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[Discussion] - The UFP Reviews Section

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Petrarch, 6 Days Ago
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    • Lars2510
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    #1
    Hi everyone,

    As you're no doubt aware, we do have a reviews section here at the UFP which you can find up top on the forum pages (or here's a handy link!) - this originally started out as a book review section, however as the years have rolled by, it hasn't seen a lot of use or had the potential realised, save for the once in a blue moon update.

    I've mentioned previously a couple of months ago about seeing what, if anything, we could do with this. My goal would be to try and develop the section into something to help spark up the community spirit and creativity and eventually see it become a community resource that belongs to everyone. The idea would be to use it for more than just books, but to expand it out to movies, TV shows and of course gaming to name but a few topics. Given our nature here, gaming seemed like a logical place to start and with that in mind, Lars2510 who expressed interest in this when it was originally bought up has supplied a review of Warframe as a starting point (and cheers to him for doing that) to show what we can do with it. While I intend to get this uploaded, you'll find this below my post in the spoiler tags for the purposes of discussion. (For clarity: there's a few edits here and there made by myself, but this is otherwise all his original work.)

    Exactly what sort of format this would take on is undecided. While I would like everyone to be able to contribute reviews and leaving aside the technical side of things like submission forms, how things get displayed and such just for the moment, 2 opinions currently on the table are curating submitted reviews myself (a lot of work if things take off, but I'm willing take it on to get things going) or creating a new department with a couple of volunteer staff, which I've given (and you'll probably spot the theme here) the working title of "Memory Alpha", the idea in either case that things get checked over and polished before going live. Of course, this all hinges on what sort of interest there would be in such a project, which is going to be a slow burn one to get there. If it gets going, it will take time to build things up and hit the stride.

    And this is where you guys come in. I've been sitting on this a little longer than I intended due to how quiet it was, but it's time to gather up feedback about what you think of the idea. I need to see what (if any) legs this would have before diverting more time and resources to it and if it would be used, so I'd like to invite you all to have your thoughts on the matter to see if you think it's something you could see yourself using and/or contributing to.

    Regards,

    Petrarch



    WARFRAME REVIEW
    BY: Lars2510


    Ever wanted to be a one man army? Wade through hordes of enemies single-handedly? I’d guess most people would answer yes. After all, being a nigh unstoppable juggernaut who can outthink and outfight their foes is how most player characters end up in various RPG games. What if I told you there is another game that gives you this power fantasy, in a balanced setting. Pretty good right? And then gives you a cool armoured character, and sets you on the enemy in some of the best high speed, ninja-style combat ever in a video game? Well...that’s Warframe.

    I was originally pretty sceptical about Warframe. I had given it a try many years previously, shortly after it’s initial release. And back then I wasn’t impressed. It had great combat mechanics for sure, but the game suffered from some pretty serious bugs. Furthermore, the story was sadly quite underwhelming for me. As a new player, who had no idea about any of the lore within the game, it was all pretty overwhelming. So I quit, only to return recently.

    And I am very glad I did. The combat mechanics are excellent! This was already apparent from my first foray into the game. The melee weapons are so very quick and stylish. The combos you can pull off are breathtaking, and engaging the enemy in melee combat is THE definition of the aforementioned power fantasy.

    The gunplay is pretty great, albeit unexceptional...right up until you bring out the more “exotic” weaponry. Yes, you can go around with standard assault rifles, pistols etc. OR you can break out auto grenade launchers, Rapid Fire Crossbows , Dual Fiery Axes, Nun-chucks and even a Full Auto Shotgun. This is where the gunplay comes into it’s own. I am aware of no other game on the market that features great gunplay, mixed with such variety within that category. Even games like Destiny, where a great deal of attention has gone into both gunplay and various different weapon types (grenade launchers, assault rifles, hand cannons, bows etc.), cannot offer the customisability that War frame's engine offers. In Destiny, you have a few perks that can vaguely alter your gunplay experience a little. In War frame, you can take a barely automatic shotgun, that fires maybe 10 rounds per minute, at best. You can then attach mods to this shotgun, that increase the fire rate to represent something more akin to a machine gun, offering up something like 200 plus rounds per minute. You can decide whether you want your shotgun pellets to just plain ol’ damage the enemy, to damage them and send them flying from the impact, or just poison everyone it comes into contact with. This is a system that applies to every single ranged weapon, Warframe (the suit of armour you play as) and melee weapon in the game. It offers unparalleled customisation of your playstyle, whilst still getting the base mechanics correct. By choosing what “mods” you attach to your weapons, you can drastically alter their playstyle and attributes. This is probably due to the sheer number of available mods, as well as the amount of them that can be attached to each weapon.

    As for the warframes themselves, they are as unique as the previously described weapons. They also give you MMORPG style abilities. In total you normally have 4 of these,, each one augmenting the intended role of your Warframe. Each Warframe will normally have some form of theme, allowing players to dive into some pretty specialised builds. For instance, you can have a master at stealth, a master of survivability, a dedicated gunslinger-style ranged specialist, or a crazy melee specialist with ripping claws attached to its arms. As of right now there are 66 different warframes, which you can then further customise with weapon loadouts for primary, secondary and melee categories. However, as will be mentioned later, this will likely keep increasing in number, due to the constant development still ongoing.

