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Warframe: Hildryn & Phase 1 Melee Changes

Aaron Couture Posted:
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In the age of Games as a Service (GaAs), Warframe has proven to be one of the best services for gamers. Currently, Warframe is on its 24th update in only six years. Not all updates are as meaty as Plains of Eidolon or Fortuna, but most of the 24 updates came with significant changes to the core game. Digital Extremes has refined its GaAs to almost a science. Generally, the community can expect one masterfully done story arch, two major updates, a new warframe with a mission tied to it approximately every two months, operation missions that cycle monthly, several Prime warframes, and constant updates to the particle graphics. It is tough to keep track of what Digital Extremes will come out with next.

At the end of February Warframe released their new reimaging of melee combat with what they are calling Phase 1. Because the combat system in Warframe is continuously evolving with parkour, flying, mod changes, new warframes with unique abilities, and plans, the changes to melee are going to be released in phases. Releasing in stages also ensures the changes do not break too much of the other aspects of the game all at once. Smaller bite-sized chunks of drastic changes give the developers a good foundation for feedback. So far the new melee changes feel like an upgrade to me, but I have noticed some weird results to the changes.

Previously, melee could be used by pressing the default quick melee key or the player could hold down the key that changes weapons until the melee weapon remained equipped as the primary weapon. The problem with both methods was a disconnect in the flow of combat. With the Phase 1 melee changes, a player can equip their melee weapon instantly by pressing the default quick melee key. The concept seems a lot like before when a player pushed fast melee for melee strikes, but in execution, it is very different. By pressing the melee key now, the weapon remains equipped. That means the melee weapon will block and be able to charge up instantly. If the player wants to shoot instead, they just press the standard fire key. For example, say you are frantically shooting distant enemies, and you are flanked by some other enemies, you can instantly move from shooting to a strong combo based, channeled strike. Previously, your strike would have been unchanneled and would not generate combo points. You no longer lose time or powerful attacks by switching between weapons.

Another tweak to the melee combat that makes a huge difference is the controllable ground slams. Previously, you could only go up and slam straight down. Now, you can direct where you want your ground slam to land. The only problem I see with the new ground slam directional control is that is sometimes doesn’t work when I want it to. The problem is more of my timing and less of it not working as intended. Along with the new ground slam comes fancy particle effects to give slicing, dicing, and slamming more of a feel to the melee attacks.  

With the changes to how melee functions, there had to be some key binding changes for melee actions. Now blocking is automatic when you face an enemy. You no longer have to hold down a key or button to block incoming damage. Like I said before, channeling is toggled set to your alt-fire button. The old button to cycle through weapons is now only used for cycling through primary and secondary weapons. The key binding changes make the combat feel more fluid, and the game feels faster-paced overall.

Along with the melee, changes update 24 included the new warframe Hildryn and the massive operation, Buried Debts, on Orb Vallis. I am not a fan of the open worlds in Warframe because they feel like they are missing a key component in helping groups stay together and work together. On both open worlds, I’ve had trouble completing events because people will not stay at the mission site or they will leave randomly. The Buried Debts operation is fun, but without a dedicated group, a solo player will have a hard time completing the event objectives promptly. I spent over two hours on Orb Vallis doing the event the other night and only sealed two fractures. The open worlds themselves are beautiful, but they do not appeal to my playstyle at this time.

Hildryn, on the other hand, is impressive! For years my main warframes have been Nidus, Rhino, Mesa and, Nezha. Not anymore, Hildryn is my new main. I love her shield mechanics that fuel her abilities. She is the first warframe that uses shields instead of energy for her abilities. Her passive ability makes her invulnerable for a brief moment after her shields are depleted, but the invulnerability resets when shields fully recharge. Her first ability is called Balefire. Balefire packs a punch, and it initiates the beautiful ragdoll effects Warframe loves to showcase. The second ability called Shield Pillage is the bread and butter of keeping Hildryn going. This ability steals shields and armor from nearby enemies and replenishes Hildryn’s. If you are not using Shield Pillage, you are probably looking at the revive screen a lot. The third ability, Haven links you and your group together to damage enemies that approach the connected members. Her final ability is called Aegis Storm. Hildryn takes to the skies to shoot double-barreled Balefire. Any enemies that are near her when she blasts off will be suspended in air and be prime targets for her Balefire. Generally, when you do Aegis Storm, you can expect to see enemies’ a$$es and elbows flying every which way as you Rocketeer around.

As you can see, Warframe knows how to be a GaAs. They not only give you constant additions to cosmetics or balancing; they are always figuring out ways to upgrade their graphics and core game mechanics along with all the other stuff that could be considered paid downloadable content, for free. When updates or patches break something, the developers are quick to try to fix it. With the new melee changes in Phase 1, I do believe some weapons feel broken or do not work the way they should, but I am sure the team will fix them as fast as they can. Frankly, I like some of the “broken” mechanics because they can result in some great gameplay. I’ve tested a bunch of different melee weapons with the new update and posted clips of the weapon types on www.Medal.tv/scarybosster1 . If you are interested in the melee changes, go check out some of the 45-second clips. Right now, my favorite weapon is the one-handed sword, Mire. I am not sure if the melee changes intended for the Mire to shoot the player around a mission at light speed, but it is super fun.

Have you tried out the new melee changes in Warframe? What melee weapon is your favorite now and is it a possessed dousing rode like Mire?


Aaron Couture

Games, motorcycles and guitars! Everything that screams mid-life crisis. Freelance writer for MMORPG.com for over 10 year.