After you complete the main part of the Second Dream, weird things happen. Basicallt, as to not reveal what really happens (after all, I have a whole article for that!) you get a new ability. Well, sort of. You actually get the choice to unlock one of five abilities, from one of five schools.
These schools are called Focus schools (or Tenno schools), and your new ability, generally activated by tapping the 5 button, is your Focus ability. But before you use your Focus ability in a mission, you need to wait for it to charge up. Depending on how you build your Focus school, you might be waiting for up to five minutes to use your Focus ability. You might not even get a chance to use it on a low level mission. You’ll know when it’s charged because there will be a nice, bug, blue circle next to your ammo and energy.
When you tap your focus key, something weird will happen. The actual ability varies depending on what school you chose, but the visual effect is the same. Your Warframe falls to his knees, everything becomes weirdly coloured and an adolescent space kid pops out of thin air, spraying void energy all over the place. One type does pure damage, another causes waves that make enemies float, another heals allies.
The Tenno schools all have their own bases. The descriptions for them at the end of the Second Dream though don’t explain anything at all. Take a look at this explanation for Zenurik, the school I chose.
They believed the clearest path to victory was to Dominate the Enemy. They sought to choke an opponent of all resources; that sheer strength could erase any resistance
Okay, now guess what this school does. Did you guess “extra damage?” Nope, Zenurik focuses on regaining energy with a hint of crowd control. The other schools are all equally confusing. Naramon talks about knowing the enemy, but is a school about melee damage and finisher moves. Vazarin rambles on about countering the enemy but is actually all about healing and helping allies. Madurai’s description of speed and savagery kinda makes sense but really only focuses on pure damage and only Unairu is obvious in that it’s about being tanky.
Now, these abilities and schools can be upgraded, not via mods like everything else in Warframe, but via skill trees. You need points though to fill these trees. You need lenses.
The end of the Second Dream gives you a lens, alongside the badass Broken War sword. What you do is you install this lens in a Warframe or weapon (hopefully one you use regularly). Now, whenever you use that Warframe or weapon, 1.25% of all affinity (experience) earned is transferred into Focus for your particular school. When in a mission with a lens-using Warframe, Convergence orbs will appear occasionally (disappearing if not picked up after one minute) and picking an orb up with multiply Focus-affinity by 6 for 45 seconds. But unless you are killing vast amounts of Eximus enemies, you’ll most likely only get 200-300 Focus per Convergence orb. You are shown how much Focus you earned once Convergence ends. The Focus you earn can only be used on the school it was earned for, and if you have more than one lens equipped (e.g. one on your Warframe and two on your weapons), then you’ll be show how much you earned for both Focus schools separately.
Now, 200-300 seems reasonable, until you realise how much Focus you need to upgrade your Focus schools. To unlock a school, it costs 50,000 Focus. The first school you pick in the Second Dream is unlocked for free. Everything else costs 50,000 focus to unlock the base ability. After that, you can work towards unlocking perks for your Focus ability.
But on top of that, you ALSO need to unlock ranks for each perk in your Focus school. Most perks have 3 ranks and cost 50,000 to unlock (some cost more, some cost less). To rank them up, you then need 75,000 more focus just to get them to rank 2 and you need 300,000 Focus to get them to maximum rank.
But on top of that, you also need to spend energy to increase your ‘Focus pool’. That’s right, even if you manage to get the 50,000 Focus you need to unlock a new perk, you need to spend an ever-increasing amount of Focus (starting from 5,000 and going up from there) to unlock more space in your Focus school. It’s insane.
What makes all of this worse though is that the majority of the Focus schools are mediocre to say the least. The early ones are buffs that are only activated after your Focus ability has been used, and many of the higher tier perks have awkward downsides. One perk causes an explosion that will sap all your energy if caught in it, while another has a 50% chance to give you a speed boost but will drain 75% of your shield. Why would you want that? Even some of the schools aren’t particularly good. Unairu is considered to be mostly useless, and many say the only schools worth using are Naramon and Zenurik. Zenurik only gets mentioned because it can give you 4 energy regeneration per second once leveled up (only after you’ve activated your Focus ability though) and Naramon is used for a vast amount of cheese – the Shadow Step perk grants brief invisibility when you deal critical damage, so on a weapon with 100% critical chance, things get silly fast.
The worst thing though is the fact that you can’t get Focus lenses easily. The only way to get them outside of buying them for platinum or trading is via a random chance in Sorties. But you can’t do Sorties unless you complete the War Within. Which means if you pick the wrong school and want to pick a different one, you’re screwed until after you do that infernal quest.
What annoys me is that the Focus system has some actual potential, but it’s all so silly and convoluted, not to mention an unbalanced mess. What a shame.