(PlayStation 4)

Warframe (PlayStation 4)

Game Review

Warframe Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Robert Ramsey

You've been framed

Bolstering the PlayStation 4's launch line-up are a number of free-to-play games, including Digital Extremes' Warframe – a third person action RPG, full of loot, levelling, and co-op chaos. It's a combination that immediately brings to mind something like Mass Effect 3, especially when you consider that the game also features a sci-fi setting with its own lore and alien races. Originally launching on PC earlier this year, the title arrives on Sony's system with every huge update already in place – although it's worth noting that it's still technically in beta. The question is: does Warframe deserve your time in its current state, or should you wait a while before suiting up?

You play as the Tenno, an ancient race of galactic warriors who are looking to put a stop to the evil alien factions that currently dominate our solar system – and that's really all there is to the game's story. There are bits of background information to be found here and there, like learning the origins of each relatively grotesque enemy race, but there's no concrete plot for you to follow. Your goal, then, is all about progression: saving up credits in order to buy better gear, killing hundreds of grunts and completing missions so that you can level up, and experimenting with equipment fusion to create more potent mods and abilities. All of these elements create a deep sense of customisation, but to get the most out of your Tenno, you're going to have to spend a colossal amount of time with the release.

And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. New hardware typically launches without a huge catalogue of software to keep you busy, and Warframe's sheer amount of expensive unlocks means that there's always going to be something to work towards. Of course, if you're willing to use real money in order to purchase gear, then you can cut down your time investment considerably, as expected of a free-to-play release.

However, the title does little to actually plead a decent case for the popular business model. Exchanging cash for platinum – an in-game currency that can only be obtained with real money – is outrageously expensive in terms of exchange ratio. For example, spending £7.69 will get you just 170 platinum, which is barely enough to even buy a couple of somewhat decent weapons. Meanwhile, you can grab 570 platinum for a whopping £22.99 – an amount that's just enough to buy two new character classes, or frames. It gets worse still when you realise that you can even cough up over £100 for a bundle of platinum and randomly assorted mods.

Fortunately, as previously alluded, you can acquire your bits and pieces without spending a penny, although even then, the release seems to try its best to make doing so as tedious and difficult as possible. To attain new frames, weapons, and mods, you have several options. Some can be bought directly from the marketplace with in-game credits gained from completing missions, but they tend to cost a small fortune, while others can only be found as random loot drops from slain enemies. But in order to get your mitts on exciting stuff like a new character class, you'll probably have to find or buy a blueprint, gather the materials needed to make it, and then wait until your shiny new toy is crafted, which takes twelve and above hours of real time.

It's a set-up that demands a staggering amount of effort if you're eager to see and do everything that the game offers, but even then, your level grinding and loot-finding skills may not be enough, as the title is rife with difficulty spikes. Missions are generally a standard affair, tasking you with eliminating every enemy or destroying a specific piece of machinery – and for the most part, you won't have much trouble against groups of lesser opponents, providing that you know what you're doing. But every now and then, you'll come across a mission that shatters that enjoyable sense of progression into tiny little pieces. Be it an incredibly beefy boss that deals out attacks which can kill you in one hit, or a level that sees you fending off waves of never-ending enemies, it's moments like these that make you wonder if it's worth spending so much time powering-up your character when it seemingly makes so little difference.

To even stand a chance in some of these tougher scenarios, you'll need to team up with other players who work well as a unit. Teamwork and knowing the ins-and-outs of your frame's abilities is the key to success, but unfortunately, most users don't seem to have a clue. Their apparent lack of knowledge perhaps isn't their own fault, though, as the release does almost nothing to explain even the basics of several important systems and mechanics. Things appear to start off well, as you're thrown into a tutorial level upon initially loading up the game, which explains the obvious controls of movement, shooting, and melee attacks. When it's done, however, you'll be left to rely on your own awkward sense of discovery.

You're told nothing about the radar that sits in the top left corner of your screen, or the icons that appear on it, making your first forays into different mission types little more than guesswork as you traverse the maze-like maps. Fusing together various mods in order to increase their effectiveness isn't explained either, as you mess around with cluttered menus and potentially use up resources that could have held more value elsewhere. Even buying new gear is a risk, as the marketplace gives you no option of comparing your current loadout to whatever it is that you're about to blow a huge sum of credits on. And this, really, is Warframe's biggest problem – it's far too complex and vague to be truly compelling.

