The Steel Path is basically a Hard Mode for Warframe. For years, players have begged for a high level version of normal missions, so they don’t need to wait an hour to fight level 100+ enemies. Things like Elite Sanctuary Onslaught, Liches and Arbitrations weren’t enough. People wanted more. So we got the Steel Path. Which just plops 100 levels on everything, gives everything +250% health, shields and armour and calls it a day.
You just redo the entire star chart, with 100 more levels.
With a premise that simple, you wouldn’t think there was much to talk about, right? Well, weirdly, you’d be wrong. Because the Steel Path requires traveling across the entire star chart again, starting from Earth. You don’t have to do the tasks related to unlocking junctions, but you do have to fight the Junction Specters again. Everything is tankier however, so you have to go a little more slowly. Maybe not at first, since Earth has Sortie-level enemies, but definitely later on.
Of course, the +100 levels apply to everything. Including Junction specters. But luckily a quick Fatal Teleport will solve any errant specters.
I actually learned something. Turns out the Stalker can attack you while you’re in a junction. But you can’t attack back, because you need to start the fight with the Specter to be able to draw your weapons. So Stalker attacked me while I was unarmed and unable to use my Operator. I would have made it… had I not activated the console and been immediately frozen in place by the Frost Specter, only for Shadow Stalker to finish me off. Shame, because that’s the first time I’ve been killed by the Stalker in about a year and a half.
Infested and Corpus are fine. Grineer suck.
Another issue with just slapping 100 levels and +250% stats on enemies is that everything becomes a bullet sponge. Wait, did I say everything? I meant Grineer. Corpus and Infested can somewhat easily be dealt with. Grineer on the other hand have so much armour that everything takes a little too long to kill.
Luckily, we do have armour stripping. This does make things slightly easier, but there’s only so many options. Then again, our power is now less in our Warframes and more in our weapons. Heat and Corrosive will do the job nicely. The Kuva Kohm has been a nice change of pace from my normal Ignis, due to how much status you can throw out. Nuke frames still have a place in the Steel Path, but so do Warframes with exalted abilities like Valkyr and Baruuk.
Corpus and Infested aren’t nearly as bad, but that’s mostly because they don’t really have much armour. But things like parasitic Eximus units and Nullifiers will still add plenty of challenge to the Steel Path.
What about rewards?
Aside from Mastery and bragging rights? Not much. Each planet you complete earns you a planet hologram you can place in your ship, as well as a gesture you can use to show off. It is nice to have an extra 27,000’s worth of Mastery that involves doing missions though, rather than leveling things up. Railjack’s 60k standing was too much of a chore compared to the Steel Path.
Teshin has also opened a shop, similar to that of the Arbitrations, where you can buy a handful of cosmetics, as well as relic packs. Just like Arbitrations, you need to get a specific drop. Steel Essence. Like Vitus Essence, except rarer. It apparently drops from Eximus enemies with a 2% drop chance. Through my travels on Earth (using Pilfering Strangledome on Khora), I picked up none.
That being said, Teshin’s shop has very little in it. Perhaps more will be added later on, but for now, the main draw is that Dax armour.
“So what’s the point?”
The point isn’t loot. The point is high level enemies, but easy to access high level enemies. People wanted a challenge and higher level and this is the challenge we got. While the difficulty isn’t the most amazing, it’s something for bored veterans to do, without the drawbacks of Sorties or Arbitrations. The Steel Path is not supposed to be anything fancy. It’s a challenge mode for players to work through.
And we get some extra mastery out of it. I can’t complain about extra mastery.