2013 was a simpler time. The Last of Us had just blown people’s socks off on the PlayStation 3, people were anticipating The Order: 1886, and the PlayStation 4 was new. In among such launch classics as Call of Duty: Ghosts and Knack, a free-to-play title called Warframe launched.
Warframe, in it’s launch state, was tough to love. The visuals were distinct and the combat fluid, but the procedurally generated levels weren’t exciting, nor was the constant grind to farm a litany of resource types to craft new gear.
Almost five years on, however, Warframe is thriving. Through consistent updates and constant interaction with players, the game has garnered a sizeable fanbase. In fact, developer Digital Extremes has been holding an annual convention (TennoCon) since 2016 for the game.
With all this in mind, I jumped into Warframe again.
Choosing one of three “Frames” (think character classes) at the game’s opening, you battle through dozens of Grineer soldiers (a not very pleasant alien race) to reach your ship. From there, you complete missions to add a couple of sections to your ship – a foundry for crafting and an armoury for equipping weapons and new Frames.
Its in these early skirmishes that the complexities of Warframe’s combat system begin to unfold. Your Frame carries a primary weapon (an assault rifle to begin with), a secondary weapon (a pistol), and a melee weapon, and you’ll switch between all three on a near constant basis. You’re able to double jump, slide, wall jump, and dive, but your first aim should be to learn the basics of “bullet jumping”.
Essentially, this is a slide followed by a jump which turns your Frame into a tornado capable of tearing through levels at breakneck speed. Aiming weapons in midair will slow time, and the game soon becomes a challenge to get the coolest looking kills possible.
With the basics down, its time to hunt down the leader of the Grineer by completing various types of missions: General Vor. This is where it hit me: Warframe has an impressive array of mission types, thirteen in total. These range from assassinating a certain target to capturing control points or defending an area a la horde mode.
All of those missions will drop different rewards in the form of mods or resources, and both are poorly explained. Mods enhance your equipped gear, while resources are used to create new pieces. Gear comes with a set number of slots which you can add mods to, and most mods take up a number of those slots, which can be confusing. Luckily, there is an auto-install button which I’ve come to rely on in these early hours.
Once modded up, I jumped into the Market section of the ship to see what Frames were available to me, and unsurprisingly there is some grinding to do. From a quick glance, Warframes cost Platinum – Warframe’s premium currency. This felt disheartening, until I realised that everything in this game that costs Platinum can be built from resources gained through playing the game – there are some AAA games that don’t have that option (ahem, Destiny 2). With that in mind, and having done some research, I grabbed the blueprint for the 'Rhino' Warframe which cost a few thousand credits – pocket change in Warframe.
The items needed aren’t too tricky, but they require defeating a boss on Venus – and I’m not there yet. Warframe gates planetary progress behind 'Junctions' – fights against powerful enemies which can only be accessed once you’ve completed a list of goals. The Venus Junction was easy enough to get through once I’d switched to weapons with more mod slots – I’d also picked up the blueprints for a new assault rifle and dual pistols which I already had the resources to craft.
Levelling in Warframe is done by using multiple weapons and Frames; each part of your arsenal levels independently, feeding into a shared 'Mastery Level'. Reaching the threshold to level to Mastery Rank 2 triggers a short “trial” – for example, killing a few enemies only using your secondary weapon. Again, none of this is explained particularly clearly.
For all of the obtuse systems, however, I’m in deep with Warframe. I’m logging in daily to knock off a mission or two within 30 minutes. I’m grabbing plenty of resources and working my way towards that Rhino, and I can’t wait to see how it affects the way I play. Warframe, unlike many games, has a grind that feels commensurate to what I’m getting out of it.
There is so much to discover here, and I haven’t even gone into huge sections such as the open-world Plains of Eidolon update. If you’re happy to research things online or ask for help, the community are extremely helpful. If you haven’t given Warframe a try, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. In fact, even if you bounced off of it in 2013 or since, I still recommend it.
