The Handy Guide to Warframe‘s Railjack – Part Two

In part one of this guide I talked about how to acquire your very own Railjack in Warframe and how to beat the first and easiest mission with it. Now it’s time to use the spoils of said mission and turn your rookie vessel into a finely tuned instrument of destruction.

Step Four – Pimp my Railjack

At the end of your first successful Empyrian mission you’ll have been rewarded with a lot of stuff you didn’t have before (Railjack-specific mods, resources etc.), and also two new types of XP, labeled Intrinsics and Plexus. All of this will help you upgrade your ship in various ways.

Let’s have a look at the Railjack Configuration console, which is located right where the clan dojo’s or relay’s Dry Dock fast travel option will take you.

This is the default tab, called Components, which you’ll see first every time you use the console.

Shown on the left are the ships’s four main…well…components, responsible for shield and hull strenght, flight speed and battle mod performance (more on those later). They come in different flavors and ranks, and you’ll upgrade them over time.

The better, more specialized parts are acquired by looting wreckage during missions and repairing it afterwards, but for now I’d advise you to use the Research console located right next to this one and research and build the MK III versions of your pre-installed SIGMA parts. You’ll have to research them in order, first MK I, then MK II and so on. However, if you’re in a clan they may well have already been researched and you just need to build and install the MK III’s. These will carry you a good way into the Empyrian star chart.

Later on, when you’ve looted some wreckage parts, you’ll identify them, repair them if they’re good or scrap them for Endo if they aren’t. This is all managed by the three buttons in the upper middle of the screen. The word Capacity there means that you can initially have a maximum of eight repaired/built custom parts. You can buy additional slots for platinum, but unused parts can also be disassembled, returning the bulk of their resources to you.

On the right hand side of the screen you see the ship’s overall stats. If you swap out any parts changes are shown here in green or red, as usual in Warframe.

The second tab, Armaments, works pretty much the same, but for the Railjack’s weaponry.

The first installed turret is the one fired from the pilot’s seat, the second is relevant for the two swivel turrets manned by your co-pilots (you can’t use two different ones for those), the third is the ordnance launcher, also fired by the pilot.

There are many different types of turrets and ordnance. Personally, I like the Talyn as my main turret, the Vort for the swivel turrets and the Tycho Seeker ordnance, but your mileage may vary. I suggest to build and try them all out while repeating the Sover Strait mission a couple of times, see which you like best, and then research and build the MK III versions of those.

The Upgrades tab is practically the same thing as the mods-section of your warframes and weapons, but with some additions.

The first tab, Integrated, provides one slot for an aura mod and eight for standard mods. As you get them, install and upgrade these as usual; this is pretty self-explanatory. The Plexus-XP mentioned above are for leveling this up, increasing the mod-capacity. The maximum rank is 30, and Forma can be used to apply polarities. It really works just like ‘frames and weapons.

The second and third tabs, Battle and Tactical, are kind of the pendant to warframe abilities. Battle mods give your ship offensive or defensive skills that are activated during missions by pressing 1, 2 or 3, have short or no cooldowns and consume energy. Tactical mods are more situational in nature. They are used by clicking the corresponding button on the tactical map (see Intrinsics below). They don’t consume energy, but have very long cooldowns.

There’s three slots for each, and as far as I can tell these don’t consume any of your available capacity, so in theory you can fully rank them all up right away – if you have the Endo and credits, that is.

Intrinsics, while technically being part of your ship, are what I think of as your character’s personal skills to operate the thing.

There’s five skill trees that start at rank 0 and go up to 10. I won’t go into detail about all of them here, you can see what each rank of each tree does by right-clicking them.

The first few ranks cost next to nothing, and even after your very first successful mission you‘ll probably be able to raise multiple, if not all, classes to at least rank one. In any case, my suggestion would be to start with Tactical and Command rank 1.

Tactical 1 gives you access to the tactical map (L to open it on PC), and lets you use tactical mods. Command 1 allows you to hire your first crew member, which helps immensely if you’re a solo player.

If you’re using a main turret that’s not a hitscan weapon I’d go for Gunnery 1 next, as this unlocks a target lead indicator.

Once you have all five trees at rank 1 and accumulated some more Intrinsics XP I suggest to go straight for Tactical 4. Rank 3 lets you click the white icons on the tactical map to instantly teleport to that part of your Railjack, while rank 4 enables using the Omni tool whenever you’re not aboard your ship to teleport back there whithin seconds. These are both immense time savers and huge QoL-improvements.

After that it’s really down to personal preference. Just keep in mind that some higher level missions have an Intrinsics-requirement, meaning that you need to have raised at least one tree up to that rank to do them. That shouldn’t be a problem though as the XP roll in pretty fast.

The Crew tab does exactly what you’d expect it to: it lets you manage your ship’s crew.

Once you’ve raised your Command Intrinsic to at least rank 1 you can hire crew members from Ticker in Fortuna on Venus. You have three slots from the get-go, more can be purchased for 20 platinum each. You can only ever use three at a time though – and need to have Command rank 5 for that – so there’s no pressing reason to have more.

Crew members have five attributes, Piloting, Gunnery, Repair, Combat and Endurance, with values ranging from 0 to 5. Which stats you’d like them to have depends on what role you want to assign to them. They can be Defender, Pilot, Gunner or Engineer.

A Defender roams your ship, looking to fend off any boarding parties. While this sounds good I don’t think it’s necessary. You’ll soon see why.

Pilot and Gunner are self-explanatory. I don’t need a Pilot as I do that myself (and I hear they aren’t too bright upstairs anyway), but Gunners are great for obvious reasons.

An Engineer looks for fires, leaks etc. and repairs them autonomically. I guess I don’t need to tell you how handy that is. What’s more, as an Engineer isn’t glued to a pilot’s or turret seat they roam around the ship, just like a Defender would, and they, too, shoot enemies when they find any.

That’s why I go with one Engineer and two Gunners, and in my experience this works perfectly. Gunners really only need the Gunnery stat, so once you have two with Gunnery at 3 or so (as you can put more points into it when you’ve sufficiently raised the Command Intrinsic) you’re set. The Engineer should have Repair at rank 4 or 5, obviously, and you can invest any surplus points into Endurance and/or Combat.

