I’ve been drawn back into Warframe, after a 2-3 year hiatus (I honestly can’t remember how long it’s been).
First of all, a lot has changed, but few of the changes have to do with the actual moment-to-moment gameplay. The only real change I’ve noticed, apart from new weapons and warframes, is a tweak movement system, which I am delighted to report is still hideously easy to exploit to move way faster than you’re supposed to be able to. And my Soma assault rifle is still a top-tier weapon, as is my Rhino frame. There has been a ridiculous amount of clutter added everywhere else though. There are story quests, which are thus far just normal missions but with talking heads in pop-up windows (I hear it gets better later on, but for the moment they’re horribly tedious, and it’s basically impossible to find anyone to co-op with for them), there are factions to grind reputation for (thanks, but I already do enough reputation grinding in Elite Dangerous and at least I can tell what the point of it actually is in that game), about a billion new resources to grind so you can craft more stuff, Void relics (like loot boxes, only you can pick what you get but have to do a mission to unlock them), Relays (which as a Mass Effect fan I was awfully confused by), Rails, social hubs for player trading, pets, events, invasions, Riven Mods, Corrupted Mods, a dozen new currencies, bounties, fishing, mining, Prime versions of everything (and yeah, getting it is a tedious grind), and campaign progression has been completely revamped so I have no idea where I am, or what I’m supposed to be doing (though I’m pretty sure it involves burying my nose in checklists). And there’s Plains of Eidolon, though I’ve kept my distance since it seems to be a bit of a mess from what both random internet comments and articles from sites I tend to trust indicate.
The thing is, all of the new stuff really is clutter. The developers seem to take a weird sort of sadistic pleasure in seeing how many layers of checklists they can put up between me and a new gun, or a new warframe, or even just properly kitted out versions of the stuff I have. I also still have no idea how the levelling system seems to work, or how enemy levels even relate to my weapon ranks, and mastery ranks, and faction ranks, and mod levels, if they do so at all, which just makes things even more confusing. And with all that clutter in the way, the gameplay tends to wear out its welcome well before I have even made new stuff to play with, so it gets horribly stale and repetitive. The visual design doesn’t help either - sure, enemies who are the same colour and have the same sorts of lines as the environment are very stylish and artistically coherent, but they also generate the worst eye strain I’ve ever experienced in a game, especially once the copious particle effects get involved. Sure, lowering my graphical settings might remedy some of that, but, well, I didn’t but a brand new graphics card to play on low settings, now did I? It just amounts to an experience that vacillates between a mostly enjoyable space ninja romp and a frustrating mass of menus within menus within quest logs within resource lists with every alternate loading screen. And whoever thought the real-time crafting timers were a good idea can seriously fuck off. I’ve already spent ages gathering stuff for a new weapon, why must I wait until tomorrow to actually be able to see the fruits of my labour?
And yet, I do somehow still enjoy the actual space ninja missions. Sure, I end up feeling like I’ve rubbed rock salt in my eyes after a few runs, but Warframe: The Game is nonetheless fun. It’s just a shame it’s a small and ancillary-feeling part of Warframe: The Excel Spreadsheet.