Have you tried Warframe lately? Have you been playing the game since the beginning, or are you a newcomer? Press X to ninja in the comments section below.
The recent buzz around Warframe is really giving me the urge to try it out. Sounds like it's fairly easy for a newcomer to get into the game then?
I agree that Warframe is a great (if repetitive), but seeing all these journalists who've never given it the time of day suddenly act like it's the savior of the game industry feels hollow and pedantic.
Not you though Lloyd. You're cool.
It's interesting that there's an article on both Warframe and No Man's Sky cos in many ways both have seen expansions that have hugely changed their base game across the board. But one had an understated release and the other blew up before it was even realistically ready, and that set the perception for things going forward.
As for Warframe itself, I've been playing it for the past week and I think I'm finally catching the bug. But it has to be said the game is still needlessly complex, largely because the game often doesn't tell you what your really meant to do next or what resources you need etc.
But there's a great video on YouTube called Warframe 2018 beginners guide by PlayStation Grenade who tells you what to focus onto begin with and the missions you should be doing. It was a great help for me, so if your not sure then have a look.
It's also interesting that Warframe is been used as a big stick to hit Destiny with these days, which I can kind of see cos if Digital Extremes (who were on their last legs before Warframe) can create expansions that feature large maps with missions and NPCs and all for free then surely a studio like Bungie are capable of doing the same for their own expansions instead of the largely overpriced ones we currently get.
Also their community team should be commended aswell, they constantly play the game themselves, they livestream complete with platinum (BTW why doesn't this of all games have a platinum trophy) giveaways and always telling the players on the latest updates.
@adf86 Interesting comparison with NMS!
I was so happy browsing weapons in this game and finding the glaive from Dark Sector. Loved that game despite its faults.
I had a lot of fun playing it for 10-15 hours last year. But I just couldn't wash that F2P taste out of my mouth..
Saw an article about this a month ago so thought I would give it a try. Wow it is confusing at first because there is SO much game here. I read that you should just give it 10 hours (a lot to ask I know) and the basics do get explained along the way. A month later and I’ve racked up 48 hours of game time. Pretty obsessed! The combat is sublime and the mechanics of all the systems work together brilliantly. I spent (and still do spend) a while on the wiki looking stuff up but it’s so worth it. The community is also excellent, great at explaining and helping you out, even trading you mods if you need them. Worth mentioning there is also a companion app you can do stuff on. Love this game, so glad I gave it a try and stuck with it!
Im thinking this is the gen of the grind. Warframe is ok fundamentally but inferior to every fps Ive played since Halo 3.
If you are either a whale or a skinter then yeah this is the fps for you. Anyone inbetween its a waste of energy.
@Kidfried Well I saw similarities in how both games have changed so much since launch but where's Warframe gradually got more popular, NMS had the troubled launch and backlash where it's expansion are seen in some quarters as a "saving face" exercise.
I had started it about 3 months ago but ironically I just installed it again and I'm having a blast. I'm literally level 3 or something but getting hand of the menus and it's upgrade system is a little bit complicated for me right now so I'm just doing missions that's it for a free game it's an awesome game
@Broosh Did you know that Dark Sector originally began life as Warframe? But it got changed due to demands from the publishers.
@adf86 I did not! Interesting...
I've played since 1st day of steam release, April 2014 I believe. Originally the plan was "I'll waste some time on this until Star Citizen gets released" so on that premise alone Warframe doesn't have to worry about losing me any time soon.
I appreciate anyone willing to give this game a try. The developer is independent and it shows, when something is broken they fix it, they add stuff so often and yes it is free to play, but it's ethical. By that I mean everything that affects your game play you earn in game without it being locked off. Cosmetics cost platinum the premium currency. And you can earn that in game premium currency in the game! Got time on your hands? Farm some hard to acquire stuff and sell it to a guy without the time to invest grinding for that 1 item. He skips the grind and you get platinum. So you find most people spend on the game because they want to, they want to support the developer.
