Posted by Andrew Brewer on November 27th, 2013 | 1 Comment | Tags: Digital Extremes , Warframe
Warframe is one of the Free-to-Play (F2P) options available at the PlayStation 4’s launch, but don’t let the fact that it’s F2P turn you off. While I have groaned with indifference at F2P titles in the past, after spending time with Warframe I must say that I am quite impressed with what it offers.
In Warframe you take control of the Tenno, an ancient warrior race who don exoskeleton suites of armor, the titular Warframes, to do battle against their enemies in a flashy ninja-like fashion. Well that is if Ninjas also liked shooting guns – lots of guns. All of the action takes place from a 3rd person view point in randomly generated environments as you and up to three other players take on missions cooperatively, although you have the option to complete any mission solo if you choose. Personally I wouldn’t suggest playing solo however since working with a group to complete your objectives not only makes the missions easier but quite a bit more enjoyable.
The first mission you take on is a tutorial level which introduces you to one of the main enemy factions and gives you an overview of how to fight using your primary, secondary, and melee weapons letting you test your guns and swordplay a little before you face your first real enemies. Using your primary and secondary guns is your standard 3rd person shooter affair using the triggers to aim and shoot and you control your sword (or other melee weapon) using R1. It can take a little time to get used to aiming and attacking properly with your melee weapon, especially when it comes to hitting the same enemy multiple times in a row. But once you get the hang of things it can be an effective, and very satisfying, way to attack. I don’t think running into a group of enemies and taking them all down with a flurry of sword swings will ever get old.
Besides each Warframe sporting a different look and stats the main distinction between them is their abilities. Each frame has four unique abilities to use that range from high damaging group attacks to buffing your party to displaying holographic images to distract enemies. Each ability costs energy which can be collected from defeated enemies or looted from canisters or crates in the environment and knowing when to use them can really turn the tide of a battle. To activate abilities you swipe a different direction on the touchpad and while my first impression was that this was a pretty gimmicky implementation it works well, although which direction corresponds to what skill is not displayed on the screen that well. With over fifteen different frames available you can definitely find one that suits your play style, granted you are limited to a choice of three when you first start the game.
After completing the initial tutorial I spent some time testing out what each button does, like I tend to do in most games. After a few minutes I quickly realized that the tutorial really only taught you half of what you needed to know. No mention was made of the fact that you can jump, sprint, slide, wall run, block or that these maneuvers, along with melee attacks, costs stamina which recharges when not being used. I found it quite odd that these weren’t taught to you since not only are they useful in taking on enemies but some are needed to traverse sections of levels. They are also a lot of fun to pull off and in my opinion a big factor that differentiates Warframe from other 3rd person shooters.
Completing missions and defeating enemies gives you Affinity (i.e experience) which levels up your Warframe and weapons giving you points to equip modifications that are occasionally dropped by enemies. Each mod requires a certain amount of points to equip and allows you to customize your equipment in different ways such as increasing firing speed, making enemies appear on the mini map, or adding ice damage. Through fusing cores or unwanted mods into the ones you use you can level them up, making their effects that much stronger but also increasing the point cost needed to equip them. The mod system is by far one of my favorite aspects of the game and I have spent a fair amount of time tinkering with the different mods trying to find the best layout, weighing my options between equipping a bunch of lower cost mods to get a variety of affects or going for a couple of higher cost ones to see a greater benefit.
Unfortunately, as with the agility moves I talked about above, there is a general lack of information given to you about how the mod system works. The basics are pretty easy to understand but with things like transmutation, polarity and aura it can be a little confusing. Not explaining things seems to be a regular occurrence in the game and I only experienced two other tutorials in the game, one of the missions map and one for the foundry system which you use to combine materials and blueprints to create new items. With a lot of systems at play, such as Conclave ratings used for PvP, Mastery Ranks and tests, Sentinels, and Clan Dojo’s, it can seem like a fairly unwelcoming environment as a new player and I really hope that proper tutorials or instructions are added in the future. But until then I suggest to any player to check out the quick start guide on the Warframe website for a general overview and the Warframe Wikia for any specific information you need.
The other big complaint with Warframe is with the menus when equipping items or buying things from the marketplace. While you get the detailed stats of each weapon when you equip them there is no way to compare two weapons side by side. So in order to see how two weapons differ from one another you need to go back and forth equipping the two and remembering the stats to manually compare them. Not that quick or user friendly. A similar issue is with the blueprints in the marketplace. You can easily check what materials you need to craft an item from a blueprint before you buy it, but it doesn’t indicate in the market menu what resources you currently have or how many you have of them. This led me to having to switch from the two different menus, the market place and inventory, to see if I met the needed materials requirement which frankly I found quite annoying.
When a game is so heavily focused on co-op it’s important that the game runs well, and thankfully Warframe does. Almost every match I played ended up running smoothly and the few times I did experience lag or stuttering were very minimal. I also had no problems finding people to play with or staying connected while in a match. Although I do wish there was a way you could specify if you want to join in progress missions or not. Personally I prefer to play missions from start to finish since not only do you miss the objectives but sometimes you can get placed in pretty hazardous positions, like in the middle of a group of enemies.
Since this is a F2P title there is of course a way for you to spend money. There are two different currency systems in the game: credits which are earned from playing the game and platinum which you buy from the PlayStation store. If people want to get their hands on weapons and frames quicker they have the option to pay platinum for them but from what I can tell it seems like almost everything in the game, besides visual options and extra equipment slots, can be earned by playing the game although it might take a while to earn the credits and hunt down the materials needed.
Warframe is also currently available on PC and as of last week is currently an update ahead of the PS4 version. Digital Extremes do plan on having both versions on par with each other in the future once they get a better understanding of the PlayStation 4 update process. So while a bit disappointing hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the new content on the PS4. Also trophy hunters should take note that as of now there are no trophies in the game yet, but they will be added in a future update.
While I outlined some of the problems I have had with Warframe above the game just being plain fun highly outweighs the problems I have with the menus and lack of proper tutorials, especially when playing with a group. Working together to complete missions and take down the unique bosses is a blast and has kept me coming back to the game almost every day since the PS4 launched, even if I only have a little time to play a mission and grab the daily log-in reward. With ten different mission types and seventy main missions to complete the game offers a lot of content for you to consume and all for the low low cost of free.
If you want to see a full mission play through check out Part 1 and Part 2 of a mission I recorded of the first boss. Video contains some slight spoilers and appears darker then in game.
A copy of this game was purchased (for free) for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. The PlayStation 4 version of the game was tested for this review.
- Developer: Digital Extremes
- Publisher: Digital Extremes
- Release Date: November 2013
- Price: Free-to-Play
- Genre: Co-op, Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1-4 (Online)
- Ratings: ESRB M, PEGI 18
What I Like:
- Pulling off flashy ninja moves in combat
- Tackling missions with other players
- Satisfying melee kills, once you get the hang of it
- Leveling, mod, and crafting systems
- Experiencing very little lag, and no connection issues
- Boss Fights
What I Dislike:
- Getting dropped into a mission that is already started or mostly over
- Lack of information and tutorials making it feel unfriendly to new players
- Menu issues
- No trophies...yet
- Not currently in line with the PC version