If you team up with other players your NPC crew members will be replaced from right to left, by the way, which is why I have my Engineer in the first crew slot.

Every crew member can also be equipped with one of your primary or secondary weapons, with some exceptions. I just give them those that do a lot of AoE damage, with the best one going to the Engineer of course.

You can use captured Kuva Liches or Sisters of Parvos, if you have any, as crew members too, but only at Command Intrinsic rank 8 or higher, and only as a Defender. I really like the idea from a flavor perspective, but that last restriction is a big bummer as, again, I don’t see the need to have a pure defender.

Lastly, you can also change crew members’ appearances, including colors, attachments, syndanas, sigils, the whole shebang. The game isn’t often called Fashionframe for nothing.

Speaking of fashion, the last tab is Customization. I really don’t think I have to explain what you can do with this. Just knock yourself out.

And that’s pretty much all you need to know about configuring and upgrading your Railjack and its crew.

There’s one last thing I feel I should mention. When you’re progressing through the Empyrian star chart you will encounter a new type of mission called Orphix. While in space this is a Railjack mission like any other, but once you’re on foot inside the target station you’ll notice that, as you get near your objective, you’ll be tossed out of your warframe and have to continue in Operator form.

While you technically can go on and fight like this, it’s not the intended way to do it and you’ll most likely run out of time. What you’re supposed to do here is to activate your Necramech.

Don’t have one yet? Look around you, just beyond the energy barrier that forces you into Operator mode there should be an inactive Necramech lying around somewhere. Go near it, press 5 and boom, you got yourself a temporary ‘mech. Unfortunately it isn’t very strong and can’t take much beating either – and you will be attacked by lots of sentients, these missions aren’t a cakewalk – but at least for the first such mission on Venus it should suffice.

The goal here is to destroy all Orphix Resonators (shown in red on your map, they all look like the one on the screenshot above), which will render the Orphix itself vulnerable. Shoot its eye until it’s at 50%, at which point it’ll close again and more resonators will spawn. Once those are gone too you can finish the Orphix off, and the Sentient Control meter will go down by a good chunk. If that meter ever reaches 100% the mission will fail. Rinse and repeat the process until you have destroyed enough Orphixes to extract.

And there you have it, this is Warframe’s Railjack system in a nutshell.

Just not so small a nutshell. Maybe it’s a coconut? Anyhow, fly safe!

The Handy Guide to Warframe‘s Railjack – Part One

The other day my Xbox-based buddy told me that he‘d just finished building his very own Railjack in Warframe. I still remember my initial confusion and frustration with that particular piece of content vividly because the game explains jack shit about how it all works, so I intended to spare him that headache and started to give a rundown of the basics.

However, I wasn‘t even halfway through with my explanation when he asked me to slow the hell down. „Jeez, this is another whole game inside the game, isn’t it?“ he asked, pretty much hitting the nail on the head. Warframe‘s nothing if not complex.

Of course all there is to know already exists out there on the interwebs in some form or another, but back when I was in my mate‘s position I had to piece together the info I was looking for from various different sources, and some blanks still remained that I had to fill in for myself. I would’ve much preferred one complete and chronological step-by-step guide for beginners. Since I couldn’t find such a piece I‘ve decided to write one myself, and this is the first part of it.

Step One – Starting the journey

In order to get the quest that has you recover old Railjack parts and build a new ship from them you need to

    • have finished the Second Dream quest,
    • buy the Railjack Cephalon blueprint from the market and build it in your foundry, and
    • have access to a drydock.

Collecting the Cephalon, who goes by the name of Cy, from your foundry will start the actual quest, called Rising Tide, and it will guide you through the process of reconstructing the old Railjack from here on out.

A drydock can be built in every Clan Dojo, so if you‘re a member of an active clan chances are it‘s already been done and you can use the fast travel option from anywhere in the dojo to get there.

Alternatively, the relays around Saturn, Europa, Eris and Pluto all sport a public drydock, providing access to its functionality for players who aren’t in a clan or don‘t want to build one in their own dojo for whatever reason. The fast travel option is available here too.

As you obviously don‘t have your Railjack yet the only thing you can do here at this point is install your freshly built Cephalon into the marked terminal, which will advance the quest.

Step Two – Building the Railjack

You will now be sent on a journey to recover said Railjack parts, six in total. The missions aren’t too difficult, but you should be prepared to fight sentient enemies. Having a good Amp (basically anything other than the Mote Amp) and/or a strong frame should suffice. I just blasted them to bits with Mesa, for example.

After each step you have to finish constructing the part in question, which costs some credits and resources – nothing too expensive after DE did a couple rounds of nerfs (or buffs? Depends on how you look at it) – and takes one hour to finish.

After having repaired and installed the sixth part your Railjack is basically complete and you can enter it, either directly from the drydock (go down the ramp that leads to the ship’s bottom end) or by using the middle platform on your Orbiter‘s lower deck (right outside the Operator room).

However, before you can actually take off a key part for the ship‘s drive still has to be acquired, so you‘re sent on one last fetch-mission. After that your Railjack is finally operational, and from now on you can select space missions (called Empyrian missions) directly by using a new button in the upper right corner of your usual navigation menu.

Step Three – Playing (and beating) the first missions

This is unfortunately where the game fails horribly at guiding players towards a smooth, successful and thus fun start to flying their shiny new Railjack.

First of all, do not try your luck with the Call of the Tempestarii mission that’s most likely marked on your map from the moment your vessel is ready to go just yet. That mission is not meant to be a tutorial or something along those lines. In fact it was added to the game quite a bit later than the Railjack system itself. It‘s a story mission that unlocks access to the warframe Sevagoth, and you‘ll probably not able to beat it with a vanilla Railjack.

