Monday, January 20, 2014

Warframe on PS4 - Once more into the (Orokin) Void...

Warframe, Warframe, Warframe, it's still all about Warframe (click the Links, for more Warframe). And it might be, until something better comes along, that does even less to explain itself to the people playing it...

If you're new to Warframe, I'd suggest starting with the links above - in order - or your in for major SPOILERS!! Also, you won't understand much of what I'm about to divulge.

The Void. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Tenno, faceless (since helmet-wearing) Sci-Fi Ninjas, on a quest for even more loot. And special loot it is. Prime, even. No, seriously, outside of the Login-Lottery, the Void is the only place you can, if the random reward generators are equally willing, earn your Warframe Prime Gear - special, and mostly better versions of the weapons you love to kill with.

When logging in, and looking at the update screen, did you ever wonder where that damn newspaper/newsletter for the Prime Gear is? You know, "The Void Today"? I sure did.
So, I'm not that smart. I play video games all day, what do you expect?

The Void (and in my defense, that "Today" with that capital "T" is quite misleading) is a place outside of what we, the Tenno, consider our space. The Orokin, these mysterious beings of ancient mystery, made it - well, them, actually. They had a lot of spare time and Forma on their hands.
Orokin Towers are big and filled with treasure. And, as with all treasure, many have tried to win it, and it has destroyed them all. Corrupted them. So, don't feel bad about killing everything inside those towers. The enemies you encounter, from all three different ilks (Grinneer, Cropus and the Infested), are only puppets of the Orokin, and we all know what to do with puppets, right? No, not the anatomically correct life-sized ones, I paid good money for...


How do you get to the Void? You need a key (obviously). Keys to the Void can be gained, as pretty much everything, through the Login-Lottery; but mostly you'll earn them from Tier 3 rewards of Survival Missions. Survive the onslaught for long enough, and 2 out of 3 times, every 15 minutes will net you an Orokin Key. Keys have different Ranks (I-III equaling enemy levels of 10-20, 20-30 and 30-40, and, of course, better loot), and come in the well-known shades of different missions. There's Survival, there's Exterminate, there's Capture (how I hate those...), and all the others - just with a touch or Orokin.
The Keys you can find in your "Key Menu" (obviously). Interesting Fact, though, as opposed to the Clan Dojo Key, only the host needs an Orokin Key, and can invite up to three friends or somethings to join him: 4 people only need one Key. Even better, if you fail, disconnect or abort, the Key is not used up. As you can see, though, I don't have any friends, so I had to do this "Rank I Orokin Exterminate all by my lonesome. Hence, the length...

There's dangers in these Towers. All kinds. Corrupted, yes, but still enemies, no matter how nice they all play with each other. (Mind out of the gutter, people!) Corpus have Shields, Grinner have Armor, and the Infested burn-a-lot. So remember, when loading up for the Void, bring weapons to fight a versatile tide (bring killing stuff with at least Impact, Puncture and Slash Damage).

The enemies you can see are only part of the danger, though. Hidden pressure plates activate deadly traps, and while those spinning laser cubes might look like nothing at all, they burn you bad and quick, and you won't want to have to dodge one during a firefight. You might want to activate one, then shoot out the top to stop it from spinning and create a deadly barrier between you and your enemies, though. When those traps try to trap you is often quite predictably: Secret Treasure Room? Trap! There are a few strewn throughout the regular environment without obvious bait (including the freeze-you-into-slo-mo strips of decorative ice), but those are pretty rare.

And in that regard, at least, going solo is not a bad thing. You can take your time, especially in Exterminate Missions. Nobody runs away, so you don't have to run - period. Except for those huge empty rooms. And to cover. And... well, you know. And did you notice those pop-up covers in the environment? Very handy, those.

