Over a year ago I wrote an in-depth analysis of the Focus system and its failures. It was an unabashed dive into where the concept of a Focus system began and what ultimately came out of it — the mess that it was when it was added to the game with The Second Dream and how it festered for months. Warframe Update 22.0 completely reworked the Focus system and gave it new life so it’s time to take a look once again.
This article will not be looking into the expansion system of the operator “warrior” mode. The intention here is to assess the state of the new Focus system whereas the Warrior mode itself is something I have not had much time to fully experience (primarily due to the difficulty and time-gating with acquiring multiple Amp, Magus, Virtuos, and Exodia blueprints (and completed forms).
Instead, the focus of this article will be placed on the core aspects of Focus: Lenses, Perks and Abilities, Costs, Combat Effectiveness, and of course Generating Focus. Let’s begin by taking a look at the transition from the old system to the new.
(sorry in advance for the lack of images to space this out – I might drop them in later, but I wanted to get this information out quickly)
Focus Refund Protocol
The transition from Focus 1.1 to Focus 2.0 was a relatively painless one. All Focus Lenses were removed from your equipment and refunded and (almost) all of your raw Focus for each school was refunded. There was not any adjustment or scaling
I had a lot of Focus simply stockpiled and unspent before the update and I’m not sure that was the right call. Here are the numbers before and after:
|School||Focus 1.1 Investment||Focus 2.0 Refund||Difference|
I’m fairly confident that my personal calculations were correct but ultimately I didn’t lose out too much in the transition and would lean on the side of error on my part for calculating gains. Here are some screencaps of my investments per school as well:
Note: The values from the screenshots are as of October 1, 2017. The spreadsheet image was up to date as of the day Update 22.0 arrived.
Other Aspects of the Refund
It might seem like a simple change, but the refund introduced a very much needed feature: You can now preview a tree and all of the perks before unlocking it. In the old system you would have to make a blind investment each time which was restricted by your ability to generate 50,000 Focus for each school. However, Lens acquisition is still random and initial school selection is still essentially a personality quiz. Additionally, many of the perks might not make sense for players until they look up external sources of information to understand what things like “Void Blast” are because there is no in-game documentation about the Operator abilities.
Unfortunately this particular change also came with a down side: unlocking a new school no longer comes with an innate perk unlocked. To actually benefit from a school you have to pay 50,000 to unlock it and then 25,000 to unlock the first perk. School costs in general have also been inflated, though we’ll get into that in a later section of this article. There was also an unfortunate side effect of this system rework which trapped players who were in the middle of The War Within quest. It was a progression-stopping bug which left them unable to play any other mission until it was eventually hotfixed.
Ultimately not a lot has changed for Focus Lenses. You’re still awarded one at the end of your personality quiz in The Second Dream and they are still random chance acquisition, but it’s no longer limited to one chance per day (or one chance per school per 15-60 days). You can obtain Focus Lenses from the new Bounty missions in Cetus and the Plains of Eidolon which came with Update 22. At first the Lenses were effectively time-gated to one chance of two randomly selected Lenses in the T3 Bounty reward pool, but you can now repeat Bounties for rewards. In addition to that change, a new tier of Focus Lenses has been added: Eidolon Lenses.
Here’s the breakdown of each of the Lenses:
|Lens Tier||Affinity Conversion Rate||Acquisition Method|
|Focus Lens||1.25%||Random Bounties|
|Greater Focus Lens||1.75%||Direct Market Purchase for 40 Platinum or Credit-based Blueprint purchase and 4x Focus Lenses of the same school, 1x Forma, 1x Argon Crystal, and 1x Orokin Cell|
|Eidolon Lens||2.25%||Random rare tier reward from T5 Bounty (~2% chance) for a Blueprint which requires 1 Greater Focus Lens and 5x Breath of the Eidolon|
The Convergence mechanic was increased from a 6x multiplier to Focus gains to 8x for all Lenses as well. Theoretically you can now generate more Focus, though just like before you’re still limited by random chance acquisition to start working on a school. I think it’s fair to have a Platinum alternative for the Greater Lens for those willing to pay an impatience tax, but not as your only method of acquisition. These improvements have tipped the scales more towards the fair side of free-to-play design.
