Digital Extremes constantly re-evaluates where they want particular weapons and weapon types to be in the game. As of Update 15, we have seen them take another measure with unique weapon mods tied to the Syndicates to perhaps breathe new life into weapons a large enough majority of players considers junk, or at best, mastery fodder. I'm no exception to this, and I began thinking as to why we find ourselves in these 'metagames' where only one viable solution exists.
We see only one best weapon. We see only one best frame. We see one best mission type. We see one best solution, rather than a spectrum of solutions.
Whether it be Rhino (or Rhino Prime), the Boltor Prime or Soma, the Dragon Nikana or Scindo Prime... these debates continue to spark interest and steers the discussion into a very night-and-day approximation of our favorite virtual space ninja hardware.
Even missions are not spared from this observation. We see Viver on Eris, a node which was otherwise an easily forgettable location... become the talk of the tenno town for a brief moment. Why? Because Viver was, at that one instant... the only viable (or "best") answer to the problem of Syndicate reputation gain.
I have read many players respond to the question of "What's best?" with different answers. Rhino's Iron Skin allows him to ignore crowd control and status effects in addition to making your shield and health levels little more than a decorative addition to your HUD. Soma's Critical-heavy construction makes it the go-to weapon for many tenno who like efficiency and lots of big yellow numbers. Boltor Prime similarly has gained equal notoriety and respect as a sister to the Soma in terms of raw killing power and the ability to clear entire rooms with only a few strokes of the mouse key. The Brakk continues to be lauded as one of the best weapons for your secondary slot, while others say the Marelok is the only weapon you will ever need in the game.
The debates can be really interesting, and they can also get really nasty.
But this does not answer anything, does it? It isn't supposed to.
The eternal debate is just that, eternal. As long as Warframe continues to exist and add in additional tools, we'll continue to see this time and time again.
One of the more interesting talking points is the consideration of "high level" survivals and defenses, where entire clips from a fully modded Soma can be emptied into an enemy's face with little noticable effect. Where Rhino's Iron Skin gets bled off in one single hit. Where cover must be taken in order to protect oneself from the onslaught.
These can take hours of playtime to get through, and I have no doubt in my mind that there are many clans out there who routinely go for an hour or two (if not longer) at a time in a survival mission, using only the best mods and synergizing their frames for maximum survivability. Or maybe they're just 4 Rhinos with Boltor Primes and Somas just because it works. Does it matter? Of course it doesn't. These are particular playstyles some prefer. And if there are very obvious solutions to problems like level 300 Grineer, then who is to say otherwise?
Not everything is level 300, however. Not every tenno has the time to spend an hour or two in a survival mission in an endless killing spree, pushing themselves to their limits before deciding it's time to leave. And if that is the case, what is the best answer for them?
If I spend 10-15 minutes in an easy mission just to get some spare change, does it matter if I am carrying my equipment I would in a 60+ round of defense? I'm not getting stomped by legions of battle-hardened eximus enemies. Can I afford to be anything but the best at that point? Will my Rhino's Iron Skin even go away by the time I hit extraction? Will I even need ammo restores for my Soma or Boltor Prime?
These are all questions to ask oneself before strapping in and going to town in Warframe. What tools do you need for the job?
Can a Boltor Prime easily carve through Corpus just as much as my specially modified Akmagnus built for one-shotting moas and oxium ospreys? Can it do it more quickly? Yes, I would venture so. Is there a such thing as overkill in Warframe? A game which was designed with the fundamental truth in mind that you are a force of nature that can slaughter countless enemies with little effort?
Can there be a meta-overkill for a game centered around overkill? I don't know.
But I can say I look at Warframe as more than a game. I see Warframe as an art form.
I see the tools available to me as a masterpiece to be made.
I am not saying I slap 8 forma into a Mk-1 Braton simply because I have the formae to spare. But I am saying I see particular weapons I like... and I ask myself, how do I make it better? But the more pertinent question is, "How do I make this weapon do a particular job really well?"
What do I want a weapon to do? What mods do I have in mind for it? What strengths do I want to play to -- if I want to play to them at all? Do I want a weapon to be a jack-of-all trades, usable on-the-fly for any mission or alert that may come up, and do it well? Or do I want to go with something so unorthodox that other players will say, "What the hell weapon is that you're using!?", not recognizing the weapon they may have leveled and discarded months ago after deciding it was trash is in my hands racking up kills.
Or maybe I want to take my time. Maybe I want to feel the double tap of my Sybaris in my headset as I play. Perhaps I am feeling particularly destructive and want to bring my Penta. Maybe I want to snipe with my Vectis just to see how many headshots I can make with one bullet. Maybe I had a really lousy day and I feel like being creative with how I issue death warrants.
Is that what Warframe is to me? I think it is. It used to simply be an adventure to get the most powerful stuff and then be able to play king of the mountain throughout the game in every aspect. But that is not what the game is to me now. Not anymore.
For as many weapons and frames they add, some I simply master and discard. Some weapons, however... I keep. Maybe I did not want to keep them, but something about them intrigued me. And maybe I just like having a vast array of killing tools which I can use for any number of missions. Maybe I like the idea of my Miter launching sawblades coated with poison just because I can afford to.
Is there a challenge? Possibly not. But then when you are a tenno with enough skill and experience, maybe you do not want a challenge. Maybe you do not need a challenge. Maybe you just want to see how many ways you can kill the Grineer or Corpus. Maybe you can be the very God people on the Warframe forums, or the Warframe wiki say they are.
And if you are Godlike, then you are able to pick and choose what methods your victims die in at will. Maybe you are feeling whimsical and decide the Glaxion is a fitting end for a mission or two. Why? Just because you can.
Is that the answer to the Eternal debate? That only player skill is "best"? Of course not. Because even those with the lousiest aims and situational awareness can shrug off Grineer battalions and vaporize them, even after missing shots or simply not killing that Heavy Gunner in time before she takes off a large chunk of your health with her Gorgon.
The game is still easy enough, where you do not have to be particularly good to win -- and in high-end defenses and survivals, it becomes a numbers game. Because try as you might, an entire clip from your Boltor Prime will eventually just decorate someone's face while they tear you apart. It just means maybe you can follow up with the Dragon Nikana to cut them down before saying, "Okay, I've had enough. Let's go to extraction."
No, I think the answer to the Eternal Debate is, "The tenno are the best, and like King Midas, whatever they touch turns to gold." In some cases, like Primed technology, that is literally true.
Maybe it is just the creative streak players in Warframe have, where they can say, "This weapon looks neat and interesting. It may not be the current flavor of the month, but I bet it would look really cool killing your run-of-the-mill infested for 20 or so waves of ODD."
After all, we are not chained to the game mechanics. We are not grafted to the idea that we must be the most overpowered tenno we can be. We do not need to flex our muscles for any. We have nothing to prove to anyone. The game must put up with us being overpowered, not the other way around. If that is the case, should we not do so in style?
Is Warframe an art form? Are we more than just hyper-efficient DPS parsers? Are we given some lenience on how we decide to murder and wreck everyone and everything that opposes us? And should we use that freedom to its full extent?
I would answer without hesitation, "Yes. And we are the best artists in the galaxy."