What DE doesn’t seem to get about the “Guns vs Melee” Balance Issue

In Devstream #152, DE acknowledged the problem of "Guns vs Melee", but they only talked about Damage (which is just a part of the whole issue), and something that I found personally concerning: They listed Melee Attack Speed specifically as a problem, when its not, and in fact is one of the reason some melees are so fun in the first place. In Devstream #155 they reiterated the disbalance issue and said "Melees need a nerf", "Primaries won't get stat increases across the board", "Buffs will come in the form of Mods". Below I'm gonna list some of the components of Warframe (and any Shooter with Melee for that matter), how and why they clash in the current state of Warframe's gameplay and how this is an issue which emerged from the evolution of the game, and not something inherently good/bad about these weapons. But before I wanna clarify I've been playing for over 6 years, I'm MR 30, +5000hs on Steam, so I've pretty much experienced every weapon and gamemode in this game.

  • Dynasty Warframe: Hordes and Cover

  • So in the beginnings, Warframe was a Shooter like any other, couple of shots got you killed, getting in Melee range was a risk and using Cover was THE way of killing enemies and staying alive. A slower, more methodical gameplay. But because the AI has always been pretty much braindead, DE didn't have a way to scale difficulty but to make MORE enemies, with MORE Stats. Fast forward to today and using Cover is a joke, as enemies spawn constantly and from every direction, and for that reason even the act of Aiming puts you in a disadvantage unless you are paying constant attention to the minimap so you don't get flanked. This is what is usually known as "Horde Enemies". And of course, the way players play the game changed to adapt to this playstyle: AoE is king, and survivability depends on using abilities non stop, to either nuke, perma cc or tank, because if you don't you will get overwhelmed and killed. As you might have noticed, this lines up with the most used items, which could be considered "meta": Heavy hitting AoE (Bramma, Nukor, Khora), anything that can Tank and/or Buff Itself (Inaros, Nezha, Rhino) and whatever can Perma CC (Vauban, Nova, Khora). So naturally the game shifted from a "Slow -Clean rooms shooter" to a "Fast -Stay alive hack and slash", meaning the only missions that can be played purely as a shooter are those that don't spawn enemies constantly (Exterminate) or involve long distances between players-enemies (Open Worlds). Sadly there is probably no way to revert the "Dynasty Warframe" enemy Hordes gamestyle the game has now.

  • Enemies killed per Swing/Shot

  • This one is pretty simple: Melee will ALWAYS affect more enemies than (non AOE) guns, which means as long you are using a gun and actually aiming you are losing time, and there are more enemies spawning than being killed, meaning you are getting closer to be overwhelmed and die. And even if the mission doesn't have quick spawns, you are still playing slower by using a gun, and in a looter game, specially with such amount of RNG and mission time adding up to a massive grind, you will ALWAYS want to complete missions as fast as possible.

  • Evolutive Mods: Awful for Build Diversity, Awesome for Gameplay

  • Now this what I think DE should address first, because this is the actual reason Melee dominate the meta, not because they have INHERETLY better stats, but because they have Evolutive Mods (Blood Rush, Condition Overload) which makes them stronger the more you actively use them. And I know what you might be thinking "Just add the corresponding version of each Evolutive mod to Guns" and I ask "What will happen? How will builds look like?" the answer is simple, the same copy+paste build on everything. So no, Evolutive mods shouldn't be added to Guns, but the Evolutive mechanics should be BASELINE in ALL Weapons. This will require some rebalancing across the game, for sure, but making the Weapons get stronger the more you ACTIVELY use them, is fun, rewarding and FAIR. Also the removal of Evolutive Mods would make room to actually diverse builds, because currently if you are not using either Blood Rush or Condition Overload you are doing it wrong. And this has to do with the Melee Attack Speed which Geoff listed as a problem, it is not that Melees have too much Attack Speed, is that players build for it so the Evolutive Mods scale faster. In Devstream #155 Geoff acknowledged Evolutive Mods and the willing to add them for Primary and Secondary Weapons, but said they wouldn't buff Guns stats across the board which in my opinion is a mistake, because even with Evolutive Mods Primary and Secondary total damage is much lower than Melees, meaning that Evolutive Mods will take longer, and have a harder cap of "evolution" compared to Melees, because Evolutive Mods scale based on raw stats.

  • Pick Ups and Vacuum, the never ending battle between DE and the Community

  • Guns use ammo, some have VERY small ammo pools, to get ammo you need to pick up loot, to pick up loot you need to get in melee range. Melees don't use ammo, in melee range you pick up loot instantly, so you get HP/Energy Orbs sooner, which adds to your survivability. So: Melees are inherently more convenient to use because of how Pick-Ups work, even if they were equally strong to Guns.

  • Melee and Datamass, an Unbreakable Bond.

  • This is a subtle yet very important matter here. Melees are our default Weapon when carrying a Datamass, or when we are Fishing, Mining or Hunting, or when using the Omni Tool in Railjack, or carrying Coolant Cells, etc. When we are performing these actions, we only have Abilities and Melee to kill the enemies and keep doing what we were doing. A nerf to Melees will subsequentially make all of these activities suck even more than what they already suck now. Now pair this with the leaked Gun Mods, the ones adding % Damage if you DON'T have a Melee equipped, and you will probably understand my deep concern.

