Digital Extremes

Modding in Warframe

First off, I am still a novice Warframe player. This three minute video is a great, fun and pretty accurate watch on the learning curve in Warframe. (and for the record, I am at day 40!)

Jeromai rightly points out in my comment section (last post) that most Mod guides are for “end game” and he is having some struggles at certain level ranges and asked for help. I am not struggling at those level ranges so feel like this information might be handy dandy for newer players. Just be forewarned this setup works for my playstyle and may not be the most efficient means, but it has been very effective for me. First I’ll explain what modding is.

Throughout the game you get “card” drops of abilities, stances, skills, auras and the like. Here is my base loadout for my Frost frame to explain some of the basics.

Each Warframe has 10 mod slots – eight basic, one Aura (top left), and one Exilus (top right). The Aura slot can only hold auras (effects that impact the entire group) and the Exilus has to be unlocked with a drop / craftable item and also requires a specific mod type to fill. The rest are only limited by the Polarity (symbol – more on that soon) and capacity of the Warframe. A base Warframe gets 1 mod point per level, up to level 30. You can use an Orokin Reactor (called “potatoeing” by the community) and double the available mod slots to up to 60 capacity. You can also add capacity through your Aura Mod (which adds to capacity, instead of deducts like most – see I have 70 above and a 10 in my Aura slot). The last way to manipulate your capacity is though Polarity – if you match a mod polarity symbol to a polarity slot symbol it takes up half the amount of capacity (see my Streamline mod with a cost of 5 in green – normally 10). The polarity works in reverse too – if you put in a wrong polarity mod it costs double. You can change or add polarities to every slot with a Forma (quest reward or crafting item) but doing so resets the level of the entire Warframe to zero having to be leveled up again. Still, if you do that to every slot you will have an incredibly powerful Warframe in the end. I haven’t bothered yet as I have been unable to max out my cards in the slots I have, as you see I have 15 remaining capacity on this frame. I’ll be able to use those as I improve the Mods.

Duplicate mods can be ‘dissolved’ into Endo to increase power in other mods

Mods have different costs (number), rarity (color), polarity (symbol beside number) and level (glowing dots at bottom). You upgrade them via Endo, a drop in game. Taking a card from 1 to 2 might cost 20, and 2 to 3 might cost 40 (it depends on the rarity of the card) but getting something from 7 or 8 to 8 or 9 costs thousands. It is hard to get them really powerful quickly, but it is really fun when you do. The Gold mods are ‘Rare’, Blue “uncommon” and Red are Common, I don’t have any Legendary Mods yet but I do have a Riven mod – which is very rare and has random properties, (sometimes negative ones with really powerful effects). I am not high enough level to use it yet, however.  There are 835 base mods in the game. That is a ridiculous amount of customization. There are some mods just for Warframes and just for weapons, and specific to specific types. What is wonderful about this system is that since you can only have one Warframe, and one of each weapon equipped, you can share mods in the same same category. Once you have a high level mod every single Warframe you have can use it. This makes those valuable cards feel more valuable. Finally – you can dissolve extra mods into Endo to make your other mods more powerful. I always keep 2 of each on hand – It’s handy if you have a pet / sentinel that can also use that mod but also if you are leveling a lower level Warframe. My level 10 energy mod won’t fit into a level 1 Warframe.

Any questions? Clear as mud? Good.

Onto my build-out. The purpose for me is to be able to solo. I like grouping and do it in specific instances (boss farming, intercept missions, archwing missions, relic farming/opening) but otherwise I like to take my time. This means I need to be able to survive the tough missions on my own. The first thing I always start with is the right Warframe. Warframes have shields (that recharge when not taking damage), health (that depletes only after shields are gone, and does not regenerate without mods or skills), and armor – which limits the damage to health once shields are down. I have two Warframes with 60 mod capacity – My Frost Prime and my Rhino. The extra 30 capacity is a big difference. They also each have a defensive special ability. This is critical to have when running solo. All of the mods I have chosen are to protect myself and enhance my special abilities. Here are my go to mods currently. They are pretty self explanatory.

(click on any to open it in gallery format)

Flow and Streamline affect how often you can use your abilities. Stretch is my Aura, which gives +12% health (multiplicative) to everyone in my party, including myself. So you see with all of the mods either adding layers of protection or helping me to increase how often I can use my abilities (especially my protection abilities) I can survive any fight, or at least run away fast enough to recharge and regroup.

I use far differing mods on my weapons but here is my standard three I use on my Primary Weapon

(click on any to open it in gallery format)

Doing more damage (Serration) faster (Speed Trigger) gets the bad guys out of the way faster. Cyro rounds is one of many elemental effects but has the added bonus of slowing enemies. Every weapon has a “Status effect” chance (The Vectis is 30% as an example) so there is a 30% chance you can slow your enemy, reducing the damage and actions they do to you. The Cold damage portion is always applied regardless of status effect change. I have tons of other mods for different weapons depending on what I am using but those are my three standard.

There are far more interesting mods out there but these simple ones that I focus on most people will have, and it covers the basics. Live longer, kill faster, and protect yourself with abilities more often and to greater effect. All of those things allow for safer gameplay. I do have some Warframes that focus on damage and I am getting to the point where I want to try some ‘glass cannon’ builds – and just try to kill everything faster than it can hurt me. That is what is great about this system – the customization is incredible and endless, and even if you have two of the same Warframes in the same group – they could both be completely different in their strengths and weaknesses. This can really shine in group play, at least, potentially in an organized form. My next goal in the game is to find a Clan to better explore purposeful grouping.

Hope this little guide helped, and as always, open to discussion and suggestions!

Checking In : 50 Hours of Warframe

(as always with pictures here, click on them to open them in a large format in a new window)

I hit that milestone last night. 50 hours in a game. That is roughly five “AAA” single player campaigns, by today’s soft production standards. The biggest two compliments I can give this game from a time perspective is that firstly, I feel like it was my first day with the game yesterday (time flies when you are having fun) and secondly, it continues to surprise and delight with discovery, storytelling, immersion, and depth. To to my general gushing fanboyism of this title (ongoing) I feel like it is important for me to disclose here that I haven’t received anything free from Digital Extremes. Not even a “thank you”.  Quite the opposite actually, I would like to thank them for making such a game that really fits my personal needs and tastes in gaming right now.

