Seth Underwood’s Take on Warframe

(Or How I’ve been Dealing with Chronic Migraine Symptoms)

A screen shot from Warframe account. Warframe Saryn to left, and my Operator in the foreground. The kavat I have is taking a nap behind the warframe.

As of late, I have been suffering from constant chronic migraines which has put a damper on writing my science fiction. Sometimes I can write with a migraine on board, but other times not so much. Especially when the extreme nausea happens.

But I’ve found playing video games, like Breath of the Wild or most recently Warframe as a good mental drug to deal with migraines. The addictive play of video games no doubt releases the same endorphins as exercises resulting in both distraction from the pain, and a natural pain relief. Exercise is more than likely better for me, but it’s hard to play a game while walking on one of those under the desk treadmills. I’m sorry I’m not one of those people who chew gum and walk at the same time.

How I Play

Before I get into my take on Warframe, I don’t play the game like many veterans or first-time players. I use a PC like many players, but I use an X-box style controller because that’s what I’m used to playing with for video games. Keyboards for me are for typing stories. I just can’t get my fingers to do the needed motions for keyboard gaming. My finger muscles are just trained to use keyboards for typing. With that being said, I suck at doing most parkouring in Warframe, because to do the moves with an X-box controller is just an awkward set of finger-button arrangements for me ().

I’m used to games where there is limited multiple finger-button controls, so you end up just smashing away with the B button repeatedly kind of stuff; I walk around the game versus bullet jumping because my warframe is still faster than most enemies even when walking; and I also gravitate to using melee weapons because of the button mashing ability of the X-box style controller and lack of a need to aim all the time using parkouring.

Problem with melee fighting is you get killed a lot because the enemy surrounds you. This is another reason a new player notices veteran players jumping or moving around a lot in the game. These vets are just avoiding being hit. For me, the best thing I can do is use radar mods that tell me if enemies are behind me and try to move away from them, that and to always make sure my warframe has maxed out fire protection because there is a heck of a lot of fire armed enemies in the game. Okay, now that this is out of the way, on to the other stuff.

Warframe

Warframe has been out for the last six years and has a solid core following. Its popularity is not as high as some casual games or first-person shooter games, but the core players are dedicated to playing enough to keep the Chinese owned, Canadian business, Digital Extremes (DE) running profitably.

Despite being well loved by the Warframe community, there are also a lot of complaints about the game from first-time users and even veteran video gamers. Most center on the high amount of repetitive “grinding” needed to advance, smack about how the game is supposed to be free but their tons of microtransactions, issues with other players, and the lack of game play instructions.

But my personal observations of Warframe is that the game is a task-oriented game, so you will need to “grind” to advance, but unlike many games on the market today the true key to advancement is a cooperative game play between four people. This has to do with the fact that the XP system Warframe uses provides a shared XP between players during game play (). This shared XP can be immense in certain kinds of missions where there are a lot of kills occurring since the rate of spawned enemies increases based on the number of players. For a single player killing that one dude is like you just killed it four times over once you factor in the three other kills from your friends. Such an XP system speeds up game play but only if all four players are in sync with each other. Warframe also dumps most of its eventual XP in what they call Master Rank into leveling up weapons. It also scales up its XP in such a manner that you need to either kill a ton more low-level dudes or go kill the higher-level ones. So, it’s a lot of killing things repeatedly as a group and trying to kill harder enemies to advance.

This doesn’t even include a whole separate XP-like system designed to get additional abilities and bonuses from maxed out warframes and weapons through a process known as focus attached to your Operator. Or the various groups you can earn standing XP with to get weapons, mods, objects, and even pet robots. These last two kinds of XP-like systems don’t have a shared aspect, but now you know why new players get overwhelmed as they play the game. There is just so many point systems in the game doing different things and being such an open game that’s non linear you get lost fast. You are asking yourself, “What the f* should I be doing? Try max out a weapon to rank up in Master Rank? Go gather more resources to build more ciphers? Work on more standing with the Ostrons? Work on my focus?” It’s one of the biggest complaints by many- the game lacks direction and plot to lead players in the game play in what to do next. To be honest, Warframe behaves more like DE’s live sandbox for developing and practicing coding. This could explain why the game was initially turned down by many game producers. Maybe these producers saw a flaw that DE didn’t that would hold it back in the long term. Although this hasn’t stopped the game from developing a core following.