However, Focus is ultimately a progression system and not a drop system. You are effectively losing potential you can never get back in regards to progression every day due to the daily cap and being limited by random chance acquisition to make meaningful progress seems counter-intuitive. Considering how Affinity is split and then converted into Focus per individually installed Lens, it seems odd to have hurdles in the way of acquiring more.
There is still no way to remove or upgrade Focus Lenses you have installed in your equipment. In the short term this means that you will likely end up having to delete and replace a Lens in order to upgrade it and will be restricted to playing with the gear you do have a Lens for. In the long term this means that you will have equipment you need to avoid so that you do not waste part of your daily cap for Focus. These were all problems from the old system which have been carried over to the new.
There is a also new potential slot for installing a Focus Lens: the operator Amp weapon. You can install a Focus Lens onto the Amp weapon through the Operator menu on your Orbiter, though I would not recommend it. This particular equipment slot will only generate Focus when you are in Operator Mode and has no other benefits or incentives to it. The operator still has very weak damage output and can not by any means compete with the equipment you will have undoubtedly acquired by the time you unlock this system. It could be useful for the sole purpose of leeching Focus, but not for contributing to a squad or in a solo mission.
If the Amp received Radial Affinity from both your own kills and your squad’s it could have been a significant improvement in generating Focus and a worthwhile investment. Such a change could help offset the massive increase to total raw Focus requirements for each school. As it is right now I would strongly recommend players save their hard-earned Focus Lenses for equipment which can actually benefit from the installation.
Perks and Abilities
This is the part of the Focus system which truly changed. Before the update, all of the Focus perks were oriented around either altering the “ghost” mode of your operator which was invincible and pulsated energy or for enhancing your warframe, functioning on a cooldown-based system which was impractically long in many missions.
Ultimately only 10-15% of all the perks for each school were remotely useful or worth increasing the cooldown to utilize in a given mission. The Focus skills and perks were weaker than abilities or weapons, they were impractical in most combat scenarios, and they just weren’t worth the investment. The Focus schools of 1.0 seem to just be there for the sake of completion; you could effectively be done with the useful parts for each school in under 10 days of hitting the daily cap.
By comparison the new abilities have far more potential, though some are certainly better than others. Unsurprisingly, the most valuable Focus perks are the ones which affect your warframe rather than your operator. Each of the schools have 2 perks known as “Residuals” which affect your warframe and your operator, though there are some utility-based exceptions such as combining Naramon’s Mind Sprint and Zenurik’s Void Flow and Void Siphon (all of which are operator perks) for mobility purposes.
An interesting addition in this update are the “Unbound” perks which can be used across trees to enhance your operator. One of the conceptual letdowns from Focus 1.0 was how none of the schools were connected in any way though there was always the implication of a combined unity or form through visuals and lore.
The choice of which school to use boils down to which you will use more: your operator or your warframe. None of the Unbound perks apply to your warframe however and many of the perks simply pale in comparison to weapon or warframe options. It is likely players will gravitate towards the most influential schools for their standard equipment rather than operator utility.
It would not be fair to judge the schools as a collective, so we’ll look at the individual light breakdown for each one. Please note that I was not unable to unlock every single perk yet and the costs nearly tripled for each school I had stockpiled for nearly two years.
Residuals: Percentage damage increases for Physical and Elemental. Free damage which also works on operator attacks. Multiplicative from what I can tell.
