Warframe: Fashion Frame & Flow

Want to know the mind of a player who will put down $60usd for a Warframe Prime Vault Pack containing items that can be farmed for, or bought from other players for probably cheaper sums?

Yep, that’s me. No regrets.

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BIG RHINO P WINS FASHIONFRAME. IS FANCY. ALSO HAS DOGGO. HAS SLIGHTLY HIGHER VOK-CAB-BULL-LARRY THAN BASE RHINO.

I debated with myself for a couple weeks, but eventually decided the bottom line was “convenience.”

You know me, I’m a dirty soloing noob Rhino lover.

The problem was, I couldn’t quite convince myself to stick in items that would upgrade the basic warframe, when there was a slightly better Prime version (releasing very soon from the Vault / then already released) that would also benefit from said items.

Focus lens, exilus adapters, forma, you name it, it seemed like a bit of a waste. Especially when one is a noob and not exactly swimming in item wealth.

The other problems were a lack of time and not much willingness to interact with other players.

I mean, I -could- have farmed missions for a 7-9% drop chance of the correct relic, and then farmed other missions to open said relic for a 2%, 11% or 25% chance depending on the part. And it takes four said parts to build Rhino Prime.

If I did the missions solo, it would a) take a lot of time, and b) I wasn’t sure I could solo the harder missions, especially since some would be Void missions where enemies do quadruple their normal damage or something like that.

If I grouped for the missions, it would be a) not very fun as someone else would obviously be carrying for most of it, and b) it seemed like a good way to turn something enjoyable into a chore, e. g. clicking through mission complete screens every 2-5min while someone else did all the work with their overpowered characters.

(Or c) be an utterly horrible grouping experience with no desired prize at the end, which would be even more of a waste of time.)

Seeing as I needed every scrap of time I had to play around in Path of Exile’s Incursion Flashback league, with Delve league fast coming in the background; mess around learning how to hunt various wyverns in Monster Hunter World; attend GW2 raids twice a week; reread some nostalgic novel series and get other desired progress going in Warframe, choosing to farm for fractions of a Prime warframe didn’t seem like the best use of a limited resource.

The more recommended alternative, even for players who are not willing to pay real dollars, is to use platinum to buy the Prime parts from others. (They just have to go through some additional steps of farming for other easier to obtain desired items first and then trade for the platinum.)

Seeing as I bought a ton of platinum for 25usd when I received a 75% off coupon oh so long ago and have been conserving it in my usual miserly fashion for weapon and frame slots, it would not really have killed me to spend a couple hundred plat to buy the parts from other people.

But said frame would come without a frame slot, and all the other goodies in the pack (which were also technically not worth the enormous asking price… maybe $30 if you were pushing it, not $60) AND I would have to sit there, refreshing the Warframe Market webpage, sending multiple tells to people, figure out the trade system and basically engage in a merchant simulation minigame.

That minigame being something I also avoided like the plague in Path of Exile, preferring to play solo self-found instead.

I’m sure it’s great if you like that kind of thing. I don’t.

I have limited time to play games and I want to be stuck in the action fast, from the moment I log on and pewpewing things.

As awesome Rhino.

Like, right now.

The more miserly part of me stepped in to say, wait a bit, and I did.

But for three weeks, the “I want a Rhino Prime. I can’t progress my Rhino without a Rhino Prime, though I can play my free Frost Prime from Twitch. I still really want a Rhino Prime” feeling kept echoing around in my body.

So ohh, what the heck, I can afford it, why not?

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Yep, still awesome.

The Galatine greatsword is only rank 19 and not well-modded, so ignore the stats.

I could have just chosen to buy the $40 pack, but I figured it was a slightly better (if still a rip-off) deal to get all the other Prime stuff that I didn’t have, and the 1200 platinum, as opposed to half of the Prime stuff and only 400 platinum.