Instead, I advise you to navigate to Earth Proxima and select the Free Flight mission first. As the name suggests you can fly around at your own leisure here, and nobody will attack you. Steering the ship and firing your guns doesn‘t really need a whole lot of practice, but you can and should use this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Railjack‘s layout and functions, because unfortunately this isn‘t something that‘s explained to you at any point, and once you‘re in a real mission you‘ll definitely need this knowledge.

Stern on the left, bow on the right hand side

This is a tactical view of your ship (green stuff added by me, obviously). You don’t have access to it ingame just yet, but this should help you find your way around for the time being. You can ignore the blue numbers, those depict NPC crew members. Here’s the legend:

    1. Bridge – The pilot’s seat is located here, all the way up front where you’d expect it. A bit behind it you have the navigation console, and the forward artillery seat right behind that.
    2. Turrets – In addition to the pilot’s guns you have two turrets that can either be manned by other players or, once you have them, by NPC crewmates.
    3. Airlocks – You can exit the Railjack here and fly around in space with your Archwing. This is needed to board crewships or to get to on-foot objectives. The rightmost airlock is just a floor panel between the turret stations and easy to miss. The two on the left are on the lower deck.
    4. Slingshot – Another way to exit the ship, but with a twist: the slingshot shoots you out like a living cannon ball. The range is about 4km, which helps you get to places faster. Also, if you aim at a crewship that’s in range you are propelled right through its hull and don’t need to use your Archwing at all. Very handy. It’s all the way in the back of the upper deck.
    5. Forge – Used to replenish ordnance and artillery charges, among other things, but this has to be unlocked first. Like the rear airlocks this is on the lower deck.
    6. This is you. Or rather, in this case it’s me.

Once you feel comfortable with all of this it‘s time for some action. The first and easiest combat mission is Sover Strait on Earth Proxima. Select it, and the Railjack will warp into the battle zone by itself. All you need to do here is shoot anything that moves and stay alive while doing so. Easy, right? Well, yes and no.

Blasting regular fighters out of the sky is straightforward enough, but crewships, of which you encounter at least a couple in every mission, are a different matter. When their hitpoints are depleted they shut down and float helpless in space, but they aren‘t destroyed. After a while their HP regenerate, and they start fighting you again.

To defeat them you need to do either of two things: shoot them once with the forward artillery when their HP are low or down, or board them and destroy their reactor from the inside. The artillery is much faster of course, but you have limited ammo for it and can’t resupply during missions yet.

Another thing you need to know is how to repair damage to your own vehicle. Whenever your ship‘s HP hit zero you can‘t maneuver or shoot anymore – just like crewships, basically – an alarm sounds and a countdown starts. You have that much time to find the damaged hull section and repair it; the mission fails if you don‘t. As it’s marked on the minimap it usually isn’t hard to find. But how do I repair it? I hear you ask. Here’s the thing: unbeknownst to you a tool called Omni is added to your first open gear wheel slot every time upon entering a Railjack mission. When there’s damage to repair equip the Omni, “shoot” the fire or leak with it until it‘s gone, and voilà.

If you‘re boarded just kill the bad guys, repair any damage if needed and continue with what you were doing.

If you keep these things in mind it should be no problem to successfully finish this mission. Once the objectives are marked as completed you can use the navigation console to either return to the drydock or start another mission (or the same one) right away.

The really good news is that you’ve now overcome the hard part and things are going to get a lot more fun from here on out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to pimp their very own space-ride?

The second and last part of this guide will show you how to do just that.

About Necramechs, archguns and profit takers

You didn’t think making progress with the Railjack system in Warframe was as easy as just using the Railjack, did you? Well, I did. Silly me.

First of all, as space mission goals always require someone to disembark the ship at some point it seems reasonable to also have an Archwing that can take a beating and some good weaponry to go alongside it. It’s not strictly necessary, but definitely a big convenience.

I already had an Amesha class archwing at the ready, but was still using the default gun that came with the newbie model way back when I earned my first wings. Suffice it to say that it’s not very good. Now, getting hold of a better shooter wasn’t the issue, but leveling it up? Man, that stuff takes a lot of time, and archwing missions aren’t exactly fun either.

Hold on a sec though, wasn’t there some gadget or other enabling players to use heavy guns on the ground too?

Hell yeah, THAT’S what I’m talking about!

Turns out there is, but I didn’t have it yet, and of course it isn’t something you can just buy.

Some more googling revealed that in order to get my hands on the “Archgun Deployer” I had to do the first three quests of a chain that I hadn’t even started up to that point. The reason: those quests lead up to the big boss-fight in the Orb Vallis on Venus, the boss in question being the Profit-Taker Orb.

Whatever profits this thing takes, they must be huge…Bobby, is that you?

The first two quests were no biggie, the third however pits players against the big bad itself, albeit in a somewhat easier version compared to the grand finale that awaits aferwards.

Easier it may be, but I got my ass handed to me regardless the first couple of times I tried. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t do enough damage, I just couldn’t take the beating the boss and its seemingly countless henchmen continuously dished out.

Back to the drawing board. Fortunately one guide I found suggested an Inaros build that’s supposed to be pretty much immortal, exactly what I was looking for. I already had the frame and all recommended mods on hand, so I tried it and I’m happy to report that it really is as sturdy as advertised. I will most definitely use this build for other stuff too now.

No Formas invested, empty slots, mods only partially leveled…doesn’t matter at all

This actually reduced the fight’s difficulty to just over ‘walk in the park’ level, and just like that I was done with the quest. I didn’t hang around to also try the real fight though. Once I’d received my reward I went and used the usual quick-leveling methods to get my new archgun up to 30, and that was that. For now. Once crossplay is here the Profit-Taker and I will meet again!

With my newly acquired and leveled weaponry I went back to doing Railjack missions. But wait, what’s that? A new (to me) mission type named Orphix? Oh well, how hard can it be?

You already know where this is going. Turns out that, while again not strictly necessary, having a Necramech is highly advisable for these missions.

A what now?

Hey, what are you looking at?

Necramechs were introduced last year alongside the Heart of Deimos update. In the game’s lore they are old war machines predating the conception of Warframes, and players can acquire their very own to use in all open world zones and Orphix missions by doing various bounties (which is a mission type) in the Cambion Drift and raising their reputation with the locals.