As a sidebar, from a marketing angle a free-to-play game that requires four players to work together to advance is pure genius. Now you are talking increasing those gaming stats developers like to track dealing with monthly player volumes. What writer would love to sell four copies of a book at one time because it required four people to read it? Absolute pure genius.

To Boost or Not to Boost, That’s the Question

I play solo a lot because it helps with my migraines. I pay for boosters to minimize the grinding nature and keep my game play at a level I’m more accustom to as a video gamer. Can you play Warframe without the boosters? Sure, but doing it solo a lot will more than likely frustrate most video gamers used to games which feed players a constant diet of resources to advance the game play and keep them in a happy spot. Warframe is nothing but constant grinding as they say. You must wait for things to be built. You may have to wait days for somethings. Meanwhile you took two to three hours of game play just to get all the parts needed to build that thing. You can pay Platinum or Plat () to speed it up, but it’s a free game. Why would I do that right? So now you understand why I boost. Boosting doesn’t speed up construction times, but it helps with the resource and XP side of things. I don’t mind waiting because it didn’t take hours of game play to accumulate the needed parts.

Non-Linear Game Play

Like Breath of the Wild, Warframe is non-linear game play. Players don’t have to follow any specific set of tasks after the initial opening quest. You can just muck around and watch yourself get killed a lot. Then when you go public (), you realize no one wants to do these low-level starter missions with you. Then you research online on how to beat this node or that node. Get frustrated and move on to some other game. Sound familiar to those who’ve tried Warframe? This is because like I said, Warframe requires the cooperative play between four players to make it work. You can solo most of the low level early missions, but you need to realize like all games — you need to always maximize your character’s hit points (), and you want to maximize your weapons damage output. While its true Warframe has a complex damage and hit point system, the bottom line is once you read up on how the system works you realize which weapons and mods you need to improve your kill output. You just need to realize with Warframe is that they only give the bad ass weapons to higher ranked players. Which means when you start you have trash weapons, but that’s okay because you are fighting low level dudes. By the time you reach the outer planets you need bad ass weapon fire power and three other friends to make the game work. This is my personal observation and there are no doubt higher ranked players who will disagree. But here again, they have the bad ass weapons and special mods known as Rivens that grant them incredible damage (). The problem is these higher-ranking players is that have been playing for so long is that they have forgotten what it’s like to play with crap weapons and low level warframes without all the special mods.

Just a quick note on Riven Mods. Don’t get sucked into the hype. If you are starting off just stick with the plain vanilla mods. Invest the endo and credits into them, until you can get prime mods from the Void Trader. Also always keep some of the mods that improve your health or weapon’s fire power versus cashing them in for endo or credits all the time. This is because you will need them later when you get newer weapons and warframes which are too low level for higher ranked mods you’ve dumped a bunch of endo into.
Yes, there are some OP Riven mods out there, but they handed many of these from what I’ve determined during special events from years past. Could this happen again? Sure, but who knows if it will happen or not.

Overall there are a lot of Riven mods that are okay in buffing stats. But that’s just it they are okay. Rivens are also attached to weapons which are not as popular in the game. Ask yourself why that is? Because some aspect of the weapon just sucks. It’s possible that some Riven out there may fix this or it could not. Bottom-line- Riven mods are a crap shoot. They are received from special high-level missions that high-level players do, then they unveil them and try to pawn them off to the rest of the community for platinum because who doesn’t want to make an OP Penta that shoots electric grenades. Will you need a Riven Mod at some point? Yes, but later in the game when you are fighting higher level enemies that will require those Rivens that improve both damage and critical chance/damage. These are both rare and expensive. So be prepared at that point to pay for it. Such is the nature of Warframe- true power comes only through some form of pain.