Operator Core: Damage from Blazing and Meteoric Dash is negligible and covers too little ground. Damage from Flame and Rising Blast is negligible but has decent AoE range (6m). Void Radiance is a bit expensive and the blind does not appear to open enemies to finishers or enhance warframe damage against them. Void Strike on the other hand can provide significant damage spikes for the operator if you’re in stealth for a long time and have crafted a more powerful Amp. The bonus is calculated in real time rather than gated behind 1 tick per 1 second so you can get some odd values, but it only applies to the next shot after exiting Void Mode – you cannot charge your next shot while in Void Mode to benefit from this. Very practical for the Teralyst encounter where you might enter Void Mode while waiting on your Amp to recharge, but not much else.
Operator Unbound: Absolutely top tier for the Teralyst encounter. If you’re not using Madurai, you should definitely unbind both of these.
Overall: A valid choice for a primary school for both warframe and operator play. Provides a lot of perks oriented around damage.
Residuals: Void Spines is unsurprisingly weak and suffers against armored enemies, but the damage you reflect seems to be calculated before your armor is applied to the damage you take. Stone Skin is free percentage-based armor, so it’s probably not worth it on frames with less than 200 base.
Operator Core: Sundering Dash and Crippling dash could be interesting, but ultimately are far less effective than Corrosive Status weapons and crowd control effects. Further testing required to see if you can strip VIP enemy armor with them or how they perform in enhanced armor Sorties. Magnetic Blast and Unairu Wisp have some interesting potential, but the Bullet Attractor being a requirement before having access to the damage buff might be problematic in certain situations and is limited to operator damage so it’s only really useful in the Teralyst encounter. Void Shadow and Chrysalis are interesting but not particularly useful.
Operator Unbound: Basilisk Scales does make a noticeable impact on the operator’s EHP which supposedly has a base value of 100, but doesn’t really feel necessary. Basilisk Gaze can make Void Blast reach up to 8m with other tree perks, but isn’t particularly valuable.
Overall: Probably the best support-only Focus school. Nothing in here is particularly useful for the individual, but it can enhance a group of players. Unlikely that the buffs or utility are worth using this school over another one though.
Residual: Mending Unity has the unique range-enhancing effect which can be useful on certain frames like Trinity or Harrow, but is rarely necessary or substantial enough to be worth using. Mending Soul is woefully wasted as it cannot be refreshed, but is neat.
Operator Core: Void Regen and Aegis have some utility, but are not particularly useful or necessary. Protective Dash have some decent potential, but in a highly mobile game it can be difficult to target allies at critical points to provide them with the benefit as opposed to having them just go into operator form and using Void Mode to give themselves invulnerability. Sonic Dash can be alright for crowd control in a pinch, but not very practical. Guardian Shell and Blast are both outdone by simply using Void Mode as well.
Operator Unbound: Enduring Tides makes a substantial improvement to operator health and Rejuvenating Tides is a neat luxury for long operator-based gameplay such as the Teralyst encounter.
Overall: Most of the perks in this school are outperformed in practical function by the base operator skills. I would wager this is the weakest school with the lowest potential.
Residual: Energy Pulse has a very noticeable effect in the Plains of Eidolon and somewhat lesser effect on other missions due to the rate at which you encounter Energy Orbs. Energizing Dash is absolutely noticeable and makes a substantial improvement to energy economy systems, though it does not apply to operator Energy regeneration..
Operator Core: Void Static is not particularly strong, though it’s latter half Void Singularity shows some promise in certain situations. Requires further testing to see if it can help with gathering up Vomvalysts during the Teralyst encounter for easy killing at higher ranks. Likewise, Temporal and Voltaic Blast are somewhat underwhelming. Slowing an enemy at melee range is rarely useful and the damage output is negligible. Inner Might enhances a gameplay aspect which has not been relevant in years in a way that keeps it safely irrelevant. Lightning Dash provides negligible damage.
Operator Unbound: Void Siphon and Flow are both useful for increasing the time you can spend in Void Mode, use Void Blast, or the number of Void Dashes you can perform (up to 7 consecutively). Useful beyond just the Teralyst encounter and highly recommended for mobility purposes, especially when combined with Naramon’s Unbound perks.