It's a shame, too, as the title's gameplay is mostly enjoyable. Movement feels great, especially as you sprint from objective to objective like the cyber-ninja that you are, sliding on your knees while blasting mutant space marines in the face with your custom-coloured rifle. Likewise, shooting is standard, but as each successful shot lands, damage numbers pop up with satisfying frequency. Sadly, melee attacks don't fare quite so well, as controlling your weapon's swing is like trying to look in two different directions at once, due to the fact that your attacks' angle is based on where your crosshair is aimed. You can even adopt a stealthy approach, killing off enemies with deadly surprise offensives before they even have a chance to raise the alarm, although at times it's impossible not to be detected, given that some baddies will be staring right at you when you open a door.

On top of the generally solid fast-paced gameplay, arguably the best part of Warframe's combat is making use of your powers and abilities. As you may have guessed, your equipped frame determines which techniques you have at your disposal. All of your typical RPG classes are here, from the brute force build that deals out tons of physical damage to the supportive role, meaning that you're bound to find a frame that perfectly fits your playstyle – assuming that you can unlock it. To use your specialised powers, you'll first need to increase your level to the necessary threshold, and then equip them through another clumsy menu screen. The process is again more complex than it needs to be, but once you're flinging adversaries around with your mind or slicing through whole platoons at the speed of sound, you'll be glad that you made the effort.

Elsewhere, the release's aesthetics are also a bit of a mixed bag. The game's art direction is interesting, if lacking in personality, while the frame's designs are undeniably cool. Levels meanwhile have a tendency to look incredibly similar, but once you begin to progress further, you'll find much more variety as you're taken to natural environments and nicely-lit futuristic locations. On a graphical level, though, it doesn't do much to show off the PS4's prowess, with blurred textures and some annoying visual bugs, such as the camera clipping into the scenery.

Conclusion

When you're dashing and slashing with capable allies, Warframe is decent game – but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done before it can be considered a good one. The user interface isn't controller friendly, you're given little to no direction, and the title's free-to-play model hinders its overall design. Until these issues are rectified, we recommend waiting in the shadows for the release to finally emerge from its beta state.

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User Comments (29)

AD-80

#2

AD-80 said:

I completely agree with the overall lack of tutorials in this game. It;s too complex to just dump people into and I still feel blind playing this game. I don't want to go look up forums just to figure out how to properly fuse mods, etc. Also it doesn't describe items you're about to buy very well-sometimes if at all. It's a little disappointing, but seeing as it's technically in Beta I really hope they fix the major weaknesses of this game. It really is fun running as cyber ninjas! :D

TasukiStaff

#3

Tasuki said:

The whole marketplace thing turned me off right away to this game. I hate games that deal with micro-transactions cause even if they have a way to get the stuff in game besides paying money for it its usually some huge grindfest. Yeah I dont see myself playing this one anytime soon.

AD-80

#4

AD-80 said:

@Tasuki To be fair it is a free-to-play game. but i still think the best F2P model is only buying stuff that affects aesthetics instead of equipment, skills, etc. Something like DOTA or LOL pull off the F2p model pretty well.

HandandInternet

#5

HandandInternet said:

It's good on PC, it depends on the player like Planetside 2, people complain about the cert points which are earned every 250 points (=1), they are expensive as far the exchange goes, considering you need them for everything. The main fanbase complain about only getting 20 a day (the average gun being 1,000) yet when I get on it with some people I met online we average 50 a day, so as I said "it all comes down to the player", they need income so I don't mind paying for a gun or two, however I never feel that I need to.

Sidenote: The tags for this review made me chuckle.

PMasterTy9

#6

PMasterTy9 said:

I think the game can be fun. If they can clean up the interface and add tutorials then it would be a lot better. Hacking is one of my major complaints so far because for me it's cumbersome and I've played it on a PC and it's so much easier to do with a mouse.

ztpayne7

#7

ztpayne7 said:

In the beginning, it was a little crazy. They don't even teach you how to hack, so that took a couple of fails. The game is growing on me though. I'd like to see what it's like playing with a team of your choosing and can talk to.

get2sammybAdmin

#8

get2sammyb said:

I'm just baffled at the absence of Trophies in some of these free-to-play games. I get that they're technically in beta and evolving, but it seems ridiculous to not throw a few in there.

