We All Lift Together?

tacticalalert

Warframe finally succeeded in pushing me out of my comfort zone and flipping the little matchmaking icon from “Solo” to “Public” by dropping a surprise Tactical Alert over the weekend.

The rewards on offer made my jaw drop; that’s a sizeable amount of credits for someone presently engaged in 5 min easy dark sector solos on Ceres for 23k and the other stuff would come in handy for pushing my warframes to greater heights.

Apparently, as I gathered from Reddit, the Rift Sigil was something fairly rare and prestigious that hasn’t been sighted for several years and this was a good chance to let newer players have a shot of nabbing it (kinda like GW2’s current ongoing festival, come to think about it.)

Greed made me resolve to try and complete as many missions as I could. After all, I managing level 30-40 missions on my own, so the first three level ranges looked doable; only the last with level 50+ enemies might be questionable.

Apparently, as I also later gathered from Reddit, when it comes to Tactical Alerts, the level ranges are a lie.

I popped into the first one marked 15-20 with my best kit – Rhino with Dex Sybaris, Dex Furis, Broken War, all max rank and as highly modded as possible with my current limited mod selection.

Realized there were Corpus in the mission, popped out again to switch weapon configurations to ‘Vs Corpus’ to make sure I was doing the most damage I could possibly do to them, restarted the mission.

There were 20 waves to defend against. Uh oh. That’s a pretty long time. While I was pretty confident of my Rhino surviving, prior painful experience has taught me to be much less confident of the -object- surviving at any missions past newbie levels without coating it in a Frost bubble.

Then the Hyenas started appearing. OMG. These are boss enemies that I’d been killing on Neptune, are you serious, they’re going to come at me (and the object) in waves… with presumably higher frequency as the wave counter drops?

I could more or less iron skin tank and kill one or two of them, but I was having visions of 2-4 of them running amok in later waves and going ham on the object ostensibly being defended while I engaged against 1-2.

About 7-8 waves into the 20 wave encounter, a little bit of extrapolation of the object’s health suggested there was no way it was going to make it to the end (unless I got lucky and cheesed it with leaving a stuck enemy alive at the later waves which would let the object regen. But that’s a lot of wait time and not a fair amount of luck to count on.)

Well, that’s a wrap. I aborted to pace around my ship pondering my options…

I -could- bring my Frost Prime to defend the object… except it was currently at rank 27 – just shy of the 3rd rank of Snow Globe. It was also obviously not at all well slotted with mods that would make it powerful. I had sincere doubts of myself surviving with Frost, though the object would survive as long as I stayed alive and had some energy to renew the globe.

Yep, this was definitely going to be a “group up (and hope to get carried)” affair. *sigh*

Many Warframe players will rush to assure new players that this state of affairs is fine – sometimes you get carried, sometimes you are the one carrying. As long as you -try- and don’t leech and aren’t an unnecessary burden on your group (ie. dying every 30 seconds), they’re fine with carrying a low mastery rank player kicking and screaming through enemies that they can mass murder while your weapons barely scratch ’em.

I decided to put on my big boy pants and deal with the vagaries of PUGs. I’d bring Rhino to be relatively tanky and my Roar is an offensive buff – something I like doing in GW2 anyway, with my warrior and banners and Empower Allies – I make the group stronger and kill more things just by being there.

I suspected my first public match experience was going to be somewhat similar to that of the “100 days of Warframe” cartoon video – mass chaos and either glorious failure with similarly inexperienced noobs or getting carried by warframes at much higher progression levels than I.

Pragmatically, we were hoping for the latter just long enough to succeed at each Tactical Alert mission. With the amount of people playing Warframe, this didn’t seem terribly bad a gamble.

This guess wasn’t terribly far off the mark. There was some kind of unrecognizable warframe in bright colors chilling by the defending object, which I spent most of my time near to, taking potshots at nearby moas that had escaped the depredations of the other two warframes zipping around the periphery at high speeds and even brighter colors that ended in explosions and xp/affinity numbers.

I eventually decided that the unrecognizable warframe was probably a Trinity variant since every time I got near it, some kind of blue wavy line linked me to it, and trial and error revealed I had no energy when far away from it (yea, no energy orbs drop in this mission – another reason to group up) and my energy would steadily creep up when standing near it.

Things were going relatively well. Once, one of the rampaging warframes dropped and I went over to attempt picking it up – something I’m not sure I 100% figured out as I only got the All For One achievement on a later mission. But anyway, someone else revived him while I humped them to look like I was helping.

Alas, with 4 waves left on the counter, I had started to get braver and venture out to the periphery to help and roar a bit (my Dex Sybaris was quite capable of killing these enemies one by one, after all, and I was trying not to look like a leech)… when the mission suddenly faded to black and mission failure.