I don’t like faction grinds all that much, so of course I hadn’t done this yet. Le sigh.

However, as is most often the case with these things (if they’re balanced properly, which, in Warframe, they usually are after a couple rounds of fixes), what looked like an insurmountable heap of work at first glance didn’t actually take all that long. After doing maybe two dozen bounties above and below the ground as well as some mining, fishing and hunting I was able to buy the needed blueprints, then build the sub-components and, finally, the finished Voidrig class Necramech.

Feels like playing Battletech all over again, which ain’t a bad thing at all

Now I’ve got to level up that thing too. It’s slow going, but I gotta say stomping around and shooting stuff with it is pretty fun, and I can already feel that it will be quite powerful once I’ve modded it and its armaments properly.

At which point I will finally be able to do what I set out to do: successfully play any and all Railjack missions.

Or will I? In Warframe you never know.

Blaugust 2021 post count: 4

A different kind of Internet Spaceships

Every time I pick up Warframe after a bit of a break I try not to get immediately overwhelmed by the vast amounts of content and systems. Why not just focus on one or two specific things at a time and leave it at that?

Yeah, fat chance.

I’ve already talked about how one thing very quickly leads to another in this game as most types of content are somehow intertwined with one another. Which is great, because pretty much nothing ever becomes obsolete. But, again, it can all feel a bit overwhelming at times.

This time around my plan was to just focus on vanquishing my current Kuva Lich, which had become one of my favourite activities once I’d made myself familiar with how it all works sometime last year. What’s more, I’d recently read that the last big update brought a new version of these baddies into the game, and I wanted to tackle those next.

However, as it turned out said update also changed the last step of defeating any kind of lich: after having kicked their butt the old fashioned way players additionally need to complete one final mission now, and that one is a Railjack mission.

Well, bugger me.

Railjacks were added to Warframe about two years ago. They were basically Digital Extremes’ answer to many some a few Anyone? Bueller? err…an unspecified number of players’ requests for proper space combat in the game.

Joking aside, I personally didn’t mind the idea, I just found the execution quite lacking at the time. The ship was very expensive to build, its systems not well explained and, frankly, it wasn’t much fun to fly. It has been overhauled twice since then though, so I thought I might as well give it another chance.

Unfortunately my second first impression wasn’t much better. Once a mission had started I didn’t really know what to do aside from wildly shooting at things. Things that were shooting back, I might add, and at some point my Railjack’s hitpoints were depleted and a countdown started ticking. I was supposed to repair the damage before the timer ran out, but I had no idea how to do that and the mission failed.

Dear Digital Extremes, if you’re reading this, the Railjack system desperately needs some kind of tutorial!

Anyhow, I wasn’t going to give up just yet. I want those liches vanquished, dammit! So I looked for some guides and/or videos explaining all that stuff, and, unsurprisingly, I found plenty. Armed with that knowledge I tried again, and lo and behold, it actually isn’t all that hard. Even more importantly, with the first successes also came the fun. What else is new?

Now that I know what I’m doing playing Railjack missions feels a bit like a throwback to the Wing Commander series, which isn’t a bad thing at all in my book.

The main difference is that a Railjack is meant to be piloted by a full group of people. There’s the pilot’s seat, two gunner seats (the Millenium Falcon says Hi), a forward artillery seat, and in case damage has to be repaired, ammo to be restocked or enemy boarding parties to be repelled someone has to take care of that too. Fortunately solo players can hire up to three NPC crewmates and assign some of these tasks to them, but with other players it’s obviously more effective and also (potentially) more fun.

As if that weren’t enough each and every mission also requires someone to leave the Railjack at some point and board enemy ships or stations to do some stuff there. As NPCs can’t do this a solo player has quite a lot of hopping around to do, so getting other players aboard (pun intended) is definitely preferable.

Which is just as well, because the biggest new feature that was announced at this year’s Tennocon a few weeks ago is cross-save and crossplay across all platforms, and it’s supposed to arrive before the end of this year!

I’m extremely happy about this as my console-devoted buddy and I are still looking for more opportunities to get camp PC and camp Xbox together. Ever since I recommended Warframe to him and another pal of ours a couple of months ago they play it all the time, and it really bugs us that I can’t join them. Soon™ this intolerable situation will be remedied, and until then I’ll make sure that my Railjack is up to snuff and ready to go.

As I alluded to in the beginning this will still require a lot of “work” though, not all of which directly related to the Railjack itself. More on that next time.

Blaugust 2021 post count: 3

Just let us play our characters please!

The other day I finished the Glassmaker storyline in Warframe. I’d been looking forward to the big finale quite a lot, as this was the first Nightwave episode that I really liked in terms of lore as well as gameplay.

The investigation part played out as usual, and while the last item gave me a bit of grief because it was really hard to spot I still enjoyed it overall.

Then came the inevitable boss fight.

Dude, where’s MY big-ass sword??

I’m not a big fan of boss fights in general – multiplayer games usually being the exception – though this one, while a forced 1 vs 1, wouldn’t have been too bad were it not for one huge design “twist” that all too many game devs seem to be so very fond of using – taking away our weapons and/or abilities and replacing them with something else.

So here I am facing off a 50-foot monster, having equipped my most efficient, highly powered tools of destruction, the acquisition of which has taken much effort over the course of months – and I can’t fricking use any of it.

Instead, I have to dodge lumps of glass the baddie is throwing at me (when he’s not busy swinging his one-hit-kill sword), then pick them up and throw them back at him. I’m not even kidding!

Did I still whup his ass on the third try and got my rewards? Sure. Was it fun though? Hell no.

Game devs use this weird design crutch again and again – and that’s what it really is, isn’t it? A crutch. Beating this particular boss would’ve been a cakewalk had I been able to use my regular weapons and frame abilities, so they just didn’t let me.

*sigh* Alright…let’s do this!

Ok, sometimes it might not be that. When The Secret World takes away our powers so we have to punch our way out of the baddies’ underground lair with bare fists it’s for lore reasons and also for, well, fun, I guess. That whole mission chain is one big homage to the Indiana Jones movies after all.