That’s the moon. It didn’t age well in the future.

While by design or not I hit a major milestone in the story last night. I am not going to discuss it here – keeping this post spoiler free – but the mission and story surrounding it really solved the biggest question I had up to this point – who I am and why I am doing this to begin with. That is a bit crazy to have that realization not show up until the 50 hour mark but I have to admit I didn’t take a straight line there. Still, I am guessing, even if I did sprint to the finish line on the story quests it still would have been 30+ hours in – that is still just a guess, it may be 40+ hours. I am trying to retrace my steps on where I went off the linear path. Either way – it speaks to the amount of content when you can’t sort out a question like that.

Back to the story – there is still far too much unresolved, and I am only half way through unlocking my Star Chart (the map with the missions) so I am hoping and expecting that the story will continue. What this major step did was resolve the past – who I am am/was, why I am doing all of this, and who the Lotus is. (The talking head guiding you through missions). It’s a doozie. My main fear of this story line is that it will end up like Destiny or Destiny 2 – in Destiny lore, less was more. The story was better when the player added in the missing parts. When Destiny 2 went full lore and explanation, it was some of the worst writing and story concepts (like, ever) and I felt like it would have been better left half unbaked so the player could continue to create a more sensible and creative narrative. Either way, Destiny has passed the point of no return while Warframe still has the opportunity.

Cloning facility has animated clones in tubes. Good use of environment

I continue to be amazed at the artwork and map design – especially because it is a randomized tileset – but they have incredibly strong rules built in to make areas coherent and incredible. I spent 15 minutes exploring a cloning facility to try and trace the route they were moving the clones.  I ended up in a room where  machine plucked pods into a circular holder one by one, slid them down a line, attached an assortment of cables to it, and then pushed it up into what looked like a “delivery” area. I wish I would have made a video. I tried to get into the areas I shouldn’t have to explore further but the game did cut me off from that. I came close though, that felt good. It was just so believable. I felt like I was in a proper, fully operational cloning facility. There haven’t been many games – if any – that has made me explore in awe as much as this game.

Flooding a room  as a mechanic versus a robotic exosuit? Nice Try. Still, nice statue.

The unknown of it all has my imagination racing about the possibilities. This is not your typical fantasy story standard in a science fiction setting that we often see (well done still, mind you) with Star Wars and the like. The parts I have discovered have been mind expanding, incredibly interesting, and different. Which makes it that much more interesting to me. Take the Grineer – they inhabit most of earth now. They are cloned humans that were used as the disposable work force to a powerful group that ran the show (keeping this bland enough for spoiler free discovery). They figured out they had the numbers and revolted. They are now lead by two queens (of which I know little about at this time, but I have heard and read an understanding that there is a story mission surrounding them coming up – hopefully soon!) and are fourteen billion strong. Simple technology, using a strategy of throwing as many people at a fight as possible to wear them down – a war of attrition. They are slowly falling apart though as they have cloned upon cloned and the genetic strain of DNA is becoming weaker and weaker. They infuse their bodies with technology to make up the difference. They face extinction if they continue to clone, but must continue to clone to survive.  The things we are experience in current, modern day science is a good precursor to this.

Uranus has many underwater transitions – the first time this has been used on any planet.

Oddly enough the story isn’t even the focus of the game and I can’t help but believe it has been added on slowly over the years on top of the gameplay. The gameplay is still the breadwinner here but they have found a good combination of both. You can just play and ignore those parts, focus solely on those parts, or do a combination of both. That is the camp I am in. The only thing I am worried about now is that the end game (whatever that might be) may not be as fun or exciting as the journey there. I suspect I have another 50 hours of gameplay before I find that out – at least time is on my side.

The lighting effects continue to be a strong point

I now have 7 Warframes and 28 weapons, and many pieces of others that I will soon get to build and level up. The variation and discovery here has been incredibly fun. I do find weapons I don’t particularly love but I still level them to 30 as it is the primary way to move your character forward. It also truly gets me to spend enough time with the weapon or frame to make sure I understand it. I am excited to start using a laser whip soon – as I haven’t spent as much time with whips in any video game as in the bedroom I think I should have in the past. Interesting to see how they built that into this game.

I know other bloggers are playing Warframe right now and there is a general sense of positivity around the game in a lot of gaming media right now. I do qualify my experiences here with this is just working for me right now. Others may not have the patience or interest to go 50 hours before sorting out what should probably be considered the biggest plot twist in the game. Truth is, I am already so invested in the game and the universe that it was an amazing moment for me. Others may never get there or may not have been hooked to begin with.  I don’t know what is worse – that I have have zero desire to play any other game out there (or coming out soon) right now, or that I don’t have anything else to really write about these days. I’ll spend some time thinking and writing about the improvements the game could make too – it’s not perfect. Right now though, for me, pretty close.

Postcards from Space

(this is a picture heavy post – as with all of my posts, click on the picture and it will open a new window with the full, high res version. To really appreciate them!)

Warframe has a beautiful looking backdrop. Shame because there is an awful lot of rush, rush, rush in co-operative PVE in Warframe. The game has been out in years. People want to finish objectives. I get it. It’s fun. I keep getting stuck being curious about things that I see and want to explore further. That makes me a cat in a world of dogs and well, you know how that is supposed to end. Still, I can’t help but wondering things that I encounter and learn more about the deep, rich science fiction world that I am currently killing tons of stuff in. Reminds me of a great Hank Moody quote: “You can’t do a line of coke off a woman’s ass and not wonder about her hopes and dreams.. it’s not gentlemanly”. If only players in a rush to unlock the next widget were so polite.

This photo was in a Grineer ship in the “basement”. The randomized tilesets in the levels created by Warframe is brilliant – they make sense. Here in the basement is some sort of storage, but to the left you do see water. It’s not deep, or a pool, but feels like run off from a condensor or equipment that pumps oxygen throughout the ship. These ships and areas are completely huge and often I thought things such as “this is what it would feel like to explore the Death Star or a Star Destroyer” – you know, if it was Star Wars and not Warframe. These pictures do not capture how gigantic and varied the internal landscapes are. It’s something you really have to experience first hand to appreciate.

