Where parcours is par for the course

Warframe players learn very early on that their Tenno can move in ways most other games’ characters cannot. Whichever frame you use, double jumping, barrel rolling and running alongside walls are all part of your standard repertoire.

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Also sliding, let’s not forget about sliding. It’s what the cool kids do

So I guess it’s no surprise that the folks at Digital Extremes have devised some missions that focus more on movement than fighting. I just wouldn’t have expected them to be quite as…extreme.

After you’ve completed a certain quest-chain a weekly mission that has you hunt for an Ayatan relic becomes available to you. Those are the sculptures I talked about towards the end of this post. So in addition to finding them randomly during missions I can get a guaranteed copy once per week? Hell yeah!

Well, guaranteed if I can beat the mission that is.

The first time around I made the ‘mistake’ to play through the mission in my normal explore everything and grab anything you find kind of way. During normal missions this suits me well because it ensures that I always have crafting mats in abundance, and it’s also the most fun to me. This takes considerably longer than rushing through of course, but if you complete the mission all those extra rewards make it worth it. Again, if.

Once you arrive at the first waypoint the real fun begins. Depending on which mission you got the parcours part starts by stepping onto a pressure plate on the ground or just by passing a certain point in the room (I think). Then two things happen in rapid succession. One: a door opens for a couple of seconds. If you don’t go through in time you don’t go at all and the missions ends right then and there. This is what happened to me on my first try. Two: as soon as you pass that door a timer starts running. Usually a very short timer. The longest I’ve seen as of yet was one minute. Fail to reach the parcour’s end before time runs out and…well, you already know the answer.

The next couple of tries didn’t end well either. When you rush straight to the parcour and ignore everything else it doesn’t take long, but wouldn’t you know it, you get a different one each time, so I couldn’t even figure out how to get through by trial and error all that well. So I looked for some help.

Looks pretty easy when he does it, right? Well, it’s not, at least not for me. But knowing which way to go was enough to finally make it on the, oh, I don’t know, 12th try or so?

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Yes, yes I have. Not thanks to you by the way!

You still have to make it to the extraction point from there, but that’s a cakewalk in comparison.

That was yesterday. Luckily weeklies reset on Monday morning, so I could jump right in again today. Knowing what to expect always makes things easier, but I still needed seven or eight tries.

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I’m doing all the work here, that loudmouth Maroo won’t see a piece of you

It may not sound like it, but I really like these missions. They’re challenging, but in a good way. They also make me hone my movement skills, and, needless to say, I really love that the rewards are housing items. Well, you can also sell them for a pretty nice sum of Endo, but I won’t, at least not before I have completed the collection.

I also inserted some of those Ayatan Stars you find all the time into the sculptures’ sockets, which animates them and also adds some lighting.

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The third one of these I found in another regular mission yesterday

Can’t wait to get my hands on more of them.

Now I’ve got to go and pack my stuff though – my real stuff this time – as we’re going on vacation tomorrow morning. We’ll only very sporadically have internet-access, so there won’t be any new posts and I probably won’t reply to any comments until August 31st.

Not only will I be immensely rested and relaxed by then, two brand-new frames will also be waiting for me, so I already have something to look forward to. I always like that as it makes vacation coming to an end less disappointing.

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More about how I farmed those parts in the next issue of Wondrous Warframe

Until then have a great time everyone. I look forward to reading up on all the good stuff I’ll have missed.

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Modification Madness

Your frames and weapons in Warframe each come with a preset range of stats and abilities, so choosing a combination of those is what mostly defines your ‘build’.

However your build’s true power vastly depends on what mods you use.

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As always, click to enlarge

If this looks like a lot of choice, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. At the time of this writing there are reportedly over a thousand different mods in the game.

What you see here is the mod-section of my level 27 Excalibur frame. The two bottom rows show all frame-specific mods I currently have at my disposal, the area above is where you slot your mods of choice into. Every piece of equipment has eight regular mod slots, some additionally have one or two for special mods. Frames, for example, have one slot for an Aura mod – I’m using Sprint Boost here – which benefit your whole squad and also increase your frame’s mod capacity.

This capacity, seen in the upper left corner of the mod-screen, is basically a measure of how much mod-power the respective piece of gear can accomodate. The more powerful a mod is the more capacity it needs, so in the beginning you have to choose between filling all your slots with very weak mods, or only using a select few better mods and consequently leaving some slots unused.

No mod is very powerful by default though because they all start at rank 1. To level them up you need to pay ever increasing amounts of credits and a resource named Endo. Since you can’t use the same mod twice stacking multiple low-rank copies of your favourite isn’t an option, so if you want to get stronger there’s no way around ranking them up. A mod’s current and maximum rank are indicated by the little dots at the bottom.

