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...

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