I can only presume we’d all put on some blinders and forgot to look back at the object and check on its health while engaged in a glory of slaughter. RIP.

Well, that’s not good. If you want the object to survive, looks like you’re going to have to do it yourself… But my Frost Prime wasn’t anywhere near ready… *urgh*

I compromised by telling myself I’d get to rank 28 for at least a level 3 Snow Globe, and then give it a shot. So I popped into the Ceres Seimeni Dark Sector that was fast becoming a comfortable second home… except that I forgot I still had public matchmaking on.

Oh. Well.

Suddenly the shoe was on the other foot as I ended up looking like the most overequipped warframe in the group with even lower MR than I and presumably barely leveled or modded weapons. Someone died here and I got to him fast enough to figure out how to hold my X key down long enough to revive him. “All For One” chievo get.

We got through 5 waves with me mostly killing everything – one extracted (maybe I wasn’t killing fast enough for him, maybe he was the one that had died and decided pushing it would be the deaths of him literally) and I drug the other two through another 5 waves where they were noticeably not doing much damage because I just wanted enough affinity to push my Frost to 28.

That occurred.

And I went back to first Tactical Alert… where -of course- matchmaking puts me into a group with ANOTHER Frost whose bubble was about double the size of mine. I made my dinky little bubble inside the big bubble, lol’ed to myself and tried to make myself somewhat useful…

…except now there was no Trinity and shortly thereafter everyone was out of energy. The other Frost dropped out after a wave, presumably having rapidly assessed our team composition to be really bad and likely a waste of time failure. I was also lagging pretty heavily in this mission. I am not sure if a second person dropped. Turns out either that guy or the Frost was the host, because there was some kind of “Host Migration” load screen shortly thereafter.

The two remaining stubborn stragglers (me and some other person) ended up with a new pair of strangers. One was a Trinity, the other was some sort of mass murdering warframe. Oh goodie. That’s what I was looking for. I stuck onto the Trinity like a magnet (or at least a very adorable puppy) and every time I had enough energy, I refreshed my cute lil’ tiny Snow Globe on the object. Hey, I’m helping, OK!

That and shooting random things the mobile mass murderers missed. This time, I stuck closer to the object, keeping it bubbled, determined not to have a repeat of the prior mission.

This worked great. Except after killing what seemed like a good many numbers of Corpus, some player asked in team chat, “Uhhh, is the wave counter stuck?”

I looked, and sure enough, the number was frozen at 14, even though the wave cleared messages and sound were coming up, and new waves were arriving.

Uhhhh… Yeah, I think the counter is stuck. But maybe it’s just a visual bug?

No one answered him. They just kept killing.

I’d learned through a lucky browse through the Warframe reddit that the key to bring up chat is T – something that is quite quite nonobvious to most people, me included, had I not read said post. So I could have said something, except I was, tbh, not experienced enough to even have an opinion.

Nevermind, everyone is continuing to kill things. The waves are popping up. In fact, bursas are starting to show up, which seems to be a later wave thing. Let’s just keep going and hope for the best.

I resolved to make a mental count down, and if we’d been killing for 14+ waves from the time I started, then I’d admit defeat and a bugged mission and abort…

Miraculously, barely a few waves from the time I started counting, the mission ended in success, with the wave counter still at 14.

OK. WHATEVER. WE’LL TAKE IT.

I went for the Interception mission next, wondering if the accepted PUG strategy was all four warframes to go to one point each and hold it, or to wander in a group or something else…

Seeing three of them branch out to A, B and C, I decided to at least give the first plan a shot and went by myself to D. After all, I do have a dinky little snow globe to help me defend.

I got a little lost along the way, finding myself underneath D for a while, before eventually blundering out and up to where it was, and capturing it a little later than the rest. Everyone seemed to be chilling where they were, so I did the same, under my icy dome.

Every now and then, a nearby door opened, and one or two corpus moas would emerge and then I’d shoot them dead with my Dex Sybaris.

Some time passed.

I looked over at my compatriots. One guy had made his way over to another warframe and the pair was chilling out at C. Every minute or so, there would be maybe one affinity number popping up where they were.

Hrm. Some more time passed.

The fourth guy had wandered up to near me at D, and I saw some affinity numbers pop up deeper in the tunnel leading to the door I was camping. I had nothing else to shoot. The rest of the capture points stayed intact despite no one at them.

Huh. Looks like we found the source of the NPC interceptors and weren’t leaving them alive long enough to attempt any captures. First capture done without incident. Rinse and repeat for the other two required captures. Most effortless mission ever. Someone may have forgotten to push an upscaling lever.

WHATEVER. I’LL TAKE IT. 50K CREDITS AND EXILUS ADAPTER, THANK YOU.

The third mission was a Survival mission. This went about as expected. There was a great deal of mass murdering and warframes jumping around. Mostly not by me. I ran around, looking like a lost sheep newbie, shooting a few things here and there, opening some containers for the heck of it, revived someone who died, watched warframes run around soloing things.