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My Redirection mod is at rank 4 of 10 right now, for example

As if all this wasn’t complex enough every mod also has a ‘polarity’, shown in its top right corner. The number tells you how much capacity the mod needs, the symbol shows its polarity. Most pieces of gear have one or more slots that also have a polarity symbol. If you slot a mod with the corresponding polarity into it only half of its base capacity (rounded up) is used. Conversely, if you slot a wrong polarity into such a slot the mod’s capacity use doubles.

Dizzy yet?

My personal favourite are damage type mods.

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Burn! Freeze! Breeze…?

If you upgrade a weapon with only one of these the effect is pretty straightforward. The weapon deals additional damage of the corresponding type.

If you combine them, though, what you get isn’t a bit of X damage and a bit of Y damage. Instead both bonuses add up and result in a whole new damage type. Heat and cold combined, for example, result in ‘blast’ damage.

Thankfully a community member has made a handy chart:

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Can’t wait to see what “gas damage” looks like

As you can see each damage type has some kind of special effect, so this isn’t just fluff but has actual, potentially huge impact on gameplay.

All the more so as each enemy species has resistances and weaknesses to certain damage types.

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I hope this is still valid, given its date of creation

Fortunately mods aren’t locked into a piece of gear once you’ve installed them. You can swap them around as often as you like and even use the same mod for every applicable weapon or frame. So adjusting your build for a particularly hard mission is very much possible – and, I assume, at the later stages of the game pretty much mandatory.

Whichever game I play, I’m usually very reluctant to fiddle around with my gear ahead of each mission because, well, I’m lazy. This system is a lot of fun though. When there’s more to it than just numbers going up it’s much more worth the effort in my opinion. I’ve already seen heat damage burn enemies to crisp and cold damage freeze them; I look forward to seeing the other damage types in action.

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I love the smell of burning Infested in the morning

I’ve not even talked about mod rarities, mod sets, mods with random effects and various other bits yet, but since I’m still only scratching the surface myself I can’t speak from experience about those.

Anyhow, I like this system a lot and can’t wait to see what kind of mods I’ll discover next.

I believe I can fly

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Alright, nobody move! I got an Archwing here, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I unsurprisingly played some more Warframe yesterday and managed to unlock my Archwing, which is essentially a pair of jet-propelled wings. A big-ass cannon with unlimited ammo and a huge, anime-style sword come as part of the package.

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While doing the quest chain’s final mission you get to a point where you need to extract ASAP because the ship you’re on is about to come apart (or something), so your annoying yet helpful AI deploys the now finished but yet untested Archwing for you, and boom, suddenly you’re flying.

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Ludicrous speed…GO!!!

The world opening up like that was a seriously awesome moment. Of course I went pedal to the metal right away and fired the afterburner. Boy, that thing gives a satisfying boost to an already pretty high speed. Of course just going in a straight line would be boring though, but as you can see the mission got that covered too. Lots of ships, rocks and debris were floating around, and I had to maneuver my way through. It almost felt like Kirk’s and Khan’s thrill ride in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I really dig that movie. Sue me.

Anyway, of course it didn’t take long for enemies to get onto the scene, so I got to try out the Archwing’s weaponry.

The cannon spews an intimidating stream of bullets, and it seemingly neither overheats nor runs out of ammo. Mowing down waves of drones feels a bit like a three-dimensional shooting gallery. The sword packs a punch, but I mostly tried not to let the baddies get that close at all, so I didn’t use it much.

It’s fun, but unfortunately it starts to feel somewhat repetitive rather quickly. Ground missions just have more gameplay variety. You fight, you collect stuff, you sneak, you negotiate barriers and obstacle courses. The Archwing missions I’ve done – admittedly not a lot yet – were just like fly here, shoot stuff, now fly there, shoot more stuff, done. It’s somewhat comparable to SWTOR’s space combat, though not quite as simplistic because you move freely instead of on rails here.

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Does look a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

I hope there’ll be some more missions that transition between ground and space combat like the one that unlocked the Archwing, because I liked that change of pace and perspective within a single mission quite a lot.

What I’m looking forward to the most though is getting to use my wings in the open world zones. Yep, that’s a thing, but first I have to reach a higher mastery rank and craft another piece of equipment, the Archwing Launcher.

That should make doing missions there much easier for me. I’ve found out by now that low level missions actually exist on the Plains of Eidolon, but since you often run into high level enemies while traversing the zone they are still pretty hard to do. Being able to fly to the mission site will hopefully enable me to avoid most such encounters. Also, seeing those beautiful zones from high above will most definitely be a sight to behold.