I'm a bit disappointed this hasn't turned out so hot as it seemed really good at Eurogamer. Then again, a five minute demo doesn't really do anything justice. Thanks for the review, Robert.

alphadrago5

#9

alphadrago5 said:

Personally, I greatly disagree with Rob here. I started playing Warframe the moment I got my PS4 and while the tutorial is pretty much useless and I can agree with that they don't tell you much at all about the game, figuring out the best ways to play and all the stuff that they could've put in the tutorial (like blocking (up on D-Pad)) opens up a new door for players to decide what they wanna use often and what they might not. On the subject of the F2P model, I think this game has an astounding model and is one of the best i've seen. A lot of the stuff on the marketplace is expensive to encourage players to farm more and see more of the maps. They start you off with 50 platinum and you have even more if you got the PS+ free pack which came with 50k credits and 100 platinum(or was it 50.. I don't remember) which is more than enough to buy some inventory slots to be able store more frames/weapons (back to bad tutorial here). Or you could save it for materials or catalysts/reactors to be able to customize your favorite war frame/weapons more.
Also the UI and controls are fantastic in my opinion. The only button that isn't very well placed is guard (Up on D-Pad) and with the next update you should be able to customize said controls to map onto other buttons according to the developers.
In the end it seems that the biggest flaw is their tutorial and I don't believe that the game should be rated a 5 of 10 because of that. I'd give this game at least a 6 or 7 considering the fact that it is completely free to play and will only get better as time goes on. From what i've seen of it though, it's definitely worth playing. Hence why it's worth 6-7.

edit-Didn't realized I made this so long..
TL;DR- This deserves a 6 or 7 and is worth playing because it has a great F2P model, customization and gameplay despite poor tutorial

ShogunRokAdmin

#10

ShogunRok said:

@alphadrago5 I agree that the actual in-game controls are good, it's just that navigating the menus and trying to work it all out takes a lot of time and effort - more than it should.

But that's fair enough. If you enjoy the game and are willing to put the time into it, it can be a lot of fun.

divinelite

#12

divinelite said:

I love Warframe on PC and with preoerder/psplus you got some incentive to fight with
F2p model is great for me since I never intend to finish the game (f2p games) in the first place
I just stop when the game absurdly ask me to pay

Azikira

#13

Azikira said:

I have very much enjoyed the PC version (I even play with controller) and see no reason why this shouldn't be recommended ESPECIALLY cuz it's free. The buying stuff is all optional anyways.

Gamer83

#14

Gamer83 said:

I did the pre-order before the PS4 was out so I could get the bonuses and while I've actually had quite a bit of fun playing the game, I also think it is just slightly above average at best and it's another reason why when everybody was citing F2P games and indie games as perfectly suitable replacements for potential big retail games like DriveClub and Watch_Dogs, I just shook my head. There is nothing wrong with these kind of games but they're nothing more than appetizers before the full course meal.

Epic

#15

Epic said:

Well it looks like all the PS4 launches are implement F2P systems in a wierd way, really looking foward to see if that's not the case in Black Light Retribution or Planetside 2.

Lagnaut

#16

Lagnaut said:

I've been playing since the PS4 release and can say that the game's biggest problem for new players is how poorly it explains critical systems and features. Highly recommend bookmarking one of the wiki sites. Once you get past that learning curve it's actually not a particularly complicated game but is fun if you enjoy loot-and-shoot games.
I disagree with Ramsey's assessment that the game requires an inordinate amount of time/effort if you aren't willing to pay cash. It's no more grindy than, say, Diablo. I'm nowhere near halfway through the solar system and have already built what many seem to consider one of the best warframes, Rhino, because it's blueprints drop off the second boss. And I only decided last week to pursue it. I also have some of the blueprints for 4 other warframes but am not interested in pursuing them at this time.
As F2P systems go this is one of the fairest I've experienced. The only thing in the game that requires real money is color options. Everything else can be obtained through gameplay. Yes, you may have to take down a boss several times to get what you want, just like Diablo, WoW, Borderlands, etc. Fortunately, even a semi-competent team can complete a boss mission in 20 mins or less. Also, the game is very low key about its real money options, never in your face trying to get you to spend.
Note to Ramsey: there is an option that makes melee much less frustrating. Can't remember the name but it makes it so that whatever you are swinging at doesn't have to be directly in your LOS.

odd69

#17

odd69 said:

Well its the first thing ill get with ps4 so i guess ill just have find things to enjoy, it sounds to me like i'll get a decent time out of it.

