I’ve been relatively spoiled in this front, mostly due to RPGs. Seems forever that there have been very large missions or boss fights in RPG games. And I don’t just mean damage sponges… but real tactical bosses. They really are more like puzzles than they are endurance bouts. MMOs took this up a notch, though the detriment to that is that everything that isn’t a boss is considered “trash”.
As I play more of Warframe I am noticing that delineation of mission types, and events. There are certainly “bosses” but not so much in the context we are used to. They are damage sponges, with some light tactical elements. The real challenge and rush comes from either defense or survival missions.
Defense missions have you protecting an object over multiple waves of enemies. The object is usually assailable by many fronts. Every 5 waves you get a bonus, and those bonuses follow a specific reward framework – A, A, B, C. This means that after 20 waves, you’ve had access to all the loot tables. It also means that there’s a “softcap” on how long people will run a mission.
Survival missions are more like horde missions in FPS games – non-stop enemy spawns. You are continuously losing “mission health” that can be boosted by certain enemy drops, or clicking on spawning items that show up every 60s or so. Rewards are provided at 5 minute intervals, again with the A, A, B, C reward structure. Getting to 10 minutes can be a challenge, getting to 20 minutes requires serious firepower.
It’s not to say that other missions aren’t fun, they are. But they are too focused on a specific activity, rather than just playing. Spy missions have you go through a trap filled room based on a timer – fun the first time, not the 10th. Interception has you defend 4 capture points, impossible solo, hard with a duo – and a bit too much like defense missions. Again, the directed missions are fun, but not as the core.
This is ignoring Nightmare missions (harder, with special conditions like no shields or exploding bad guys), Sorties (like raids), or the recent Plains expansion. I’ll get there one day.
The more I play, the more I realize that the Big Missions are not the ones with a focus, they are based on the structure and events that I make myself. The “trash” of other games is the actual fun part. It’s an interesting twist.