The wiki is invaluable, I admit a poor job is done explaining some things but a consequence is it's built one of the least toxic and helpful communities out there. So many people are open to help players and explain sections of the game, or jump in and help out in a mission. I've logged over 2000 hours, and if I spent double what I have (won't disclose but it doesn't even approach 2 AAA titles a year) it would still be great value for money. But that experience would be the same Ifni hadn't spent a penny.
Oh and I nearly forgot. Players can craft their own in game cosmetics. And when other players buy them the creator gets a cut of the profits. Breathe deep and realise how rare this attitude to their players is in 2018 and if you wanna see how a game studio is doing things their way not the loot box way check them out
@Broosh Yeah there's a 2 part documentary on YouTube about Warframe and the first every footage of Dark Sector that was shown at E3 had the Execalibur Warframe as the playable character.
Couldn’t get into it. Started it a few times and grew bored within days. Still have it on my console though so who knows...
I actually tried it, but got bored quickly. Then I tried again after I somehow felt like it again and so far I am still playing.
Also I very quickly noticed so many aspects this game has built in early in the game, which Destiny failed to have. Actually I would almost consider Destiny a F2P game, and Warframe a paid game when I simply look at the different mission designs. Where Destiny just has "kill", "defend ghost" and "survive waves" mission checkpoints, Warframe has a lot of variety. One in particular that I feel makes a game much more immersive are escorting missions. Where you interact with other characters in the world. How the heck does Warframe have this in its first few missions and Destiny fails to have such a thing? Especially being a "guardian" who doesn't guard anything it seems.
I will keep playing and see when I would get bored of the grind, but so far this game is actually better than Destiny from its package even in the early game. Which is actually a relief, since I have something to play now until I give Destiny Forsaken one last try before finally reaching Anthem.
To me Warframe is one of the few games where I never had to put real money into but still did just to support the devs. I really need to get back into the game and try out all the new stuff they added during the last couple of months.
To be honest it sounds like what Destiny should have been, in many ways. Think I'm gonna grab it when it arrives on Switch and give it another go then.
I enjoyed it for awhile, but it got too repetitive for me. I needed more enemy variation. It is great as a ftp though.
@themcnoisy - Warframe isn't a FPS, not sure why you think that but it's very much a 3rd person game. As for the grind it's a looter/shooter. By it's very nature that genre is meant to be grindy and something that's played for many hundreds of hours to get the most out of it, comparing it to Halo is apples and oranges tbh. Halo is one and done in a few hours campaign wise and then a MP timesink if you choose to do that.
The actual cinematic storyline of Warframe (it does have one), only really opens up after around 50 hours or so, it absolutely isn't a pick up and play get everything done in a weekend type of game. If you look at people who really play this game like myself and @Jboy85 who posted above, we have 1000's of hours invested in the game.
Thing is that isn't uncommon, just like WoW or Diablo players. It takes a huge investment of time to get the most out of Warframe and these type of games in general. I get that it isn't for you but it's far from a waste of energy for those of us that enjoy this type of game loop.
@SegaBlueSky Actually Warframe released about a year before Destiny did. Destiny could learn a lot from Warframe. Especially the concept of being able to sell your extra loot to other Warframe players for the premium currency (Platinum).
You both are 100% correct @Jboy85 and @Shigurui. Every single word! I've been playing since launch (2164 hours played) with short breaks taken here and there but I always, always seem to come back to Warframe. In the F2P space DE is the only one that seems to understand how to keep people playing their game.
The in game economy stands out to me as one of the features that makes this game accessible to all players. Anyone can make Platinum by selling their extra loot. Not a since piece of loot in the game is hidden behind a pay wall. I've made thousands of Platinum selling my extra gear to my fellow Tenno and that has allowed me to pick up the pieces of gear that I haven't been able to get to drop for me so I don't feel bad about the 200 or so dollars that I've put into this game. DE really does deserve it.
Also, its great to see the team at DE do a Warframe development Livestream every other Friday as well. It's always awesome to see what they have in the pipeline for their players and it's a good way to possibly win platinum or a Prime Access Pack.
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