Warframe 2018 Review
As any other successful online game, Warframe is an evolving beast. I played Warframe when it first came out for a few hundred hours. And most recently I decided to check it out again and see what changes time and Digital Extremes (DE) brought upon us. So much has changed in Warframe it seems like a brand new game. A ton of new frames and weapons were added. There are now flying missions with the Archwing. A new storyline quest was added with the ability to go into human form. And last but certainly not least the Plains of Eidolon, an open world area. With all these additions I decided its time for a Warframe 2018 review.
For me, the most important part in a game is the gameplay. You can give me the world’s prettiest and best narrative but if the gameplay is not there, I’m not there. In Warframe, you play as a space ninja. Equipped with three different weapons and your specific warframe abilities, you complete missions with various object, gather materials and resources, and use those to craft and upgrade weapons and warframes.
Controls are tight and responsive. Navigating the levels in warframe is fun and engaging, you have a plethora of acrobatic maneuvers including; wall run, wall jump, wall cling, double jump, bullet jump, backflips, sidespring, slide, and rolling. You can even combine some of these maneuvers with melee attacks for even more mobility. All of these different abilities make you feel like an unstoppable ninja as you make your way in each mission.
Warframe eschews your modern triple A 3rd person shooter cover gameplay in favor of fast paced mobile combat. Combat in Warframe is great, you have a great number of weapon types to fit your preferred gameplay style. Shooting feels satisfying as you mow down hordes of enemies. Other than shooting you also have warframe abilities. These abilities vary from frame to frame with some feeling really great and others feeling a bit lackluster. In addition to shooting and abilities, Melee combat is also an option. You can choose to go full melee and that’s a viable option. Melee weapons are extremely varied and you will most likely quickly find the ones you like. I usually use a sword for their medium attack damage and speed. Whether you choose to shoot, melee, or use abilities to kill enemies, they all feel satisfying and good to play.
Your main activity in warframe is completing missions combining traversal challenges and combat challenges. Mission types are varied. Some of them focus on objective defense and survival, others on clearing out a number of enemies or assassinating a boss, and others on infiltration, sabotage and stealth. Combining traversal challenges and combat Warfame’s missions are mostly enjoyable to go through. Occasionaly you will encounter a frustrating mission but these are rare events. Most of the missions are relatively simple and straightforward allowing you to focus on the fun combat and ninja-like maneuverability.
When Warframe initially released all the way back in 2013, It had a handful of frames. Digital Extremes kept adding more and more content to the game and currently there are 35 (!) warframes to collect and play with. These frames serve as Warframe’s classes. Each frame comes with different abilities, stats, and uses. Frames have different uses and each one focuses on a different aspect. Frames can focus on tankiness, objective defense, damage dealing, crowd control, stealth, team support, and even materials farming. Each frame fills a different role and so far all of them feel useful in different ways.
To give you an idea of the variety available in frames, I will try to cover a few of them. Frost, for example, is a frame with frost theming, focusing on objective defense and AOE CC and damage. Frost can create a massive snow globe. This globe protects an area from enemy fire and slows enemies inside it. Frost also has the ability to summon an avalanche, Damaging and freezing all enemies in a large radius around Frost. While frost is great for defense missions it is outclassed in different missions. For example, for a quick assassination mission you might want to bring Mirage instead.
Possibly my favorite frame, Mirage is a clown themed warframe. Focusing on damage dealing and confusing the enemy with clones. Mirage is a fast frame with high damage dealing potential. To accomplish this role you mostly use two abilities from Mirage’s kit. The first ability is Hall of Mirrors. Hall of Mirrors creates four clones around mirage which mimic her actions and deal a portion of her weapon damage. The clones also draw enemy fire. The second ability is Eclipse. Eclipse is an activated passive with moderate duration. While Eclipse is active Mirage deals extra damage while standing in light and takes less damage while standing in a dark area. The combination of these abilities make mirage a damage dealing monster, and a joy to play.
