So my current game of the moment is Warframe, the free to play space ninja game. I was playing it when my hard drive started to die, and now I have it installed on my External (good ol’ Phovidrive), I can play it occasionally in the evenings on other people’s computers. Despite actually being a very pretty game, it runs amazingly well even on potato laptops. TF2 has been working alright too, and I finally got Left 4 Dead 2 and Saints Row: the Third to work, but nothing works as well as Warframe currently.
Last time I mentioned Warframe, I said I wasn’t sure. After a few more hours (I’m near 20 hours now, and it took 14 hours for me to be able to reach Mastery Rank 2 – the level at which you can trade), I… I am still completely and utterly clueless. I mean, I have the basics of it, I’m slowly leveling up Volt and my MK1-Paris bow, I crafted a Furis which is way better than the boring as fuck Lato pistol and my pointy stick has a chance to freeze people, and I’m close to unlocking Mercury, but I’m still clueless.
Well, not utterly. I can do some of the missions on my own. The more stealthy missions – Spy, Rescue, Sabotage/Infiltrate/whateverit’scalled and Extermination are all okay. Assassination I haven’t done solo yet because most of them are boss missions and they don’t seem very solo-able. The Defense/Mobile Defense/Excavation/Survival missions are impossible solo unless you know what you’re doing and have access to regular AoE damaging abilities, because there are often too many enemies for me and my bow to take on. Volt has a very handy shield (that if you use Shock on, damages enemies who try and pass through it, which is a cool combination!) but my level 19 Volt doesn’t have enough energy to reliably do that all the time. Most of the game does require coop.
I’m perfectly fine with coop though. Playing with other people gets you more experience towards upgrading your stuff, which means way more room for upgrades. It helps ease the grind. But since you’re matched with either friends or people who are just farming most of the time, you get carried a lot. It’s kinda annoying, since it makes me feel like I’m not pulling my weight. I don’t mind that too much, I’m a newbie and people know better, but I’d kinda like to have more participation rather than arriving at the scene and all that’s left is dropped ammo. On the plus side though, my accuracy looks super impressive, because I’m not getting as many kills and the ones I do get are generally spot on. I managed an impressive 75% accuracy the other day, coming from someone who normally can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
One thing I’ve picked up on though is just how samey the maps are. I’ve been to several spots all around Venus and they look very, very similar. Same with Earth. And the relays and trading places. It’s very convenient how both Corpus and the Grineer have perfectly placed areas for the Tenno to escape from after they’ve sabotaged a load of stuff and killed half their staff. Maybe other planets and moons are different. I hope so. Also, why is Venus snowy? And why is Phobos still around but not Deinos? Phobos is a potato of a moon and is going to get torn apart by Mars’s gravity pretty damn soon, cosmological time scale wise.
Back to Warframe. The thing is, the grind is going to get to me eventually. I’d like to make the Penta, a grenade launcher, to carry around (dem Demoman vibes!) but I’m miles away from doing so. I’d also like some more Warframes, but from the looks of things, I’m going to be stuck with Volt for ages. I got an Oberon chassis (a bit of another Warframe) but I need to farm very specific ‘sorties’ (i.e. daily challenges) and before I can do that, I need Volt at level 30 and I need to hit Mastery Rank 4.
My biggest beef with the game though is the Mastery Rank system. I can get wanting to restrict trading to avoid scammers and hackers and alts and the like, but so many things are locked behind mastery ranks and it takes a good bit of grind to unlock them. Worse, you don’t just level up, you need to do some sort of test, and if you fail the test, you need to wait 24 hours to do it again. None of that feels needed though. Instead of saying “this is locked behind a Mastery Rank!” you could so easily replace that with “this is locked behind a Warframe rank!” and the effect would be the same. It takes time to level up your Warframes, and you are unlikely to unlock a second one until you’ve completed your first, so why not tie trading ranks to the level of your first Warframe? Or just have Mastery Ranks and get rid of the lame tests. You already do a ton of repeating missions anyway, I don’t see the need to have even more.
It’s all frustrating. The gameplay is excellent, you have so many abilities at your disposal, even at the start of the game (1-2 abilities, one gun, one secondary, one melee and mobility abilities) but they really make you work for it, and it can so easily put other people off the game. And it will scare away solo players, as later missions, many of which are required for the constant progress Warframe pushes on you, will so easily flood you with enemies.
On the flip side, I’m still going to play. There’s so much to unlock, and I REALLY want to try the Archwing missions. Free movement in three dimensions sounds awesome. Also, the customization is insane. I’m loving my yellow, red and blue everything.