The Chimera update for Warframe brought two main things with it: the Chimera Prologue quest and Arbitrations. Arbitrations are missions given by the Arbiters of Hexis, that weird Syndicate that no one knows about, and are aimed at high level players with little else to do.
The idea of an Arbitration is simple. Arbitrations are endless missions, only available after you’ve completed every single node on the Star Chart. And by every node, I mean all 127 of them, from that forgotten Dark Sector mission on Earth to that annoying Archwing Rush mission on Phobos to the Mutalist Alad V assassination mission on Eris to the entirety of the Orokin Derelict, which requires special keys for each mission.
Luckily, a nice Arbiters of Hexis guy in relays will tell you what missions you’re missing. For me, it was just a single Archwing Sabotage mission on Jupiter that I’d completely forgotten about. And NOT the Mutalist Alad V mission which I bought a single Alad V Coordinate for, before realising that I’d already done that mission before. At some point, I swear they changed the cost for a key anyway, because I thought you needed 3 Mutalist coordinates, not one.
Anyway, the Arbitrations themselves consist of Defense, Survival, Interception, Excavation and Defection mission types. But most of the time it’s Defense. These are all endless mission types, but the enemies start from level 60-80 and each reward is given after double the normal amount of time. That means 10 waves for Defense, 10 minutes for Survival, four rescued squads for Defection and 3 minutes per excavator in Excavation. I haven’t actually done an Interception yet, but I guess it’s 2 waves, just like in Sorties. The missions rotate every hour, so if you don’t like the current (probably defense) mission, then you can wait an hour and try the next (probably also defense) mission.
While missions are longer, the rewards are… interesting. Rewards only have 3 rotations, with the first 10 waves/minutes/etc. giving rotation A items (endo, Ayatans or a 2% chance at some rare mods), the next rotation B gives much of the same (with a 2.5% chance for mods) and rotation C is much more of the same (but with a 3% chance). But the rotation doesn’t swap back to A, you get rotation C rewards every time afterwards.
Assuming you can make it to rotation C. And the rewards for rotation C aren’t even that great aside from the higher chance at the new mods.
To make things harder, you only have one life, and cannot be revived in any way except for Oberon’s augment Phoenix Renewal. There are also Arbiters drones that come along all the time, a horrible cross between Nullifiers and Shield Ospreys. These drones make any enemy they heal 1. invincible and 2. immune to ALL Warframe abilities.
Frankly, the drones are annoying. They’re hard to see (especially on darker Infested/Grineer tilesets) and they have a habit of hiding in corners and behind enemies, making it hard to actually hit them. In the mean time, they are also affected by other enemy effects, like Shield Ospreys, the protection of Nullifier globes and the 90% damage resistance from Ancient Healers, making them even harder to destroy.
I honestly wouldn’t mind the damage blocking and ability-screwing, but the Arbiter drones take all the improvements Nullifiers have had over the years and flush that progress down the toilet. I understand why the drones are there, but they’re not implemented in an interesting way and tend to simply slow things down even further.
All of this combines to make Arbitrations a tiring slog. The waves take forever, the excavators die instantly and there’s no real way you can speed everything up. This is made worse by a sudden bout of wonky AI, causing enemies to not leave their spawn areas or all clump up in a certain spot. You find yourself losing air supply in Survivals because you have to LOOK for enemies to kill. You find yourself searching every room in Defense missions. You find yourself running all over the place looking for power cores for Excavators. It’s tiring.
I suppose there’s one nice thing. For each Arbitration mission, you get a random Warframe and weapon buffed by 300%. This is random per player, shown on the Alerts menu before you start. I’ve managed to luck out with 300% strength on Oberon and 300% damage on Arca Plasmor, but most of the time the weapon isn’t really worth it – a single Viper, even with 300% damage, will probably run out of ammo before you even get half way through a mission. 300% ability strength on some frames also isn’t very helpful either, either to due caps in their abilities, not needing to build for strength in the first place (Loki and Limbo for example) or frames being too squishy to be worth taking into these missions, due to a lot of one-hit kills from Bombards, Scorches, Toxic Ancients and Nullifiers.
Playing frames that don’t have high health/armour or some form of damage mitigation is a risky move. It’s made harder when your abilities will suddenly stop working on a group of enemies. Sure, you can use Quick Thinking, but there’s a risk of getting stun-locked when you hit 2 health, and if you’re fighting Infested, after rotation B half the enemies are Parasitic enemies, so you have no energy anyway. Already, a very tanky meta has formed, featuring a lot of Chroma, Inaros, Valkyr, Oberon and Nezha, with the occasional tanky-but-damage-y frames like Gara and Saryn murdering masses while the tanks deal with what’s left.
But on top of that? Sometimes you die in one hit despite doing everything right. I had a survival mission rudely interrupted at the 18 minute mark because something, I don’t know what, managed to kill me through status effect immunity, healing 100 health a second, 500 shields, 1000 health and about 750 total armour.
I’m not saying the missions are bad. For people who love to min-max and go all out in their builds, pushing themselves to the limit, Arbitrations are a breath of fresh air. They’re great for veteran players who want something to do with pretty good rewards and they offer up a huge challenge for players in general. Arbitrations are a good way of getting Endo and Ayatan sculptures as well, which are always helpful, no matter the player.
But the missions drag on for so damn long that I’m getting bored. I’m not leaving because it’s getting too hard… well, except when I took Loki and an Irradiating Disarm build that wasn’t nearly as helpful as I thought it’d be… I’m leaving because the mission isn’t interesting me any more and I desperately want to go and do something else.
Maybe a Capture mission or an Exterminate maybe.
Or maybe even a Spy mission, just for a change of pace.
And I don’t even really like Spy missions.