Warframe's The Old Blood update came out on Halloween, and since then, I’ve had a good amount of time to play and gather my initial impressions. The bulk of the update brought the new Kuva Lich nemesis system, and the phase 2 melee changes. Minor elements of the update were Vauban and Ember reworks, the addition of Grendel, the vampiric Kavat, new marketplace changes, and some user interface changes tweaks. There are many things I like about the new update, and there are a few things I feel could have been done better. Because the Kuva Lich system is the most important part of the update, it is safe to say it is a great addition to the game. There are some faults of the system that I believe should be looked at before Empyrean is released.
Kuva Lich System Impressions:
The first thing to remember about the Kuva Lich system is, it is not a new player system. You have to complete the story The War Within before you can start to find your lich larva. If you have the prerequisites done, it is fairly easy to find your lich larva. After several attempts to get my larva in a group, I decided the easiest way would be to do it solo in a level 20+ exterminate mission on Sedna. While I was in groups, other members of my group would kill my target before I had a chance to get a single shot off on it. Once I got my larva, I was on my way to finding out how to kill him. My first (only) Kuva Lich was named Alphabet Soup.
Unlike, what we were told at TennoCon, the Kuva Lich does not absorb your powers when he kills you. The system is more random than that, but he/she does keep the head of the warframe you found the larva on. My lich had a Grendel’s head mounted on his shoulder. It was cool looking, but it didn’t mean as much as it was explained at TennoCon. I hope in the future, the nemesis system has a stronger link between the warframes used and who your lich is. It is a good start, though.
Once you get to know your lich in the profile page, you can start grinding to kill him. I started by gathering requiem mods to fill my Parazon. First, you have to get the requiem relics. Then, you have a random chance to get a mod from opening a relic. If that wasn’t enough grinding, then you have to learn the names of the mods by killing lich minions. Learning the names of the three mods does not mean you will know the order of the mods that will kill your Kuva Lich. Not to mention that your mods need to be charged, and if you fail to kill your lich, the mods lose charge. You don’t lose the mod (that would be horrible), you lose a charge that can be replenished by killing more minions of the lich. Simple, right? At about this time in the quest for killing my lich, I feel like I am in a TV infomercial, “but wait, there is more!!” The mods have to be placed in a specific order to kill your lich, and that order is only discovered through trial and error. I would have hoped by this far in the grind there would be some clues to help people discover the order without circling back and grinding more.
I believe in the grind for a free-to-play game, but there is a point where the grind becomes a chore. For me, I have not killed my lich yet because I gave up on getting the requiem mods from the relics. I found myself using Void Traces to upgrade my relics and still failed to get a mod from them. I even went to the marketplace to buy the mods, but they only came in a pack that costs 835 platinum. Don’t get me wrong; the bundle is worth it because it has all the mods, every relic, an armor set, and several color palates, but it is not worth it to me because I only want the mods. I’ll come back to my lich when I feel the need to progress my game in that direction. Until then, I am going to have fun messing around with Ember and Vauban.
Ember and Vauban Impressions:
Over the past six years of playing Warframe, I have always wanted to like Ember and Vauban because they sounded cool to play. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to grind Vauban alerts so that I could have him. Once I got him, I was disappointed with how he played compared to warframes like Nidus, Mesa, and Limbo. His abilities were boring and did not have the synergy most of the new warframes had. Since the update, I cannot stop playing both Vauban and Ember. Both of their reworks are great in my opinion. Casting Ember’s Immolate protects her like a shield, but over time a heat meter builds up. That heat can be released by using Fire Blast, or the heat can be used to increase the damage of Inferno (the ultimate ability).
Vauban, on the other hand, is all about synergizing his crowd control. The first ability, Tesla Nervos, is great to electrify enemies to give some initial CC while you set up what Minelayer you want or just to add DPS. I found myself using and loving all the different mines in the Minelayer ability. Where Vauban now shines is using Bastille, Minelayer, and Photon Strike all together to clear a crowded room. He is now a joy to play, and I feel like he is going to be my main for a while.
Melee Phase 2 Impressions:
The truth is, melee is my favorite part about Warframe since the melee phase 1 update. With melee phase 2, Digital Extremes brought back being able to manually equip your melee weapon to be able to control how the weapon is used. I am glad they brought this back because I found myself trying to figure out how and when I was going to block incoming damage. Now, I can use my right mouse button to block it manually. As I said, melee is my favorite part of the game, so I run most missions using only my melee weapon. Before, I had a hard time figuring out the best time to channel attacks, but now that is all gone; it is replaced by a more robust combo system and heavy attacks. I still find myself button mashing and not doing combos like the system is supposed to be utilized. Mainly, the enemies are too stupid, and I do not have to worry about setting up combos. I think the melee system is in a great place now, and what needs to be looked at is the enemy AI to force players to think about what combos they should be performing for the best DPS. I am looking forward to seeing what phase 3 of the melee changes will bring.
Like most new warframes, Grendel needs some tweaks to make him viable in groups and in the enclosed nodes. There are some things I find semi-fun about him, but overall, he is not in a good place right now. The glaring problems with Grendel are his ultimate ability and his excessive energy drain. Grendel’s Pulverize (meatball form), ability feels useless and is hard to control. First, you have to suck in enemies with Feast to do Pulverize, and then it only lasts until all the enemies are “digested.” Feast sucks energy way too much even with Primed mods installed. Even though Pulverize doesn’t use energy, it is not worth the hassle of even using the ability.
The Warframe community has come up with some great ideas to fix some of the problems, like having enemies absorbed while using Pulverize to fuel it longer. That is a great suggestion to keep the ability going, but it doesn’t help with movement. If I am not in an open world map, it is frustrating to navigate Grendel when he is rolled up into his Sonic-meatball form. Not only that, Warframe is a fast-paced game, and the Pulverize ability is extremely slow and underpowered. If the ability was more of a bouncy ball and you went at Sonic-like (not literally, that would be too fast) speeds around the map, it would be more fun, and you could keep up with your group. In the close quarters of most nodes, the double jump smash ability and building up speeds is near impossible to achieve. Grendel is going to need a lot of work to make him feel fun to play. I am hoping the patch comes around the console release.
Overall Impressions and Future of Warframe:
Overall, I think the update is moving the game in the right direction, even with its flaws. I would like to see DE work more on the enemy AI and less on reworking warframes. The Kuva Lich system is a great start even with all the grinding a player has to do. The vampiric Kavat is a great addition to the pet stable even though the two unique mods are not very noticeable using that type of Kavat. I do love the looks of the vampiric Kavat, and that is the main point of Warframe’s end game, Fashion Frame. Both Vauban and Ember are in a great place now, but Grendel is very lackluster out the door. One addition to the game I like, but might not be a fan favorite is the addition to specific mod packs you can buy.
The Essential Parazon Mod Bundle comes with all the Parazon mods at a low price. I’ve heard this called pay-to-win, but in Warframe, what are you really winning? It is a PvE game, and besides, it gives you more time to grind your Kuva Lich. The bundle is dirt cheap, and none of the mods give you a leap in any direction when it comes to core gameplay. I would even accept Primed mod bundles at this price. There are a lot of people that quit playing Warframe because getting good mods is near impossible for them to obtain. Even after six years of playing the game I still don’t have end-game mods like Natural Talent. I don’t see the harm in giving people a choice in buying mods they want if that is what helps them have fun and play the game. In the future I welcome more mod packs like this.
What do you think of the changes implemented in The Old Blood update?