Seeking Warframe & Fortune (Part 6/June '19)

One robot ninja's noble journey to see how far they can travel across this great cosmos of ours without spending any money or exerting too much effort.

Part 6: Warframe! I'm Gonna Live Forever!

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Welcome to another installment of my monthly Warframe check-in. Auspicious times, my friends, as my domination of the Solar System continues unabated. Mostly unabated. All right, so I'm having a bit of trouble with some of the junction guardian specters and my new guy isn't quite the powerhouse the last two were. Nonetheless! I feel like I now have access to a sufficient amount of the game's territory that - though I'm a long way from seeing everything in the game - I can pick up whatever resources I need by bouncing back to whichever planet has Neurodes, Orokin Cells, Neural Sensors, Gallium, or Morphics: all major components for equipment and warframes going forward.

While we won't see any new major gameplay shifts in this update, not like the Archwing or Eidolon Plains of entries past, a lot of progress was made over the past month. Well, as much that can be made after playing between 0-1 nodes on a daily basis.

New Developments!

Filling the Void (With Corpses)

We left off last time discussing Phobos, the only one of Mars's two moons to be featured in Warframe. A Corpus stronghold, its most notable characteristics are: a steady supply of Plastids, a "common" material in that you find them in clumps of 20 or more, but uncommon in the sense that I can only acquire them on Phobos for the time being; the local boss, imaginatively named The Sergeant, whose big gimmick is that he runs away a lot - defeating him is how you acquire component blueprints for the Mag warframe; and a second exit that leads to the Void.

The Void is a fascinating place. It has three entrances that lead to a few nodes each, but these nodes don't connect to other Void exits: this splits the Void into three distinct, disconnected regions, unlike every other planet/moon/region I've been to so far which all have a contiguous throughline to every one of their nodes. The Void's aesthetic is also enigmatic as hell: a collection of pristine, stately rooms and corridors that resembles something like the Royal Palace of Atlantis with its alien design. Eerily beautiful, the Void is (or was) the home of the missing Orokin - an ancient civilization of extrasolar visitors (or maybe not) that vanished many eons ago for unknown reasons - and is also a treasure trove of their technological secrets, or so the universe believes. You can visit the Void briefly in certain other nodes and story missions past, via Stargate-like teleporters on Grineer/Corpus research planets, but here you get the pure uncut experience.

It feels like everything here is super expensive. Well, time to start breaking stuff.
It feels like everything here is super expensive. Well, time to start breaking stuff.

Two other things to note about the Void: all the enemies here are the corrupted versions of regular Grineer, Corpus, and Infested foes that you'd normally only meet on Void Fissure missions - those special instances of normal nodes where you'll have a bunch of high-level enemies frequently teleport into the level and start corrupting the enemies already there. This makes them much more challenging versions of those same nodes but with a worthwhile reward at the end of it in the form of a "void relic": essentially a lootbox of six possible prizes that you have to kill enough corrupted void fissure enemies (and then complete the node normally) to open. The other notable Void characteristic is that it's the only source of Argon Crystals I've found: a resource unique (so far) in that it actually decomposes if you don't use it quickly enough, meaning you should only venture into the Void if you have a blueprint almost ready to go that only requires some Argon Crystals to finish.

I poked far enough in from the Phobos entrance to complete "Teshub" and "Hepit" (an Exterminate node and Capture node, respectively, neither of which are much of a problem) but balked at the third and final node of this section of the Void, Taranis (a "Defense" node, which I hate). Since it's only level 10-15, I might attempt it again when I need those Argon Crystals for something.

Ceres: I'm a Planet, Not Some Asteroid Floozy

Moving back through Phobos and Mars to the other Martian junction leads us to Ceres, the largest of the asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. Another grimy Grineer planet, Ceres is the first location in the game to drop Orokin Cells - a frequent ingredient for warframe blueprints, and those for the rare and valuable Forma - and its boss fight involves fighting previous foes Captain Vor (from the first questline in the game, though they levelled him up a bit here) and Lt. Lech Kril (first met on Mars; he's a puzzle fight where you have to figure out how to eliminate his ice shield before you can damage him) at the same time. The reward is weapon component blueprints as well as components for the warframe Frost, so I'll have to come back at some point for the rest of those.

Beyond that, Ceres is a fairly typical planet (well, asteroid) that has three routes to its only other exit junction (to Jupiter, naturally). The shortest of these routes includes the tough aforementioned dual boss fight, though I found that preferable to passing through the Interception node (the hardest of the regular mission types on solo, as it involves capturing and protecting multiple "king of the hill" zones) elsewhere on the map.

But let's talk about that Jupiter junction. Each junction, to recap, is guarded by a Tenno specter: an AI warframe you've probably not encountered yet, giving you both a challenging sub-boss fight and a crash course on how effective they are for future reference. The one here, Valkyr, has this incredibly powerful buff that renders her invincible for a while, and also greatly boosts her melee attack damage. Once it's active, I couldn't survive more than a few seconds, despite all my evasive maneuvers. It wasn't until I switched back to reliable DPS standby Excalibur and used a combination of his blinding and Exalted Blade abilities that I was able to stun and cut Valkyr down before she ever invoked her "instant win" buff. This doesn't make me optimistic for future junction specter duels, though I guess I have a "cheese tactic" I can always fall back on if my current warframe isn't up to the task.

