Archwing is a game mode in Warframe in which you have six degrees of movement rather than the standard four. By that, I mean there is no floor to stand on and you have to float and fight through space on your space wings, with your gigantic sword and your space gun. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Well, not quite…
I normally actually avoid Archwing missions, because I get dizzy easily. I was only re-reminded of their existence after a conversation with SilverWolf, and accidentally doing an Exterminate alert that turned out to be an Archwing mission. Plus, I was going to write about this at some point.
Let’s start with the pros of Archwing. You can fly around space shooting shit. Most of the time. Some of the time. Anyone who’s played Archwing will fondly remember their first Archwing mission, after having to do the same mission three times in three different places. Ordis said it would take forever to get your Arching ready, then all of a sudden, you get throw into Archwing at the end of a mission and have to fly around shooting things while avoiding giant space lasers that kill you in one hit.
Oh and you don’t have the same abilities and there’s no up or down or anything like that. In my first Archwing trip, I instinctively pressed 2 to activate Speed! and run away, but in Archwing, no matter what Warframe you are using, (most likely, Excalibur, Volt, Mag, maybe Rhino) you end up with a new set of abilities. That don’t seem to do anything. Your weapons get replaced too, with a giant melee and one gun, no secondary.
Controls are tedious. Every movement you make is incredibly floaty, and every turn you make comes with a few seconds of drift. Your fifth and sixth degrees of movement come from your cursor, and that’s the direction you travel in as you hold W. And Shift. And Space. Because by default your Archwing feels pretty slow, hence why I instinctively pressed 2 when I got jettisoned into space.
Of course, space is big. And it’s in six dimensions rather than four. That makes navigation a little tricky. It’s… alright but it really does take getting used to. Enemies are thankfully mostly marked on your screen, but the minimap in all its helpless 2d form, does fuck all to help you orientate yourself. It’s only good for finding objectives, really. You won’t be finding much loot in these missions.
Then again, that’s assuming that you’re doing a ‘Free Space’ mission. Some Archwing missions take place in ‘Trench Run’ tilesets, meaning you’re flying through incredibly tight spaces. Not a problem normally, but I swear, all the Trench Run tilesets always appear on maps where you have a timer, and NEED to go fast. Combined with the floaty controls, some missions are undoable without a lot of trial and error, or the right Archwing.
The worst case of this is Rush, a mission type where you have to race through and around a Corpus mega-ship, trying to stop another, smaller ship from leaving. You have about 3 minutes to navigate this maze, and you can’t do the sensible thing and just go round the ship. Oh, no, you’ve got to go THROUGH the ship. Through a gigantic, extremely tight ship filled with mines that slow you down to a crawl. With controls that feel like you’re driving a boat. The only real way to do this mission is with the Itzal frame, which can remove crowd control and teleport large distances. It’s stupid.
If you want a new Archwing though, your only real bet is to join a clan that has everything unlocked. Quite a few things are hidden away behind clans. Some might be able to live without unlocking Wukong as a Warframe (seriously why do so many games have trickster monkey characters?), Banshee or Volt (yes Volt is locked away behind clans if you don’t pick him first – Mag at least is locked away on Phovos, but Excalibur though can only really be found on Pluto unless you like PvP) or even the weapons. But the default Archwing is pretty boring and poor so to get the only frame really capable of doing the harder missions, you HAVE to join a clan. Hopefully one with everything unlocked.
An Archwing player though needs to get mods to upgrade their Archwings even further. In standard gameplay, this is less of an issue, because, even if you don’t have a Carrier, mods are large and easy to see. They fly into the air, having exploded out of murdered Corpus/Grineer/Infested and land on the ground. You’ll miss a few, but you’ll pick most of them up. In space, that doesn’t really happen. And because the maps are either really large, require you to go as fast as possible, or both, you don’t have the time to explore and pick up mods you’ve missed.
It gets worse though. If you want new Arching weapons, you need to jump into Syndicate missions. But Syndicates are factions and they have varying relationships with one another and you, so part of a gun you want might only be purchasable via a Syndicate that hates your guts. Your only other option is to try and go for Archwing Prime stuff, and there’s only two options there.
Let’s recap, shall we?
Your controls are weird, nothing is ever explained to you, maps are very hit and miss, getting upgrades is needlessly hard and getting new Archwing stuff in general is even harder.
There’s also submersible Archwing, which is basically Archwing Underwater. Submersible Archwing mostly appears on the Uranus tileset, because for some reason, there’s a lot of water there. Some call it Sharkwing instead. Sharkwing is pretty much exactly the same, just in smaller maps and at a slower speed. It’s easier to follow and play, but it’s still got all the same problems.
It’s all such a huge shame, because Archwing has so much potential, but it’s so all out of reach. Archwing could be fixed, made into something good, we just need to wait for it to happen.
Fuck the Rush mission though. That stupid mission can go die in a fire.