Playing Public

I don’t enjoy playing public for a host of complex reasons. I’m just not one of those players who like to play in public settings. But I will say this about public missions- stick to missions like a kuva exterminate, cracking open some void relic, and boss missions. These kinds of missions have higher public users, but also require the least amount of work from you since all you need to do is just help kill enemies. Missions like the spy missions require too much cooperation that may be difficult to do with strangers. The same with interception missions which require four players to guard four nodes at least twice while the Lotus decodes a transmission. Missions that require a player to be in sync with his/her fellow players need to be true friends with them, be familiar with their abilities and warframe/weapon builds, and all this doesn’t happen with strangers. With strangers in a public setting you have no idea what you will see or get. That’s why it’s easier to play missions that are just plain kill everything in sight with strangers because feelings will not get in the way when the mission ends so long as everyone is trying to kill something all the time.

Some warframes are just better than others

I have observed that while players gravitate to a specific or small group of warframes (), the reality are certain quests and missions one warframe will do better than another. For example, the warframe Limbo does well with Spy missions and can even solo Kuva missions if properly equipped and modified. This is because of the ability to go into the rift and not be seen by things like security lasers. Loki would also be another warframe that’s a good choice for these kinds of missions because of his ability to go invisible. Meanwhile Mirage would do well with the last phase of the Octavia Anthem Quest because of the need to jump from point to point. Mirage’s natural acrobatic abilities makes her skilled at such things. I find Mag makes an incredible specter to have with you on Mobile Defense or Defense Missions if well-armed. And Octavia just rules the field as support with any Defense mission and her music talents.

Meanwhile you would think Valkyr with her high amount of armor would be a tank on the field, but reality is she can be limiting in certain missions. Many times, I’ve ran into situations where she just runs out of steam because she just can’t take all the hits despite all the modifications to improve her. But the warframe Inaros is just a health monster once fully maxed out and modified. Talk about a tank of warframe. This warframe can take a lot of hits despite lacking shields thanks to high amount of health. But even Inaros has its limits if surrounded.

This is just a limited sample of possibilities, and as you can see each warframe has strengths and weaknesses that makes them better for some mission and not so well for others. Therefore, you better get used to having several, even if you want to be like me who just wants to collect all the female warframes. If you stick only to one or two warframes you are limiting your options in the game and on missions. You may not be able to either solo some node or provide adequate team support. This is just the nature of the game.

Just a word about prime warframes. While prime warframes have better stats like health, shields or armor, I just don’t see them as OP as many proclaim. This is because overall the improvements are not that significant. Will more armor or shields help you in the game? Sure, it will. But not something that’s improving base stats by 15% overall. This is just too low of a percent increase to be effective. Does all that gold trim on them look cool? Yeah, but that’s what you are paying DE for… gold trim. Now if the improvement was 115%, then we are talking a game changer. At that level a single warframe could take on the hardest of enemies in the game.

The Odds Are …

I’ve observed the odds in the game are against you as a solo player in the long term. Your odds in the game play are better when you have a full squad properly fitted for combat for that mission type. The only exception are certain quests where you have no choice but to play solo.

Take, for instance the odds of getting a prime weapon build from Void Relics. I’ve calculated based on known information that the Rubico Prime (), has a 1 in 1000 odds that a single player can build it from relic drop to cracking open all needed relics to get the parts. Those odds drop to 1 in 250 when playing with three other players assuming everyone has the same relics. Now I know there are players out there who will say, “Hey, I have one of those guns and it was fairly easy to build.” The reality is with 38 million players playing Warframe, there’s somewhere between 121,600 to 243,200 players () that have got one this way. That’s enough players out there that chances are you’ll bump into one or two at some point. This also explains why the Void Trader character was created within a short time of the game’s introduction. I suspect there was a lot of grief out there by people with a bunch of miscellaneous prime parts and not getting the full prime weapon unless they paid for it.

Another way to look at this situation is how lotteries work. You always hear about the person who wins, but never about the millions of people who lost. But because you hear about the one or two people who won, you convince yourself it’s worth the chance to buy a ticket next time the value is high. It’s the same for trying to build prime weapons or warframes from relics. Yes, it’s possible, but the odds are high overall. The same is true for a lot of things rare in the game such as Cetus wisps. You can find them both day and night on the Plains of Eidolon, but odds are better at night. Even so the spawn rate is low. Problem is amp builds for your Operator require 20 of these. I only got enough because of a special Gift of the Lotus mission where the prize was exactly 20 wisps. Go figure DE would give out exactly what you need for the build, and recently an update now allows players to purchase them with standing XP.

