The Survival mode in Warframe is weird. It’s not really a survival game mode. At least in a normal sense. You’re not trying to save yourself from a horde of vicious zombies or ravenous beasts like in most survival modes, you’re just trying to kill enough enemies to pick up more life support capsules. Eventually, you do get overrun, but people have managed to go for hours upon hours with ease, and you used to be able to go on until numbers start overflowing if you used something like Covert Lethality and Ash or Ivara.
What I’m trying to say is that Warframe’s Survival mode doesn’t feel like a survival mode. Even the Hallowed Flame event, which gives us an alternative to life support and traps us in a derelict ship filled with otherwise invulnerable Infested, isn’t actually that scary. It’s hard to fail a normal survival mission, and you can only really fail Hallowed Flame if SOME ASSHOLE TAKES THE LANTERN AND RUNS AWAY WITH IT.
No, what we need is an actual survival mission. Something akin to getting from A to B in Left 4 Dead, or surviving a long night in any survival game ever. We can’t do that as Warframes though, because Warframes are monstrous killing machines. We are the nightmares that Grineer and Corpus face, as you might have gathered from the Halloween article the other day. Honestly, I don’t think a survival mission as Operators only would be that scary either because we KNOW they are immortal.
So who would star in a Warframe-themed apocalyptic survival game? Definitely not Grineer because they are wholly replaceable and they are all dying of genetic rot. Most of them don’t really care if they stay alive, as proven by how many will happily run up and try to melee you. Corpus are slightly less replaceable, but they’re still not the sort who would try and survive. After all, their leaders let them play with both Infested and Sentient messes, and most infested ships are Corpus ones. But a Corpus group of survivors would at least be slightly less ugly than a group of Grineer and are more, well, alive. Corpus ships also have more of a Dead Space feel to them and aren’t naturally really dark already, so you have a bit more contrast between safety and danger.
Enemies though are a whole different concern. The obvious thing would be to have Warframes as enemies that you are trying to escape from, but most Warframes can empty a room in seconds. And frankly, a Warframe as an enemy would probably work better in a game more like Alien Isolation than Left 4 Dead, which is more what I imagine for a horde survival game. The other obvious choice are the Infested, which are more like your basic common infected in Left 4 Dead, but they seem a little too… uh, dumb. Especially since they are all mindless, melee-based monsters that bum-rush everything they come across.
But now I think about it, we already have a pretty good setting that we’ve seen before: in Chains of Harrow, we see pitch black ships filled with dead Steel Meridian and ghastly Red Veil murderers. Alright, a survival mode doesn’t have to consist of the edgy, red latex suit guys, but I don’t see why the protagonists and playable characters can’t be Syndicate members, with you supporting them in more ways outside of arbitrary missions and fancy emblems on our Warframes.
Then again, with Kuva Liches, the Duviri Paradox and a lot of future Sentient content, Warframe might be getting a bit scarier anyway, even without the otherwise completely scare-less survival missions…