Here is an equipment room, which happened to be connected to a dorm area – the suits of armor hanging on the wall and disassembled pieces on the right hand side just beg to be investigated. The lighting from the floor and ceiling adds a particularly beautiful ambiance. When I first started reading about Warframe I wasn’t sure if I loved the art style and form – but it has definitely grown on me in a very positive way. Appreciate they put a changing bench there too so the soon to be dead Grineer soldier has a place to sit before dying.

This area is a moving assembly line – I think those are clone pods as they go through that process, but I wasn’t able to open one up. The arm at the top of the picture was busy plucking the pods and placing them on the conveyor belt. Much of this is intractable – You can ride the pods, follow the conveyor line, and explore further and deeper…

…but not too deep. There are areas off limits that still create the illusion of size and scope. Jumping into the abyss is a quick death (but thankfully, automatic recovery). Still, out of the corner of your eye it adds perspective. The game does a great job of using environmental effects to create space – far better than Destiny 1 or 2 ever did. I rarely feel cramped in Warframe.

I liked this picture for the lighting from space and just the industrious nature of this part of the ship – down to the rivets and non-slip surfaces. Have to have worker safety, after all. Shooting out the window was tempting and ultimately futile. Although there are parts of ships you can do exactly that, and then have to hack a terminal to close down the shutters to re-pressurize the room. Those windows I usually break by accident as it forces a lock down procedure.

Not everything is deep in the bowels of space stations or space ships. Here, awaiting extraction I can overlook the gaseous (and dangerous)  vista complete with crashed starships  and remnants of civilization. Dangerous because exposure to the sun here (or gas? Haven’t quite figured out which part. maybe the cold?) slowly drains your shields and eventually your health – leading to death. This planet is the Warframe equivalent of Hoth (sorry for all the cross referencing to Star Wars, usually an easy way to compare things) and these giant ships are embedded into and beneath the surface which make up most of the level dynamics. Here is the only place you see the bright sun – and I was also very curious what the column was to the left, rising out of the landscape. Handy dandy sniper rifle scope might help?

Not entirely. Looks mostly like a pillar of snow. Still, was worth checking in on. Love the fact that the scope let’s me know that pillar is 5 km away – makes me want to go visit even more. Which, of course, I can’t. Still – it is creating that dream and desire that is improving the mood and feel. That curiosity.

A closer-up of one of the partially buried space ships, complete with it’s own language and writing on the hull. Similar to English for familiarity but still different enough to be futuristic and all space-y like. I still haven’t figured out what caused all of this crashing and commotion and why the Corpus still decided to setup research facilities here – there must be a grander and deeper story to it all and not just the whim of a background or environment artist – right?

I also start wondering about function. That is clearly a gigantic fan. The size of a big building. Why or what does it do? Is it that hot that it is to cool off the planet? Blow away poisonous gas? Blow and disseminate fertilizer? talk into it to make the coolest voice ever? Why is that there? And stop staring at my robotic butt. That wasn’t the point of this picture.

Finishing off the screenshots with my newest Warframe, Limbo. He has inter-dimensional skills (can hop between two planes with the press of a button) but I really like the nice touch of the top hat – which he removes after certain actions in game, with a tip of it to friends and enemies alike

There is so much to appreciate with the environments in Warframe that I often find myself exploring and trying to understand how and why things are put together the way they are. Sadly I usually end up with more questions than answers but that doesn’t stop me from looking. This adds many layers of interest and complexity for me in an otherwise run and gun universe.

Community Resourcing and Rewarding : Warframe

It’s funny how certain things I learn and experience in gaming remind me of old posts. Some are word for word suggestions and ideas I made in the past (such as having WoW armor switch stats on specialization switch which I suggested almost a decade ago – you are welcome) to my ire that people who add extensively to a game through volunteer modding or UI enhancements should get paid. WoW is another good spot for this as in the past (and present) you can’t even play the game right without the third party community made mods as support. Blizzard should pay those people. They don’t, but still. If your game is infinitely better by someone in the community putting their time and resources into something that saves you from spending your time and resources, you should find a way to reward them. Even notionally.

Enter, my darling Warframe, and the Tennogen program.

All of those items are community created. There is a whole sub-section in the marketplace with dozens of items made by, and for the community at large. Here is a second screen to show some other really good work. I’m really impressed. That Excalibur unicorn *ahem* helmet is cool beans. I don’t have Excalibur yet, but can see myself rocking that helm at some point in the future.

Mesa is a Warframe I have had my eye on for a while – I have a bunch of star chart to unlock before I can even think about grinding for her. The one issue I have with Warframe is that while the frames themselves are so varied you have no clue whether or not you will really like one until you play one. And you can’t play one until you unlock them. That takes time, money, and commitment. They do have a “testing” room for challenges to move up a level and I think it would be a good program to run that you can try out a Warframe in that testing environment to see what you like. I bet it would lead to more unlocks. Back to Mesa, I absolutely LOVE the Tennogen Dead Eye Helmet option. It’s got a futuristic eyepatch and everything:

I have that one on my Wishlist. The price for these items seem to be set at $6.49 CAD of which the creator gets half. With millions of players in Warframe there is an opportunity here for content creators to make some decent dough if they hit the right notes on look and feel.  Of course, a lot has to line up to make that happen but even if the sales hit the 1000s it’s not a bad side income. I haven’t found any statistics on the programs yet to know how sales are actually going.

Not sure what it is about Horns on robots that I like so much but here is another standout that I chose as a personal favourite. Keep in mind everything is still customizable on color and I think I appreciate how they give shape to the ‘faces’ of these bots. I love the detail of the white glow dots on either side of the horn as you can customize those to be any color and I can envision that looking wicked if you went with a contrasting instead of complimentary glow.

Another Warframe I don’t own but appreciate the look of this helmet. Funny this (and the Harka Frost Skin I have) give earrings to the frames. I have seen a few others as well. They are also animated – so they swing back and forth and sway when you turn your head or body. The level of detail is quite impressive.

