To pre-empt some of the people who are just waiting with their hands on the keyboard to rage in the comments:
First off: I mainly play Vauban, Rhino and Nyx, but I have Frost Prime, Frost, Saryn, Loki, Ash, Nova and Trinity. I have about 250 hours played, I'm in a small clan with some irl buddies so I have the research weapons, and I mainly play defense high waves and collect weapons, tinker with my mods etc. I have spent a little money on the game, but not a lot, and mainly on cosmetic stuff. None of that is noteworthy, but maybe by sharing the info some of the people reading this might at least believe that I didn't start playing yesterday and wrote this out of frustration at how bad I am. ^^ I think a lot of people like me are a little tired reading long rants about balance or what frames are best from players who are cranky because they didn't get Nova, or who'd never admit that the only frame they play is too good, or not very good.
If you feel that you disagree with me because what I'm saying doesn't match your experience, please keep in mind that I'm mainly talking about Mid to high level defense (Tier3 void defense mission or higher) And about running defense with pick up groups. If you have never met an enemy with higher level than the end wave of tower 3 def, we are probably spending our time in the game differently and that's cool, but it might also mean that we are thinking and talking about completely different things.
Also, since people always love to point the following things out, I'll do it for them:
- Warframe is PVE, you are competing against the content, not against other players.
- You can finish almost all the content with any warframe solo, the only exceptions being high level defense mode.
- Putting the right mods and polarity slots in your gear makes a bigger difference than what warframe you play.
- All warframes are "viable"
- You always do amazing with your pet frame. Good for you mate!
Now, with that out of the way, lets look at number 4 again. All warframes are viable. I agree, they are, but that's NOT the same as all warframes being equal. A lot of players seem to have the mindset that since this is not a pvp game, it doesn't matter that some frames are a little... Juiced up compared to some others. I think that's a poor mindset to have, at the very least it prevents constrictive criticism and discussion, at the worst it's keeping valuable feedback away from the devs.
We all wish that when some new player asks what frame to build in the regional chat room, we could just say "Oh, play the coolest one they are all just as good" And some people do! But when that player shows up in the recruitment channel going "Ash looking for T3 Def" he won't get any whispers or invites. And the same is true for a handful of frames, while the opposite is true for others. There are 14 frames not counting the primes, but a lot of us don't even remember the last time we played defense against corpus/grineer/corrupted without a Frost, as an example. And there are always plenty of people looking for a Nova, Vauban or Rhino, but you can go a whole day in the Recruitment chat channel without ever seeing Excalibur mentioned.
There are a few ways to look at this. You could just say "Well, you can have more than one frame, keep one for solo and one for group, one for speedruns or one for defense, duh" and sure, that's a valid point, you definitely could. But I don't think that was the intention, and I'd much rather play a Warframe where all the frames were genuinely useful for group play, and there were no super-obvious choices. With that in mind, here are some things that I feel could have been done differently to make the game a bit more varied, or even more fun.
- Snowglobe makes frost too much of an "always" for defense missions. Seriously, everyone who ever starts a group for a defense missions that's even a little challenging and involves enemies that shoot at you always start by grabbing a frost. Snow Globe is that good. It just plain shuts off most of the mobs you face, except for the occasional MOA trying to stomp you or Grineer annoying little ball-thing. Keep snow globe up, and don't be an idiot and you pretty much can't lose. It's a done deal. And at a certain point, you simply can't beat waves any more on defense missions without snow globe (try going up against mobs that oneshot you through all your shield mods and extra hp without frost. Not fun) How should it be fixed? I don't know. Seriously, I would have preferred if the skill didn't exist so the game wasn't balanced around 1 warframe out of 14 always being 1 out of a group of 4 on defense missions.
- Crowd Control (CC) Is too powerful, especially on Vauban. I don't know about you, but when the best strategy is to simply not allow the enemies to fight back, things get a little boring, and a lot of frames without cc abilities get left out. Do you really enjoy fighting enemies who are floating in the air incapacitated? Vauban is my most played frame, and I honestly don't think he's fun. He's just really, amazingly powerful. Most of the things that I said about Frost are true about Vauban if you just swap out Grineer/Corpus/Corrupted with Infested, and he's still really, really good against the other factions too. I would be totally okay with Bastille to give an example, if it wasn't so huge, or so cheap. It would be nice to have a small obstacle to throw on the pod, or at a door, or on your downed friend so you can ress him without getting your face eaten by ancients, but as it is, Bastille is spammable and can blanket the room or just keep the pod safe indefinitely. It's powerful, but not fun. I would still use it at double the mana and half the size, but really I think CC is too powerful and too boring in general in warframe, at least with the AI being as dumb as it is ("Oh, I'll just walk right into this Bastille/Vortex here...")
- Stealth Frames have no utility in group play. Unless you count rushing the objective in a capture mission and leaving the party behind (don't do that, they flip out) stealth doesn't offer much value in group play. In solo, it's amazing for farming bosses or just playing ninja and giggling at your stealth crits, and the speed of Loki or Ash always make me play the Benny Hull music in my head. When it's time for defense missions though, those things are not very useful for killing 3000 mobs when you compare them to what other frames offer, like buffing the entire groups damage output, fastforwarding the first 10 waves by oneshotting the map, or almost making everyone invulnerable. How to fix this? Personally, I would love to see more varied mobs in high level defense. Things like Grineer Commanders who would wreck you with their switch teleport, or introducing some snipers that are actually sneaky, dangerous, and that you would need to go after or snipe back at. Events could be introduced during defense missions to make you think about more scenarios when putting together a group. For example, imagine you are at wave 40 on Narcissus or whatever, and suddenly you get a lotus transmission saying they are setting up a teleporter to bring more enemies, or that there's some kind of leader-enemy who's boosting the others but won't attack directly. Heck, just having to walk across the map to hack a door closed or disarm a bomb once in a while would give Ash and Loki something to offer the group in terms of utility.