Then there is this one main quest where you get this incredible weapon designed to kill the hardest enemies in the game, Sentients. But guess what? You need this part that only comes from the hardest Sentient to kill in the game, which is found on the Plains of Eidolon, the Teralyst. This is not a solo mission. You need a full team that’s armed in a certain way, or you can just forget it. There are a lot of YouTube’s and helps on the Internet on how to run this mission, but the stupid thing is this main quest is short and cinematic like cut scenes. So, it’s easy to get the blueprint to build the weapon, it’s just hard to make it. It’s possible that DE may sell the weapon for plat if enough people complain they need it for some future quest or mission.

Like I said earlier about the game, true power comes only through some form of pain. If you want the coolest toys in Warframe there is a hefty price to pay in some manner, because the odds are low you will get them just because you think you deserve them. This game doesn’t feed you a constant diet of helps. You must earn your way through it, just like real life. Digital Extremes is not your sugar daddy in Warframe.

Platinum

If you plan to buy platinum just wait for the discount. From time to time you’ll be given a discount on purchasing platinum. It’s 20%, but sometimes 75%. Like with all cash things, just budget yourself. There are some things in the game where platinum becomes helpful, such as buying extra weapon slots, or buying Orokin reactors that increase your mod capacity. The game if free to play, but your experience is limited and the items I just mentioned only become freely available during special events. Unless you plan to play all the time to be there for the special event and then grind a lot, you will need some plat. And if you think you can trade items to other players for plat, the player market is nothing but a Riven market currently. Most players have been playing for so long that most trades are about Riven Mods for plat. Unless you have a Riven Mod to sell, odds are you will not be able find a buyer. This could change if DE comes up with some other item that makes weapons OP, but I doubt it.

Final Advice

Will I keep playing Warframe? More than likely because it helps me deal with my migraines until my doctors find a drug combo that works for me. Even then I may continue playing because it’s so addictive. It’s that or I drink booze a lot which would make my health even worse. That’s the problem when you suffer from genetics that allows addiction to take root. So, I think I’ll keep playing video games. This way my liver will not suffer too much.

But to the others out there reading this post, should you play Warframe? That’s up to you. All I can say is Warframe is not your typical video game. It’s addictive, and DE has made sure it will activate those centers of your brain that will tempt you into their microtransactions like a gambler plunking quarters into a slot machine.

So, if you can’t stand constant diet of kill things, gather things and build things to advance with no goal in sight; you want a game to lead you through an easy plot line; and/or want to be rewarded without microtransactions present then Warframe is not your game. I’d stick with games like Breath of the Wild.

My Warframe Profile Page

Some of My Player Stats

Computer System Used- Inspiron 620S, x64 with 8 GB RAM, Windows 10, and an AMD Radeon HD 6450. ()

Warframe I use- Equinox 24.1% followed by Valkyr at 23.2%.

Master Rank- 10

Time Played- 477 hours ()

Total Kills- 125,090
Headshot Kills- 13,820
Hits- 55,065
Weapon Accuracy- 9% ()

Current Favorite Weapons
Main- Vectis or Hek.
Secondary- Dex Furis or this kit gun I bought to avoid having to gild it.
Melee- Broken War
Robotic- Helios with a Deconstructor.

I drank the Kuva. And I like the color red.

Warframe Website
Warframe Wiki Website

Bio

Seth Underwood writes hard science fiction and political dystopian science fiction. His future political dystopian U.S. world features decades of despot presidents, a flooded world, and new paramilitary force known as the Ranger Marshals. He has freemium stories at www. sethunderwoodstories.com.

Check out the latest blog posts about Rosella Tolfree world.

Artwork Licenses

Screen shots are from my Warframe account. See Warframe.com for any copyright issues.

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Seth Underwood

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