And it is fun…for about two minutes. Unfortunately it gets old really fast, but the cultists keep on coming. By the time we got out of there on our very first playthrough I was determined to never do that mission again.

If this is what the afterlife’s like I want no part of it!

Over in Transylvania another quest tranforms us into some sort of wraith – and again all of our familiar abilities vanish from the hotbar, to be replaced with two simple, rather underwhelming attacks and one self-heal once more. The following fight was…not pleasant.

I sure hope you will, because I fucking can’t

Of course Everquest II did it too. I guess over the span of 16 years it was bound to happen at some point. Being a rat was good for some laughs at least, I’ll give them that.

Look, I get it. Stuff like this probably seems like a good idea on paper.

It gives players a diversion from their usual gameplay – which can get somewhat stale when you play an MMO for long enough, no argument there – and might also serve as an unexpected twist or even comic relief when done right.

I do not think that the benefits ever outweigh the drawbacks however.

You see, dear devs, by the time you throw this stuff at me I’ve most likely long made my choices. The class I play or frame I use, the abilities or skillsets I’ve picked and the weapons I wield – all of this makes up the character I want to play. You know, because it’s the combination I have the most fun playing.

Letting us pick – or, more often than not, work hard for – our favourite toys and then, out of the blue, being all like “Nah, you can’t use those now; here, have a dull teaspoon and some cotton balls instead” is, honestly, kind of a dick move.

I can’t be the only one feeling that way either. Actually, I know that I’m not. Bhagpuss talked about really disliking it when several of Guild Wars 2’s Living World issues pulled that kind of stunt more than once, for example.

I feel aversion is quite a natural reaction to this, because, again, we don’t play the characters we play by accident. We do because we like them just the way they are.

What my Bruiser’s hotbars normally look like…

Of course the fact that whatever it is that our familiar gameplay loop gets replaced with in such cases is, more often than not, objectively worse and less fun doesn’t help one bit. But that’s not really a surprise, is it? The core gameplay of every MMO, even a freshly released one, has usually been years in the making. How could some ‘gimmick mechanic’, only meant for one event, one quest or one boss fight ever match that?

So, dear game devs, please stop doing that kind of stuff.

My favourite restaurant doesn’t serve an old loaf of bread instead of the meal I ordered for the sake of ‘variety’ or ‘surprise’ – or just because it’s easier and cheaper to do – either, does it?

I’m doing it again! I need help…or do I?

First of all, our vacation was very nice and relaxing, so sorry but not really for the long pause since my last post.

Anyway, on to today’s topic. What is it, exactly, that I’m doing again? Having brand new content for my current main games at my disposal and not actually playing any of it, that’s what.

Warframe’s latest expansion, Heart of Deimos, launched just over a month ago. It includes a new open world zone (albeit a smaller one compared to the first two), so in theory it’s right up my alley and I’ve been looking forward to it quite a lot, and yet I haven’t returned there since I finished the few story quests that came with it. Then there’s ArcheAge’s Garden of the Gods update, which was released in fricking June, and I haven’t so much as gone near that new region either.

Looking back upon my history with MMOs I’ve realized that I’ve almost always done this.

For example, when Everquest II’s Rise of Kunark expansion launched in November 2007 I continued to do whatever I was doing at the time for another month or so, despite my main already being at the previous level cap and ready for the new content. This ultimately led to a mad scramble on my part trying to catch up with my guildmates later on, which turned out to be quite stressful.

It’s definitely not a conscious decision I make every time, it just kinda happens. But why? How come I always put off playing new content for a while before finally plunging in?

For one, I’m an extreme creature of habit. Being in familiar surroundings and doing familiar things just makes me feel comfortable. On the other hand however, given how much I like to explore and go on adventures, this surely can’t be the main, let alone only reason.

Another, more important one is that I always dread the redundancy of old content, old gear etc. that often comes alongside the release of new MMO expansions. You made me work for that stuff and learn the zones inside and out, and now you expect me to throw it all away and move on like it all never happened? I really don’t like it, and I think by not leaping at new content right away I’m kind of trying to delay the inevitable in such cases.

Then there’s the question of whether the new content is actually any good. I mean, it might be crap, right? If I just don’t go and see I’ll never know and consequently not be disappointed. It’s silly, I know, because even if it turns out to be crap I can still just go back to the old stuff. Regardless, I think this is also something that plays into this on an unconscious level.

Of course there are other, more rational and tangible reasons for not playing new content right away too.

Bugs and design flaws, for one. Using Warframe as an example, every largish update is followed by at least half a dozen hotfixes over the course of two weeks or so. It’s usually not exactly unplayable without those, but I’ve found the overall experience to improve by waiting for a bit.

Apparently a great many players aren’t fazed by any of the above at all, and as soon as new content for their favourite game is released it’s swarmed by the hungry masses. Some might like that buzz, but personally I’ve never been terribly fond of having to stand in line for quest mobs to spawn and stuff like that, so keeping some distance by waiting until the bulk of the playerbase has moved on suits me just fine.

Last but not least, having new content still ahead of me means always having something to look forward to. Once I get bored of the things I’m doing now I can still go ahead and check the new stuff out, whereas, had I rushed to the new hotness right away, I would only have “old stuff” to return to whenever that gets dull.

And there you have it. By itself each of the reasons I stated might hardly be worth mentioning or even somewhat silly, but when I add it all up I don’t actually see any reason to forcibly alter my habits when it comes to newly released content for the games I play.

So I guess I don’t need help after all, but thanks for asking anyway.

The Handy Guide to Rare Mods in Warframe

When I wrote my beginner’s overview of how mods work in Warframe I knew that, up to that point, I’d barely scratched the surface.

At the very least I’d grasped the system of mod rarity – bronze for common, silver for uncommon and gold for rare – or so I thought. Turns out though that many mods don’t just drop anywhere. You can play the game for months and still not own even a single copy of a specific mod, even though it might be a supposedly ‘common’ one.

