2018 has been a busy year for the Warframe team and Tenno alike, and this year might have been the busiest yet, with several major changes hitting the live servers in the form of massive reworks to current content, new warframes, new primed goodies, two new game modes, new story content, and last but not least, Fortuna.
With such a myriad of changes hitting the game in the span of a year, it’s natural that not all of them have been warmly received. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the highs and lows of this year’s version of Warframe.
Cold As Ice
Orb Vallis, also known as “Alolan Plains of Eidolon” is the new open world area, with Fortuna as our latest hub city, bringing with it a plethora of brand new goodies to make and a bunch of fresh baddies to kill. But is it as good as it’s been hyped up to be?
Buildable MOAs? Great! Kitguns? Great! K-Drives? You betcha! But once the “new car smell” of Fortuna runs out, it’s back to the same old grind we had in Plains of Eidolon. While Digital Extremes has modified things somewhat with a handful of quality of life changes (capturing bases, not needing to go back to town for new quests, eased grind), everything still boils down to two factors; the grind and the daily standing cap.
The grind for standing and the standing cap aren’t new to veterans of The Plains. During launch week, countless attempts were made to figure out the fastest and most efficient way to farm standing. The daily standing cap remains the barrier to progression - the standing cap is a way for the devs to prevent people from maxing out on day one and twiddling their thumbs for the rest of the patch. While this is understandable, it serves as nothing more than an annoyance to a number of players. With that said, let’s take a look at the best way to farm standing. As in The Plains, the best and most efficient way to “farm” standing is by mining and donating ore; to an extent, you’re playing the game, but as this is happening, you’re severely limiting your personal time with everything else in the new open world. While this should come as no surprise to veterans, it’s disappointing to see that actually doing bounties and capturing bases is still less efficient than simply cave hopping for minerals (fishing in Fortuna is mainly for crafting materials, since they’re not as good for standing this time around).
The Warframe team delivered exactly what they promised, and the sense of wonder does take some time to fade away, but all Fortuna really is is another place to continue the endless grind, something a lot of folks (if they’re anything like me) probably forgot about amidst the hype. All-in-all, Fortuna is a good content patch that’ll keep most of the player base busy till the next major drop (Pluto, maybe?), and it’s a good indicator for how future open worlds might be like.
Loyal Tenno were treated to three bits of story content this year with the string led by The Apostasy Prologue, where Orokin Executor and Nightmare wannabe, Ballas, whisks The Lotus away for unknown reasons. This then leads into The Sacrifice quest, which provides more lore into how Warframes are made as well as their purpose. Players who’ve completed it are granted Excalibur Umbra, something eager Tenno have been waiting years for. The events are then neatly tied up by The Chimera Prologue, where we bear witness to the creature Ballas has become, and where he endows the Tenno with the sword Paracesis, in a last-ditch effort for redemption. These three story quests show players the Warframe team’s dedication to the craft of storytelling, giving players a fully interactive story experience that leaves people wanting more (in the good way).
Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!
A couple of fun new game modes hit the servers this year. Players fond of running “endless survival” missions now have Sanctuary Onslaught, a game mode where Tenno slaughter an endless horde while maintaining “efficiency” to progress to harder levels, with Elite Sanctuary Onslaught providing a challenge for the difficulty-inclined. Now, I’ll have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Sanctuary Onslaught, solely because it doesn’t have a concrete goal to work towards. While that may be the case, Sanctuary Onslaught is still a fun romp that you can go at solo or with a full party.
While Sanctuary Onslaught may not be my cup of tea, Arbitrations, on the other hand, delivered the goods. In this game mode, Tenno are given a ‘harder’ version of standard missions (Defense, Defection, Excavation, Infested Salvage, Interception, and Survival) with a few caveats, such as (a) only allowing players one life and skipping the bleed-out phase, (b) Arbitration Shield Drones that completely nullify damage until killed, and (c) +300% power strength/damage modifiers to a random Warframe and weapon. Arbitrations give way to a lot of “meme builds” due to the power, strength, and damage buffs, allowing the “Johnny” in all of us to make unorthodox builds that take full advantage of the situation. One such instance was when a +300% PS Khora modifier was in effect. This allowed me to build Khora with maximum range and tankiness, leaving power strength as the modifier. As a result, all I had to do was sit in her cage and let Venari loose on the baddies while popping off the occasional shield drone.