Someone took care of clicking the life support when it reached 40%, I contributed by not touching anything and mucking up the grand plan, and followed the group as they vaguely migrated from room to room.

Someone team chatted “Find a place”

A most obscure set of instructions, presumably bearing meaning to those in the know and English words linked nonsensically to those who aren’t  – much like most of Warframe, actually.

Do you mean each warframe “finds a place” individually by themselves to kill things, and in so doing contribute to the life support counter?

Do you mean we should all “find a place” as a team to hold and let the enemies come to us?

As usual, there was no answer and more mass murdering.

Somewhere close to the end of the mission, the team found themselves in quite a hilariously cozy place indeed.

There was some kind of warframe that was putting up frontal shields like an Overwatch Reinhardt, and doing most of the killing. He’d decided to shield off one end of the corridor we found ourselves in, and was mass murdering everything on that end.

The other two had made their way to the other end of the corridor and were basically holding off everything in that direction. Oh look, the group is actually staying STILL. I have a place to put up a dome! So I domed that other end of the corridor and we made ourselves an excessively defended, cozy little corridor shelter to while out the remaining minutes.

Then the extraction popped up and I focused on trying to bullet jump out fast enough to not look like a straggling noob. I made it at number 3, so hey, I wasn’t the last guy. Yay.

The fourth mission was less important to me, since it was just a sigil that presumably has a lot more meaning to those in the know and the only conceivable way I might score it is by getting carried through the mission without really earning it.

But you know, in for a penny, in for a pound. Why not? We’re all getting carried together anyway. So I joined yet another random public match.

This had some kind of shiny green diamond object pulsing music next to the ostensibly to-be-defended object. There may or may not have been a warframe dancing or chilling on a pillar next to the object. All that music probably meant Octavia? Who knows.

Things were dying far away by some guy doing most of the work. I made my cute little bubble on the defend objective, not so much to look helpful or protect the object but more to protect my squishy little hiney. Someone else was in O mode, they came over to chill out in my dinky little bubble for a while. Presumably their Excalibur Umbra was off doing something. I shot a couple of level 50 corpus, marveling that I could actually sorta kill ’em. Someone died, I ran over to pick them up and shoot a few more things.

When the levels got nearer to 60 though, that was a no go. I ventured out long enough to find my shields (all of 1000+ of them) disappearing in a few blasts, ran back to the safety of my bubble. Misjudged long enough one time to get caught by a pack of Corpus and blown to smithereens. Guy doing most of the work came over to kindly pick my MR 7 ass up. I ran back under my bubble to not annoy him further. There’s a good boi.

Some time and no more deaths later, mission ends in success. Huzzah!

THANK YOU FOR THE CARRY. I’LL TAKE IT FOR NOW. I REALLY WANTED IT ALL DONE AND YOU HELPED ME GET IT DONE. WHOEVER YOU ARE.

THIS IS HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE, APPARENTLY.

And no, that’s not sarcasm. Mostly positive bewilderment. It’s a bit strange that the game lets a player effectively leech or get carried by much stronger players.

I feel like I learned a lot more about how to play the game by doing it myself soloing and basically being backed into a corner to learn or face mission failure. I much prefer the pace of soloing too. I can go as slow as I like without feeling like a burden to others.

It’s a load better than toxicity though. Imagine if you were constantly ridiculed as a noob for trying to play together. Soon, no one would want to party up.

Instead, this creates a net positive experience of helping others and being helped – grateful newbies and kindly veterans paying their own experiences of getting carried forward. Yes, one has to suffer the odd lazy freeloader living off the system, but a negative and toxic vicious cycle is even less sustainable for anyone.

Frankly, I still don’t really find PUG grouping super fun because of the disparity in contribution. I don’t use a microphone or have the time to play as a coordinated team in Warframe either. So I’m still happy soloing my way through most things…

… but it’s nice to know that if I really need the help to get past something, I have an option to group up for progress without facing a page of spammed expletives and negativity.

There are also some interesting correlations to Guild Wars 2.

Presently, I’m quite enjoying pugging the Boss Blitz in the current festival. Sometimes there is exceptional coordination and we get the Gold reward. Sometimes there are issues and we wind up with Silver or Bronze.

Some guys take the responsibility of organizing; I just need to join in with my CC skills and usual main kitted out in a raid-ready build. I run arcdps these days, and can see that I’m usually in the top 3 dps (2nd is normal) of whichever boss I’ve picked.

Is my contribution a lot higher theoretically than the 10 others also plinking away at the boss? Yes, but they are also playing their part and trying at their own current levels of  skill (let’s not use that word anymore) capability.

And if I make a mistake and go down, they are also being helpful to the group effort if they pick me back up and let me continue my stream of high damage.