It did unfortunately repeat a Scindo Prime axe, which I scored from one of those ubiquitous Twitch Prime giveaways, but oh well, it’s an AXE, and a fairly fancy one at that. I suppose one day in the far future when I’m drowning in mods and endo, I can have the flexi option of having six (3 x 2 axes) loadout options for it.

(Or maybe one even further away day when Digital Extremes launches Melee version 10.0, they’ll let us dual wield two greataxes and I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Hey, I can dream, right?)

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In the meantime, it’s just fun to play around with the extras.

Boltor Prime is surprisingly quite enjoyable, compared to the base Boltor that I wasn’t terribly impressed with. Nailing enemies to things with its projectile dart is neat.

Less so when you’re trying to shoot down a flying enemy in the Plains of Eidolon and the darts just don’t fly far enough before plonking down to the surface again… boy, do you wish for a hitscan weapon right about then.

Ankyros Prime is weird.

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It’s like a giant pair of ugly boxing gloves.

The damage output is pretty sick, in a good way.

I don’t really like or feel the animations fit with my conception of my Rhino, the robotic frisbee boxing gloves look kind of stupid, but when you one shot regular critters with one punch and absolutely destroy tough-to-kill mobs by simply spamming the melee button for a combo that puts them on the ground to be demolished by a finisher..

… there’s a bit of a cognitive dissonance thing going on. Do I like them? Do I not?

Anyway, I got it to rank 30 before switching it out.

I figure I will eventually stumble into another frame which might be absolutely right for Ankyros Prime. (Maybe Atlas, I hear he’s One Punch Man or something like that.)

Alas, after thoroughly enjoying Rhino Prime all the way back up to rank 30 and slotting it with everything I can, besides a forma that would bring it back down again, I had to admit that I still don’t have the -good- mods that are necessary for most warframe builds.

I had to run a whole bunch of missions before finally finding Streamline by sheer chance in an Orokin treasure container, for example.

Flow, on the other hand, had utterly eluded me. (The mod, not Csikszentmihalyi’s version, though I guess you could say that too.)

I tried to do Tier 3 Dark Sector survivals for the 6.67% chance every 15 minutes; hunted without success in Orokin secret rooms and opened all the treasure containers; killed some Butchers in a Tier 1 defense while leveling low rank warframes on the teeny tiny off chance that the 0.03% drop chance would kick in; finally settling in for the long haul on a Tier 3 Dark Sector excavation – that is, Pluto, Hieracon – with also a 6.67% drop chance every 3 excavators successfully defended.

Naturally, Rhino Prime is not terribly awesome at defending objects – or at least I can’t play him well enough to do so. So I had to fall back on Frost Prime.

For days.

Granted, I have limited time, so I maybe could only do 3-5 runs a night, but that’s pretty much my limit for grind. 14 runs back to back is just not me.

So there was IMMENSE relief when on one of these interminably repetitive missions, it finally dropped.

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It was a screenshot worthy occasion.

Ironically, I’m now grinding other missions, for other stuff, and not really minding it too much.

I think it was just the backed-into-a-corner feeling that I didn’t have a large enough variety toolset to deal with Tier 3 missions without using my very best weapons and warframe for the job.

And even that was a little tough nearer the end part of excavator 3, where I was heartily wishing I had enough syndicate standing to buy skill augment mods… like Chilling Globe, for example.

That’s something to be worked on too. Along with the other still missing mods of their ilk – Intensify, Continuity, etc… *sighs* Ah well, it’s “content.”

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Appreciation Through Play

Last week turned out to be an exceptionally busy week in terms of the number of games I suddenly wanted to be playing – all at once, at the same time – an impossibility to be certain, but not something the desire would stop to consider.

It was a good kind of problem – how fortunate that so many games suddenly tickled my interest – and bad at the same time for someone with barely any ability to organize or prioritize.