Overall: If you like using warframe abilities, this is probably the best school you can choose even though 50% of the entire school is impractical or inconsequential. Aside from the Residuals and Unbound perks, only Void Singularity shows some promise.
Residual: Affinity Spike provides more Affinity on melee kill and shows even more potential than its previous incarnation of Strategic Execution. Power Spike is neat and likely a must-have for anyone who wants to heavily rely on their melee weapons. Also, this feels like a passive that should be an innate change to the melee combat system rather than a bandaid limited to one school. Unlike other schools, Naramon has two more psuedo-Residual perks: Void Stalker and Void Hunter both seem to carry through to the warframe, though have limited practical use.
Operator Core: Executing and Surging Dash could be interesting for securing finishers with frames normally incapable of doing so, though it would still leave you vulnerable to surrounding enemies. Disorienting and Disarming Blast have some unique pliability, though ultimately pale in comparison to warframe-based options.
Operator Unbound: While Mind Step is probably the very last perk you should consider unbinding for any school, Mind Sprint is among the first you should unlock. Doubly so if you already have Zenurik’s Void Flow and Void Siphon. A webm might be the best explanation to show rather than tell:
Overall: Useful for melee-based Affinity grinding, but ultimately the utility offered by this school is inconsequential relative to other alternatives. Perhaps the second least useful school of the set.
First off, here’s a link to the tool I’ve put together for calculating Focus costs in the new Focus 2.0 system: Warframe Focus Schools Progression Tracker.
Spoilers: The costs have gone up. Keeping in mind that the daily Focus cap was increased from 100,000 to 250,000, it’s not too surprising that the cost of each school was increased by 2-3x as well. Theoretically the new Focus system takes less time to fully unlock than the previous version, but it really boils down to how quickly you can generate Focus to see how practical that is.
|School||Focus 1.1||Focus 2.0||Difference (in days)|
|Madurai||14,575,017, 146 days||24,078,977, 97 days||-49|
|Vazarin||12,823,833, 129 days||20,826,391, 84 days||-45|
|Naramon||10,263,003, 103 days||21,023,548, 85 days||-18|
|Unairu||8,769,625, 88 days||24,905,452, 100 days||+12|
|Zenurik||11,895,147, 119 days||26,350,701, 106 days||-13|
|Total||58,326,625, 584 days||117,185,069, 469 days||-115|
NOTE: I had made an error on the spreadsheet which added a row to a SUM() which should not have been added. The spreadsheet was updated on Oct. 24, but this post was not corrected until Oct. 26. I’ve corrected this post the the updated information. On Nov. 3 I corrected some data entry mistakes on this article; the calculator was and is still accurate.
These are the costs to complete a school – to max out all perks and have the Way Capacity necessary to equip all of them simultaneously and use all Unbound perks. For players who had been farming Focus for the schools every day the two years prior, they might be close to 3/5s of the way done with the new system. I am just about 275 days away from completion at this point, for example.
However, as alluded to in the Perks and Abilities section, most of this cost is just for the sake of completion. You can use the calculator to estimate just how much Focus is necessary to unlock the useful perks in each tree:
Madurai: Phoenix Talons, Phoenix Spirit, Inner Gaze, Eternal Gaze, Void Radiance*, and Void Strike — 9,725,282, 39 days.
With all Unbound perks: 14,976,493, 60 days.
Unairu: Void Spines*, Basilisk Scales, Basilisk Gaze, Sundering Dash, Crippling Dash, Magnetic Blast*, Unairu Wisp, Stone Skin, and Void Shadow — 12,545,608, 51 days.
With all Unbound perks: 23,155,334, 93 days.
Vazarin: Mending Unity, Void Regen, Protective Dash, Enduring Tides, and Rejuvenating Tides — 6,461,169, 26 days.
With all Unbound perks: 11,204,253, 45 days.
Zenurik: Energy Pulse, Void Siphon, Void Flow, Void Static*, Void Singularity, and Energizing Dash — 11,242,189, 45 days.
With all Unbound perks: 16,534,445, 67 days.