The reason for this is that almost every activity in the game has its own reward table, which means that in order to obtain specific stuff you have to do the right things or you won’t ever get it.

First you have to actually be aware of the various mods’ very existence and which ones to aim for though, which isn’t easy to figure out either when you’re still new to the game. Of course I could just point you to the game’s excellent wiki, but since I’ve already done the legwork I figured I might as well spare you the hassle.

So without further ado, here’s my little guide to rare mods in Warframe, rare in this case meaning You need to know how to acquire them, not necessarily that the mods are of gold rarity (many of them are though). Keep in mind however that not every mod will be on this list, not even close; these are just the ones that any Warframe player should aim to get – in my personal opinion – because they make life much easier and/or enable builds or tactics that aren’t possible without them. Click the images to enlarge.

Corrupted Mods

All corrupted mods have in common that they enhance one stat, usually by quite a lot, while lowering another to compensate. Especially the frame-mods, of which there are five as seen above, are must-haves for any frame that benefits from huge amounts of a certain stat while not really needing or even not actually wanting one or more of the others (Nova comes to mind, whom I usually mod for maximum Ability Duration and as little Ability Range as possible).

You can only find these in Orokin Vaults, special treasure rooms that spawn inside all Deimos missions (formerly known as Orokin Derelict) except for Defense, Assassinate and the Cambion Drift. Keep your eyes open and search every nook and cranny as they are quite well hidden at times. You know you’ve found one when you see this fancy looking door:

In order to open it you need to have the correct Dragon Key equipped. The blueprints for these are researched in the Orokin Lab of your clan’s Dojo, the keys themselves are built in the foundry.

Each key considerably lowers one of your frame’s stats: your max shields, health, damage or movement speed, respectively, are cut by 75% (50% in the case of speed). Working together with other players and spreading the keys out obviously makes things easier, but I’ve found it perfectly viable to farm them by myself. I use Inaros for this and equip all keys except Hobbled (slow) at once. I always run the Capture mission (Horend) as it’s the easiest and quickest objective and doesn’t get in the way of searching for the vault.

Which one of the 23 corrupted mods you get is random, so good luck.

Nightmare Mods

Once you’ve beaten all missions on a given planet at least once, every eight hours one of them gets randomly flagged as a Nightmare mission. Enemies are tougher here and one or two environmental modifiers are in place to raise the difficulty further, like Health Vampire (you constantly lose health and restore it by killing foes) or Energy Drain (you’re permanently out of energy, basically).

The first time you beat one of these each cycle you get a random nightmare mod as an additional reward, which don’t give the biggest of bonuses, but increase two stats each instead of just one. More importantly, they enable you to use one more mod with a certain stat on it, so just like corrupted mods they can help to push that one desired stat up really high. You can see the ones I use the most above.

Combined Status/Damage Mods

This isn’t really one cohesive category of mods in terms of acquisition, but as they all serve the same purpose I’m lumping them together.

When used with the right weapon a high status chance can deal an absurd amount of additional damage. In order to achieve that without losing too much raw damage these mods, which increase both status chance as well as a certain damage type, are indispensable. They don’t have the highest of capacity costs to boot, which makes some of these builds achievable even without investing multiple Forma.

As the game doesn’t treat these as one single category the means to get them differ a bit, so here’s an overview:

These drop from Corrupted Vor, which is a mini-boss that has a chance to spawn in Orokin Void missions of level 40 and higher. I usually run the Survival mission (Mot) and stay until after the 10 minute mark. That way he spawned about three out of four times for me and I got all four mods relatively quickly.

Open all three caches in one of the following Spy missions for a chance at these: Cambria (Earth), Unda (Venus), Suisei (Mercury), Arval (Mars), Shklovsky (Phobos).

Open all three caches in one of the following Spy missions for a chance at these: Bode (Ceres), Amalthea (Jupiter), Valac (Europa), Dione (Saturn), Pavlov (Lua).

Open all three caches in one of the following Spy missions for a chance at these (as well as Hell’s Chamber, which is also a very good Shotgun mod to have): Rosalind (Uranus), Nereid (Neptune), Oceanum (Pluto), Kappa (Sedna).

Open all three resource caches in Naeglar (Eris) for a chance at these. Note that the caches are not the mission’s main objective, but an optional task just like the caches in sabotage missions.

The last two are only sold periodically by Baro Ki’Teer for 300 Ducats and 150k credits each when he visits every other weekend. As he only ever has a small range of his stock on offer it might take a couple of months until you get a crack at one of these though.

Primed Mods

These are alternate versions of various, (relatively) common bread-and-butter mods you’ll have most likely acquired through regular gameplay after a while, the difference being that the normal ones have a maximum rank of 5, whereas the primed mods can go all the way up to 10. Which means that they’re just stronger (not necessarily twice as strong though) for a higher capacity cost.

With a few exceptions these can only be bought from Baro Ki’Teer, which again means that you might have to be patient until you can get a specific one, and especially when starting out the Ducat cost can add up quite a bit too.

They aren’t mandatory, but obviously very nice to have. For starters I’d save up my Ducats for Primed Continuity as more Ability Duration is really great for most frames. If you like using shotguns or melee weapons buying Primed Point Blank or Primed Pressure Point, respectively, would also be a good idea.

Miscellaneous Mods

These last couple of mods don’t really fit into any category, I’m just including them because I feel they’re very good to have for the stats they offer.

Augur Message and Augur Secrets provide an additional way to increase Ability Duration and Ability Strenght, respectively, which is always great. They also belong to the same mod-set, meaning that using both enhances their secondary effect. You can get them by doing various Bounty missions on the Plains of Eidolon. The reward tables rotate every few hours, so check which mission, if any, rewards these before accepting.

Slash procs are great, and using Hunter Munitions on a weapon that doesn’t do a lot of slash damage but has a high chance to crit ensures that you still get these procs often. You can acquire it by doing Ghoul Bounties on the Plains of Eidolon, which are tied to a recurring event that’s active every few weeks.