The freshman class of 2018 is a mixed bag with two out of three frames performing strongly, and the other eating glue in a corner. A host of newly reworked frames and brand new primes also make their appearance this year. Here’s a quick rundown.
Khora, the crazy cat-lady/dominatrix fans have been memeing about falls flat with numerous reworks spun even before she was launched. Initially slated to go live with Melee 3.0, Khora was supposed to embody the brand new melee damage system, but with unforeseen development challenges and negative community feedback, Melee 3.0 was deferred to a later date, leaving Khora to be reworked into a bland version of her former self. That said, her kit is quite fun to play with, albeit clunky and reeking of something quickly cobbled together to meet a deadline.
Revenant, the Sentient-infused edgelor - ahem - vampire frame, makes a splash as a jack-of-all-trades that excels at melting faces and turning enemies into mindless thralls to do your bidding. This frame has become my go-to “Hydron frame” for speed leveling weapons, as his kit allows for seamless transition from being the team’s “big gun” to a support frame if another player decides to bring “an even bigger gun” to wipe the map.
Garuda, the ‘gore’-themed frame we explored in our earlier article, has quickly become my new main. With a kit that feels natural and flows effortlessly, and an ultimate ability that’s basically “Hunter Munitions for everyone,” Garuda has carved her way into my heart and dethroned my Ice Princess Chroma as “bottom frame.”
Chroma, Limbo, and Zephyr also received ‘Primed’ variants this year, with the latter two being reworked to mixed reviews, and the former being ‘fixed’. Chroma’s insane Vex Armor and Elemental Ward multipliers have been ‘fixed’, a term the devs use to explain bringing him in line with other frames, but a term I personally use to explain Chroma being neutered (this is a touchy subject for me, since I’ve mained Chroma since he was launched). If I’m going to be completely honest, Limbo and Zephyr are probably my least played frames, even after their reworks, so I’m not going to be able to review these two properly. All I can say is that playing Zephyr felt a lot more bearable now, and being in a party with a Limbo is no longer mind-numbingly boring or enraging (depending on whether or not the Limbo knows what it’s doing).
A handful of old frames have also seen a bit of love (or ire, depending on what camp you’re with) in the form of reworks this year. Ash’s ultimate ability Blade Storm has seen a rework, most notably freeing the player up from the animation, and saving folks from potentially cleaning puke from their keyboards. Atlas received an update to his kit and passive, making him a bit more than a “one punch” pony. Banshee, everyone’s favorite mute button, received a rework to her Resonating Quake augment, making it less effective for AFK clearing a room, but better as a form of burst AOE crowd control/damage. Ember’s status as one of the best speed clearing frames has taken a hit in the form of a World on Fire rework, replacing the old cheap persistent aura spell with one that ramps up damage and energy cost while reducing effective range. Nezha or “Diet Rhino” got a major overhaul in time for his awesome deluxe skin, turning him from a “Rhino clone” to a hybrid tank and speed clearing frame. The noxious Saryn got a rework to her kit that actually forces players to play the game (actually playing the game! The horror!) in order to eke-out the insane numbers she can dish.
All in all, the state of Warframes in Warframe is healthy. With a mixed bag of feedback that leans more towards good than bad, all Digital Extremes has to do now is tweak older frames to bring them in line with the new and recently reworked ones.