I have never been a cosmetics guy. In games that have that option – which are more and more of course – I tend to find an outfit I like and just keep it and upgrade everything into that look. It’s simple. I have never once spent real money on in game cosmetics but I am pretty confident once I settle in on a favourite Warframe or two that I will definitely explore custom options. Bonus is that I can support both Digital Extremes and player content creators at the same time. It isn’t hard to get behind that.

(As always, you can click on a picture to get it in grander detail and higher resolution – it will open it in a new browser)

Have a Cookie : Login Rewards

First, I promised Bhagpuss I would try and get some outside shots of Warframe. There is no first person view for screenshots that I am aware of and unfortunately my WF takes up a big chunk of the screen. I am also not great at acreenshots (both remembering to take them in the first place, and the skill of taking them) but here are a couple beautiful, industrial vistas on Mars. Property prices are very reasonable here. I’ll try better next time.

Warframe has a daily login reward and everything I have received has been very useful.  Right below the reward it has a line of text saying “next Milestone reward in X days” and I am working on my first, which is 50 days of logging in. I have barely scratched the surface. Curious as to what those are and when you get them I meditated on my Google-Fu. I was both shocked and amused simultaneously when I saw the Milestones.

Milestones

The following rewards can be claimed upon accumulating the required number of log-in days:

  • 50 Days – Imminent Eclipse Sigil, 3-day Affinity Booster, and Orokin Catalyst
  • 100 Days – Azima (Comes with weapon slot and pre-installed Orokin Catalyst)
  • 150 Days – Awakened Luna Sigil, 3-day Credit Booster, and Exilus Adapter
  • 200 Days – Primed Fury (Unranked)
  • 250 Days – Eternal Stasis Sigil, 3-day Affinity Booster, and Orokin Reactor
  • 300 Days – Zenistar (Comes with weapon slot and pre-installed Orokin Catalyst)
  • 350 Days – Solar Flare Sigil, 3-day Credit Booster, and Orokin Catalyst
  • 400 Days – Primed Vigor (Unranked)
  • 450 Days – Void Gate Sigil, 3-day Affinity Booster, and Exilus Adapter
  • 500 Days – Zenith (Comes with weapon slot and pre-installed Orokin Catalyst)
  • 550 Days – Lotus Deliverance Sigil, 3-day Credit Booster, and Orokin Reactor
  • 600 Days – Primed Shred (Unranked)
  • 650 Days – Spectral Tide Glyph, 3 Forma, and Orokin Reactor
  • 700 Days – Sigma & Octantis (Comes with weapon slot and pre-installed Orokin Catalyst)

700 Days? Really? Wow. What can be so cool that it is worth logging in for for 700 days?

A sword AND shield?  Maybe that is worth it. See you July 20, 2019, give or take the days I miss from now until then. I don’t think it will be many.

Humour (yes, that was what that was) aside – I want that. Today though, I mean, I would pay real money for it. It’s completely wicked.  I am not sure if there are other sword and shield combinations but I really hope there are. I have never really been a big fan of login rewards and gating something so cool behind so many days is something I can dislike and get behind at the same time. It is a true testament and reward for someone who has been there for years, supporting the game and being a part of the community. That is something that should be more celebrated in games in general – but more so around ones that are built around communities. The only dislike is pretty personal, that I really want it (now)  and won’t have one for two years (take my money please). I’ll survive. The only downside for me is that daily login rewards should have some sort of event completion tied to it, so that you actually played. I spent more days logging into Fortnite to get my rewards than playing that game.

I am getting behind this decision and hope Digital Extremes stick their guns – people are already complaining about it on Reddit. Meanwhile, if I get the pleasure of seeing a player with this I will simply bow in envy and appreciation.

Confirmation Bias : Warframe, Destiny 2

Metacritic is one of those fun sites that gives a glimpse into the mood of the crowd. It also has some truth to it. Long ago I stopped trusting paid reviewers and review sites for much of the obvious – they are just a single view point of opinion without any backdrop to understand what kind of games / movies they like. The reason why I keep putting movies in with games is that I do have the Flixster App on my phone which I am constantly referring to to find showtimes and also get a glimpse of the mood of the crowd as well. It is rare to have a Critic score match a User score (much like Metacritic) and when those two numbers are very different then I am tend to trust the user score first and foremost. I have had my issues with Metacritic before when the user reviews were reviewing the “liberal agenda” of Bioware moreso than the game that was released.

This lead in is to show the difference between a hyped up, huge ‘AAA’ title, Destiny 2 which disappointed many a fan but was largely gushed on by critics:

Versus the little engine that could, small developer made title out of London (Ontario – yay Canada):

When it comes down to it most of the negative complaints on the Destiny 2 Metacritic surround the shallowness of the experience, the lack of improvement, many comments about how this is really a Destiny 1.5 not a Destiny 2 – you know, the same old, basic fodder I have been throwing at it since the PS4 release. Basically the low score represents the disappointment of the fan base – myself counted among them. I always make it clear how much I loved Destiny 1 and how for me Destiny 2 represented an opportunity to improve upon it. That same mood is where a lot of the low scores stem from. The  high scores, anecdotally, are from people who didn’t play Destiny 1 – and that is ALSO fair – because if you don’t have a reference you don’t understand you are largely playing the same game with a few instances of two steps forward and three steps back.

Warframe on the other hand – continues to give me hours of enjoyment, discovery, challenge and fun. I very much understand “to each his own” and even put the title of this post as such because I am acutely aware that there are other trains of thought on the game. I am now 30 hours in and finding deeper enjoyment in the systems as I discover and use them, and the endless combinations and customization that is available. I am going to wait to add my own scores to the above Metacritic ratings but you can already guess on which side of the spectrum they will be.

Wait, There’s More : Warframe

Warframe is a game of discovery. And grinding. Thankfully the discovery part fun far outweighs any negative part of the grinding. Also, the grinding is fluid and ALSO fun so it’s in a pretty big win / win spot.