And there you have it. Again, this is but a small fracture of all available mods, but if you’re just transitioning from being a beginner to a more advanced Warframe player these are the ones I suggest you try to get.

I like having stuff to do, but I hate dailies

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For the last couple of weeks I’ve been very busy in Warframe – in a good way. Almost a year ago I praised the fact that the game gives me specific tasks to achieve specific things, which I much prefer over just doing whatever and hoping for the RNG gods’ blessing.

Despite having played for quite some time already there was still a whole lot of stuff I hadn’t done yet, so I set myself an array of goals and got to it.

For example, there’s a plethora of advanced modifications for frames and weapons players can and definitely should get their hands on. Especially those frame-mods enable highly specialized builds that are very powerful and couldn’t be achieved any other way.

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Who would have known that less strenght can be a good thing?

So I ran Spy missions with the specific intent to crack all three data vaults (because the mods in question can only drop from the third), did Nightmare missions, hunted for Orokin vaults, purged the Plains of Eidolon of a ghoul plague and beat some puzzle rooms on Lua.

In order to get rid of my annoying Kuva Lich sooner rather than later I also ran mission nodes occupied by his thralls to gather intel, and Kuva Siphon missions to get my hands on more requiem relics.

Sometimes the stars align and I can even combine two or more of these tasks into one, for example when a Spy mission I want to do anyway is temporarily flagged as a Kuva Siphon mission, giving me the chance to nab a desired mod and a requiem relic in one go.

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What I like the most about all of this, as I’ve come to realize, is the fact that with very few exceptions I can do everything entirely at my own pace.

You see, almost no mission in Warframe has a cooldown or other form of time-gated restriction to entry. Ran a mission and didn’t get what you want? Just run it again if you like. And again. And again.

Of course that can get boring, and maybe also frustrating if you still don’t get your desired price after your umpteenth run. To circumvent that I try to mix it up. My play sessions in recent weeks mostly looked like this: run two or three spy missions, then a couple derelicts, followed by a bit of stuff in the open world zones or maybe a Kuva mission or two. If I still have time and desire to play after that, rinse and repeat.

As I use different frames, and thus different playstyles, for most of these activities it doesn’t get boring at all, and it’s oh so satisfying to tick one goal after the other off the list, even more so when the rewards enable me to make my favourite frames and weapons considerably stronger.

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Or just my hoverboard…err, K-Drive faster

What’s all of this got to do with the fact that he hates dailies? I hear you ask.

Well, that I don’t like ’em much isn’t exactly news, but having so much fun while ‘working’ towards my goals in Warframe – and the process not actually feeling like work at all – made me compare this experience with the other game that had me busy trying to progress in recent months: ArcheAge Unchained.

There’s still much that I love about AAU, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that upgrading your gear is pretty much hard-gated by daily and, to a lesser extent, weekly activities really sucks the fun out of it after a while. And that’s coming from someone who has not religiously done them each and every day, not even close.

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I’ve done my fair share though, because there’s just no other way to achieve this

In my opinion the problem with dailies in general is twofold.

One, the amount of progress you can make on any given day is capped, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Have a day off work and want to knock yourself out? Well, sucks to be you I guess.

Two, and this is the biggie, miss a day and you’ll never get it back. It’s no wonder that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), a term I’d never heard until maybe two years ago, is used in context with online games quite often nowadays, because daily tasks or quests are the very embodiment of it.

Ask yourself this: how often have you logged into a game while not really feeling a desire to do so, but because you felt you kind of had to? If your answer is “never” you have much more self-restraint than I do, and kudos!

Now, what do I propose? After all, criticizing without having suggestions for improvement doesn’t help matters, does it?

Ok then, how about removing the timer from repeatable content? Let me do it as often as I like. And while you’re at it, make all content repeatable, not only a select few quests, and spread rewards out more.

Not only does this work well in Warframe, The Secret World has shown that even a proper MMORPG can benefit greatly from this kind of design. Ok, quests in TSW do have a cooldown, but it’s short enough to do the same quests at least twice a day, and – and this is the kicker – there are so many quests on offer that it’s just not necessary to do the same ones over and over.

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However, some quests I just wouldn’t want to do again. Ever! Again!

Of course I do realize that this might cause balancing-problems as there will always be activities that are ‘worth’ more measured against the time they take than others, and it also greatly benefits folks with a lot of free time on their hands.

Well…so? It doesn’t happen often, but for once I agree with MOP’s Eliot when he posits that balance in MMOs is overrated.

Especially in PvE-centric games, who the hell cares if other players progress more quickly than I do? Frankly, I couldn’t care less. PvP-heavy titles are obviously a different beast, but those should be much more skill-dependent than gear-dependent anyway – which is a discussion for another day though.

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MMOs need repeatable content, that much is obvious. Even I, as far from being a ‘hardcore gamer’ as I am, have proven time and again that I can consume content much faster than developers can provide it – much like reading this has taken you but a fracture of the time it took me to write it.

But dailies, login-campaigns, rewards on a time-logged-in basis…all this stuff that has nothing to do with us having fun playing your games and everything with MAUs and other such crappy statistics you can proudly present to your shareholders…that kind of shit can’t go extinct soon enough as far as I’m concerned.

Time flies when you’re having fun

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As per tradition: moar cake!

Hard to believe, but today marks this here blog’s third birthday.

Had you asked me back then whether I thought I’d still be writing blog posts three years down the road…I really don’t know what my answer would have been.

One thing I do know for sure though. Had you told me at the time that I would publish 187 posts with a total of 156 thousand words, and still no end in sight, I’d called you crazy. But here we are.

The main reason, of course, is that it is a lot of fun. Much more so than I would have imagined. It’s also an ongoing learning experience. When I compare my first couple dozen posts with more recent ones it’s almost as if someone else had written the former. It’s remarkable how quickly human beings can learn stuff that’s rather alien to them and become at least somewhat proficient just by doing it over and over.

Along the way I’ve even learned a bit of HTML-code – I didn’t want to, but WordPress made me – which may come in handy…or not.