Void Missions not only give you rare materials like Gallium and Control Modules, Prime Gear Components or Blueprints, you might also find special mods - the Corrupted kind (obviously). In theory, Corrupted mods have two effects, just like Nightmare Mods, but only one of the Corrupted Effects is beneficial. You might get an increase in Power... uhm, Power, but get a reduction in Power Range, and so forth. Still, they do stack with similar mods to increase certain effects even more, so the trade-off might be worth it.
Sadly, as I now know, regular Orokin Missions (started by keys you get ready to use) do not get you Corrupted Mods. The Corrupted Mods are rewards for getting access to an Orokin Vault on an Orokin Derelict and extracting an Orokin Artifact. Which requires a special needs-to-be-crafted Key (for which you need all those Nav-Coordinates you find) to enter the Derelict, and another, even more special key to open the vault. Weird. But more on that, when I know more on that.

When you're done with the Void, you extract - and might get something special - most likely one Prime Gear Thingee. Sadly it seems, that to complete a Prime set, you have to do different missions (always playing Exterminate will likely net you more duplicates of the same Prime Thingee than a complementary part), and even different Mission (Key) Ranks to assemble something Prime.

And that's it. The Void (halfway) explained. Yearning to try? Warframe is free on PC and PS4. Well, it's Free-2-Play, so you can pay for instant access to better stuff.

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Warframe - I'm Ninja (you can't see me, you can't hit me, I murder you)

... or, "The Bow, the Knives and the Sword"

Warframe, Warframe, it's all about Warframe (click the Links, for more Warframe). So, what? I do like it. It's fun, it's free, and it's a lot deeper and more versatile than you might think. Different weapons, different Frames, and different approaches, can turn Warframe into a totally different game.

Case in point (if that is the expression, which I am totally unsure of), Warframe has a Stealth System. Yes, you, Tenno Space Ninja, can actually be really, really sneaky. Be sneaky enough, and you can finish whole missions without setting off an alarm. Why would you want to? Well, if you, like me, enjoy a good sneak, stealth kills, sniping silently from the shadows, why would you not?

Warframe does throw you in at the deep end, and especially playing with randoms mostly lacks the necessary coordination to go about things sneakily - which invariable leads to running around really quick and competing for who can shoot more things dead. But once you get along with the game, Sneaky Gameplay - and Open Combat with Sneaky Gameplay Weapons - can be an amazingly gratifying change of pace.

You can go solo, at your own pace, you can explore, collect resources, and all that, level up the "slower" weapons, farm bosses - all the while trying to hide and only be seen, if ever, far too late. If you have buddies that are willing, you can have even more sneaky fun. And the game? Plays completely different. So if you ever feel like you're getting tired of the gung-ho, run and shoot Warframe, give the slower pace a chance.

The Stealth System is surprisingly robust. Note though, that stealth requires not being engaged by a mindless Infestation. Infestation does not work with stealth. At all. I think. Anyway, every Corpus or Grineer mission, every location you first infiltrate unseen. Some missions do require you to make yourself known, but the majority does not. You can decide when to reveal your presence, or to reveal it at all.

Unaltered Enemies will follow their regular patrol patterns, and not that attentively. Hiding, crouched, in a dark corner at a right angle to a patrolling enemy walking past will not get you caught. (Once you run headlong into patrolling enemies because you didn't check your corners, they will see you and shoot at you, however, as the video above shows quite impressively.)

Being crouched does make you harder to spot, but it is not a requirement for the one stealth aspect most that played the game, specifically those that chose Loki as the "Free Starter Frame", will be familiar with: The Melee Stealth-Kill. Sneak, Run even Slide up behind an unaware enemy, and you get a free shot. On anything that offers "shots". Robotic Walkers do not. Don't try. Any melee strike is silent, the stealth kills silent and deadly. But they do not guarantee a kill, unless you do enough damage. Not so important early on, but on higher levels it will be.

Another way to kill silently, and the way to go unless you really, really like endless "sneak behind the one lone guy" missions, are silent ranged weapons. There are several options, from the throw-able melee weapons Glaive and Kestrel, to the Ninja Secondaries Kunai and Hikou, to the Bows. There are mods that can basically put a silencer on many others, but I've never seen one, so I run with the Paris bow and the Kunai throwing knives, both with high Puncture Damage against the armored Grineer. Enemies will react to missed arrows, killed enemies within their sightline, and, well, you. So try to go for the last one in line if you can, then work your way forward. You know, that scene in movies, where the three-man enemy patrol gets slowly decimated, until the leader says something, waits for a reply, then turns to find out he's all alone? That's what you're going for.