Jupiter Culling

Jupiter is as far as I got this month. It's a Corpus location with some interesting level design that hearkens back to that one Metroid Prime 3 location set above a gas giant (or, as a slightly more universally recognizable sample, Bespin Cloud City of The Empire Strikes Back). A lot of enormous open areas that drop to an intense gravity well demise. Everywhere also has this neat orange glow to it that feels like a permanent sunset, so even if the vistas of an enormous orange ball of gas aren't doing it for you, there's that at least. As for rare resources, Jupiter is home to Neural Sensors and Hexenon. I've seen the former in blueprints a number of times, so I'm glad to find some at last, but Hexenon is an unknown quantity to me. I suspect it relates to a certain other aspect of Jupiter I'll get into in just a moment.

The Jupiter nodes are again arranged so there's two circumferential routes and a more direct one, though here the direct route is also the busiest with lots of dead-end nodes with nasty conditions like Interception or a high-level (20-30) Defense with Infested enemies. I'm leaving those well enough alone and heading around the edges to Jupiter's two junctions: one to Europa, the smallest of the four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter (the other three - Ganymede, Io, and Callisto - are all nodes on Jupiter itself for the time being), and the other leads to Saturn. Once again, the conditions for unlocking one of these junctions (Saturn) involves completing a boss fight on the other (Europa), making it clear which I'm supposed to work my way towards first.

I don't know if I'm into Oberon's neon green stripe. It looks like he's having problems swallowing his Mountain Dew.
I don't know if I'm into Oberon's neon green stripe. It looks like he's having problems swallowing his Mountain Dew.

The unusual thing about my approach to Jupiter is that I was two nodes in when the enormous new patch/expansion "The Jovian Concord" kicked in. This had the effect of reworking most of Jupiter's content and adding new special missions called Disruptions to its, and other planets', node maps. Subsequently, I feel like I've had a harder time on Jupiter than I was perhaps supposed to, with one Mobile Defense (like Defense, only you have to keep switching locations to guard) mission requiring several attempts before I was able to clear it. The Jovian Concord introduced a lot of new Corpus enemy types that have been kicking my robotic keister on a regular basis - at least I assume they're new, because they didn't appear in the Jupiter nodes I took out prior to the expansion. I'm still going to avoid Defense and Mobile Defense on Jupiter for the time being (and probably Survival) until I either get a brawnier warframe or better gear or both.

It is definitely starting to feel like I won't be able to make serious progress with my current system of levelling up multiple weapons and my warframe simultaneously: I'll probably want at least one or two max-level tools in my arsenal to account for weaknesses elsewhere. Unfortunately, I'm in the slightly awkward pickle of having all three of my weapons and my companion Kubrow, Coolbro, close to max level. If they all decide to max out at once, I'll be running with peashooters in every slot (or peahitters in the case of melee) for a while. Burn that bridge when I come to it, I guess.

Run, Oberonnie, Run

Before I get into my third and newest member of my entourage, I'll recap the three ways you (glacially) earn warframes in, uh, Warframe:

  1. The easiest and quickest route is to just buy them with the game's premium currency, which is perfect for those high on real-life cash reserves and low on time.
  2. The second is to buy the blueprint and then find the components' blueprints by fighting specific bosses in the game, hopefully getting the three separate parts you need to drop - neuroptics, systems, and chassis - with the minimum amount of duplicates.
  3. The third way is via the Clan Dojo laboratory, which is a system I'm still not in a position to get deep into (though I did build my first reactor! Yay!).

To summarize, if you're a cheapskate the best means of getting new warframes is beating the same boss over and over until it drops all the parts you need, and then spending a huge amount of resources and cash (and time - one day each for the components and three days for the finished warframe) to make one. This should hopefully explain why I've been playing this game for months and only have access to five warframes so far.

Oberon is the first warframe I've acquired that feels far more suited as a support role in a multiplayer co-op environment. His abilities tend to center around keeping him and his companions alive, which presently only includes my dog. His "Renewal" is a rapid regeneration AoE buff that has saved my ass on multiple occasions, and his innate passive means that my Kubro is resurrected once per mission, making it easier to keep it alive for the more hectic nodes like Survival. He's no slouch with combat abilities either - "Smite" is a powerful ranged attack, "Hallowed Ground" is a denial debuff that makes the ground damaging to enemies (good for Defense missions), "Reckoning" tosses around every enemy in the vicinity like ragdolls in a satisfying way - but because he's considerably weaker than Rhino and less offensively-powerful than Excalibur, I've been saving all my energy for heals. Not the most effective way to play a character that is equally split on offensive and defensive abilities, but I'm cagey enough with abilities to only use the one or two that really come in handy.

I'll admit, it's been tough going with Oberon so far, but it's also forced me to be a bit more careful after the tanking of Rhino. No standing in the middle of the room headshotting the horde surrounding me as I weather their hits; instead I'm likely to find a closet somewhere and try to bottleneck the throng after my blood (or artificial warframe equivalent).

