The other day I wrote an article talking about how Trials in Warframe sucked, but they shouldn’t be removed. The thing is, I didn’t really explain in detail why the two Trials, the Law of Retribution and the Jordas Verdict, both sucked. And at the same time, I didn’t really explain why people do them, despite their suckiness. There are two problems here: the tedium involved in Trials, and the lack of things for veteran players to do.
Trials, these days, are one of the small number of things veterans can do on a regular basis. There’s Trials, Sorties, Eidolon hunts and Endless Missions. Out of all of these, only Eidolon hunts have any real substance to them, and aren’t either tedious puzzles or mindless killing.
Let’s take a Sortie for example. Most Sorties consist of three hard missions, with level 60 to level 100 enemies, often higher if the last mission is a Defense or Survival. Unless it’s a Spy mission, all you do is kill things and stop things from killing your things. Sorties are hard at first, but to a veteran player with their multi-forma’d weapons and Warframes, Sorties are trivial.
Compared to a Sortie though, a Trial has almost no killing. In particular, the Law of Retribution has almost no killing. To explain it simply, the first part, you just want to crowd control enemies so that your team’s Trinity players can constantly regain energy and you stand on buttons to open doors. The second part involves standing still on buttons while someone crowd controls enemies so they don’t knock you off. The second-and-a-half part involves standing on buttons so someone standing next to a bomb cart can get said bomb cart through doors. The finale involves attacking a boss, but it’s more of a repeat of part one, with the boss escaping at the end anyway. The whole raid is supposed to be a massive puzzle, but it’s in fact incredibly simple once you’ve done it a few times.
The Jordas Verdict on the other hand actually does involve killing and puzzles at the same time. But it is also a buggy mess filled with progression-stopping bugs. That being said, the killing is exactly like the killing in sorties and isn’t challenging in the slightest. It also involves a lot of Archwing, requiring somewhat delicate and precision control with a system that isn’t precise in the slightest. This puts off a huge number of people.
Thing is, you need a bit of both. You need mindless killing and puzzles. You need a change from the mindless killing, you need something to stop and think about, but any puzzles you add need to be fun and engaging. These things need to be a challenge, an actually interesting challenge. And nothing in late-game Warframe does that.
The Trials try to be engaging, but they fall completely flat. Not only are they not particularly challenging (especially once the meta is established), but once you’ve done them a couple of times, the challenge is gone and they’re just as mind-numbing and simple as just doing a sortie. Heck, once you know what to do, you don’t even need a meta, you can essentially do the Law of Retribution with your eyes closed.
So what do we actually need?
Well, I suppose one answer is some randomness. The new Eidolons add a small amount of variety to Eidolon hunts, but otherwise it’s all much of a muchness. The only randomness in the Law of Retribution is the order of buttons on the first part of the second stage. The only randomness in the Jordas Verdict is what bug will ruin your day. The only randomness in hunting an Eidolon is where it wanders – always fun if it wanders into a Grineer camp but often they don’t.
But there’s also a huge number of mechanics and things that have been added over the years that could be made into something cool. We have excellent parkour mechanics, so why not have more agility puzzles? We have a wide array of gear and specters and all that, so why not bring those along? We have Operators now, and as much as I hate them, we could add challenges with them as well.
More importantly though, any new challenging game mode needs to be open to everyone and aimed at veteran players, released without a billion bugs in any of it.
Because that’s why Trials are sucky. They’re niche. They’re closed off and separated from everything else, and not even an actual challenge. You can’t just jump into a Trial, and half the time you risk a bug. All end-game content needs to be looked after and loved, not thrown out there and abandoned.
Unfortunately, I doubt that will change. The upcoming new Dark Sector area might be that breath of fresh air that veteran players need, but it only works if content is well maintained, something Warframe isn’t really good at.