Should you, like I do quite frequently, mess up and get into a firefight, all (stealth) is not lost. Things only get irreversibly hot, once an alarm has been sounded. Enemies will very often run towards the next control console instead of shooting at you to raise one, so if you manage to kill them all before the alarm goes off, you will still be undetected. Enemies in nearby rooms, near enough to have heard the gunfire, might come to investigate, or take cover and wait for things to happen, but, being sneaky, you can still go on sneakily. Once you get far enough away from the point of disturbance, enemies will be completely oblivious, and on goes the sneakyness.

Until you really mess up, get caught between rooms so both people in front and behind you are running towards alarms, and once the sirens wail, all out war happens. That's when you get things like lock-downs (which is not a bad thing in certain situations, since if you cannot get out, no new enemies can get in), too. Any kind of alarm goes off, and all enemies in the whole level will be alerted to your presence, location and general dislike of their endeavors. Alert enemies are aggressive, vigilant and generally almost superhuman in their knowledge of where you are - or will appear.

Now, if the alarms are blaring, stealth goes out the window. There's no point to it anymore. Oh, sure, you can still try and flank enemies, or get behind them, and Loki's Invisibility is still very handy, but at the very least melee stealth kills are off the table. You don't even get the prompt anymore. So don't crouch-walk around with the alarms on, all it will do is make you an easier target. Enemies will track you down, and attack relentlessly, so the gloves come off. Now, if you're thinking "never bringing a knife to a gun fight - or a bow, for that matter" - I say to you: Bad Ninja! Look at that Green Hooded Arrow guy.

Granted, the bow requires a bit of skill, skill that I do lack most of the time, but once you get used to the travel time, the slight arc of the arrow, the relatively long wait between "shoot, reload and charge", and haven't thrown your controller into the TV in frustration, the bow is very cool. The Kunai knives might be even cooler, especially in close quarters, although I'm even worse with them than with the bow. They fire and reload pretty fast, though, so I can deal. And, as opposed to the bow, you will rarely run out of secondary ammunition. The bow's arrows come from the Sniper Ammo pool, and those are the rarest ammo drops in the game. Thus, I run with the Arrow Ammo Mutation, converting every unused ammo of any other kind into at least one arrow.

You can't see me. I hit you.
In open combat, it's the bow for the distance, the throwing knives for close range, and the sword (swords/daggers/club/axe/axes/boomerang) when things get personal. Charge attacks, and of course the Loki-Invisibility melee attacks with the inherent critical multiplier, can make short work of most enemies, even with mid-level weapons. And while that might not be immediately apparent in the boss-fight in the vid above, that dude has an insanely quick shield recharge, and I had not really brought any Impact or Electrical Weapons, so I had to "chip away", as they say. I did get the finisher in with the bow, though. Of which I am moderately proud. And so are my parents. Yours will be, too. Trust me.

When Councillor Hek was done in, and the reinforcements laid to rest, violently, all that was left was escape. Just me. And my bow. Her name's Paris. And did I mention, she can shoot through several people in one go?

And those that might ask themselves, why did I have to write all that, and not include some witty commentary on the videos? I did. I really did.

I just didn't turn on the darn microphone...

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

WARFRAME on PS4 - Survival

(For an intro into Warframe, Tutorial Videos and Gameplay, check out these two posts:  
Warframe - a Christmas Present  and Warframe - More Info, More Gameplay

Warframe, the very nice F2P-Title available on the PS4 and PC is built around what is called a "tile set". Basically, these are different building blocks that can be mixed and matched to create ever different levels - albeit with the same parts. There are seven relatively unique tile sets, and while you'll often come across familiar areas during your missions, the game keeps it fresh by randomly changing the arrangement - and it's actually quite easy to get lost, because you thought you knew the way.

What's more, Warframe has different types of missions, and in this post, I will take a look at one that, as is my experience playing with randoms, seems to be a bit misunderstood:


Logic would dictate, that you'll try to keep your Tenno-ish Deeds unknown for as long as possible when engaging in a mission. An alerted enemy is a tougher enemy, and all that. Not so in Survival. Your goal is to draw attention, specifically away from another Tenno Operative doing sneaky things somewhere just out of sight. The longer you manage to do that, the more sneaky stuff your operative will get done, of course, but that part is admittedly kind-of omitted by the game.

