doesn't exist". The vast majority of players use their loadout and not just their warframe abilities, they also have at least one weapon they really like. The Riven system has so many variables that you can farm rivens for all your favorite weapons for a long time until you achive "the perfect roll". A true endgame loadout means that everything you use have the perfect stats of your choice. Even if the differences are very small percentages, that has been a major part of "endgame content" in many games since ever. You try to achieve that extra power increase, however small that may be.
  • A major part of replayability in games is going through the game with a different mindset. A melee warrior on your first run is a mage on your second etc. Another aspect of that is adjustable difficulty. Warframe just like Dark Souls (obligatory DS reference) have no such thing so you adjust that set difficulty through other means (f.e. using suboptimal weapons and builds). When you only use the meta-weapons and frames and only care about trivializing the gameplay, you can only replay the same thing a certain amount of time until it gets boring. Warframe might lack challenging missions for endgame (some might argue it doesn't since you can play endless missions since Wave #37487583 and beyond) but the fact that players use one build to play and not alter it is on them, not on the game. Balancing has nothing to do with this, almost noone balances their game around the player that wants to play with only the starting equipment.
  • Fashonframe. Do you happen to own all skins and accessories for your favorite Warframes and Weapons, all color schemes and all companion patterns? If yes, skip this point. If not, that's still "content" for you to unlock. Most of these are obtainable with in-game platinum, meaning that you can grind for it, trade items and buy the cosmetics of your choice. You can't tell me this isn't part of WF's content when the vast majority of you obviously give a crap about how your loadout looks in-game. Before the microtransactions era, cosmetics were part of a game's endgame, you were rewarded with skins and other stuff. Those things are linked ever since "endgame" was introduced in games.

Oh but wait, that's just my 3 main examples. Let's look at more stuff that one can do:

  • As part of Fashonframe, own all Captura scenes & Ephemeras.
  • Formas, Catalysts, Reactors: Have you maxed every single thing in the game? That's still content for you to indulge in and experiment. Some people like to put infinite forma in their favorite thing, for them that's part of the endgame, a symbol of dedication. At the current state of the game, you may need to own multiples of a weapon or frame just to use multiple vastly different builds if you don't want to drastically start all over through formatting that one copy.
  • Conservation, Floofs and Fishing Trophies. You can earn them, the gameplay for those is also completely different.
  • Reach max Mr Rank (constantly increasing). This also means owning every single Warframe, Weapon, Companion and Vehicle in the game, as well as leveling them up to rank 30. These are directly affecting gameplay and how you can adjust the difficulty.
  • Own all Syndicate rewards.
  • Own all faction rewards.
  • Own all Arcanes.
  • Conclave: This is to a lesser extend since besides the Syandana and armor pieces, the mods are unusable outside of Conclave (some are however). Also more skins for your favorite weapons.
  • Own all mods in the game. Max them out or keep copies at a lower rank to mix and match (f.e corrupted mods).
  • Fill every blank entry on the Codex.
  • Secrets are parts of the map. Some people like to explore, for them finding a new room is discovering new content.
  • Uncovering the lore of the game through the scans and data logs.
  • Build and expand your Clan Dojo that has nearly no cap in terms of how many rooms and crazy stuff you can build. This is also different from the main gameplay loop.
  • (Many more but let's stop cause this post is long already.)

When you state "Warframe has no content" this applies to YOU, not the game. You don't see most of the things mentioned above (and there are more) as something that interests you. And that's fine, that's why games introduce multiple mechanics, one man's Infested Salvage is another one's treasure. But stop blaming the game for something that is on your end. There are still stuff in this game to do, I mean look at this list! Have you done every single thing from the categories that interest you? And if the answer is yes, why are you still playing then? This isn't "just play something else/take a break", I'm honestly curious. If your categories of interest are completed, if my first 3 main examples don't apply to you, why are you still playing Warframe? You clearly have nothing else to do, you have completed the game (or at least the parts that interest you). You also cannot know for sure if the new upcoming content will fit your "content" criteria, it might not be for you at all and instead when DE revamps an older mission you'll be way more excited. Why do we have to put so much focus and salt on this "new content" mentality?

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