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I still discover something new in Warframe every day, and good stuff just keeps coming. Pretty impressive.

Is too little explanation better than too much?

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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.

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Where to start indeed?

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.

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Riiight…what’s my level again?

Yet the missions I consider being moderately difficult right now are labeled somewhere between levels 8 and 14. WTF?

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Is that too hard? Too easy? Too…something?

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.

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Son of a bi…ngewatching person on Youtube

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.

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Don’t need any instructions for THAT, no Sir

Wondrous Warframe

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So I basically took the weekend off to play Warframe. Ok, not the whole weekend because I had to work on Saturday, but apart from that I played a heck of a lot. Turns out Jeromai’s enigmatic comment to my last post was spot on: the game has sunk its hooks into me and is holding fast.

Leveling up myself, my frame, the weapons, mods and whatnot is extremely addicting, as is finding crafting mats and various other stuff.

What matters most is the gameplay of course, and I really like it a lot. The mix of shooting and melee feels just right, and movement in general is a joy. I can’t wait to try out other, more nimble frames, but I’m already more agile than a chimpanzee on crack as it is.

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Walk like a Ninja, Chapter 4: How to slackline like a boss

Speaking of other frames, I’ve tried to do some research as to which ones might suit my playstyle. What I’ve found out is that there’s a whole lot of them, and there doesn’t seem to be a ‘best’ one no matter the playstyle either. At most there’s a ‘best for the situation at hand’. So I’ll just stick with my Excalibur for the time being.

I have found a blueprint for one component needed to build a Rhino frame though, and since I had all materials lying around I started to build it preemptively. Maybe I’ll try to find out where I can get the rest and finish it; why not use a tank-like frame for a change?

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A new weapon and my first sentinel companion are also in the works

I have to take back some of the flak I gave the graphics in the beginning. Yes, there are objects and textures that don’t look too fresh here and there, but overall the game looks pretty sweet.

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I’m getting serious Terminator 2 vibes around here

The post’s topmost screenshot shows Fortuna, a city on Venus, that I kind of stumbled upon just like I did upon Cetus the other day. I like Fortuna’s look a lot, and the game plays a pretty great video sequence when entering it for the first time. It’s an excerpt of the awesome trailer Azuriel talked about after the corresponding update had gone live last year.

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Neon lights and catchy tunes, what’s not to like?

Like Cetus the town leads to an open world area, and just like the Plains of Eidolon this one, called Orb Vallis, also sports enemies that are way too powerful for me as of yet. Therefore I didn’t stay long, but I at least took a little time to take in the beautiful scenery.

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How giant mushrooms survive in this cold I have no idea though

I don’t know if Digital Extremes’ plan is to have such a huge, open area on every planet in the long run, but if so, hell yeah!

Of course I was also eager to find out how serious the decorating aspect of my orbiter really is. My account came with a complimentary 50 Platinum, Warframe’s funny money, and the newly introduced shawzin costs 40, so I just bought and placed it.

The decorating interface is actually quite good. You can move objects any way you like, including upwards. Yes, you can make stuff float just like that. Even some very good MMORPG housing systems don’t give that option.

Single objects aside there are also wallpapers and vignettes for sale, unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an option to preview them though.

I had assumed that all such items have to be bought from the cash shop, but no, yesterday I picked up a little sculpture during a mission that turned out to be a housing item. A very pleasant surprise indeed, and it isn’t even that little once placed.

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Hmm, it looks a bit like a fancy speaker…I need a second one!

So yeah, I’m pretty happy with Warframe. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do…

Let’s go, Tenno!

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Downloading Warframe took quite a while – is it just me, or are most game launchers capped at about 2 MB/s download speed? Of the games I play regularly I think Black Desert is the only one that utilizes our full internet speed when patching.

Anyway, I’ve played the game for about three hours now and so far I’m pretty happy with it.

What I’d like to do now is to try and let you experience my first impressions alongside me. As I was still figuring stuff out I unfortunately missed taking some screenshots I’d now like to have, so I had to re-stage some or simply use other ones to make my point here and there.

Let’s fire up Warframe for the first time together, shall we?

Minor spoilers ahead, I guess.

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Click to enlarge – but don’t hurt yourself on the janky polygons

Hmm…the game doesn’t really look all that good, does it? I mean, my own character and parts of the environment look quite nice, but there are also some very old looking objects and textures all around. I hadn’t expected Destiny 2 levels of graphical fidelity, but I’m a bit disappointed nonetheless. And, oh my god, look at that Vor guy (the intro chapter’s big baddie), he looks seriously bad, doesn’t he?