    Movement is the star of the show. As you are playing a ninja-esque being, you are pretty much guaranteed to be using your agility and speed to outmanoeuvre your opponents. It is not unusual to race past entire hordes of enemies, before they can engage you, due to this ridiculous speed and agility. In fact this is often encouraged, ensuring you don’t get bogged down in meaningless grinding for experience, and instead complete many milestones quite quickly. This also helps to alleviate some of the previously mentioned story issues, as you can opt to bypass most enemies, and go to an objective from the beginning of the mission, thereby removing a lot of the tedium. It is just shame that the game does not make this particularly obvious to a new player. All in all, you are able to dance around your enemies, whilst still maintain full weapon function and capability. It also helps that this looks particularly epic, and you can launch into many different combos from movement.

    As for the story, it is acceptable, and has certainly improved a lot since my original experience. The introduction and tutorial are now much more streamlined, pointing you in a very specific path initially, and then directing you to important points once you are “let off the introduction leash”. However, I do have to say that initially the story remains somewhat boring, despite the ongoing narrative. I feel this is due to a mixture of spread out missions forcing the story to progress slowly in the beginning, and a lack of knowledge/interest in the game lore. The lore is presented to you as if you already know some of what is being referred to, with various technicalities and ideas bandied about. Not Star Trek techno-babble style, more like the original Destiny game, where the story came out somewhat half-baked due to massive sections of the content being cut, leading to most things not getting explained. Thankfully it is not quite on the scale of Destiny, and unlike Destiny, it DRASTICALLY improves after the early game.

    Once you progress into the mid to late game, the story drastically alters. It becomes much faster paced, and quite honestly fascinating. I suspect this may be because the developers have learned how to tell a story better, you are not being pushed through as many forced mission (so that you can level/gear up). Also, there are some pretty amazing plot twists, that would leave even the best of authors surprised. Once you get to a certain point, the story is in fact amazing, and is written as well as the best of them. If you are prepared to put in the time and effort, it really pays off. It is very unfortunate that this is not obvious or apparent from the absolute beginning, as I feel many potential new players may be put off by this.

    Graphically the game is quite impressive. You are not going to see a competitor to Battlefield/Frostbit level graphics by any stretch, but you will definitely see some good use of graphics. If you compare these graphics to Star Trek Online, Star Wars The Old Republic, World Of Warcraft or any similar MMORPG, Warframe blows them out of the water. The engine is very capable, and thankfully also very well optimised, providing good and stable frame rates throughout the experience. The minimum hardware requirements can actually play the game reasonably, unlike many titles out there, and they are not very high specification either.

    The game missions tend to follow a pattern of spawn in, go somewhere, complete a task, and then run to an extraction point elsewhere on the map. These can sadly get somewhat repetitive, particularly when played solo, as many of the mission (including the essential story missions) follow this exact pattern. You can find a list and description of all current mission modes on the Warframe wiki.

    Something that makes Warframe levels/missions very interesting is the fact that map layouts, and features, are almost always procedurally generated. They have a number of “building blocks” (small sections of map) that the game server will put together in a mostly random fashion when you load up the mission. This then forms a somewhat unique landscape to travel through, making each and every mission very different. You can’t predict enemy spawns (because they change every time you start the mission), the enemy cannot come at you from pre-planned positions like a lot of developers like to do, either. This truly does make each and every mission somewhat more unique, and does help to alleviate some of the fatigue involved with the limited mission types (currently 21 unique mission modes).

    Further to these map modes, the game more recently introduced open world areas as well, which provide a much more interesting dynamic. Although these are designed for somewhat later sections of the game, you can start to visit them pretty early on. These open world areas are extremely fun, and fix almost every issue I have currently mentioned. Unfortunately, while they are somewhat more recent, they also are far more prominent for endgame characters. Once I have reached endgame, and have fully explored these areas, I will most definitely update this article. For the moment, as newer players, consider them a very nice reprieve from the normal gameplay, and look forward to being more involved with them as you level up.

    As for network connection quality and stability, I must say I am somewhat impressed. Given the speed at which combat occurs in the missions, lag would be a substantial problem for this game. Thankfully both their servers, and the infrastructure that links you to them appear to be rock solid, On a bad day I personally get between 30 and 35 milliseconds of response time. On a good day, this drops right down to sub 10 millisecond levels. Compare that to Star Trek Online, which gives 100 milliseconds or more, and it makes you wonder why you ever put up with the lag. Now I admit I have a pretty decent connection, both in terms of bandwidth, and ping, due to my proximity to a local data-centre and exchange. However, given the difference in ping compared to other titles (as with the previously mentioned Star Trek Online), and the stability that I have experienced, I am confident that if you can play any game online, you will be able to play this one.

    With regards to development, it is thankfully still being actively developed, with new content and patches arriving monthly. It has definitely not stagnated yet, and strongly suspect it hasn’t yet reached it’s peak. This means that you can expect a stable player base, and constant, regular expansions for a great deal of time to come.