My third Warframe finished building (took three days) and it is the often recommended and easy to get for a new player – Rhino. The Rhino is a tanky, in your face frame with abilities that are best used up close and personal. The first is charge which propels you forward sending enemies flying away. It is very satisfying to charge an enemy and ram him into a wall and view the inkblot style blood spatter left on the wall as the body slides down, crumpled. Is that a caterpillar? No, an angel? A can of food? It’s it’s own fun mini-game. Psychology with a Rhino! The fun part of that ability is that if you chain it – each successful hit does more damage and impact. You can really rag doll the hell out of groups of enemies and also does decent boss damage. His second ability  hardens his armor making him near invulnerable for a time period. His third increases damage by all friendly units within range for thirty seconds in a multiplicative way by 50%, and the fourth is a massive floor stomp that does a nice turn of damage as well as lowering damage by the baddies and other status effects. In short, he is like the hulk, just less green and more intelligent.

Well, I guess he can be as green if you want.

On the advice of fellow blogger and all around nice-guy Jeromai I bought the limited time Hallowe’en color pack (basically free, 1 credit) since we are in that holiday time period. I used a nice, bright red to color my Rhino away from the black and whites I have been using for my other frames.

Then I saw the fun “random colors” button so I hit it. Several times. Here are the fun results only using the base color palette, Shadow, and Hallowe’en (Gallery opens when you click for easy viewing!)

That was fun. Of course, I ended up with the black on black on grey on grey one. Again. Ugh, I need more color in my life. Also note that the Syandana (which is Warframe for “cape”) doesn’t automatically change colors with the rest of your items.  It is easy enough to fix afterwards if you want it to match just by going to the Syandana (cape.. why make up a new name for this?) and clicking “copy main warframe colors”. You can also do this with your weapons, which I did here.

The Soma Prime is a gold weapon (as you see it in default form on the top left) and using ‘copy Warframe colors’ made it black and subtle red, with the nice green LED glows that match my frame. It’s an amazing system that you can play with for hours – or just hit random and not be as boring as I am. Colors are just the tip of the iceberg for customization for Warframe and after spending time with it I am already wondering how this is not the standard for many games – or at least the price of entry. It’s amazing.

With seemingly endless items to farm and build and a still hidden away story I am trying to discover – AND a full, new open world expansion (The Plains of Eidolon) to play at some point after I have visited and unlocked every planet I keep expecting to still hit that point where things become more repetitive and well, boring. Fortunately Warframe keeps giving me little surprises. I know the repetitive part is on the horizon somewhere but WF is doing a good job of pushing back that reality.

For example I thought I had explored all of the ‘types’ of missions but found another new one just the other night. A typical ‘rescue’ mission is to get to a prison area, hack jail cells, find the target, and extract them safely. I had commented in the past that I thought it was a nice feature that you can give up your secondary weapon to the prisoner and they will help you fight. I joined a mission on Europa which was to save squads of people, not just one. The twist was there were waypoints that required being kept powered up. When you started the squad moving they would go to the first waypoint and ‘rest’ there until you told them to move to the next one, and the next, until finally they would depart on the ship. Aside from keeping these gather areas powered up you had to escort the squad safely between them and to their final destination. Instinctively as a random group of 4 we all took a leg as our responsibility. Squad to C, C to B, B to A, and A to ship. As with most missions in Warframe that have ‘waves’ they start pretty easy and increase in difficulty. The game let’s you leave in set intervals (normally 5) but the longer you push and harder it gets – and the bigger the rewards. The group worked well for the first 10 squads we saved, at which point the far more experienced players in the group mentioned that we should push for 16. It was so hard. So fun. squad members (the NPCs) were getting picked off. It was getting impossible to solo the legs, so you had to have two move the group forward. The enemies became stronger and more numerous and we even had Warframes go down. This was a glimpse for me into a more meta-game – this mission would be easier with the right kind of Warframes with the right kind of build outs. I don’t have too many options there yet but it was a peek into a deeper and more nuanced and challenging option for end game players. The good part is that if the early going gets rough you can just end the round at the set intervals and everyone still gets their rewards and gets to go home.

The second pleasant surprise is that there are more and different kinds of Mods as you move planets. At the beginning I felt like I had seen them all and would get stacks of +40% health and +20% shields. (Mods are great because you can improve that +40% health to +240% health (for example) AND you can use that single mod in ALL of your Warframes. I love that they are not single use and are free to interchange anytime, anywhere.). On the newest planet I started getting more interesting mods, +STATUS, more specific to different situations and you could see how you could build very specific build outs with frames and mods – and then very specific team compositions – that will make farming and mission completion more efficient and enjoyable.

I do not know how much longer there will be new discoveries and newness – but I welcome and enjoy it. Especially after how shallow many games are these days (Destiny 2, Overwatch, etc.)

Where Have You Been : Warframe

As a continuation of my exploration of Warframe, the good AND the bad I made a bullet point list in my previous post. It was a pretty long list so not going to copy and paste it but use that as my step off for my “balanced and fair”,  “reporting”. Ahem.

First, a distracting, beautiful new skin that I received. (as with all of my blog post pictures – click on it to enlarge in a new window)

That is my same old, Frost Prime Warframe with the new skin, and using my Shade shader pack (which is basically black to white options, and greyscale in between). The art style is really growing on me. That guy me – looks absolutely amazing. I mean, horns! With dangly earrings!

As a comparison, here is the stock Frost Prime skin:

Which is also very cool, but at the end of the day isn’t robo-antler-guy.  The new skin is downright intimidatingly cool.  The sad part about how I got this skin is that it was from not watching Twitch streams.  Warframe gave me the Frost Prime skin for linking my Twitch account to my Warframe account after doing a free, Amazon Prime trial (still live right now, if you want a free Warframe). They also have a promotion going on right now that if you watch Twitch streams of Warframe you get a free in game item every time that streamer gets an in game achievement. There are streamers literally chain running new characters and getting 50+ achievements per hour, and then starting fresh again. The ‘feels like cheating’ part is that I just keep multiple Twitch streams open in the background while I work (or play) and the rewards roll in.

