A different kind of Internet Spaceships

Every time I pick up Warframe after a bit of a break I try not to get immediately overwhelmed by the vast amounts of content and systems. Why not just focus on one or two specific things at a time and leave it at that?

Yeah, fat chance.

I’ve already talked about how one thing very quickly leads to another in this game as most types of content are somehow intertwined with one another. Which is great, because pretty much nothing ever becomes obsolete. But, again, it can all feel a bit overwhelming at times.

This time around my plan was to just focus on vanquishing my current Kuva Lich, which had become one of my favourite activities once I’d made myself familiar with how it all works sometime last year. What’s more, I’d recently read that the last big update brought a new version of these baddies into the game, and I wanted to tackle those next.

However, as it turned out said update also changed the last step of defeating any kind of lich: after having kicked their butt the old fashioned way players additionally need to complete one final mission now, and that one is a Railjack mission.

Well, bugger me.

Railjacks were added to Warframe about two years ago. They were basically Digital Extremes’ answer to many some a few Anyone? Bueller? err…an unspecified number of players’ requests for proper space combat in the game.

Joking aside, I personally didn’t mind the idea, I just found the execution quite lacking at the time. The ship was very expensive to build, its systems not well explained and, frankly, it wasn’t much fun to fly. It has been overhauled twice since then though, so I thought I might as well give it another chance.

Unfortunately my second first impression wasn’t much better. Once a mission had started I didn’t really know what to do aside from wildly shooting at things. Things that were shooting back, I might add, and at some point my Railjack’s hitpoints were depleted and a countdown started ticking. I was supposed to repair the damage before the timer ran out, but I had no idea how to do that and the mission failed.

Dear Digital Extremes, if you’re reading this, the Railjack system desperately needs some kind of tutorial!

Anyhow, I wasn’t going to give up just yet. I want those liches vanquished, dammit! So I looked for some guides and/or videos explaining all that stuff, and, unsurprisingly, I found plenty. Armed with that knowledge I tried again, and lo and behold, it actually isn’t all that hard. Even more importantly, with the first successes also came the fun. What else is new?

Now that I know what I’m doing playing Railjack missions feels a bit like a throwback to the Wing Commander series, which isn’t a bad thing at all in my book.

The main difference is that a Railjack is meant to be piloted by a full group of people. There’s the pilot’s seat, two gunner seats (the Millenium Falcon says Hi), a forward artillery seat, and in case damage has to be repaired, ammo to be restocked or enemy boarding parties to be repelled someone has to take care of that too. Fortunately solo players can hire up to three NPC crewmates and assign some of these tasks to them, but with other players it’s obviously more effective and also (potentially) more fun.

As if that weren’t enough each and every mission also requires someone to leave the Railjack at some point and board enemy ships or stations to do some stuff there. As NPCs can’t do this a solo player has quite a lot of hopping around to do, so getting other players aboard (pun intended) is definitely preferable.

Which is just as well, because the biggest new feature that was announced at this year’s Tennocon a few weeks ago is cross-save and crossplay across all platforms, and it’s supposed to arrive before the end of this year!

I’m extremely happy about this as my console-devoted buddy and I are still looking for more opportunities to get camp PC and camp Xbox together. Ever since I recommended Warframe to him and another pal of ours a couple of months ago they play it all the time, and it really bugs us that I can’t join them. Soon™ this intolerable situation will be remedied, and until then I’ll make sure that my Railjack is up to snuff and ready to go.

As I alluded to in the beginning this will still require a lot of “work” though, not all of which directly related to the Railjack itself. More on that next time.

Blaugust 2021 post count: 3

Crossplay rocks!

A working colleague who became a good friend of mine is also a gamer, so you can imagine that our water cooler conversations revolve around our mutual favourite topic more often than not.

He’s a dedicated console user though, firmly rooted in ‘Camp Xbox’, whereas I’m a PC-gamer through and through, and what little console gaming I do happens on the Playstation.

So despite kwowing each other for about 17 years and even having occasionally played the exact same games at the same point in time we had never actually played anything together (except for Guitar Hero in the same room at his place once or twice).

Until last Wednesday evening, that is.

I initially wasn’t sure whether I’d buy Star Wars Squadrons at all, but once I saw that it supports crossplay I realized that The Day might have finally come.

Setting everything up wasn’t quite as easy as I would have liked though. We didn’t want to use the ingame voice-chat, so I had to figure out how to join an Xbox party first. I installed the Xbox App, thinking that I’d need that, but then discovered that Windows 10 comes with a thing called Xbox Game Bar pre-installed. Using that is more fiddly than it needs to be I feel, but once I got used to it hooking up with my buddy on his Xbox became quick and painless.

And lo and behold, we were voice-chatting for the first time. A wonder of technology, only two decades late.

As for the game itself, I honestly can’t remember how we managed to add each other to our ‘EA friends’ lists, but once that was sorted too we were able to form a squadron and queue up for a co-op match. The excitement!

Alas, the game isn’t great. It’s fun for a couple rounds, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see me (or us) play it for weeks or even months. There’s just too few game modes, and the one where it’s at – because it has the big star destroyers and stuff – gets quite tedious rather quickly. Also, since we didn’t want to get our asses handed to us by more experienced players we only fought against bots – and got our asses handed to us regardless. By bots. On easy difficulty. Either we are just bad, or the game’s balancing is really weird.

Still, dusting off my old joystick paid off nicely, as I assume with mouse/keyboard or controller things would have looked even more grim.

I bought this for Battlefield 3 years back; still working great

Anyway, this particular game being not as good as hoped doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of finally being able to play together. I can’t stress enough how big of a deal this is for us.

I really hope crossplay will become more and more prevalent as time goes on. Most games are released for all big platforms anyway – and have been for years now – so tear down these walls, I say!

Speaking of which, a new game that also sports crossplay basically came out of nowhere a few weeks ago and has become all the rage in this corner of the blogoshpere – Genshin Impact seems to be a real gem, and Lakisa and I are definitely going to try it out. All that’s missing is an Xbox-port, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be in the works either, but one can hope.