Hello again, dear Lusites, and welcome to another review with Durga. This week, the review is not for another South Park game or another JRPG. This week, the review is about a game involving guns, robots, and dogs: Warframe. Warframe is a cooperative third-person action shooter developed by the Chinese-owned and Canadian operated company Digital Extremes. Warframe is a game that is primarily player versus environment, something that is rare in the shooter genre, and that was the first major appeal to the game for this reviewer. In a market oversaturated with generic shooters that do nothing to break the mold, and survive on a fanbase of muscle-brained idiots who consider their kill to death ratio more important than their GPA, is it possible for a game to actually take risks and try something different in a genre that decided World War II was the place to be for nearly a decade? Is it possible to draw the shooter crowd while doing something different? Warframe manages to do so, and somehow manages to do so while remaining free to play. Surprisingly, the game has strong story elements on top of the gameplay aspect, another thing that is rare in the shooter genre.
In Warframe, players take control of an ancient warrior race known as the Tenno. The Tenno have been in a state of cryosleep for centuries while the universe changed around them. Originally locked in a conflict with another ancient race known as the Orokin, when the players awaken they find that the Orokin no longer exist. However, as another game franchise always points out, war never changes. The universe is still being torn apart by war, and the Tenno are caught between three major factions outside of their own. The Grineer are a matriarchal race of humanoids that have cloned their soldiers so often that their minds have deteriorated into nothing but blood and bullets. The Corpus is a more technologically advanced race obsessed with lasers and money. Finally, the Infested are disfigured abominations that were once humans, their bodies being broken down by the Technocyte virus (a callback to another Digital Extremes game, Dark Sector). When the player first starts the game, they are slowly introduced to each faction in order and are given missions that tie into the story of each while also unlocking new weapons, and more importantly new Warframes. The story for Warframe is surprisingly interesting and continues to evolve with each new patch that the development team releases. In the beginning, there was very little depth to the story beyond finding your landing craft and going to war, and little was actually explained about the Tenno. Over time and with patches, much of their story has been revealed, and new elements of gameplay are also introduced with each big reveal. This is just one area in which the game shines, however. One of the other major draws of the game is the insane level of customization options available.
The missions in the game are played on all the different planets in the solar system, as well as a few extra locations outside of this universe. Each planet is primarily controlled by either Grineer, Corpus or some conflicting mixture of the two, with the Infested just generally getting in the way in random places. Every type of enemy has a drop table of several different resources used for crafting, and several mods used to upgrade weapons and warframes. Players can access the Market and purchase blueprints of different weapons and warframes, and then use the resources collected in missions to build these weapons. there is an in-game currency that can be purchased with real cash called Platinum, which can be used by lazy people who do not want to collect the resources and build blueprints and would rather just buy the gun or warframe immediately, but there is no advantage to doing so other than saving some time. There are dozens of weapons of each weapon type, and dozens of frames to farm pieces for. Each weapon and frame can be leveled to a maximum of 30, with the level allowing players the ability to add more mods that make the weapon stronger. On top of this, once something has been maxed out in level, there is an item that will reset it back to zero, but allow one of the mod slots to be polarized, which makes the cost of a specific type of mod in that slot now cost half the amount of needed level to be used. There is a gun or frame or melee weapon combination to appeal to just about any style of gameplay, and there are so many options that it would take decades to try every different combination. Each warframe has built-in abilities that can be buffed by mods, and each of them can be buffed in different ways to fit different play styles, meaning that it is possible to have two of the same warframe on a mission behaving completely differently from each other. The level of customization is simply astronomical and is definitely the main draw of Warframe.
Even without all of the customization options, Warframe is simply fun to play. The player essentially takes the role of a space ninja and can jump, sprint, slide, and roll, as well as combine techniques to quickly move throughout all of the different missions and worlds. The game also allows players to utilize parkour techniques to evade enemies, which means it is possible to build a frame using only power mods and no defense mods and still survive if the player is mobile enough (get caught once and it is game over, which is the most fun way to play anyway). It is also possible to use the parkour style of movement to bypass obstacles or gain access to secret areas. Each of the mission maps is slightly procedurally generated with pre-built rooms connected together so that no levels have the same layout. This can present problems sometimes, with enemies generating in rooms that seem impossible to access or different item chests sometimes generating in the floor. At times, the player will be required to play hacking mini-games by completing puzzles within a limited amount of time to proceed in the missions. There are frames that can actually just be invisible, and mission types specifically designed to reward being sneaky over destroying everything in sight. Credits, ammo, resources, and mods can be found in set locations, such as lockers and destructible containers, as well as dropped by enemies. If a player’s Tenno loses all its health, that Tenno is down; if the player is alone, they can expend one of their revives for that mission to be returned to full health, while if with other players, another player can revive that Tenno. If all Tenno are down and no one revives, or in the case of certain missions if the objective is not met, the mission ends prematurely with players forgoing any rewards beyond what they have already collected. This can lead to major frustration, as some resources and mods are incredibly rare drops and losing them by dying once the player has finally managed to get them to drop is heartbreaking. One of the biggest positives to the game is that it is continuously changing.
With each major patch to the game, there have been major changes. Sometimes the changes are good, and sometimes they are not, but the fact that they continue to happen means that the game does not get stale. The developers have added new mission types and new ways to play with all of the major patches. In the most recent patch, they even added a massive open world to explore, which also added much more resources that need to be gathered, some in ridiculous amounts, to build new toys to play with. The biggest frustrations to the game can be in these patches too, however, as the developers are constantly trying to keep any single build from becoming too powerful and sometimes go too far in nerfing a specific playstyle. Every time players discover a new way to level quickly, or find a build that seems not only exceptionally powerful but also fun, the complaints of other players lead to that specific mission or playstyle being changed. As with any online community, there are always players that complain about every change made and refuse to embrace these changes or find a new way to play, resulting in a somewhat toxic community. In fact, the community is both one of the major strengths and weaknesses of the games, always suggesting new ways to make the game good and at the same time managing to find a way to dislike any change that is made. It is impossible to please everyone, and thankfully the developers seem to mostly stick to a balanced way of adjusting things, even if it is sometimes frustrating when a player’s favorite frame loses one of the things that made it great, to begin with.
Overall, if a player enjoys games that involve grinding gear like Monster Hunter, or enjoy free-flowing movement and so many customization options it would take forever to try them all, then Warframe is definitely worth a try. None of the negative changes have ever impacted the game so bad as to make a warframe unplayable, and the community is not so bad as to push new players away in any way. With constant content patches, new weapons introduced all the time and a constantly evolving story that has yet to make a bad choice, Warframe truly stands out in the shooter genre. Pair this with the fact that the game is totally free to play, and there really is no reason not to give it a try. It is not a perfect game, but it is a perfect example of how a free game should be handled. What do the readers think? Have you tried Warframe? If so, was the grind too much? Has any update managed to kill the interest in the game for you? Please, leave a comment below and let us know how you feel! As for this reviewer, hundreds of hours of grind have still managed to remain interesting. If you feel the same, leave a comment! If you do not leave a comment anyway! Either way, thank you for reading and keep the games coming!
Genre: Third-person shooter
Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: Digital Extremes
Platform Reviewed: Microsoft Windows
Release Date: 25 March 2013