To be fair, 95% of the rewards are junk – fireworks, etc. And there is a limited reward set – I have received the same Rifle Blueprint over 100x already. On the good side, there is a whole bunch of cool things as well that I have received – from an in game Laser Beam Sential (Wyrm), to useful items to craft with, the Shade color back, and the Warframe Skin.  Obviously they have done the math but my logins look like this now:

Yup, 55 free items for not watching Twitch. I am sure they have done the math on it all. I also do not, for one bit, feel guilty or wrong about this. The truth is I am loving this game so much that I did give the company money. I got a 50% off Platinum (in game currency only available by spending real money) as a login reward so the $55 dollar CAD purchase I was going to make cost me half. It’s a good, Steam style system. I’ll probably spend more next time I get that perk. Supposedly there is a 75% off one too.

The next “good” thing on my bullet list is customization. There are literally hundreds of colors available (many for purchase, mind you) I only own the base colors and the Shade pack and here are a bunch more:

Customizers, eat your heart out. There are 5 shade available options on your Warframe (including power colors) as well as multiple options on your weapons, capes, Sentinel (fighting pet). Those aren’t even ALL the colors, that list above was from an old Reddit post I found from two years ago. There are actually 25 in total. Many people call Warframe “Fashionframe” and for good reason. You can customize everything, and the results can be stunning. I received a free Sentinel from Twitch called a Wyrm. I also received a free ‘mask’ for the Sentinel. IT was funny, because on it’s own it looks like a little machine that flies around and does things for you in game (looting items within range, attacking bad guys with whatever customized weapon you have given them, etc.) Here he is with his mask on:

Cute right? In a Voodoo, I am going to kill you kind of way. The green eyes, of course, are customizable. I also left up the fact that there are 7 tail options. Yup, you have the choice to add 7 tails to the little robot flying around your head looting and killing stuff for you. Tails. I find that a bit overkill on one breath, and in the other think the Para Sentinel Tail would look lovely on my Wyrm.

The true beauty if the game and customization is the Warframes themselves. Not only can you customize colors and dozens of options per frame (helmets, shoulder pads, leg pads, you name it – it is customizable) but the 34 current Warframes in game all offer different gameplay styles and abilities – and all form your core player. I have grown more and more in favor of this kind of progression. I am building my third Warframe currently (Rhino) and when it is ready, I just swap out Frost, and can keep using my high level weapons, addons, money – everything to move forward. It is a part of my character – not a new one – so no going back to square one everytime you get a new frame.

a small selection of available Warframes

There is something for everyone here, all wrapped up in a tight, beautiful gameplay package.  I have read people on Reddit learning new things about the game after putting in over 1000 hours already. I bet they don’t have everything in game yet either.

I mentioned I bought Platinum and my goal was to spend a little bit to get the automatic scanning Sentinel to fill out my Codex in the hopes that will give me backstory. It cost 75 to buy and I happily equipped him (it?), the mask, and went in game. Sure enough you could hear the scans going off every 3-4 seconds as I fought and after a few hundred scans I rushed back to my Codex (it’s available on the ship) to see what I had learned – and it was nothing that I had wanted. Sure, it had a cool model that rotated and showed what kind of damage it did, what kind of damage it was weak too, and also what loot it could drop – but no backstory or explanation. I was really looking forward to that part. The interest is still there to scan everything automatically now of course because hey, the completionist in me is happy. I am only on my 5th Planet (out of 17) so still holding out hope things get some clarity. The people building this game put in so many things that are very interesting but I still don’t know my purpose, or the purpose of the enemies that I am fighting.

What I do know, is that I can (and do, if I do say so myself) look good doing it.

“I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”  In space. Shooting things. Buying tails.

Anything You Can Do : Warframe

If you haven’t played Warframe (at all or recently) here is a two minute non-commentated clip of an assassination mission I completed this morning to give you an idea of the gameplay. I am using the Frost Prime warframe (free with Twitch Prime! Even better is that it is free with a Twitch Prime *trial account! Which is how I got it. I am using the starter bow as my primary weapon (I like it because it’s silent, which allows for stealthy play around the map) a giant Axe as my melee, and a sidearm as my secondary.

That is the base model (colors and everything) but the only addition is that kickass cape, which I colored myself when I put it on. You’ll notice a few fun things:

  • Enemies try to run to set the alarms a few times, which I am able to stop them from doing (you can do a hack minigame to turn them off. The alarms increase number and frequency of enemies)
  • The beautiful of two bow moves which makes the gunplay incredible – one when I am running away and shooting over my shoulder, and the second when I zoom in, floating down, Legolas style and kill a baddie.
  • I used two of my four abilities in here (and both not well) – first is “freezing” an enemy, and second is sending frozen spikes in a straight line that kills anything it hits (I hit nothing).
  • You can jump, climb, slide, etc – just move over any part of the map. It’s parkour all the way.
  • The little guy (Taxon I think?) is my companion who loots for me (all items within X range), and I have outfitted him with a gun which freezes enemies. He also steals shields from enemies and transfers them to me.
  • Maps are randomly generated, and are varied and well put together. It’s impressive.

There is a taste of the gameplay, of which I wasn’t doing particularly great, but should give you an idea of the style of the game. I was sliding too much. (Bullet jump – the forward moving barrel roll –  is jump+slide buttons together.)

I wanted to show you that before describing the game to give you some background and flavor of style and game substance. Steam says I have put in 25 hours into the game but Warframe says I am at ten and a half – assuming WF is correct here.

It does so much, so much better than Destiny 2 and outside of the FPS vs TPS difference (a biggie, granted) I can now see why people wish Destiny 2 had adopted much of what is good in Warframe. Which is most of it. Caution here is the first 10 hours “new car smell” of it all but I can’t stop playing right now.