    All in all, I would say this is an excellent game, excelling in squad based gameplay. Multiplayer gameplay, in squad of up to four is where this game shines. If you want to solo this game, it is entirely possible. However, be prepared for a steep acclimatisation curve, until the game gets into it’s stride at later levels. Know that the pay-off is worth it, should you be prepared to go through the beginning. It makes you feel powerful and bad-ass, without breaking the game once you run into boss enemies. And from a technical aspect it runs flawlessly, thankfully now being devoid of the bugs I mentioned regarding my original play-through.

    Petrarch
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    #2
    This is a great idea to expand review section with games,etc.Thumbs up And I think the "Memory Alpha" review team will be the best option to check/update posts.
    Miles
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    #3
    Question; how consistently and how often are we looking to post up reviews on games?
    @captainwestbrook
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    #4
    I believe this depends on the releases roadmap and the number of games owned by members reviewing them.
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    #5
    Question; how consistently and how often are we looking to post up reviews on games?
    I dont have a quota of X reviews in Y time in mind, rather as a community effort it would be an as and when they arrive type of approach, so you'd have quiet months and busy months. As the idea is to develop it into a creative resource, it doesn't need to be new stuff all the time either, I'm sure we've all got those slightly older titles and shows that hold a special place for us.

    Please keep the feedback and questions coming, all is helpful!
    Petrarch
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    #6
    Sounds good I think and at the very least it'll highlight to community members what their friends and other people around here are enjoying and give people some ideas for where new social experiences could come from.
    Not just "I could play X and meet Petrarch for a few runs" but even just "this guy just read this book or saw that film and I really liked them too so i now have something to chat about".

    It could encourage people to start up thread to discuss whatever is being reviewed, which would add more activity to the community.

    I'd keep the exact media being reviewed open to the community though. Could be games, films, books, conventions, podcasts or YouTube channels, model kits. Lots of possibilities and we're all geeks anyway so nothing is too odd!
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    #7
    I dont have a quota of X reviews in Y time in mind, rather as a community effort it would be an as and when they arrive type of approach, so you'd have quiet months and busy months. As the idea is to develop it into a creative resource, it doesn't need to be new stuff all the time either, I'm sure we've all got those slightly older titles and shows that hold a special place for us.

    Please keep the feedback and questions coming, all is helpful!
    Reason I ask that is because as of right now, if I want information or review of non-Star Trek games from within the community, there's all these threads in Holodeck which not only have people giving their opinions on the game but also useful information such as the presence of UFP members within those games. As far as conventions go, I think FNS has that covered.

    I'm trying to understand why I would click on review section for now when FNS and Holodeck covers both aspects admirably. What new or unique aspect would a review section bring which is not already being done?
    @captainwestbrook
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    #8
    Reason I ask that is because as of right now, if I want information or review of non-Star Trek games from within the community, there's all these threads in Holodeck which not only have people giving their opinions on the game but also useful information such as the presence of UFP members within those games. As far as conventions go, I think FNS has that covered.

    I'm trying to understand why I would click on review section for now when FNS and Holodeck covers both aspects admirably. What new or unique aspect would a review section bring which is not already being done?
    Maybe integrate a 'Comments section' which works like the one for FNS article where basically a thread is displayed as the comments?
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    #9
    There's no intention of trying to pull or move things away from Holodeck or any other department, in essence it's about trying to add to it and spark greater interaction. Gaming was simply used as a starting point but I'd like to see it cover a variety of media that people can pen their reviews on and over time it builds up into a community resource and information hub. If there's any sort of opportunity available to help encourage the community spirit and interaction, no matter how small, then it's worth the time and effort to explore it in my eyes.

    As it stands, it currently doesn't really do anything as it's not used and rather than leave it to rust, I want to try and tap into the potential of it. If there's a review of something there that someone isn't sure about trying and that sparks them to have a look and start a discussion about it, I'll take that as a win.

    We're still at the discussion phase and nothing is set in stone right now as it's a slow burner project that could either turn out to be a great idea or one that ultimately doesn't bear fruit. Or indeed, anything inbetween.
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    #10
     –  Last edited by Lars2510; 2 Days Ago.
    Just to put my two pennies worth in...

    I really think it could be useful, and it certainly wouldn't be taking away from the holodeck resources. Although, I really think holodeck resources should be linked to within the articles if there is anything useful in holodeck. It would raise awareness of what is going on in holodeck, and provide a centralised information source for what these games are about. Currently the info is spread through many different threads. I've never read a lot of them, because they are quite heavily buried, mixed in with much newer posts.

    As the person who wrote the above article, I've made it clear that I could do quite a few articles. Ongoing it would probably be about one per week, but to get this thing off the ground, I'd happily pump quite a few out to begin with. That way it avoids being useless on launch. And if anyone else managed to join me in that, the database could fill up quite quickly.

    Either way, just like petrarch, I am very interested to hear your ideas. Not just in general, but any suggestions on what information you guys would like to see in any such articles, beyond the simple review stuff. Please post anything like that as well. Cheers!
    Lars2510