Unavowed had just launched, at practically the same time as Monster Hunter World, and I’d made the uncharacteristically hasty leap into buying both of them at launch price. Both interested me, for varying reasons, one for story and characters, and the other for big monster hunting action. Plus, gotta get my launch money’s worth.

Path of Exile had floated back up to my attention (Incursion league was ending at the end of the month and I hadn’t even tried it/ Incursion Flashback was just about to begin, offering laggards like me a last chance to run through the league boosted by the mob quantity insanity of  a whole bunch of past league mechanics acting as map modifiers).

Warframe was quickly rising from secondary game status to threatening to depose Guild Wars 2 as primary game. 6 years of GW2 was giving rise to an increasing sense of ennui and boredom, while Warframe was busy launching devstreams of “here’s what we have planned coming soon(TM)” with the main story plot was busy blowing my mind at every turn.

Yet there was still that nagging commitment of two nights of GW2 raiding plus the self-nagging of “maybe if you finally clean your inventory and get organized, you might actually be willing to take the game seriously again.”

It is, after all, somewhat likely that the detritus of the years is mentally bogging me down and making me unwilling to do stuff, knowing full well that either a) MORE crap is going to get accumulated and added to the “do something about eventually” pile or b) all my bags will be full and nothing can proceed.

I wish I could say that an angelic light shone down and I miraculously got my act in order and played through everything like an efficiency monster.

It was more on the scale of a lonely traveler meandering through various landscapes, making some manner of forward progress, not as quickly as one might hope, but reaching a kind of contentment all the same, with a side of bittersweet regret.

After sampling a little of all of the above, Unavowed pulled the strongest. It was a small, short game in the larger scheme of things and the story was both unknown (bearing that sense of novelty I crave so dearly) and compelling as a narrative. So I finished that.

I had it in mind to replay it again with new origins, but other games yanked my attention away as the days passed.

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Path of Exile was a curious case of conflicting desires.

On one hand, I’ve done most of it all before. The story Acts and maps are not compelling when attempting them for the umpteenth time (think I’ve done at least 4-5 runs through Act 1-10 by now) and my SSF builds would be likely to hit an upper limit somewhere amidst yellow-red maps. Their eventual fate would be to move over from the current league when it expired to Standard league and my ever-optimistic but impractical hopes of getting further through patient grinding with them “some day (but not today).”

On the other hand, it would really suck if I never tried out the Incursion mechanic and made a few Temple forays and maybe even collect some league specific uniques when I had the opportunity to.

There was also a deadline to this; Incursion league ends 27 Aug.

Driven a little crazy by these compulsions, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my brain and wherever the hell these urges come from, ending up with a bargained compromise – I wouldn’t invest all the time necessary to get to lvl 80+ this time around (something my prior two SRS characters had done, quite effortlessly but with plenty of time put in). Instead, I’d aim for lvl 60-70ish, and just -try- the unique league stuff.

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Over the course of the week, in fits and starts and 3-5+ level jumps per play session, this was accomplished.

I was okay with playing the flavor of the month build – arc traps – since the plan was just to play for just long enough to mess around with the new league stuff.

Naturally, the game had other plans.

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For the past couple of years, I have -never- gotten a single Tabula Rasa until I spent the last SSF character farming the Blood Aqueducts for 2-3+ hours to gather 9 Humility cards.

Of course, my second Tabula Rasa is offered completely unexpectedly for a pretty cheap price in Perandus Coins when I was planning on ending this character between lvl 60-70.

6-link arc traps is pretty giggle-inducing. I am now lvl 70 and a little bit torn. I might just keep going for the remaining week.

My resistances are absolute shite, since I’m not actually interested in putting in the effort to regear everything to a new tier. But I’m still living by the skin of my teeth between layered defences like acrobatics, immortal call and being quick enough to toss traps at anything that moves, thus eliminating the -entire- pack and possibly a few more besides in a single action.

We’ll see. I guess we’ll stop when I keep blowing up because the gear can’t cut it anymore or the league ends.