The Good:

  • More unique content than I can imagine consuming at this point
  • Playstyle for everyone – over 30 Warframes with different skills and powersets, and hundreds of weapons
  • No barriers to progression in early game – haven’t seen the need to spend money outside of wanting to reward the developers (but, not sure of a good way to do that either!) Feels like F2P done well
  • Personaliztion to the nth degree – colors, addons, weapons, frames, ships, companions – you name it
  • Co-Op Matchmaking for all gameplay and game styles
  • Deep and interesting systems
  • Tight shooting and fighting gameplay
  • Movement. Wow, The Movement.
  • Codex in game
  • You get your  home home base, your ship (which can also be fully personalized)
  • Helpful community in game and on Reddit.
  • Fun, Interesting and varied mission types

The Bad:

  • Story campaign is drip fed. I am still confused on what is going on
  • Codex is gated behind in game scanning. Which is cumbersome and challenging.
  • Third Person only
  • Systems do not interlink effectively or efficiently, and are confusing at first (and persistently so sometimes)
  • Co-Op “rush” mentality
  • New Player Experience needs fixing / updating
  • Biggest new update does not apply/ not effective for new players
  • Art style is love / hate

Unique Content: Good

I am not going to write a paragraph about each thing (today) but going to touch them over a series of posts. First off the universe is gated by jumpgates and repeatable missions. In Destiny 2 they gave you a handful of planets but took away the original handful from Destiny 1. Here is the solar system map in Warframe, through my ship’s Navigation system (pictures taken with my starter Warframe, the Volt, which I personalized to be blue).

When you zoom in a bit it shows how they are connected and gives you an idea of the number of missions available on that planet.

And of course, further zooming in shows how the missions on each planet are connected.

You aren’t going to run out of anything to do in the short term. Each of those planets and missions are very different, and procedurally generated so if you are running them for the second, tenth, or twentieth time at least there is some variation.  You can see with the blue lights the missions I haven’t completed yet. The mission types I have participated in so far include (and I don’t know if I have done them all yet):

  • Assassinate: Kill a high priority target
  • Terminate: kill X number of bad guys
  • Defend: Protect an item at a specific spot for X waves of enemies
  • Mobile Defence: Carry a hack terminal to three different spots in the map, and defend it while it downloads information
  • Spy: Steal data – if you get seen near the hack terminals and alarms get set, the data will get destroyed so have to be stealthy
  • Rescue: Save a hostage(s). Fun part is after you release them from their cell, you can give them your secondary weapon to help fight. You have to be stealthy in the first part (setting them free, or they could be exterminated) and then escort them out of the area safely in the second part
  • Sabotage: Destroy strategic objectives within a map
  • Interception: Capture and hold control points on a map
  • Survival: Be a distraction so a fellow Warframe can run a mission. Set off the alarm and survive for X minutes.

And I think there are more, but those are the ones I have tried.  There are also there “bad guys” at this point – the Grineer, the Corpus, and the Infested, so each of them have their own style and substance to those missions.

Story Clarity: Bad

Remember those factions I mentioned just a couple lines ago? I don’t quite understand why I am killing them all. In fact, I don’t even understand why I exist at all. I know my ‘handler’ The Lotus, who gives me my missions calls me a Tenno. I know she somehow rescued me from Vor and the Grineer who were trying to capture me. I don;t even know what I am! Am I a person inside the suit? Human? Or am I a robot? When I change suits (are they suits?) do I leave one and jump in the other, or is my programming sent over, OR am I some sort of ghost /soul that floats between constructs to do the bidding of the mysterious Lotus? Who am I fighting for?

By paying attention to what I have found IN game I know the Grineer (who freed me to try and use me for their own desires) are dying out because so much cloning has made their DNA fragile and unintelligent, and that they had planned to use me to rebuild themselves. Or something like that. But I don’t know what year it is, (IS THIS TRUMPS AMERICA IN 2025?) or what/who I am, or how I got here. The Corpus, the second enemies I ran into use more robots and look different but I still don’t know why I am killing them either, or what their society looks like, and how they got to where they are.

The infested, on the other hand, I have sorted out through in game means that they were a weapon that the Corpus were testing on and of course they got out. There were some in game mentions that the infested lived long ago but were thought to have been defeated – eliminated, but these mentions and findings in missions are often during periods of hectic fighting and survival and I don’t always absorb all the information fully.

The Codex: Good AND Bad

Big points for having a Codex in game. Big negatives for not having story elements in baseline. All the questions I have about the Story Clarity in my previous paragraph should be solved through the Codex. It still might be. There is a lot of base information available immediately – all the weapons and Warframes – but the things in the world have to be scanned by you.

You can buy a limited charged scanner from the marketplace for in game dollars (and cheaply) but this isn’t explicitly instructed and I had to sort that out on my own. Add to that, how difficult it is to scan in game (you can’t be interrupted, and its hard to be in a non-combat state) so things are not fleshed out. In 2 of 20 possible scans of a single Grineer Fronteir Lancer (They have more than a dozen Grineer enemy types that I have seen so far – maybe far more) I get little information. I want background info, not stats. 18 more scans to find out!

In the first bit of P2WL (Pay to Win – Lore) I saw in the Codex for companions that instead of my companion that steals shields and loots for me, there is one that automatically scans codex entries. You have to pay real money for it (sadly) or find the Prime blueprints (very rare) via in game activities. I have luckily found 1 of 4 components for that particular companion but also have 1 of 4 components for a dozen other items too. It’s not looking good from a lore / story Codex particulars. And I think when you are trying to build context in a world and game that this part should be especially accessible. I am hoping the story becomes more clear and obvious as I unlock new planets – long time readers here know how much I appreciate stories in games. I have really trashed Destiny 2 for this, but that was because they doubled down on a terrible story/premise. I liked it better when there was benefit of the doubt, of which, the story of Warframe still has.

From a pure game perspective it is incredibly fun to navigate through a map, shoot bad guys, find items, and complete objectives – all the while leveling up your items and frames, customizing skills and abilities, and exploring new planets. All items that I will discuss in future articles.

W(TF)arframe

When googling “games like Destiny” one game pops up frequently. I google that phrase quite a bit as I hope and fantasize about another gaming company building a game like Destiny but addressing the shortfalls and applying a bit more effort. The game that pops up frequently is Warframe. Warframe is a free to play third person loot-shooter. It is very different from Destiny in terms of the third person part, and that from what I understand the missions have a tileset, random map function to keep things interesting. Their tagline is also “Ninjas play free”. I am not a Ninja but still was able to play free! When googling and reading about Warframe I kept coming back to one, consistent thought.

“What the F*ck?”

So of course, to all the better answer that, I logged in.

