Warframe: Killer Keeler

When you’ve played one primary MMO game for going on 5 years now, it can be hard to remember the feeling of gradual patient learning, of just figuring things out as you play over time, sometimes really obvious things that regular players may take for granted.

Warframe is a great cure for that malaise.

I’ve been on a Warframe push since getting successfully hyped a few days ago. The primary focus is to experience the main story quests, ideally up to The Sacrifice, to get caught up for the next update.

Of course, nothing in Warframe is ever easy or straightforward. The in-game quest list has side quests cheerfully mixing with the main story ones – so much so that the official Warframe website has a quest guide up pointing out the order of the quests one should attempt.

The next complication is that the later quests take you pretty darned deep into the planets and have separate gating requirements (mostly unlocking the next planetary junction, which in themselves have a laundry list of things to do).

The last time I stopped playing Warframe, I’d essentially run into the difficulty spike of level 15-25 enemies without appropriate mods, a reluctance to figure out modding (mostly lack of time to read wikis, farm mods and farm the endo needed to strengthen them) nor a willingness to cheese one’s way through tough encounters by grouping up to brute force them down.

That and getting my attention frittered away by the new warframes and weapons that I’d crafted – which ought to be run on lower level missions to grind up their mastery, which meant more time spent doing other things that wasn’t linear progress to the outer planets.

There was no quitting in a huff – it was more like, “ehhh, I don’t have time to do all this right now” and then exiting the game and being distracted by a ton of other things instead.

Anyway, I mustered juuust enough discipline to reselect my most buff warframe (<3 Rhino), the half-leveled Hek shotgun and Scindo Prime with whatever state of mods they were in and the the completely maxed out Dex Furis (gotta have one usable weapon, after all) and plunge back into a good ol’ college try at carving a straight path through the solar system to the next main story quest.

rhinospygud

Yes, my idea of a sneaky spy mission is to stomp in with Rhino and a honking big axe.

It worked fine right up to the point where you had to solve obstacle puzzles to get to the computer to hack. Not really the fault of the warframe per se, more the driver’s complete ignorance of the layouts and appropriate paths to take.

Despite clumsy alarm triggering and the odd failure here and there, one usually got at least one vault properly cracked and thus mission success.

Everything was hunky dory until I got to Saturn and the Keeler node.

This is a mobile defense mission where you carry an item over to a terminal, plug it in and then defend it for a time before moving on.

What utterly bamboozled me was how differently /this/ particular terminal acted, as opposed to all the prior mobile defense missions I’d done. Basically, it melted when a mob sneezed in its direction. Fade to black, mission failure.

I’d plug the item in, ready my shotgun, turn in one direction to murder some Grineer and turn back to see one mob one hit melee swipe it into nonexistence. I’d stand there practically on the terminal keeping nothing within ten feet alive, and some goddamn rocket launching Grineer would aim some explosions in my direction and that would be the end.

Googling didn’t exactly help, since Keeler had apparently existed as some other kind of mission in a previous life; had had other bugs plague it before from 2015-2017; and some newbie had a related but not quite similar problem of them melting to enemies (rather than the terminal) – the solution and advice for which was modding and endo.

Nothing quite relevant besides one plaintive unanswered cry on Reddit.

The poster there declared it a bug. I wasn’t 100% sure. Perhaps this was one of those increased difficulty situations in the midgame stage where the right answer was to bring the appropriate warframe for the job?

Frost and its defensive globe thing (yes, I was that newbie, to the point of not even knowing which skill it was and what it was called) came to mind.

I’d collected Frost Prime from a Twitch promo before, except it was still mostly two-thirds leveled, and not at all well slotted with mods.

Couldn’t hurt to try, since it didn’t seem possible I’d get enough energy to replenish Rhino Stomp fast enough to crowd control every last mob. So I switched loadouts to bring in Frost Prime, skimmed his abilities for just long enough to figure out that Snow Globe was on number 3, and jumped into the mission.