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Then there’s Monster Hunter World, the game of meeting interesting big monsters and killing them to carve them up for parts.

I was fortunate enough to escape most of the technical troubles that were said to have plagued the PC port.

For about a heart-stopping half-hour, starting the game was quite impossible as the thing would keep crashing about ten seconds into the first video cutscene. I intuitively suspected this was due to my ancient graphic drivers – which I had to roll back to practically the time I first bought the PC (ie. 4 years ago) when installation of newer Nvidia drivers failed six months ago while trying to fix GW2 lag/latency problems.

I was not looking forward to a repeat incident where the installation deleted my current drivers yet failed to install the new ones, leaving me with naught but Intel embedded graphics. I had to roll back all the way to the original OEM graphics driver installation before it took.

Still, before I refunded the game, it behooved me to at least give it a shot. So I downloaded the current Nvidia driver installation, set it running and crossed my fingers.

Lo and behold, it actually worked as one would normally expect. My drivers updated!

And sure enough, when I started Monster Hunter World again, it ran the cutscene without another crash.

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Lookin’ good to boot.

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Except when they’re ugly as sin.

I escaped most of the connection problems by not really intending to connect and play with another person.

First, there’s the desire to solo it all to both feel a sense of accomplishment and go at my own pace, and later, while eavesdropping on various conversations over Discord and Reddit and forums, I must admit that my own pace is probably too damn slow for the greater part of the player locusts who are just rampaging through the game and aiming straight for High Rank armor.

Here I am, still content to murder a Great Jagras every other day and planning to make a vast collection of every type of Low Rank armor eventually, before finally moving on to whatever High Rank armor implies.

It’s perhaps not the best way to play this game – I may end up with zero allies by the time I hit better-to-group content, but given all the other games on my plate, I have to reluctantly acknowledge that things must be prioritized and MHW sits lower in that priority order for me.

Part of the issue is that I just don’t feel like intensively learning anything these couple of weeks.

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MHW has an exceptionally helpful training ground that shows you all of the neat moves each weapon can make, just like a fighting game. But I’m really not familiar with either genre, and when you don’t have time to play intensively, you don’t have time to memorize through theory, practice or muscle memory every movement either.

It’s cool, certainly. And when I finally have time to treat this as a primary, or even secondary game, I think it would be fun to master a weapon or three.

But for the moment, it’s slightly frustrating to flub things because you’re not familiar with the controls and it pushes the game as a whole down a priority notch until one has time to deal with it the way it expects you to.

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You get cat sidekicks though. Which is ridiculously awesome, in a Japanese game kind of way.

And then there is Warframe – the game of way too many lateral options similar to GW2.

To keep my focus, the long running goal there was that I wanted to play through all the main story quests.

I finally decided to get past the barrier of Tier 4 Void missions Mithra and Mot by public grouping. Those went by fairly uneventfully.

Then it was on to the Chains of Harrow quest.

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The creativity of Digital Extremes never fails to amaze me. The whole quest turns the standard procedural spaceship maps you run around into a horror movie transplant.

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If you think you stepped into The Secret World for a moment, I would not fault you.

As is usual for Warframe, the story quests are confusing but epic, making a dozen allusions to historical events that reveal tiny mysterious drips of lore and plot for players to speculate for months thereafter. It is somewhat fondly reminiscent of GW2 Season 1 – except done way better, because the reveals are serious and for main storyline characters, rather than bit players or sidelong tidbits to be forgotten in the next chapter.

Then it was on to the Apostasy Prologue and The Sacrifice.

Oh, they were fucking good.

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Suffice to say, there are many things in this screenshot that resonate for players in the know. (But it will hopefully just look interestingly epic for players who have yet to experience it all.)

You earn the Excalibur Umbra warframe by the end of it. There are many reveals to be had; and even more questions will bubble up as a result of those reveals… to be continued… in the next installment. *mind blown*

Now that I’ve finished the main quests, side quests are also now on the agenda.

