Is Endgame an Illusion?

Seth Underwood
6 min readOct 5, 2019

Now I’m not talking about the latest Marvel Avenger movie. I’m talking about the word endgame regarding playing video games.

The word endgame usage started around the 1850s with the game chess when there were very few pieces left on the board. By the 1950s it also was associated with the game bridge for the same reason.

Today many video gamers refer to endgame as the final stage of the game, the game after the main quest sequence, that 20th round in a series of continuous battles, or in the MMO community the events after leveling up everything.

What’s endgame really?

The question becomes for games like Warframe is there really an endgame?

Gaming YouTuber Tactical Potato thinks so. He just put out a video this October 2019 entitled Warframe: The New Endgame Gauss — Durty Tree Buffs. Basically, it’s a video going over the buffs of one of the newest warframes. I guess this is endgame in the sense that you’ve done everything else and this is something new to play.

Gaming YouTuber, Zaric Zhakaron posted in May 2019 a video entitled 2019 Warframe Guide — New Player to Endgame Overview. This video is a good overview of the game. Especially for any player who is interested in playing and hasn’t yet. He defines endgame starting after the Sacrifice and Chimera Prologue quests. He cites aberrations, sorties, cracking relics, and elite sanctuary onslaught as missions common to endgame play.

Finally Gaming YouTuber, the Reaper Hunter posted in December 2018 a video entitled Warframe | Sustainable Content & End-Game. The Reaper Hunter suggests that all endgames require scaling rewards, replay value, and challenge to produce the sustainable content of the endgame play. He doesn’t see Warframe as having a true endgame.

But the Reaper Hunter video is wrong about one point. You cannot clear the system map with the weapon demonstration he shows. The highest combat node is on Sedna and it has a level of 85, not 30 to 40. Even trying to get to Mot in the Void requires players encounter enemies of 40 to 45 level. And you need to get to Mot to do one quest. Because of scaling and lack of special weapon mods (like Riven mods), I have a hell of a time taking out any enemy above 40. I even gained one of the deadlier weapons in the game during the recent Plague Star mission. I’m easily killed in solo mode a lot by enemies higher than 40. I could see low level teams also being wiped off the map.

I’m not a Veteran or Expert Player.

I don’t consider myself a veteran of Warframe. I don’t even consider myself an expert player. I’m old enough to remember when you had to plunk quarters into machines to play a video game. But I’ve sat back and observed the conversations of the community, including long-term veterans who’ve given up on games like Warframe and posted YouTube rants. I’m noticing that endgame being constantly brought up. The main complaint for Warframe is a lack of endgame content typically defined as more challenges and better rewards.

What I don’t think many veterans realize is after the main quest sequence and you get your Operator everything after that was to be endgame. Since 2015, Digital Extremes defined the Second Dream Quest as endgame for Warframe. They even say as much concerning the void powers of the Operator was nothing more than an endgame system for players.

This would mean the game has been for the last four years been doing nothing but serving up endgame material to the community. Four years ago, most players had reached maximum abilities offered by the game. Then Digital Extremes added the War Within quest nearly a year later along with new warframe quests, the new PVP game Lunaro, a new start chart design, and those Riven mods. It was a big content drop year for something in endgame. As time moves on, we keep seeing more content being dropped but just not as frequent.

Does Constant Content Make Endgame?

Now if a game keeps providing players with something new to max out can you say the game is in endgame?

This is the dilemma with Warframe. It’s never really done as a game. Warframe is Digital Extremes’ sandbox. DE keeps coming up with newer things for players to gain or do thus improving Digital Extremes’ abilities in computer programming. Meanwhile, players keep hunting for the elusive endgame.

I agree with the Reaper Hunter but not for the same reasons. Warframe has no endgame, except the official one with the Second Dream Quest. Even then, the game really had no true endgame.

Let’s look at the open world of Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. You could play the main quest and kill Ganon. Or you could just run around a lot and not even do that. Or you could pay and download the two DLCs that were available and get a cool motorcycle to drive. Pretty much after killing Ganon anything else was in theory endgame because you finished the main quest. In fact, the game will reset itself to the last save before fighting Ganon once you kill him. So, it forces you to either kill him again, or go run around and do other stuff. With a game like Breath of the Wild, it’s so open in game play there are several other play possibilities if you didn’t kill Ganon. Your endgame play could be go find all the shrines or figuring out all those recipes you never finished. By not killing Ganon the whole game became nothing but a series of endgame scenarios.

The problem with a lot of video games today is that developers want to give players multiple options in the gameplay. Many players don’t want to be pigeonholed into one playing style or forced down a maze like in a 2D game. Players want multiple ways of playing, and in doing so you end up with no real endgame. Then players complain that there’s no endgame, and the developer produces another expansion pack or additional content. This keeps going on and on until everyone gets bored with the whole thing and the game dies.

Although if you define endgame the way the Reaper Hunter defines it then endgame play becomes the ability to keep playing the game continuously.

With games like chess or bridge there’s a real thing called an endgame. This is because at some point there very few options left in the gameplay. The equivalent would be like reaching the final boss fight in a 2D game. With many open style video games today, this is no longer true.

While you can max out some aspect of the character in a game, with games like Warframe, there’s a lot of stuff to max out. It would take me over six years at this point to complete everything Warframe has and they are planning to add more soon. Hell, they just introduced a new prime warframe to work towards. I’ll never be able to max out everything in a long weekend so I can just go around smashing everything for no reason. There’s just no end in sight for a game like Warframe. Which maybe the developer’s point for a free-to-play game. They want me to be online all the time to keep those online stats up.

When there’s no real end to a game, this is when players get bored. We humans enjoy starting points and ending points to things. We like good rewards for all that work at the end of a challenge.

If a free-to-play MMO like Warframe had an actual end. A point where the player couldn’t go any further with any aspect of the game, then the game play on Steam would plummet and so would its microtransaction sales. The same is true for many ongoing game franchises. Just keep the playing community happy, and the revenue will follow is the developer’s main mantra. Feed them some new content and they will keep playing and paying.

Therefore, endgame may be an illusion. One we as players keep telling ourselves over and over because in the back of our head, we want the game to stop at some point. Yet the adrenaline rush of constant challenges keeps pushing us to do more.

What do you think?

I will admit I haven’t played all the games out there, so there should be lots of different ideas on what makes up endgame. I would love to hear what your thoughts are concerning endgame in video gaming. Please make a comment. It’s okay to disagree with me.


You need a Medium account to post a comment.



Seth Underwood

54+ autistic, undiagnosed dyslexic, sufferer of chronic migraines, writer of dark science fiction, player of video games and Mike Pondsmith Fan. Race- Human.