Shoot To Thrill
Two massive weapon reworks hit the servers this year with the first bringing forgotten weapons back to the limelight, and the second rebalancing Riven dispositions on weapons. While the first wave of reworks was generally well received, especially with the return of beam weapons as a viable loadout option, the Riven disposition rebalance garnered mediocre to bad reviews. Most of the Riven disposition changes were based off popularity as opposed to actual power, and have caused many a Tenno to scratch their head as to why weapons no one takes seriously (like the Viper) would even be considered for a nerf.
Kitguns and buildable MOA companions shook things up as far as loadouts are concerned. Coming in four different variants, Kitguns allow us the flexibility to customise our own secondary weapons in the form of a mini-Astilla in the Tombfinger, a mini-Arca Plasmor in the Catchmoon, a Gammacore clone in the Gaze, and a mini-Grakata in the Rattleguts. This is a min/maxers dream as you can then use the Grip and Loader parts to further tweak the damage, fire rate, crit, status, and ammo/reload of your Kitgun, striking a balance between stats or foregoing one to max out the other. I’ve personally found a favorite in the Catchmoon/Lovetap/Slapneedle combo for a critical status “Corpus killer.”
Buildable MOAs are...okay? I guess? As someone who only uses a companion to pick up loot and give me ammo, I’m still on the fence about these leggy Androids (yes, Androids. MOAs are made with repurposed organic material and robotics!). On one hand, they’re much sturdier than their robotic counterparts, but on the other, the AI is really dumb, like, REALLY DUMB. I’ve found that these guys tend to get stuck in places like doors and cliffs, but oddly enough are still able to give you access to the Vacuum mod.
While not totally related to weapons, the Daily Tribute System also saw a rework recently, allowing players to choose their rewards on milestone days as opposed to simply waiting it out. While this is generally a good thing, it kind of sucks for those of us who’ve just passed a milestone by a day or two.
We also saw the launch of Warframe for the Nintendo Switch this year, launching with the exact same content as their PS4 and XBOX One counterparts. PC players looking to play on the Switch may copy their PC accounts over to the Switch during the launch window.
Tennocon 2018 showed us a glimpse into the future in the form of Railjack, a game mode that allows Tenno to really stick Nef Anyo where it hurts, while living out their space pirate fantasies. Railjack will be ready by “Soon™”.
The Monk-inspired frame Baruuk was also teased in a recent Devstream, in the form of fan artwork. This new Warframe will revolve around the theme of pacifism, something I’m hyped up about since I prefer to run with CC focused frames to make up for my nonexistent shooting skills.
Melee 3.0 was originally slated for this year, but due to numerous setbacks, the dev team thought it best to bring it back to the drawing table, with a speculated release date sometime in 2019.
Fortuna - and everything that came along with it - make for a fine update. It’s not that different from when The Plains was launched, but it is a great option to have if you’re looking for more Warframe content to play.
All-in-all this was a good year for Warframe, with a string of major patches that brought in much needed fresh air. While some of the more hardcore players may cite the changes as “the devs coddling the noobs,” I believe that this is just part of the natural progression for a game that’s trying to acclimate to a growing playerbase with varying skill levels. If anything, Warframe is actually a game with a rather high learning curve, and the streamlining of things has just been helping new players fall in line with “veterans.”
Orb Vallis is vast and filled with things to kill
The highly anticipated Kitguns do not disappoint and are a welcome addition to any Tenno’s arsenal
Buildable MOA companions can be buggy at times, but offer quirky utility mods that change things up.
The standing grind has been eased, but the cap is still a big, yet necessary limitation.
Mining is still the best way to grind standing.
Garuda is (arguably) the most interesting frame to be released this year.
Most of the Warframe reworks have improved gameplay and “sameyness” issues, while changing up a bit of the meta. Not all changes were warmly recieved.
What I played
Roughly 200+ hours, give or take, since the start of the year spread across Fortuna, Plains, Arbitration, Sanctuary Onslaught, and Hydron for speed leveling.
Reached “Cove” with the Solaris United just before writing this article.
Built, gilded, and maxed out a total of three custom MOAs and four different Kitguns for testing and review.