Naramon: Affinity Spike, Power Spike, Executing Dash, Surging Dash, Mind Step, and Mind Sprint — 8,823,359, 36 days.
With all Unbound perks: 14,246,493, 57 days.
* for skills which are not considered useful but are necessary to activate a useful perk.
This list is being relatively generous – you might be better off skipping Void Regen in Vazarin and Crippling Dash in Unairu for example. You could leave the necessary but undesirable tree paths at Rank 1 as well, though it could be worth it to increase the rank if they reduce drain on augmented abilities.
If we were to judge based on the old system, it’s difficult to say if this is an improvement or not. Less days required sounds good on paper, but that’s overlooking the fact that the cost has doubled or tripled for some schools. I’ll get more into that in the Generating Focus section, but for now we’ll just keep to the time-gate aspect of it.
In that regard Focus 2.0 is an improvement. Not only because it requires less days total, but because there is a sense of progression between the schools as well. If you invested the ~5.8 million Focus necessary in Zenurik, all it takes to use Void Siphon and Void Flow in Unairu is to have the Way capacity required (after unbinding them).
The part about this that I do not like is that there is still a wide disparity between each school’s investment cost. Regardless of how useful the perks may or may not be, I still think that the schools should be at a relative cost to one another. Even the Unbound perks vary greatly from school to school; some Unbound perks cost significantly more Focus to unlock or Way capacity to equip. A total Focus cost difference of 22 days between Zenurik and Vazarin seems a bit excessive.
With all of that in mind, I do not think the costs of the Focus schools was an overall improvement. 469 days of hitting the cap is a steep requirement which I’m not sure many players are willing to invest in. Just as I said with Focus 1.0 and Focus 1.1, I do not think it should take over 100 days to complete a Focus school. I think a much more reasonable window would be somewhere between 30-50 days per school, though that would still be far beyond the reach of casual players or those who do not go out of their way for a daily Focus farm.
If we move on from the assumption that players looking to progress in these schools will be pushing for the Focus cap, we’re left with the reality that the majority of players will not reach the daily cap on a regular basis if at all. If you were to play regular missions and try to soak up Focus as you go about a normal gameplay session, you might not even reach 50,000 Focus on a given day. Maybe on average you would get 150,000 a week from days you play more or less without attempting to farm it. To put that in perspective, 150,000 Focus per week would take about 161 weeks to complete Madurai.
The changes from Focus 1.1 to Focus 2.0 were substantial, but even as a passive-based system which enhances your operator abilities they are still just not viable. The most important change in regards to combat effectiveness is that the cooldown to activate Focus was removed.
Ultimately, the Residuals are all that matter. It seems rather pointless to force players to enter the operator mode at the start of a mission to benefit from it for the remainder of the mission, but I assume that is a technical limitation. Otherwise it really does not make sense to me and I would love to hear the developer’s design intent for this functionality.
Looking toward the other skills, I feel I should point out that all of the damage-based Focus perks have limited effectiveness even at their maximum rank. Just take a look at the Madurai Rising Blast (supported by Unairu’s Basilisk Gaze):
Considering that some of these operator-only perks take weeks of reaching the daily cap to unlock and use, they are woefully under-performing compared to warframes or weapons you can acquire within a few days of gameplay. And as a reminder: many players likely never reach their daily cap because of how demanding Focus farming can be so that estimate only grows longer.
I’ve had a chance to play around with some of the Amps and see the potential damage output, but they still pale in comparison to your options with warframes and weapons. The only conceivable exception to this would be Madurai’s Void Strike with the use of a well-crafted Amp for your Operator, but that is getting into the Warrior mode which is beyond the scope of this article. Also, it’s still less effective than a proper warframe or weapon loadout and costs much more of an investment to obtain.
The long and short of it is that the damage values offer no scaling and thus cannot keep up with enemy levels. Like all non-finisher damage, operator abilities are especially ineffective against Armor scaling values. They also lack the potential to enhance and scale damage with mods or any secondary system.