I’m also turning attention back to Cetus and the Plains of Eidolon, because certain missions in The Sacrifice were, let’s say, a massive pain.

I was lacking certain accoutrements the game was plainly expecting me to have, and dying and restarting every 3 seconds because of that lack. I ended up googling for help and settled for relying on z-axis abuse and very patient tickling of a certain mob to death. It worked, but it was pretty ugly.

So rectifying that lack is also on the agenda… though it looks to be a month-long faction grind sort of affair.

Speaking of faction grinds, Syndicates were yet another thing I hadn’t looked at, and that was rectified this week. After some guide consultation, I decided on the four syndicates I was probably going to aim towards accumulating standing for and started by putting on the first sigil I was supposed to put on. I should probably have done this a little sooner, but oh well, we all have to start somewhere.

Suffice to say, I am deeply enjoying being a busy little bee in Warframe and anticipate quite a few more months, if not years, of gameplay out of this surprising game.

Wowed by Unavowed

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Unavowed is Wadjet Eye adventure game meets oldschool Bioware party companion interactions.

The bonus about reading a bunch of bloggers is that I caught wind of this game’s launch really quickly, courtesy of xyzzysqrl’s glowing review.

After having played through all five episodes of the Blackwell series, Technobabylon and The Shivah (and made some game attempts at Gemini Rue, Shardlight, Resonance and Primordia), suffice to say that anything Wadjet Eye makes and releases is, for me, an auto-instant buy.

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Even if you’re less convinced by adventure games, for fear of puzzles or pixel-hunting or just not enjoying the genre… if you do like a side of supernatural urban fantasy, a good story with choices (ethical dilemmas almost) that -matter-, character tales from Bioware-style chatting with party members, you might want to take a second look at Unavowed.

Developed by a tiny company of 3 employees (so says Wikipedia) and a bunch of outside talent contracting, Unavowed has 3 character origins * 2 genders, and 4 (+1, one comes as a pair) NPC party members, of which you can pick two to help you solve a number of mysterious supernatural cases.

There are multiple solutions to various puzzles, some of which are reliant on the party members you bring with you. There seem to be 4 main endings that I’ve seen.

Can anyone say, branching storylines, ahoy?

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Even the title screen changes as your party increases or decreases.

I’m glossing over the story because even the opening is impressive in how it situates you into the story with the choices you make right off the bat. You can be male or female, a bartender, an actor or a police officer.

Unavowed is set in the same world as the Blackwell series, but where Blackwell deals with a family saga of a spirit medium (called Bestowers in this world, you’ll find out why if you play those games), Unavowed zooms back the camera lens to show off other supernaturals in the setting.

You get in the thick of things fast, with a supernatural team (the Unavowed) hot on the heels of a case of demonic possession. Where there are demons, there is usually quite a bit of chaos to go along, and your companions and you get to pick up the pieces and puzzle out satisfactory (or not) resolutions to all the various affairs.

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Your companions, like oldschool Bioware NPCs, provide some verisimilitude by seguing into little animated conversations with you and each other. The voice acting is great. Learning more about your companions and their histories is definitely a good 50% or more of the main gameplay highlights of Unavowed.

Another quiet innovation is turning the ubiquitous “Look At / Examine” adventure game command into a simple text mouse over. It saves time, adds additional detail and character voice into the beautifully hand drawn scenes.

In any case, you should stop reading and go play it.

If you’re not convinced, check out a stream or two to see if it tickles your fancy.

Then buy it and play it.

If you get it directly from Wadjet Eye’s website, you get a Steam key, the game’s soundtrack, and it’s 10% off for the next 2 days.

Failing which, if you read this later, you can wait for a discount and then get it. Or get it full price. Whatever. But you should get it and play it.

(Or at least watch someone else play it. It’s that nifty. You might wind up wanting to play it too.)