Arbitrations are missions in Warframe that I would consider as end-game content. To unlock them, you have to finish every single mission on the star chart, many of which are locked behind quests or missions. Sure, you can unlock every node somewhat quickly but you need good gear to do so, or at least someone to carry you. But unlike other end-game content, like Eidolon hunts on Earth and fighting the Orb Mothers on Venus, or even trying to do marathon survival missions, Arbitrations kinda feel… forgotten and not really wanted.
The concept of an Arbitration is simple. You have 1 life and instantly fail the mission if you die. The mission types are endless missions with rewards at double the normal times (so a Defense mission for example allows you to extract at 10 waves rather than 5 waves). The rewards consist of either Ayatan sculptures, endo or rare mods (with sub-10% drop chances). Depending on the number of waves you do, you also get Vitrus Essence (literally just gold Nitain Extract) which you can trade for a handful of other rewards. Enemies scale up much higher and spawn alongside Arbitration Drones which make them and nearby enemies immune to Warframe powers.
The last few times I’ve done Arbitrations though, I’ve either done them solo or with just one other person. Even when playing on public matchmaking. It’s been like this for a while, every time I play, no one joins me. Which is weird.
On the face of it, definitely a challenge. If you’re doing an Excavation, you can’t just throw a Limbo’s Cataclysm or a Frost’s Snow Globe at the Excavator and completely protect it from harm. The drones will break through and start murdering the Excavator with ease. You can’t just nuke a Defense Mission with Equinox or Saryn because those drones will make nearby enemies immune to spores and slash damage. And the fact that you can’t risk dying at all means that you need to be a bit more careful and maybe invest in some survival mods.
But the thing is, Arbitrations are kinda slow and boring. To the point that they’re forgettable.
I mean, right off the bat, they’re just slower normal missions. Rather than 5 minutes of Survival per rewards, you do 10 minutes of Survival. Rather than 5 waves of Defense, you do 10 waves per reward. Rather than 1 round of Interception, you do two rewards, an alert mission’s worth of work. Excavation sucks the most since it’s 3 minutes per rewards – sure you can run multiple Excavators at once, but it’s still plenty of time waiting around for battery carriers to drop. These are the same as normal missions, the only real differences are the drones and the fact that you can only die once. And the drones can be dealt with by simply using an AoE weapon like a high-ranged whip or something like the Arca Plasmor, which has innate punch-through and goes through enemies.
What makes matters worse is that there aren’t really any extra enemies either. It’s the same number of spawns. Actually, it might be slightly less since the drones take up a spawn slot too. The enemies don’t even reach high levels as quickly as normal missions. Spending an hour in a normal survival mission will get you level 150 enemies just as quickly as an Arbitration Survival but will also earn you more (although potentially less valuable) rewards along the way.
On top of all that, it’s all tied into the Arbiters of Hexis. And really, I’m not sure why. The Arbiters of Hexis (who hate my guts because I support Perrin Sequence) claim that they want the Tenno to expand their potential and that we could be far, far more powerful than even we know, but if that’s the case, why are we just… murdering things? Lore-wise, wouldn’t they want us to do non-murdering things to try and expand our horizons? To untie us from the “Tenno As Warrior” ways we were trained for? They recognize our potential, that we could literally be gods, then tell us to go and murder things for shiny gold canisters.
There is a redeeming feature though. Aside from the Arca Plasmor, Arbitrations do open up a slightly different meta. Rather than everything being pure damage and crowd control, you also see healing and defense abilities as well. Oberon has a strong place in Arbitrations due to his Phoenix Renewal (which can prevent death), but there’s plenty of room for “slightly less murder, slightly more self-preservation” frames like Gara, Nezha and Rhino. On top of that, the random +300% damage and power strength for one frame and one weapon is amazing, giving people a chance to experiment with something fun.
Still none of that helps with the fact that Arbitrations are so damn slow and there’s no way you can speed them up. It’s not that we’re being impatient, it’s just that you can get your fill of murder and mayhem so much more easily in a normal mission, without having to dedicate more time to one mission.