I can go on and on about each frame listing their strengths and weaknesses. Rhyno is massive tank, Valkyr is a melee berserker, Ember burns all enemies around it, Trinity supports the team granting energy and health. These are only a few examples of the frames available and there is truly something for everyone. Whatever your preferred play-style is, Warframe has you covered. Beside these frames there are also Archwings.
Archwings are a special type of frames designed for space and underwater combat. Probably the weakest part in the Warframe experience are archwing missions. It seems DE has realized this as well and chose to leave them behind and move away to other, better things. Archwing missions place you either in space or underwater with special frames called archwings. These frames come with their own abilities but they are way less fleshed out from the normal frames. Controlling the archwing is novel and cool at first but quickly becomes an annoyance due to the clunky controls and uninteresting level design. Luckily, archwing missions are few and far between and mostly optional.
Pretty much all I’ve said about frames applies to weapons as well. There are a massive number of weapons available in Warframe divided into three categories: primary, secondary, and melee. You also have companion weapons and archwing primary and melee weapons. The weapons in Warframe are extremely varied with each one acting differently and possessing different stats. For primaries you have semi automatic rifles, automatic rifles, sniper rifles, bows, shotguns, and “other”. The “other” category is filled with laser rifles, explosive launchers, flamethrowers, poison rifles and more. Secondary weapons can be divided to semi automatic pistols, automatic pistols, shotguns, and others. For melee weapons you have pretty much anything you can think of. Swords, hammer, polearms, fist weapons, thrown weapons, whips, daggers and more are all available.
This wealth of weapons allows a deep customization of your character. After some time of developing your arsenal you will have a multitude of weapons to choose from to fit the type of mission and enemies you are about to encounter. Each weapons feels different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. With lots of side-grades, the weapon system is fun to play around with and crafting new weapons is always exciting.
Complementing weapons and warframe, mods provide more customization and power upgrades to each weapon or frame. Each weapon and warframe has the ability to be outfitted with mods. Mods increase and change that weapon’s power and attributes. Mods are leveled up independently from weapons and frames using credits and Endo. Normal mods drop randomly from missions and enemies. In addition to those mods there are special mods. Nightmare mods, corrupted mods, primed mods, riven mods, and the most recently added set modes, all offer different things and can be obtained in various ways.
The mod system offers deep customization with the ability to completely change how a weapon or frame behaves. For example, Rhyno can be built as a massive tank focusing on empowering his armor with mods. On the other hand he can also be built as a CC focused frame. Focusing on prolonging and increasing the range of his stomp which stuns all enemies around him. Nova can be built as a “fast nova” or “slow nova” focusing either on slowing the enemies or speeding them up, with each Nova build supporting a different strategy. The amount of different builds available to frames and weapons is breathtaking. If you enjoy tinkering with stats this system was made for you. If you don’t enjoy and it seems tedious you can simply hop on to any builds site and copy paste a good build for your weapon or frame.
Plains of Eidolon
The latest and greatest addition to the game is the Plains of Eidolon. The Plains of Eidolon are an open world area where you can engage in missions and other relaxing activites such as fishing and mining. Up until now, Warframe had you loading into a maximum of four players missions. In between missions you were on your personal ship. Rarely you also go down from your ship to these hubs called relays. Relays were the only place you could see a big number of players but your visits to relays are usually short and to the point. There is no real reason to hang out in relays except if you want to do some people watching.
With the Plains of Eidolon DE has added an open world area and a small hub near it. This hub contains several reputation factions and vendors with new weapons and skins. But the main meat of this area are the plains themselves. In the plains you take on missions which reward you with reputation, currency, and unique mods. The plains also have a night and day system and during the night you can go out to hunt Eidolons. Eidolons are these massive dinosaur looking robots which require team coordination and strategy to bring down. Eidolon fights are novel and interesting, offering a different combat experience to Warframe’s usual missions.
Other than combat activites, you can also fish and mine. Fishing is nice and relaxing. You use a spear to fish, and launch it at the fish to gather their useful materials. Mining is done via a special device which directs you to nearby mining nodes. All of these activities are engaging and interesting in their own ways and I enjoyed partaking in each of them.