Bad-MuthaAdebis

#18

Bad-MuthaAdebis said:

Not tried this yet. I didn't think it was going to be something I would make the time to play either. It sounds like I shouldn't really bother so I won't.

ohhaime

#19

ohhaime said:

I haven't played the PS4 version but I'd give the PC version a 7.8/10.

Excellent controls and a throughly addictive Loot system where you can obtain anything other then cosmetics without real money make this game a winner for me.Sure the actual content could be more interesting and compelling but the game is updated frequently with new content.

I suppose if you're not the type that enjoys Grindy Loot based RPGs you would probably want to pass on this but for those of us that do enjoy that kind of thing this can be a dangerously endless time sink.

RisefromAshes

#22

RisefromAshes said:

Er, I think that applies to me and not to you. Bruce Wayne! : D

Let's not stand on ceremony here. Mr. Wayne.

ShogunRokAdmin

#23

ShogunRok said:

@Lagnaut I understand that they're adding in auto-lock on for melee attacks in the next update (the one that's already out on PC). A lot of reviewers complained about how it was broken, but clearly they didn't realise that you aim it with the crosshair. The fact that they didn't know, though, is indicative of the fact that the game tells you nothing outside of the basic controls.

With the review, I'm trying to emphasise that the game really needs to ease new players in better - especially since it's free-to-play. It needs the player base, and I know numerous people over the PSN that have given up on it already because there's just too much to wrap your head around.

If you can really dig your way into it and enjoy it, that's fine - but I had to consider the opinion of those who just don't have the time to work out every facet of gameplay for themselves.

For the record, I quite enjoy Warframe, and I'm still playing it. But I still think it needs a lot of work before it's anything but average. Hopefully it reaches expectations once it's out of beta.

Paranoimia

#24

Paranoimia said:

Tried it for 10 minutes, didn't enjoy it, realised it would be a grind, saw the cost of stuff, deleted it.

Lagnaut

#25

Lagnaut said:

@ShogunRok I completely agree that the developers do a terrible job explaining the game. Even their web site is devoid of useful gameplay information. If you put in the work to make a game why wouldn't you at the absolute very least publish a thorough explanation of game mechanics on your web site?!? Mind boggling.
My main disagreement with the review is that it gives the impression that if you aren't willing to pay you will be forced to extraordinarily grind to advance. It is most certainly a game that requires grinding and gathering but no more than you will find in games charging a premium price (Diablo) or a monthly fee (WoW).

ShogunRokAdmin

#26

ShogunRok said:

@Lagnaut That's fair enough, I don't mind grinding myself - just look at my Mass Effect 3 multiplayer profile (400+ hours). But I think it's a combination of things that makes the game hard to stomach for some people - maybe even making it seem like more of a grind that it actually is. For starters, we've got the lack of a decent tutorial. But we've also got difficulty spikes and missions that can only really be overcome by teaming up with a good group of players.

If you decide to grind your way through, simply becoming overpowered through sheer levelling, it's going to take a lot of time. Really, what I'm saying is that you need to devote a lot of time and effort to finding a good squad and upgrading your Tenno to a large extent if you're eager to see everything that the game offers.

But like you said, this would be much easier if the release gave you a little more direction. I can certainly see a lot of players sticking with Warframe (myself included) but I worry about all of the people who are put off by the problems that I've outlined in the review.

Of course, the game can only get better. The next update, for example, fixes a lot of issues. I look forward to seeing where it ends up, especially when it's finally out of beta.

jgrangervikings

#28

jgrangervikings said:

Surprised so many are down on this game. I've been having a lot of fun with it. Graphics are great, gameplay is good, the price is right, and I have no problem grinding in a game when there aren't a lot of games out yet for the system. Give it a try. There's plenty to sink your teeth into if you decide to put some time into it.

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