I think the best way to describe Warframe from a Destiny 1 or 2 perspective is that it would be just like it if you only played using your super ability the whole time. It actually works okay (although I wish there was a first person mode). The story is very confusing at first. You are awoken as a “Tenno” by a bad dude (VOR) who is trying to use you for his / his team’s power, of uniting the universe under a single rule. Some emperor or Queen.  The Lotus is a person/group that wants to free you to do what you do best – going against tyranny and oppressive rule. Or something like that. The introductory mission does a good job of teaching you your abilities, and the focus the game has on movement, but not so good and explaining the bigger lore and story of the universe.

The art style is very unique, futuristic and interesting. After the first mission I googled the Warframe story and what I did find was that it is actually reviewed as pretty good, and spoiler warnings were that the story style of the game is meant to be confusing – you were just awoken, and as you play through the game things will be explained to you more. I didn’t read past the spoilers since I am a big sucker for a good story and will explore it in game. I ran three or four missions and it acts as a tutorial of sorts. The fighting is slick, the weapon options are varied, and I’m sorting things out. Although, to be honest, I am still very much confused at this early stage but definitely intrigued enough to keep going. Free to play, after all.

The game makes you make three choices early on. First is your base Warframe – the name of the game. There are three options and it explains each a bit in game which I will let you discover for yourself. I chose Volt, pictured above, which has a caster like electric shock ability. Through out the first mission you also have to choose a melee weapon (Bo staff or Sword, I chose Bo staff) a secondary weapon (throwing knives or pistol, I chose pistol) and a main weapon (bow and arrow or machine gun, I chose the bow). When you finish the first  mission you get your own space ship, which is your base. I like having a cool home base. Of course the various parts aren’t working or are missing so the next few missions you are upgrading core components. The first is the module to upgrade and outfit your gear. The second is the galactic marketplace. I didn’t spend much time at either. Each of these core component discoveries continues the tutorial aspect of what you can do and how you can do it, while also keeping an underlying story going (Vor attached some things to us, that we can’t get off, that gives him access to our mind a bit.. so assuming we have to sort out how to free ourselves from that at some point.)

Then, I find the holy grail in my ship. A Codex. The Codex has a listing of all the available Warframes as well as details about factions, the universe, weapons (Etc.). I spent an hour exploring and reading here. Delicious background information.

There are a TON of frames. How to get them I have no clue yet and I don;t even know what they are – suits I go in? Am I a person?  These things have not yet been revealed to me and I am playing and learning in this game with a lot of enthusiastic confusion.  The Codex, however, has mission recaps (the first picture in this post was from that) and tons of information. Most exciting for me was that there are stories sprinkled throughout. Check out the Codex on the Mag Prime Warframe that I aptly nicknamed “The Geth”:

Warframe Archive – Debrief excerpt

We sat strapped in, safeties off, waiting for the punch. Waiting for death. Through my filthy porthole I saw stars among the outlines of the other Splinter ships queuing for the Solar Rail. It would soon grip us with an incomprehensible power and cast us through the void into the mouth of our enemy.

I watched the ships one-by-one bending and gone. Each crammed with zero-tech soldiers sucking stale air, white knuckling their percussion rifles. Each filled with a desperation that comes from extinction. Our ship would be the last to cross the gap. Our ship had special cargo.

It was essentially empty. Just ten men, like me, strapped in with the best zero-tech suits and weapons the empire could build… and “it”. “It” stood in the aisle, a slender and eyeless metal form. A Tenno inside its Warframe. Vaguely human, vaguely feminine. Was this armor or some ornate carapace for the monster that lived inside? I strained against the harness as the ship yawed for final approach. I could see the Tenno standing there freely. Solemn and gold-gleaming, oblivious to the inertial force.

I had been, until then, a Tenno denier. They were ghosts, propaganda, twisted casualties of the void era. Not possibly real. Yet here it was in the flesh. The Empire, in their desperation, was going to turn the demons loose and hope for the best. Who did we fear more, the enemy or this monster? We had our safeties off, could we trust it? Then it didn’t matter anymore. The punch came – and our windows became blinding. When we could see again our ship was somewhere else, shattered and dead in an instant.

My lungs were flattened, eyes full of death. Ship debris glittered like a night snow. The alien blue star was dark and blinding beyond us. The countless articulating worm-ships of our enemy, ringed in glowing discs, undulating and heat-bursting the surviving soldiers like me. This is where I died. I was in R-disc, sweeping over my right and setting my blood on fire. My vision flattened, the hearing muffled and buzzed. I could feel the side of my face going slack and wet.

I was in a dying dream. I saw a bright spot blurring and weaving toward me. I felt a tug toward it from the metal clasps on my suit. It reached me, rising up – a gleaming beast, a plume of golden wings rising and unfolding behind it. An angel. It snatched me from my death. I could feel my lungs fill as it wrapped me in its wings. Its Void Shield shimmered blue, strained under the enemy beams. I felt a suddenly tug of acceleration. I closed my eyes and held on it like a child.

I awoke on the floor, the sting of crisping flesh on my face and side. It was standing over me, the wings gone. I heard the cracking of weapons echoing down the corridor. Maybe the mission would be saved, but I was dying and so I waved my hand to send it away. I felt a pistol thrust in my hand as I was heaved to my feet. The angel had saved me, pulled me from hell, but it would not pity me. I was to die on my feet, by its side. I turned my good side toward the gunfire and raised the gun. It nodded, its outstretched metal hand surging and pulsing in ancient shapes as blue shimmered around me. It turned, drawing its blade and together we surged headlong into the hailstorm of death and fire that awaited us.

Ok. Still very confused, but also very hooked, lined, and sinker-ed. I do find it interesting that the suits themselves have male/female forms and I am assuming at some point I will be able to jump in between them as I want.

What is Warframe? So far it is fun and I have barely scratched the surface. Whether or not it has staying power for me as a standalone game, or Destiny 2 replacement, remains to be seen. Definitely worth exploring more. The game has been around since 2013, has a ton of contents and updates (all free), and has a huge new open world expansion dropping very soon. I’ll report more back as I play and hopefully there is a lot of war-splaining to come during that exploration.