Before going into this part of the review, I’d like to point out that stories in games is usually something I don’t pay much attention to. For me the story is just background and I prefer delving deep into the mechanics and gameplay rather than the story. Having said that, I actually think the story in Warframe is pretty cool. In Warframe you play as a Tenno. Tennos are an ancient mysterious race with the ability to control warframes through conscience transference. As a Tenno, you use you warframes to fight several factions each with different motives and objectives.
The story in Warframe is delivered mainly through a few story-line quests. These quests deliver the story as well as introducing you to new mechanics and gameplay features. As such they are not mandatory for progression. However if you want to get some cool new stuff, you need to go through them. Unlocking the archwing is done via these story quests. And recently the ability to go into operator mode has been added.
Operator mode lets you leave your warframe at any time and play as the Tenno. While gameplay was previously restricted to waframes alone, it is now possible to control the Tenno directly. Your Tenno comes with its own weapon and abilities. As a Tenno you use your void powers to fight the enemies. You have the ability to use a void beam, a void blast and a void dash. Moreover, you have the ability to turn invisible. Your Tenno also comes equipped with an amp. Serving as your Tenno’s weapon, the amp can be switched and upgraded like other weapons. The last thing to note about Tennos is the focus skill tree. When you unlock operator mode you also unlock the focus skill tree. Slowly earning focus will reward you with passive and active benefits to both your Tenno and your waframes.
Overall, the operator is a nice addition to Warframe. Breaking up to gameplay and adding more progression is a good thing. In these types of game it’s important that you always have something to chase. The focus skill tree fulfills that purpose in an interesting and different way to Warframe’s other progression systems. I’m not deep into the skill tree so I can’t say how powerful it feels but at least on paper, it seems to be a meaningful upgrade.
In the world of free to play games, the business model of a game can be a deal breaker for many people. Let me just say this outright before going into details. Warframe has one of the best business models out there. You can earn anything in warframe by playing. And when I say anything i mean it. Every piece of content available in the game can be accessed using materials and credits or platinum. Be it weapons, warframe, skins, inventory slots, or anything else you can think of, you can earn it by playing and trading with other players.
Warframe’s uses two types of major currencies, credits and platinum. Credits are earned when you complete missions. There are two ways to obtain platinum, you can either buy some with real money, or you can sell items to other players for platinum.
Platinum can be used to purchase almost everything in the game. So for example if you want that shiny new weapon you can either get the blueprint and craft it, or you can buy it outright with platinum. Platinum is also used to speed up crafting, buy inventory slots, and various skins. Now I can already hear some of you screaming “pay to win!”. But remember, you can earn platinum simply by playing the game and trading.
My time with Warframe was spent entirely free and I was able to earn a few hundred platinum by trading. To give you a rough estimate of how much platinum is worth, Buying two weapons slots costs a meager 12 platinum. Buying a warframe slot costs 20 platinum. The prices are extremely fair. You can absolutely completely access any piece of content in the game simply by playing.
These systems in Warframe truly give each player a choice in how they approach the content. If you’re the type of person that wants to blaze quickly through content you can do so by purchasing platinum. But if you’re the type that wishes to play for free and earn everything by yourself, you can do that too and at a fairly reasonable pace.
Warframe has come a long way since it’s launch back in 2013. From a bare bones space ninja simulator it has become a massive game chock full of interesting content. The wealth of warframes, weapons and mods available offers deep customization options. Acquiring those frames and weapons is a major part of the game and more or less the core gameplay loop. If you enjoy loot, you will enjoy this loop. The new Plains of Eidolon shake things up offering you an open world area with many activities. The story and the addition of the operator are really cool additions and I enjoyed going through the story quests unlocking new abilities. The business model is extremely fair and possibly the best business model I’ve ever seen. To sum things up, Warframe is a great game and if you even have a slight interest in it, you should check it out.