Fragor Rocks

I figured I'd discuss a few of the weapons I've been using, because they're as much of a gameplay determinant factor as the warframes themselves in many respects. For pretty much the whole month I've been using the combination of Boltor (primary), Dex Furis (secondary), and Fragor (melee).

The Boltor rifle is supposed to be like that giant harpoon gun from BioShock 2, but the offensive power isn't so high to result in a showy one-high kill each time. Instead, it feels more like a semi-automatic dart shooter, which only propels enemies back (and pins them against walls in some cases) on the final, fatal hit. It happens often enough that I got a lot of mileage out of the standard "I think he got the point" one-liner, but overall it's not as spectacular as you'd hope. Decent firing speed and damage at least.

The Dex Furis are special elite dual-SMGs that I picked up in some event. The "Dex" modifier means they have twice the mod capacity of regular weapons, which would be amazing if I had more secondary weapon mods to stick on them, but the downside is that I chew through their ammunition very quickly when on my John Woo diving around guns akimbo bullshit. A mod I picked up recently is a noise suppression one that makes the SMGs handy for keeping quiet in Exterminate and Spy missions, but I don't rely on them too often when enemy aggro is high.

My favorite new thing of late? These little roombas in the Jupiter levels. Sorry for making more work for you, little guy.
My favorite new thing of late? These little roombas in the Jupiter levels. Sorry for making more work for you, little guy.

The Fragor is my first heavy melee weapon, which the requisite high damage but slow swing speed, and I'm having a great time with it. The sheer output of this thing is worth the slow arcs, and there's a diving attack that smashes the ground and knocks everyone on their ass that I regularly use on crowds, especially in "protect the mission objective" nodes like Defense, Mobile Defense, and Excavation. I'll be sad to see it go when it maxes out soon, but I'm going to try to keep varying it up with melee weapons (and the guns) - there's separate achievements for weapon types, so that's usually all the motivation I need, but it also makes such a huge difference to the gameplay too.

I'll be done with all three of these very soon, so what I have lined up next include: the Hek shotgun as my new primary, my first of this type. Should be good for Infested maps, since they're all close-combat types. I have a cheap Leto pistol for my secondary, because I haven't really branched out with those yet. If I find something more interesting I'll probably switch quickly. The next melee weapon is the Amphis staff, which should bring me back to a balance of strength and speed as I swing that thing around like Iron Monkey.

Can I Save My Darling Clem In Time?

Not a whole lot of questing in this period. There are no story quests between Stolen Dreams, which we covered last month, and the Europa junction. Europa will actually introduce two new questlines: The Limbo Theorem and The New Strange. Curious about the latter, since Stolen Dreams is the requisite and it feels like this will be the game's big overarching multiple-act story.

I did take a moment instead to check out an optional side-quest you have to activate back in a Tenno relay (hubs for trading and meeting friendly NPCs). This involves helping Davos, a guy we met all the way back in the initial Captain Vor questline, rescue one of his contractors: an affable Grineer defector named Clem. This involves a Rescue mission to spring Clem from a Grineer pokey and then a Survival mission to recover his special dual-SMG weapons. After this, Clem becomes available as an intermittent source of additional missions: each play out the same as the previous Survival mission, though you get the benefit of having Clem fighting alongside you. Some cute world-building and a new source of missions if I needed one, but nothing substantial in lore terms.

Nightwave's Back!

Just a final note: after Nightwave suddenly vanished while I was a few points away from a really handy Forma bundle, it came back a few weeks later. There's no big story hook yet like there was last time with the Saturn Six escaped convincts, but instead this is a transitional "intermission" that is really just the daily/weekly challenges aspect alone.

I'm glad to have some daily targets to aim for again (though some are still a pain) and I've already picked up some decent rewards: the Glaive weapon (very reminiscent of Digital Extremes's earlier game Dark Sector) and the curved Pangolin Sword. I didn't notice that you can get Aura mods from here - I'll probably have more to say on those are later when I actually find some - but those are my next reward targets.

The Warframe Progress-o-meter

(Italics indicate a weapon/warframe that I've mastered, or a planet I've fully explored. I'll probably sell anything I've mastered first if I need to make space.)

WarframeLvlPrimary WeaponLvlSecondary WeaponLvlMelee WeaponLvlPlanets Visited
Excalibur30Braton (rifle)30MK1-Kunai (thrown)30Skana (sword)30Earth
Rhino30Boltor (rifle)29Dex Furis (SMGs)28Dex Dakra (daggers)30Venus
Oberon24Hek (shotgun)0Furis (handgun)0Cronus (sword)30Mercury
Mag0Karak (rifle)0Lato (handgun)0Fragor (hammer)29Mars
Vauban0MK1-Braton (rifle)14 Amphis (staff)0Phobos
MK1-Paris (bow)0 Galantine (sword)0Ceres
Jupiter
The Void

On the next episode of Seeking Warframe & Fortune: "Europa?" Sure am, are you my tenants Jack, Janet, and Chrissy? (This is awful and no-one will get it.)

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