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Don’t have a pic of him, so here’s some benches straight out of 2002

Ok, now that I’ve turned the mouse sensitivity way down the controls feel pretty slick and responsive. My double jump takes me really high up, and I have other movement tricks up my sleeve too. I can even run alongside walls like the Prince of Persia, cool!

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What have we here, the game can look good after all. Great, even! The rain feels very realistic to me. I think I’ll stand here for a minute and just watch and listen to it.

Combat gets even better too. I really like that I have a sword that packs a punch and doesn’t need any ammo. Switching flawlessly between shooting some foes with my assault rifle and slashing others to bits is very satisfying.

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The engine does all things water very well, better than BDO even

I don’t know how it’s even possible for a game to look this great and this bad at the same time. I haven’t seen anything like it. Overall the positives clearly outweigh the ugly stuff though. Also – to draw one last comparison to Destiny 2 – the loading times are pleasantly short. Waiting for a full minute or even longer for a mission level to load? Not in this game.

Ah! Now I know what Warframe reminds me of a lot: Hellgate London. Seriously. I played a Blademaster there, and the gameplay loop of running around in third person, hacking and slashing, searching every nook and cranny for loot containers etc. feels very similar. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, I really liked that game.

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Ok, this looks much older than I remembered it, and it’s ‘only’ from 2007

Now I’ve access to my “orbiter”, basically a personal starship that takes me where I want to go and a base operations at the same time. I have to repair some of its features before I can use them though. I guess this is still the tutorial.

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Here I can change my loadout and install mods into my frame and weapons. The more I level them up, the more or stronger mods they can hold, nice! Also good: the mods aren’t consumed upon using them, so I’m free to tinker around without the fear of maybe regretting it later.

I can also change colours of pretty much everything and don’t even need to buy or find dyes. Ok, technically I can buy more colours, but the selection of free ones is already good.

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I…really don’t think something like THAT should be aboard my ship!

Ok, I’ve beaten the snot out of that Vor guy and tutorial’s over. Now I can do…errr…a whole fucking lot, it seems.

Seriously, at least a little hint about what I might want to do next would have been helpful. But this isn’t the first time I’m playing a game like this, so I’ll manage.

Or not. I thought I’m starting a mission, but now I’m in some kind of town. Lots of other players around. Hi folks!

Ok, that guy gave me a quest, now let’s see what lies beyond the city borders. Turns out it’s the Plains of Eidolon I’ve read so much about, the game’s first huge open world zone.

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Looks great, but the first hostiles I encounter show me the error of my ways rather quickly. I don’t think I belong here yet. Not that the game has warned me or anything – at least not that I’m aware.

The missions I can start from my orbiter’s navigation console have a level associated with them. I have no idea what level I am at myself though, but I can beat missions around level 10 just fine.

And this is where I’m at now, folks.

Warframe is, at its heart, what the gaming press has come to call a looter shooter in recent years. To me it feels like a mashup of Hellgate London and Destiny 2, and it does a pretty good job at that.

I’m usually no graphics snob, so I don’t know why the mixed-bag visuals bothered me so much in the beginning – and still bother me a little bit.

Other than that I really haven’t found anything that’s not to my liking though, and I’ll definitely continue playing for the time being.

Sometimes it’s the little things

Warframe is a game that has been around for quite some time now. I’ve read many good things about it and watched some cool looking gameplay-videos. When I was done with Destiny 2 I contemplated becoming a Tenno – which is what player characters in Warframe are called – but never got around to it for some reason.

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They have hoverboards though – what’s not to like?

When I got up this morning I still had anything but Warframe on my mind. Until I read this arcticle over at Massively OP that is. Playable instruments in Warframe, really? And what’s this:

“While you can’t play it yet, there is a decorative version that allows players to place one (or more) in your personal orbiter or clan dojo.”

Players have a personal space that they can even decorate? I had no idea!

I’ve talked about player-made music in MMOs and how much I love it before, and you all know how important player housing of any kind (preferably the good kind, obviously) is to me.

Needless to say, I created a Warframe account and started downloading the client right away.

Now, I do realize that the playable version of the shawzin probably won’t be ingame for quite a while, and also that this ‘personal orbiter’ most definitely doesn’t come even remotely close to housing systems like Everquest II’s.

Still, this is a game that already had a lot of appeal to me before. Now I’ve learned that it also provides one of my favourite features and is going to get another one soon(ish). What more reason do I need or want to give it a shot?

It’s still downloading, but stay tuned for some first impressions tomorrow. Thanks for the hint, MJ!