I assume eventually the populace will learn and adapt (especially since we haven’t had a Living Story-esque group event for quite some time) and things will subside into an accepted meta – or with the introduction of added elitism from high level fractals and raids, we run out of interest from players to self-organize (at which point, we know that’s truly the beginning of the end.)

Are there leeches in the Boss Blitz event that don’t contribute a thing? Yes, they are there too. But if it’s still within our capability to lift them all together, why not?

The alternative is a stream of angry toxic blame all over mapchat and people bailing to find greener pastures – another more organized map; another more chill activity; or another more pleasant-to-play game.

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4 thoughts on “We All Lift Together?

  1. Bhagpuss says:

    If I didn’t have to do my Blaugust prep post this morning I’d spin off this for a post. So many things to say about it. I’ll save it for later in Blaugust when I need ideas maybe (kind of thematically appropriate…).

    Just to keep it short, I’ve been taking underequipped, unprepared, underlevel characters to large-scale events since the first skeleton invasion I ever saw in EverQuest, which would be something like the millennium, I think. To me it’s just about the defining principle of playing an MMORPG. The world is the world. Bad guys (monsters, mobs) don’t – and shouldn’t – set themselves up to suit the abilities of the players. Players shouldn’t self-sort to meet the bad guys on par. It’s a freaking invasion! Everyone should pitch in. Everyone *can* do something to help, always. That’s what makes MMOs so much more than single-player games and makes open grouping so much more than either ready-mades or soloing.

    I think that’s the default opinion of most players who go towards such events. Players who don’t feel that way tend to avoid them (unless the rerwards are so great they feel they have no choice, in which case they are often the ones comnplaining, because they are effectively doing something they don’t want to be doing in the first place).

    Boss Blitz is a great example. I loved it last time round, four years ago. I learned how to do it properly and did plenty of Gold runs then. I also did a ton of crappy, disorganized shambolic bronzes and complete fails where we didn’t even kill one boss. They were all fun in their way although naturally the fun was more intense when all six bosses died in four minutes than when I decided to call it quits after half an hour because almost everyone had left.

    This time around I’ve yet to get a successful Gold run (although I’ve only done it half a dozen times so far). One very high silver is the best so far. Every run has been fun though and that’s all that matters. (I actually don’t know what you get for Gold in BB that you don’t get for Silve ror Bronze.) What’s more, I’m doing it on my necromancer, who is nowhere near my best geared character and who is in a build that’s not really all that appropriate. That’s because she is the character who does most of the Holiday events. That’s her role these days and I’m not going to bench her just because other characters could do it better.

    In nearly twenty years of doing this kind of thing I can’t remember a single occasion when I got called out for not pulling my weight. I just get stuck in and do what I can and that always seems to be enough to pass muster. Leeching is almost universally thought unacceptable but being an over-ambitious little trier is widely encouraged in experience. And should be.

  2. pkudude99 says:

    Congratulations on completing the event! Those hyena mobs were something, weren’t they? I ended up taking my Oberon to the last mission, figuring my Hallowed Ground would prevent the magnetic procs from hitting the group. It did… mostly. Sometimes it seemed like they could nullify my ground, and sometimes the procs seemed to hit anyway, so.. who knows? Still and all, it was fun to have an event that was a bit more challenging than the norm, and as you say — the rewards were lovely.

    And now that you mention it, the lack of dropping orbs that I noticed makes more sense. I was running Nekros for the interception and survival missions, and I noticed in the interception one that my Desecrate wasn’t making health orbs drop like it normally does either. And since my Desecrate uses my health, and I have the “Equilibrium” mod that makes health orbs (which Desecrate normally makes drop at a 50% rate) also give me energy, so I’m usually at 100% energy all the time…. but not in that run. I was thinking my ability was just bugged, not that it was a feature of the mission. Guess not.

  3. Curious George says:

    So interesting to read a low-MRs perspective on the game or maybe just a different perspective. At MR 25 the tactical alert was a refreshing experience for me. It was nice to have a mission that felt interesting and that everyone could feel like they were contributing.

    Too often these days, in Warframe, I feel that one player can easily dominate a mission to the point that the other three can sit back. I worry that when I am that “one player” I am reducing the enjoyment the other three are getting. More often I find myself playing support frames like Oberon Prime or Trinity Prime so others can take the damage role. I wish more regular missions were more like theses alerts.

    I hope you enjoy your time in Warframe as much as I have (2000+ hours worth). Poke your head into the Public queue every once in a while (especially on alerts) as it can be quite fun to have others around. Oh and if you don’t have a clan join the Reddit one, there really is no pressure or responsibility but there are plenty of us to lend help if you need it.

  4. […] I’ve been playing Warframe as a solo player for at least 95% of the time (minus the time I got carried by indifferent strangers through a tactical […]

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