Perhaps the worst part of the Focus schools damage perks is that none of the damaging skills are even effective against the Teralyst Eidolon and your Amp will likely outperform any of them in most scenarios and can be upgraded at a much faster rate than Focus perks. As a result, only the utility-based abilities have any real potential in gameplay. Just as with Kuva Siphons, the only reason to use your operator for combat is if you’re absolutely forced to.
Although I am having a lot of fun with the mobility of the Naramon + Zenurik combo previously mentioned :V
Not much was changed or improved. The daily Focus cap was raised from 100,000 to 250,000, but the costs for each school went up just as high. The Convergence multiplier was raised from 6x to 8x, but the spawning logic was not improved or otherwise re-calibrated. Focus 2.0 farming is essentially Focus 1.1 farming, but with bigger numbers.
Just as with the previous iteration of the Focus system, you will need to have at least 2x Focus Lenses installed to really optimize your Focus gains, but even then that requires you unequip two of your weapons or else you effectively reduce your potential gains. If you do want to progress in a Focus school, you’re limited to the equipment you have Lenses installed for. If you have completed a Focus school, you’re going to have to exclude equipment with Lenses from the school you have completed.
Additionally, Focus 2.0 did not do anything to correct the abysmal rate at which you generate Focus in standard gameplay. The reliance on Convergence — and to have it spawn at a time where there is a high density of high-Affinity yielding enemies — is a heavy burden on a casual player trying to just go through their missions for progression or just gameplay in general.
I would still suggest that Digital Extremes reconsider both the daily cap and Convergence. Ideally they would remove Convergence completely as it serves only to the purpose of handicapping gains without it. The daily cap should be the only time gate on progression and I feel as if Convergence is simply doubling down on impeding a player’s ability to progress.
Convergence did not and continues to not impact AoE kill farm metas and it never will in its current state. At most it is a speed bump or an AFK check for highly efficient groups killing enemies as quickly as they spawn. The high reliance on killing to generate Focus will always bring us back to this AoE kill meta.
The daily cap itself feels like an arbitrary impediment as well — nothing from the Focus system will re-enter the game economy at any point, so why limit the rate at which players can enhance their operators? It feels tantamount to putting a daily cap on how much Endo you can spend on Mods or how many ranks you can obtain on your equipment.
Because of the costs for each school and the slow rates at which you generate Focus, by the time you have access to many of the perks they are simply outclassed by your equipment. By the time you even have access to the Focus system or operators at all you’re likely to have warframes, weapons, and mods far more capable of the task.
Analysis of What Focus 2.0 Brought
The Focus system is markedly improved from its previous iteration.
The removal of the cooldown-based system was a tremendous step in the right direction and allows you to freely use your operator the way you would have imagined you could after having completed The War Within. It also gave players a reason to explore different perks without worrying about raising the 180s cooldown necessary for the useful passives going up to nearly 9 minutes.
Opening up Focus Lens acquisition to missions which can be repeated at will was also a step in the right direction, though the RNG of which Lenses are being offered is still a bit problematic seeing as how Focus is now an integral progression system akin to modding. An absolute improvement over the seasonal Sortie rewards which could result in only one chance for 1x Lens from each school in over 50 days.
Adding a new tier of Focus Lens, increasing the Convergence multiplier, and the daily Focus cap are more of a neutral change offset significantly by the dramatically increased cost to progress in a school. However, it is worth noting that almost all skills can be individually unlocked and equipped at their lowest ranks within a day or two of reaching the cap. This allows for experimentation and building up your school, similar to how veteran players recommend newcomers to only rank up their Mods to 8/10 and use the Endo to increase more valuable mods rather than sinking the lump sum into those final two ranks.
The lack of adjustments to the way Convergence spawns and how it behaves remains a flaw in the system. They are still group-dependent (if someone doesn’t pick it up, it drags out your cooldown until the next), they do not follow the flow of combat or create opportunities for high yields, and have unfortunate spawning locations on some tile sets (or landscapes). If they were created as a response to players AFK farming Focus it may have accomplished that goal, but it came at a cost to everyone playing the game “the right way” not being able to generate a meaningful amount of Focus.