  • Difficulty: Mechanical Skill vs Superior Stats

  • All of the consecutive changes that led to "Dynasty Warframe", SPECIALLY the lack of ANY AI update whatsoever, made it so the only way DE can ramp up the difficulty is making more enemies, harder to kill, with layers upon layers of Invulnerability Phases or Ability Nullification. Basically in Warframe you don't need to learn attack patterns and aim to weak-spots, you just need to pass the "Stats Check" meaning that Player's Skill and Weapon Mechanics are secondary to Raw Stats, so naturally the meta changed from "Git Gud" to "Git the Items that Make you Gud". The best example I can give is Steel Path, Kuva Fortress Disruption: The Demolisher Units have BOTH Ability Nullification and Stats Layers (and Invulnerability if you count the shield), so it doesn't matter the frame you have, you need the biggest DPS dispenser in your arsenal and you need to find a way to uber your build to not die because otherwise you are not gonna be alive for long enough to even damage the Demolishers, which cant be stopped as they are not affected by abilities.

  • Below are some comments I got the last time I discussed these ideas on the sub:

  • So the comments are pretty clear about something:

  • Melee Attack Speed mods need to be additive and not multiplicative. This shouldn't be done to "nerf" Melee, but instead because ludicrous attack speed makes Combos (ergo Animations) completely irrelevant. DE should balance this change to Melee Speeds, by giving us more compelling Combos, with some kind of scaling and polishing the ratio Animation Time / Damage.

  • Playtime

  • This is something that came up here and in the forums. Basically the fact Warframe needs to be fast and have relatively easy enemies, because the grindy nature of the game makes its so you will need to run missions repeatedly most of the time. I think this is part of a bigger issue, Playtime is not respected as it should, RNG is either extremely easy or extremely hard, no in-between (I've never seen a single Braton Vandal Stock in over 4 years of almost daily ESO runs). But (and this is important) DE seems to be aware of this, because the "medallion" system Deimos embraced is one of the best ways to reward Playtime: "You get the Loot with luck, or you grind enough Medallions to buy it". Now the connection between Playtime to Melee Attack Speed is a long one, but I think the middle point is Missions Requirements, we need more "Clean this map of enemies" and less "Stand here for 3 minutes"

  • Evolutive Mods (Blood Rush, Condition Overload, Weeping Wounds) were stated as the 1# factor for most of the disparity in "Melee vs Guns" powercreep. Personally I think they should be removed and ALL weapons should be given Evolutive Attributes. This is how I stated it in another comment:

"​​​​​​Remove all Evolutive Mods. Every Weapon has different Evolutive Attributes that scale. For some Crit Chance, for others Status Chance, or Multishot, Fire Rate, maybe even stuff like +Elemental Dmg."

  • This opens a LOT of possibilities, and a new Layer of Balance DE can make. Like "Well all players build this weapon for crit but it has good status chance, what if we lower the crit chance but give it +Elemental dmg on hit, so they could run it as an elemental weapon too?" Best way to balance is to give nerfs and buffs equally, and for that you need a variety of interactions. As it is now DE only have: Dmg, crit chance and riven disposition to balance the meta, that's why everytime a good weapon comes out, it overshadows all the ok weapons.

  • The blazing fast gameplay was an emergent phenomenon to a heavy grind game.

  • This is simple, players will always try to run missions as fast as possible, so Kill-Time will always be king. Is not just that Melees kill too fast, is that Guns kill too slow.

  • Dynasty-Warframe

  • Hordes and braindead AI, the reason the game rewards "Stat Checks" and not Attack Patterns learning or Weakspot Aiming. There is probably no going back from this, but better enemy design, and less reliance on massive spawns and layers of dmg reduction for difficulty is the road to take to start improving on this aspect. Is not that Dynasty-Warframe is bad, is that the game wasn't designed as such in the beginnings and the older systems are starting to show their cracks.

  • Ludicrous Attack Speeds on Melees abolish Combos and disregard Animations

  • A lot of people talked how the bind Melee Attack on Mouse Wheel so they don't destroy their keys, and how they would like to actually learn and use combos (if they actually behaved as combos and had scaling properties). Combo Counter time is a BIG issue here. Personally I think the Timer should be removed, combos should have scaling properties (Evolutive Attributes) added to combos, and DE should balance Speed and DMG, slower attacks should be stronger than light attacks. The combo counter should be STILL consumed on Heavy Attack tho, as it is now, Combos and Heavy Attacks are 2 completely separate things.

Well, this took WAY too long and my time ran out, so I couldn't include everything or grammar check the whole post. Please comment down below your thoughts on this matter. Tomorrow I'm gonna edit the post with anything I missed and with any valid additions from comments. Hopefully this gets traction, because we need to Discuss this before DE starts working on changes, so we have better chances of being heard.

And…. That's pretty much it. Remember to keep the discussion civil, that's how we keep a healthy community and make sure our Feedback is heard.

Remember Tenno We All Lift Together Good Luck, Have Fun and Take Care

Thank you VERY much for reading Tenno, have a nice day and take care. Peace 🙏😊


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