I’ve been playing Warframe off and on for about a year, now. When I’m into it, I could spend several hours a day claiming rewards, leveling gear, and maintaining this monstrous undertaking of a game and not think anything of it. When I’m not into it, it’s a chore to open the game and get closer to that ever-elusive login reward.
Update 18.13 happened in one of my off bouts. Relatively cut off from the community and what exactly was happening with the update, I checked my Twitter feed one morning and was met with this.
18.13 is this close to the Viver nerf patch pic.twitter.com/Ufhk0gWCef
— Quiette Shy (@QuietteShy) May 28, 2016
Now, the Viver nerf was before my time. I remember just getting into the game and watching a video from Mogamu, a popular Warframe YouTuber, much like Quiette Shy, talk about the fact that “there will always be a Viver“. For some background, Viver is a map on the planet of Eris where players would group up, infiltrate a ship, and destroy infested hives to complete the mission. From what I understand, a certain team setup would yield immense amounts of experience and allow players to level their equipment quickly and efficiently.
While I agree that devs should balance their game to minimize the need for power-leveling, I also advocate for power-leveling in Warframe’s case. To be considered adequate for high-level play, you need a full arsenal of mods, better-than-decent weapons, and a fleshed-out build for your warframe that maximizes your participation in the team. Luckily another map, Draco, was found to be the next-best place for power levelling.
That being said, maps like Draco and Viver become vital to long-time players looking to throw themselves into the hardest endless survival missions they can find. They don’t want to spend an excess amount of time leveling gear and frames, they want to challenge the game with all they’ve got. These long missions are sought after due to Warframe’s issues with enemy scaling. After a certain amount of time, enemy levels ramp up quickly, and after a while, their levels start glitching out. As seen below, a five-hour survival mission in the games highest endless survival brings on enemies over level 3000.
Update 18.13 brought some changes to certain frames. Some received passive abilities if they didn’t have them beforehand. Other frames were tweaked to improve their performance and make it so that the powers, based on the theme of the frame, had more synergy. One frame, Mesa, the so-called gunslinger, received a buff to her abilities. Her ultimate ability, which had been nerfed late in 2015 to remove its horrendously AFK-enabling auto aim, scales with secondary weapon damage, as many people called for prior to the update, to name one positive change.
As for other frames, such as Mag, a magnetic-based frame, Trinity, the dedicated healer, and Valkyr, the berserker, had no such luck. The aim was to make the frames more balanced, but instead, as was the case with Mag and, in my opinion, Trinity, they have been made relatively unusable.
Valkyr’s ultimate ability granted her invulnerability for as long as a player’s energy pool would sustain it. Now, not only does this ability eat more energy per second it is activate, but also deals a percentage of the damage Valkyr would have taken back to her after the ability is dispelled if she is standing near any enemies. This is one nerf that I’m fairly content with. It removes the “press 4 to win” mentality that Valkyr carried, similarly to Mesa. I see both of these as improvements: they open up different options for builds per frame.
However, Mag, who once dominated a specific enemy faction in combat with her Shield Polarize ability, no longer has the one-button area of effect (AOE) ability that players essentially relied on after her previous nerfs. Trinity’s heal ability no longer targets all players across the map, but limits its range to 50 meters, in game. To me, this diminishes her as an asset to the team, but could give her additional survivability on her own.
Since the nerfs came at a time when I haven’t been too involved in Warframe, I’m in the process of giving both Mag and Trinity their dues. While I’ve picked it back up over the last few days to tweak builds and see how they actually perform, I’m not optimistic for the future of the game overall. The scaling issue has been around for a long time, and while Digital Extremes (DE) promises that it’ll be fixed Soon™, I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll just leave it as-is and let players have at it.
There is a responsibility for devs to make their game balanced, as I stated earlier, but punishing players for making the most of unpopular frames, at least in Mag’s case, doesn’t feel right. I’ll come out and say it now, I’m very biased. Mag was the frame I started with. The fact that I had a certain mod for one of her abilities gave me an edge in starting out, and I was able to overcome the learning curve by being included in higher level missions because of it.
Bias aside, it’s unfortunate to see Warframe suffer so many nerfs in such a short period of time. These sudden changes not only confuse the player base and make it harder for players to challenge themselves, but it also gives the impression that DE really doesn’t care about their community. It seems to me that DE wants Warframe to be played a certain way, and if the player base isn’t playing the game the way they want it, their solution is to force players to do so, but not by editing their game’s core mechanics. Instead, the logical thing to do is to make the frames less powerful and hope that we’ll just get the message, right?