Your Survival is measured in five minute segments, with a five minute minimum to successfully finish the mission, and every additional five minutes netting you increasingly rare rewards. The timer starts after you, hesitantly but intentionally, trigger the alarm, and the enemy will do its very evil best to kill you. Your Goal: Survival! (So, yeah, that was kinda obvious, but I couldn't resist.)

Which sounds not that hard, given that the tile sets come with many handy bottlenecks, where one could set up and dig in. Which is why, simply out of spite, the evil enemy turns off all life support systems. (How do you know they're the evil enemy, by the way? Shutting off life support even for their own guys in order to get to you is a very clear indicator. It's a check mark. A pillar of Evil Enemy-ness.)
With time, quite literally, running out, Lotus, that Cyber-Honey with the Helmet on, manages to teleport life support capsules into your vicinity. For some reason, though, she cannot teleport them all to the same place, but the game did need a reason to keep you on the move, and this one is not as bad as some I've seen.

So what you do, is you run around the level, trying to stay alive against endless waves of increasingly evil enemies, while finding and then activating life support capsules. Life support is constantly draining, and it is in your best interest to keep it above zero. It is called life support. Every capsule you activate increases the life support running time by 20-30% , but the hordes of enemies can get pretty distracting, so don't just start looking for the capsules once you start taking constant damage because there's no more air.
Because once it's gone, your mission is over. Capsules - and the smaller, dropped-by-enemies personal life support modules that regain everyone 4% when picked up - will stop working, your shields and health will drain, until you have only 5 health points left, but even those will go away after five minutes of vacuum (which is quite impressive, really).
On the other hand, don't activate a capsule until life support has drained to around 70% - anything added to over 100% will be lost, and you might come to regret those lost seconds of precious oxygen. Capsule drops will become less and less frequent the longer the mission continues, so you need to find a balance between keeping it up and not wasting any.

After five minutes of running and killing and killing and killing, your extraction becomes available. You'll still have to reach it, but it will be there waiting for you, which apparently seems to be the General Call to Flee for many of the newer players. Granted, once you hear "Extraction", people unaware of Survival's possibly endless mission length, could be forgiven for heeding the siren call of freedom - especially if you managed to net a nice mod for your collection. If you die and fail the mission, everything you picked up (except for the things you "picked up" in way of experience) will be lost, and the way to the Extraction Point will be filled with enemies.
In Survival, enemies will follow you and appear where you are, even if you don't do anything but stand around the extraction pods, waiting for your teammates to do all the heavy lifting and get you some more XP and Survival Rewards.

But still, there's really no reason except "I really need to use the bathroom, RIGHT NOW!" for a team of three or four Tenno to not remain, and last until minute ten. After ten, things might get tricky for newer or lower level players, but for the love of Pete, don't start a 60-second Extraction Timer with at least half of the team waiting near the pods at 8:50 min. Just don't. Do remember, however, that once you decide to bail out, there might be tight hallways teeming with enemies between you and a successful mission. If you get downed, you can be revived or revive yourself (eventually), and if just one of you makes it out alive, it's all good. But if at any given time all players are down, the mission fails and all those nice rewards are gone, gone, gone.

Wow. That was a lot of reading, and in these literally challenged times, too. So, here is a complete Survival Mission in two videos, going strong until minute 20. This is also the "easiest" Survival Mission, but by the end, the enemies are pretty damn tough.

That's me with three Randoms, playing a Level 20 Loki Warframe, toting the Braton Rifle, Sicarus Pistol and the Orthos Heavy Melee weapon. Notable Mods are an Aura Energy Recharge (with a raise in Warframe Mod Energy), a 45% increase in Shield Recharge, 120% Extra Health, and the 30% increased Maximum Rifle Ammo.
And yes, I am that bad. Also, I was not really used to the heavy weapon with its long strike animations, so you'll see me hitting air quite a lot after I actually had wanted to stop striking anything quite some time before...

Warframe on PS4 - Survival Mission Gameplay pt. 1 and 2

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...