Warframe is a pretty complex game, which, for my taste, is a good thing. I like digging into the nuts and bolts of a game’s systems, understanding it all little by little and finally using that knowledge to my advantage. For instance, the combination of frame, weapons and mods provides near endless possibilities to kit out your character. It isn’t explained in detail by a tutorial or somesuch, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out on my own and actually felt more satisfying that way.
However, there’s also a lot of stuff in Warframe that isn’t quite as intuitive, nor is it explained to you even at a basic level. Aside from out-of-game sources I have no idea where or how to find out more about these things.
This made me think about how much explanation of its systems a game should provide to the player. Yes, finding stuff out on your own can be fun and satisfying, but sometimes you need to at least know where to even start.
Case in point: ranks and levels.
Each mission’s description includes a level range, which in theory should give you an idea about its difficulty. But does it really?
My Mastery Rank, which is basically my character level, is at a measly 2 (yes, two) at the moment. My frame and main weapons, on the other hand, are around rank 20 to 25. The mods I use are all over the place from rank 1 to rank 6. My sentinel is brand new and thus rank 1.
Yet the missions I consider being moderately difficult right now are labeled somewhere between levels 8 and 14. WTF?
I get that the equipment I use has so much impact on my character’s power that it’s no use to just compare character level to monster level and call it a day. But when the indicated level of a mission doesn’t help me determine its difficulty, why have one at all? Ok, I can assume that an 8-13 mission is somewhat harder than a 6-10, but that’s about it.
Another example are the game’s bosses. The first one I fought after I’d finished the introductory quest chain was some kind of four-legged robot named Jackal. I whipped out my Exalted Blade and hacked it to bits within seconds. Hm, that was easy. So when I saw that a weekly quest requires to beat three assassination missions yesterday I thought, well, I’ll just run that Jackal mission again three times and be done with it. Only this time around, I had no chance against that thing. Nada. I used up all my lives and thus failed the mission.
A bit frustrated I fired up Google, wanting to find out if bosses are easier to beat when you’re doing them for the first time or something. But no, it turned out that I had just done everything exactly right by accident the first time around – which, in a nutshell, is attacking Jackal’s legs instead of its head – and failed to do that in subsequent tries. Now, it admittedly isn’t exactly rocket science to figure that out, but as I’ve talked about before I’m really no big fan of bossfights in general, and if I absolutely have to do them I’d at least like the game to throw me some hints as to what I’m supposed to be doing. Even more so when I’m forced to start the whole mission over if I fail. I might have missed it, but I could swear that Jackal’s legs aren’t marked or highlighted in any way to indicate them being a seperate thing to shoot at, unless I aim exactly at them (and even then it’s kinda hard to see).
Oh well, I guess beating every challenge on the first try would be a bit boring in the long run. And as I said, overall I like having to find out stuff by myself. So if I have to choose I still prefer too little explanation over too much it seems.
But enough of that, time to go and smash some baddies with a giant hammer.