What didn’t happen was blogging becoming my true love and/or main driving force. Towards the end of Blapril Bhagpuss said that he’d rather write about games than actually play them, at least at the moment. To me actually playing the games is still much more important, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all the desire to chronicle my gaming adventures was and remains far and away the main purpose of this blog.

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Speaking of which, this third year has indeed been quite an adventurous one, not least due to the release of ArcheAge Unchained in October. Sucker for sandboxes that I am I’ve been deep-sea fishing, building a family empire with friends, trading, making music and generally goofing around quite a lot since then.

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Warframe was last year’s new addition to my gaming library, and a really great one. While it’s obviously neither an MMORPG nor a sandbox it has a surprising number of gameplay elements on offer that aren’t just about killing stuff. I’ve built a custom gun, went mining and fishing, composed deadly tunes, played Guitar Hero In Space and tried myself at parcours.

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The third game I’ve spent a lot of time with was EVE Online. I went back to nullsec, experienced my first Keepstar-kill, saw a faction Fortizar blow up and went to fight inside wormhole space. In April we would have finally made a trip to Iceland and attended the EVE fanfest too, but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

Finally, about a week ago Lakisa asked me, quite unexpectedly, about an MMORPG we hadn’t been playing for a couple of years. Honestly, I’d had heavy-heartedly made my peace with the fact that I’d never play it again some time ago, what with the reboot it got in 2017 that, in my opinion, was totally uncalled-for and ‘improved’ an outstanding game very much for the worse. Turns out, though, that the original version can still be played and even has a couple handful of players.

So yeah, we’re back.

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Looking stylish as ever…

Don’t be surprised to read some stories about a supposedly dead game around here in the near future. Year number four, here I come.

I built a gun out of scrap and fish entrails

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I know it sounds weird, but that’s exactly what I did in Warframe, and I’ll definitely do it again. MacGyver’s got nothing on me!

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

My first impression of the game’s crafting was that it’s basically non-existent. Sure, you collect blueprints and resources for weapon- and warframe-parts all the time, but once you have everything you need you just go to your ship’s foundry, click the thing and wait until it’s finished. The crafting process itself doesn’t require any thought or effort, and you can’t influence the outcome in any way either. That’s not really what I’d call crafting.

Since many aspects of the game aren’t very intuitive or self-explanatory I’ve read and watched a lot of guides over time though, and one type of weapon that’s being recommended over and over is Kitguns. These are a special kind of secondary weapon that have to be assembled from different parts, with each part adding its own set of properties to the end product. By mixing and matching those components you can build a gun that fits your personal playstyle like a glove. They’re also said to be quite strong to boot.

Despite this sounding really good I still hadn’t gotten around to work towards getting one until recently though. I’d had just too many other things on my plate.

When pkudude99 of Nomadic Gamers reminded me of his great post about kitguns in one of his comments, which I’d read before but promptly forgotten afterwards (I think I didn’t even play the game yet at the time), I finally buckled up and looked into the process of building one.

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Looks more like a tool Tim Taylor patched together

A finished kitgun is an assembly of three parts: chamber, grip and loader.

The chamber is pretty much the gun’s primary component as it determines the base damage type(s) and, even more importantly, the kind of stuff it shoots. Want the weapon to fire a continuous energy beam? Can do. A ball of energy that explodes in an AoE? Also possible. Auto-fire hitscan? No problem.

A kitgun’s grip determines the amount of damage it deals and also its rate of fire. Of course those two stats behave inversely proportional for balancing reasons, so you’ve got to decide whether you like slow-firing, hard-hitting guns or vice versa (or something in between). If you’ve chosen one of the energy-type chambers the grip also has an impact on the gun’s range.

Last but not least the loader lets you choose magazine size and reload speed as well as crit- and status-chance, again with each pair behaving inversely proportional.

I’ve always been what FPS-experts would probably call a spray and pray-kind of guy, so I knew from the start that what I wanted was, coincidentally, exactly what pkudude99 also prefers: a very fast-firing hitscan weapon with lots of crit chance so it procs Arcane Velocity often and fires even faster.

Unfortunately pretty much everything you can do in Fortuna – just like Cetus on Earth – is gated behind a faction rep grind. To be able to buy the blueprints of choice I needed to do some legwork first.

Luckily for me there are open world activities on offer that I like and which are even more effective for raising your faction standing than running missions: mining and fishing.

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Gimme those shinies – the mining-minigame is quite relaxing

Of course mined gems and ore are needed for crafting too, but you can also exchange them for faction standing. So I spent quite some time in the caves of Orb Vallis, which ain’t so bad as they’re a far cry from the dark, dank places you probably imagine when you generally think of caves.

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Looks more like a Spa, maybe I should stay and charge admission fees

Fish, just like gems, can be sold to increase your standing. Alternatively you can dismantle them for scrap and other parts – fish in the Orb Vallis are actually machines, called servofish – some of which are indeed required to build kitgun components.

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I assume servofish entrails aren’t quite as disgusting, so that’s a plus

At this point I got sidetracked for a bit, as I got the idea to dedicate one of my orbiter’s aquariums solely to servofish and to only have one of each species in there.

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Definitely more interesting to look at than Picard’s lionfish

By then I had risen the ranks enough to buy two of the three blueprints I wanted. For my optimal loader there’s still some more work to do, but I figured what the hell, I’ll just go for the second best and build that fricking gun now.

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I hope I won’t hold it upside down or something

What can I say, it’s every bit as great as advertised. The default rate of fire isn’t quite as high as I’d expected, but as soon as Arcane Velocity procs the stream of projectiles rivals even that of a minigun. When fired in controlled bursts it’s also pretty accurate even at a distance, and now that it’s ranked up and modded properly it shreds enemies in a heartbeat.

As soon as I’m allowed to buy the better loader I’ll go ahead and build the perfect version of this kitgun, and maybe I’ll also try a variant that shoots those exploding energy balls. The possibilities are endless.

Oh, and now that I’ve acquired a taste for do-it-yourself weapons I’ll probably look into those Zaws I’ve heard so much about…

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Now THAT’S an assortment to my liking

Blapril 2020 post count: 6