Leaning on the less-positive side of things… The cost of 50,000 to unlock a school not including the first node was an odd change considering there is no benefit to having a school unlocked. Not really a problem in the grand scheme of things, but just a needless point of friction within the system. Additionally, players are still subject to the whims of RNG as to which school they can progress toward unless they’re willing to buy a Greater Lens from the Market (or trade with other players).
And now, without further ado, I present to you:
The Failures of Focus 2.0
Many of the problems which plagued Focus 1.0 and Focus 1.1 have only festered over time. That’s not to discount the system entirely — it now has a very distinct purpose and design intent — but it’s being held back by the same issues and added a new one to the mix.
Operators Enhanced (New to 2.0)
I personally do not find the operator gameplay engaging or worthwhile, but I respect that Focus has become the place to branch out upon that system. Focus 2.0 has done a good job of setting up the platform necessary for operators to have a role in warframe’s gameplay beyond quests and Kuva Siphon missions. However, the progression in this system being so heavily gated by both terrible Focus acquisition rates and daily cap limits will always render them an inferior option to just working on weapons instead. It simply does not feel rewarding to progress within this system as it is right now.
To drive home that point: you’re more likely to have the strongest Amp available in the same amount of time it would take you to acquire a perk which does maybe 1/10th the damage. Maybe if the Focus perk damaging abilities ignored resistances they could be more useful, but at the very least they should be viable options for the Teralyst encounter. On the other hand, you could just spend a few hours farming for an Opticor and a day or two working on acquiring Mods and Endo and put out significantly more damage with less effort.
Right now, operators are only really useful when they are necessary. You cannot capture Kuva without an operator, so you use them. You cannot complete certain quests without the operator, so you use them. You cannot defeat the Teralyst or other Eidolons without operators, so you use them. In almost all other combat scenarios, aside from the novelty factor, they remain objectively inferior to other equipment options.
I can accept that operators are the future of Focus, but as things are right now the investment cost is too high and the reward is too low. Most of the perks with damage components stop being relevant around level 15-20 enemies which will be far below what a player is capable of by the time they have these perks. With the continued push towards operator-based gameplay, this should be a top priority to re-evaluate.
Equipment Restrictions (Leftover from 1.0)
Brushing aside the fact that many players still don’t understand how Affinity acquisition and Radial Affinity distribution work, Focus Lenses can be very punishing when it comes to equipment selection. You’re better off using one weapon with an Eidolon Lens installed than two weapons with Greater Lenses installed or even two weapons with an Eidolon Lens and a Greater Lens.
Once you get your first Lens you reach a point of no return: whichever piece of equipment you install it in will be the only piece of equipment you can use to generate Focus until you acquire another Lens. Even for a veteran player who amassed a stockpile of Lenses from the previous iteration it’s a struggle picking the equipment you’re willing to invest in, especially knowing that if you want to upgrade to Eidolon Lenses once you have them you will have to delete whichever Lens you installed.
If Focus Lenses created a generic, raw Focus which you could apply to any school that would immediately rectify this problem. If Focus Lenses could be removed from equipment, or at least upgraded within equipment, it could alleviate some of the problems with restricting your options.
Throwaway pitch for the devs: What if you could remove or upgrade (still at the normal blueprint cost) a Focus Lens after “ranking it up” by earning a preset amount of Focus with it? Say, 1,000,000 or so?
Focus Acquisition Rates and Costs (Leftover from 1.0)
As I’ve mentioned before in this article, the time investment required to earn Focus and the rewards you receive are wildly disproportionate. Focus should feel like a synergistic system which amplifies both your operators and your warframes, but instead it feels like a secondary currency being used to add more flair to the operator.
