Review – Warframe – My Kind of Free-to-Play

I don’t trust free-to-play games (“F2P”). Most of them are filled with really awful walls that force you to pay real-world currency in order to traverse. This is part of my general hatred of microtransactions within games, and the pay-to-win scheme that many games have started adopting. Warframe is a F2P game released at launch for the PS4 and is available for the PC, and it is exactly what people should point at when discussing F2P games done right. Warframe is an F2P third person co-op shooter that strongly resembles the multiplayer of Mass Effect 3, only there’s far more depth to it. As a F2P launch title for the PS4, Warframe hasn’t gotten a lot of attention as everyone focuses on Battlefield 4, Call of Duty Ghosts, Killzone, and Resogun. However, Warframe is truly the PS4’s hidden gem at this point, and all fans of shooters should look into downloading it.

Yes, if you like cyborg ninjas, you'll enjoy this game.

Yes, if you like cyborg ninjas, you’ll enjoy this game.

The story for Warframe is vague. Basically, you play as a Tenno, which is slang for cyborg space ninja. It’s the distant future and the milky way has been overrun by an army of deformed clones called the Grineer, a bunch of thieving technophiles called the Corpus, and a bunch of disease ridden infected. It’s your job, as Tenno, to enter space ships and kill everything while pursuing certain objectives. There isn’t much more to it than that. There’s a lore section in the game, but it is intentionally mysterious, and the bosses shed some light, but we’re talking about Dark Souls levels of plot details being fed to the player, which is to say, very little.

Don't worry about the story. You'll be too busy killing everything to care.

Don’t worry about the story. You’ll be too busy killing everything to care.

Gameplay is basic. You have a primary weapon, which is either a rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, or bow, and a secondary weapon, which includes pistols and throwing weapons. On top of this armoury, you’ll be handling a melee weapon as well. When you start the game, you will be able to pick one of three frames, which are essentially classes. These frames are different based on appearance, shield and health values, and, most importantly, the abilities you can use. By sliding your finger along the touch pad, you can use one of four abilities per class. Some of these abilities are utility in nature such as being able to leave a decoy for enemy fire, or highlight enemies on your map, while others are straight out kill everything buttons. These powers are limited by your energy stores, which you will be replenishing over the level as you pick up energy balls. On the PS4, the shooting is tight, though all of the fancy parkour moves you have at your disposal are a little touch and go.

You can also equip the weapon of fabulousness.

You can also equip the weapon of fabulousness.

There are a variety of different missions you can join, as you travel through the solar system. Each mission has a level rank of enemies so you know what level you should be around to stand a chance, and each one has its own set of rewards available upon completion. Missions range from capturing enemy soldiers, to collecting data pads, to killing bosses. Along the way, you’ll encounter enemies based on the three main factions, and you’ll kill tons. There are PvP arenas, but the vast majority of the game is co-operative. You can play solo, but the real fun is when you have four players all fighting at once. There is a lot of strategy here, as you will be able to tailor your arms and power layout to the type of mission your playing and the type of enemy you will be facing. For example, the infested are very weak against fire, and, for defence missions, stationary crowd-clearing abilities are more useful.

This guy is weak against mirrors.

This guy is weak against mirrors.

Building your Warframe is the most fun part of the game. As you defeat enemies and beat levels, you’ll get mods, which you can level up and attach to your weapons to make them more powerful. You will also get credits, which you can use to buy blueprints for weapons that you can build when you have enough resources, which are also gained through missions. This sets up an endless cycles of playing in order to get stronger that has made the best of RPGs. New frames can be built by collecting their part blueprints and building them from defeating bosses, and there’s always fun to be had in trying out a new class.

You wouldn't believe the things I had to do to get that gun...

You wouldn’t believe the things I had to do to get that gun…

So what does Warframe require you to spend real money on? Real money is used to buy platinum, which can be used for a variety of things. You can outright buy Warframes instead of building them yourself, same goes with weapons. You can buy reactors or catalysts to improve your Warframe and weapon’s mod capacity. You can buy aesthetics such as new colours to paint your Warframe or scarves. And you can rush build items. None of these are necessary, and, aside from the aesthetics, you can obtain everything in game with a little grinding. The only part of the game that you will likely want to spend platinum on as a default are weapon and Warframe slots. You can only carry so many weapons and frames at a time, and you definitely will want to expand past the default. Fortunately, slots are cheap and new players start with a cache of platinum, meaning you can easily play through this game without spending a dime. It strikes a good balance. Players who invest will have cooler and rarer stuff, but nothing is really game breaking. You could theoretically play through the entire process with your starter frame, and weapons you buy with credits.

This is Nekros. He's all around awesome, but so difficult to get, you probably won't see him unless you shell out $30.

This is Nekros. He’s all around awesome, but so difficult to get, you probably won’t see him unless you shell out $30.

Warframe is not without its downsides. The tutorial is a problem. It will teach you have to shoot and swing your sword around, but it won’t teach you anything outside of that. You will have to figure out everything else on your own, and much of the game’s systems, particularly the mod system are incredibly unintuitive. This practically requires you to go online to figure out what to do. The second major downside is that the game can be repetitive. There are only so many areas on the game, and you’ll play through them over and over again. While each level may be randomly generated, you’ll start to remember certain patterns in the layout, which makes things repetitive. On the bright side, the developers continue to add brand new content through patches including new systems such as an upcoming damage revision, new Warframes, new enemies, and new areas. The game is really alive in the same way an MMO is, meaning the longer you stay with it, the more stuff you’ll end up seeing.

Who cares about variety when you have scarves?

Who cares about variety when you have scarves?

As it stands, Warframe is by a huge margin my most played PS4 game. It’s only two downsides are that it can be repetitive, and the tutorial is garbage, meaning you won’t likely understand anything you’re doing unless you go online. The latter of these two issues is a serious concern, while the former may even be a good thing to grind-happy players such as myself. Warframe manages to mix tight shooting controls with addicting RPG elements. If any of that sounds even remotely interesting then download it. The game is free, meaning you don’t waste anything by trying it out.

Score 8.5

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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