The other day, I mentioned a low MR Volt, who had just begun his adventure. As we played with him, he asked a lot of questions. His biggest one was “where can I find a good AOE weapon for my MR?” That’s a genuinely great question, because Warframe has a LOT of enemies and you need a lot of them killed. Back then, at MR4, the only weapon we could really recommend was the Hek, since most explosive weapons unlock at MR5 or higher.
Eventually, we gave the guy some suggestions, as well as a lot of probably unnecessary help. The kiddo is MR10 now and doing fabulously, making Platinum by farming and selling Octavia Prime parts.
However, this little Volt made me realize that mastery locks are really fucky.
It all started with a Lex Prime.
One of the other veterans I was with used to be in a massive clan. His job in that clan was helping out newbies and kitting them out with mods. But he also used to go one step further and give out Lex Primes to newbies. The Lex Prime is a simple, strong secondary weapon. It’s accurate, it packs a good punch and it gets the job done. It also only consisted of 3 parts, making it easy and cheap to both obtain and trade. Even if one didn’t get gifted a Lex Prime, its parts were common enough that you could just recommend it, and a newbie could farm for it.
Unfortunately, back with the rebalancing updates of 2019 and 2020, the Lex Prime’s mastery rank requirement was increased. From MR0 to MR5. And then it was later increased further, from MR5 to MR8.
“Baby’s first Prime” was no longer accessible.
By the time you reach MR8, there are so many more… varied weapons to choose from. Sure, the Lex Prime is still good, but it’s no longer memorable. After all, the aforementioned Hek is available at MR4. The Ignis Wraith, a staple among older players, is available at MR9, only one MR away from the Lex Prime.
In fact, MOST Prime weapons are inaccessible until MR8. Only the Bronco Prime is accessible at MR4. But the Bronco Prime lacks the punch and accessibility that the Lex Prime has.
Many variants are locked away at MR12-14.
It’s not just Prime weapons that have very high MRs. All variants seem to have super high requirements to use them! Thing is though, aside from Prime weapons, most of these are generally considered only slight upgrades, or even just side-grades. Some of the jumps between variants are massive. For example, the Vaykor Hek is locked behind MR12! But in other cases, there’s almost no gap between the normal version and the variants, The Akbolto is a massive pain in the ass to build, requiring 2 Boltos, which require 2 Lex. Its MR? Nine. The two variants that don’t require four other weapons to build? The Telos Akbolto are MR11 and the Primes are MR13.
We can look at the Lex again for this. The Aklex have a pretty low MR requirement, MR4. Meanwhile, the Aklex Prime is MR15!
Even the Braton, the bog-standard basic SMG, isn’t immune to this. The Braton and MK1 Braton have no mastery requirement. The Braton Prime is locked at MR8. Somehow, the Braton Vandal is locked at MR4, but there’s no real chance that a newbie is going to be able to obtain it by MR4. 8 waves of Elite Sanctuary Onslaught and a minuscule drop chance stop that from ever happening.
Weirdly, the Carmine Penta is one of the few variant weapons that doesn’t increase its MR requirement at all. Both the Penta and its Carmine variant are available at MR6. The Secura Penta though is locked away at MR12.
This makes progression feel weird.
I understand the point of mastery rank requirements. You want something to unlock as new players progress. Well, on top of all the other things players need to progress. But a huge number of weapons kinda fall under the category of “mastery fodder”. Either the weapon is mediocre or there’s a better version later on. However, the mediocre weapon’s upgrade either has a really high Mastery lock, or the up/sidegrade is so close to MR to the original weapon that you might as well not bother. The gap between these however is wholly inconsistent, and gives everything a weird flow.
But it’s also rather moot when you can unlock Liches and their Kuva weapons, starting from MR5. Despite the MR15 requirement. So you either want newbies to have access to powerful weapons slowly over time, or you don’t.