I’m not covering any new ground here, but man, Warframe is a weird game. I’m delighted something so mystifyingly odd can not just exist but be such a success. It’s a jarring mix of delightfully polished and janky. It has an admirable focus on getting its core just right, and then also has a huge, overdesigned, unfocused mess of so many systems you need the wiki just to figure out what anything is.
It does keep you coming back, though, doesn’t it? I’ve taken an unexpected turn in the last year or two in the games I appreciate. I’m the best part of a decade into this whole mad parenting thing, and you really come to appreciate games that respect your time. Naturally, I’ve trended more towards games offering more compact experiences, most often Rogue-descended titles of many sorts, like Slay the Spire or Enter the Gungeon, to name a diverse pair. I can play a run from beginning to end in the reduced time I have available. Heroes of the Storm also fit this niche pretty well, with short, intense matches.
You’d think, then that I’d stay away from something like Warframe, which would seem not to respect your time at all. Progress in that game is deliberately glacially slow. Getting blueprints and crafting takes time, to find the prints, gather the resources, and wait for them to be made. Gaining mastery ranks requires getting all the levels out of the gear you equip, which means you’ll be using the same loadouts for ages to get the most out of them. You cannot see the variety the game has to offer without putting in the hours. Does the game respect my time, then?
I’ve come to realise that it does. You set your own goals in Warframe. Once you do, you choose activities that further that goal. Going on a single mission, if that’s the time you have, will push you forward. As long as I relax and accept that I can enjoy the jumpin’ and slashin’ and shootin’ it doesn’t matter how long it takes me to do stuff, and my goals can act as pleasant milestones to be ambled towards.
I’ve even started to play old JRPGs on my phone (DQ8 and FFIX specifically). I’m finding them very pleasant to play on my commute, or in odd little spots of time throughout my week. With reliable saving, I can set my goals for a play session based on the time I have. I was struck by Kotaku’s Tim Rogers, a huge JRPG fan, describing how he plays through his beloved Dragon Quest games- an hour or two here and there in the evening, rather than the mammoth play sessions I’d always imagined the games needed.
It’s a big change in how I think of using my gaming time, and the sorts of things I’m seeking out.