I strongly suggest that Convergence be removed and the standard rate of Focus acquisition dramatically improved. The daily cap exists to limit progress and that is enough on its own – I’m sure a majority of players still won’t reach their daily cap on a regular basis.
Additionally, it’s vexing that you need to remove equipment to optimize Focus gains. And that bringing in any piece of equipment under Rank 30 (new or Forma’d) will greatly detract from your ability to generate any Focus. It’s also odd that equipping a Focus Lens on your operator does not benefit you in any way unless you are in operator mode — and that when you are in operator mode you do not generate any Focus for your equipment.
Imagine if the developers removed Kubrow mods and replaced them with a skill tree system. Each Kubrow is now a generic type, but you can install a special symbiotic collar on them which trains them to learn certain skills using “Dogus” generated by Affinity. You can earn enough Dogus in a day to unlock a couple of skills and passive perks in a day, but you can only earn a preset amount of Dogus on any given day. It takes over 100 days for your Kubrow to max out all of the perks for that set of skills, but it is never meant to compete with your warframes or weapons for combat. It’s just a neat thing on the side.
Focus is that, but for a potato. All of the time and resources you invest into acquiring and upgrading a Focus Lens, the time you invest into farming Focus, and progressing within a tree is just to give some novel effects to a companion-like character which you can control at will.
If the intention is to stretch out the time players spend working on this system, an alternative deployment method could have been to only have a few basic perks at launch and then expand on them every few months the same way they do with creating new weapons to acquire. The pacing of content in Warframe has typically been built around short bursts of new content to work towards; several short term goals but with frequent additions to expand them. Focus remains outside of that spectrum and does not feel very rewarding relative to other gameplay options.
The previous iteration of Focus had this same problem: a massive grind wall with less-than-enticing rewards which resulted in a majority of players completely ignoring the system after they obtained the core useful skills. I think the system would be much better suited if balanced around 30-50 days to complete a given school with the potential to add more perks in the future. Especially with how demanding Cetus and the Plains of Eidolon has proven to be, your options for daily activities start to feel less like a choice and more like constriction.
Take this with a grain of salt, though. I really can’t speak to the success of the previous iteration of Focus in regards to “success” by any metrics because I lack the internal data available to the developers.
I like the new Focus system. It has a lot of potential in it and I can see the “This is great! Though it could be better if…” clear as day. It doesn’t necessarily appeal to my tastes or what I like about Warframe, but it is a well-structured system and the changes made really do add a punch to the basic operator abilities. It is a solid foundation for the system it is meant to be even if it’s drifted away from what it was originally meant to be.
Focus evolved past the original intention of being a “Beast Mode“, “Avatar State“, and “Super Saiyan” (Design Council thread) and has become the outlet for progression with operators with some dressing on the side for our warframes. It might not have been what we expected, but it is fairly well structured for what it has become. The only oddity that remains is how some of the perks were left behind with the Amp system. Maybe that could be a way to enhance the damage and improve relevance if the developers continue down the alternate combat route?
What the Focus system needs now is some quality of life polish for aspects of the system and balance adjustments to find a proper balance between investment and reward. Progression systems are meant to be accessible and rewarding, but Focus still feels out of reach for both your ability to make progress and with its rewards.
There is still room for feedback and suggestions within this system and I think a great starting point would be for the developers to take a look at why so many players prefer Zenurik. If everyone feels as if the extra Energy regeneration is necessary, maybe it would be a good idea to give each school a way of generating more Energy. Maybe it would be a good idea to improve Energy economy within the entire game and then give Zenurik a different set of Residuals, too.
If anyone at Digital Extremes is reading through this, I hope this doesn’t come off as me being a vocal hater or something like that. I’m enjoying the update and I see the potential in the system though I’m concerned that some of the rot which was set in the first foundation wasn’t fully removed and replaced.
This article was much more… informal… than what I would normal post as an editorial. Just imagine that I was writing it with my legs kicked up while sipping on mojitos or something :V Thanks to Brozime for giving me a fresh set of eyes to quickly proof read for this short window of writing!