I put a globe down on the terminal, jumped out to deal with some grineer/draw some attention, got riddled with bullets (Rhino spoils you), parkoured around like crazy in an attempt to replenish shields… and the mission ended. Presumably something got through while I was otherwise distracted by dying.

Second try: I dump the globe down on the terminal again… just as a machine gun emplacement catches my eye. Oooh, maybe I can use that to mow down Grineer faster than my 4 ammo shotgun. I bounce over to it, struggle with getting it selected and by the time I look down the sights to shoot stuff, there’s Grineer everywhere, including three Grineer right on the terminal. I shoot like a madman, but the terminal dies in the next couple of seconds.

Cue deep breath and ragequit for lunch.

Over lunch, I calmly reflect on my options and come to the conclusion that the worse case scenario would be to group and brute force it, while the more appealing alternative possibility was to just take the longer route around the planet to get to where I wanted to go, rather than the shorter path through Keeler.

Still, the nagging thought bugs me. Frost is most notable for being a great defender. Surely the reason for failure is essentially operator error, since I have no real clue how to play Frost.

Before surrendering, perhaps I could spend some time watching a video or two of a guide to Frost and then try one more time…

Imagine my chagrin when I learn that you cannot shoot into a Frost dome. Nothing goes through – not enemy bullets, not player bullets, not your own, and certainly not some goddamn turret emplacement outside of the dome.

Oh, and you can STACK domes to build up the one dome’s hp, if you stay in place and spam the skill a few times. NO WONDER my one single dome felt a little squishy.

With these new facts in mind, I revise my strategy to “stay -inside- the dang dome and shoot OUT, while replenishing the dome whenever I can.”

Things go much more smoothly, if a little nerve rackingly close shave on the second terminal when I’m near out of energy to replenish the dome before it pops. But by and large the first and third go perfectly well.

Mission success.

Huh. Learning experience right there.

tylregor

This boss, Tyl Regor, on the other hand, was a teaching obstacle for damage 2.0.

My default (and still leveling) Hek and Scindo Prime did absolutely nothing to him. His shields regenerated super fast. He hit like a truck in melee. There was a great deal of dodging around, tanking the odd hit with Rhino’s iron skin, and spastic shooting to absolutely zero effect.

Essentially a stalemate until the point I make a mistake and get slowly ground down.

Annoyed, I admit defeat and abort the mission.

A little Googling reveals the suggested answer is to utilize damage 2.0 and his weaknesses. Which, confusingly, are suggested to be viral, radiation and corrosive from different sources.

Since I am finally forced into the Arsenal and slooowly slotting mods into place, I err on the side of safety and spread all three types across my three available weapons. The axe was super slow, so out it goes, replaced by my current favorite of dual slashy Dex Dakra swords, carting corrosive and viral. The Hek can get leveled another day, out it went and in flew the Dex Sybaris with added radiation damage.

tylregor2

His shields and health go down a LOT faster the second time. It’s still a fight, but it turns into a much more conceivably doable one.

I suppose the most deceptive thing about Warframe is that the missions feel and look the same. You don’t quite get the sense that something is lacking until you outright fail or encounter serious difficulties, which can come at different points for different folks.

At which point, one either gives up and puts aside Warframe for good, or does enough independent searching for answers until one learns the smidgen more knowledge necessary to overcome the obstacle… rinse and repeat.

P.S. I finished Second Dream tonight.

Wow. Just wow. I thought I’d already spoiled myself story-wise by having seen too many hints of what the big reveal was going to be, but I was still floored by the cinematic quality of the cutscenes as well as a mechanical twist I did -not- see coming. As in some things literally shift in the game systems that you thought you knew/were familiar with.

circleofscary

Here’s a no-context no explanation cutscene screenshot, just as a teaser.

I really want to do more story quests now. If only my mind wasn’t so blown by the next laundry list of things to unlock before I can get to that next stage.

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