Have you ever wanted to play a space ninja priest, sacrificing shields and health to buff allies and help them kill enemies faster?
How about a space ninja dragon, breathing fire, ice and lightning before your armour comes to life, springs off you and attacks enemies on its own?
Perhaps you wanted to play a space ninja paladin, smiting your enemies with one hand and healing your allies with the other?
You might be noticing a theme at this point, but then that’s because the tagline for the game is “Ninjas Play Free”. Today, let’s talk about Warframe and why it’s a game worth playing.
Released in 2013 by Digital Extremes, Warframe is a free-to-play co-op shooter game, with freemium elements in the form of in-game items, additional warframes and cosmetics. It has had one major expansion in November 2017 “Plains of Eidolon” which is free to all players.
In Warframe you play a “Tenno”, a race of ancient warriors, last remnants of a fallen empire called the Orokin. Awoken from cryosleep you find yourself pursued by a number of different factions, namely the Grineer, Corpus, Infested and Sentients with the world being fleshed out through in-game lore entries, cut scenes and dialogue. Gameplay takes place in a map of our solar system, with a number of different missions types waiting to be completed on each world such as extermination, capture, sabotage, interception and more. Each world slowly ramps up in difficulty as the player progresses through missions, helping them learn the skills they will need to progress.
The game is played from a third-person over the shoulder perspective, and can be played both solo or in teams with other players. The combat is fast and fluid, with an emphasis placed on parkour style movement, with each warframe being able to slide on the floor, run on walls and jump through the air in a corkscrew as well as perform other acrobatic flips and jumps. Each frame can carry a primary weapon, secondary weapon and a melee weapon, with there being what can feel like a near endless amount of customisation available through the in-game mod system. A “mod” is an enhancement for a weapon, companion or warframe that changes fire rate, armour, elemental damage, shield capacity and many other things.
Unlike a lot of other games which focus on rigid, regimented classes such as warrior, healer, mage, etc, any Waframe can be used to complete any mission though some are naturally more suited to certain mission types than others and through the use of the mod system they can be further enhanced and changed to meet an individual player’s preferences.
Rather than you starting the game and picking your class that cannot be changed without logging out and logging back in to a completely different character, here you have 35 different warframes that you can collect and switch between after every mission, each one sharing a combined inventory of weapons, mods and gear. You may run a mission as, say, Rhino who is one of the more “tanky” frames, specialising in damage reduction and buffing allies, but halfway through you decide you want to try it a different way. No problem! Finish the mission, pick another frame and run it again. Maybe try something stealthy like Loki, or go in guns blazing with Mesa. The choice is always entirely up to the player.
This emphasis on player choice and customisation is both Warframe‘s greatest strength and its greatest flaw. For a great many years, there was no proper tutorial mission, dropping players in the world with little idea of what to do or where to go. There is a basic tutorial now, but once past this brief introduction to movement, weapons and gameplay the player is again set loose inside this world with no clear direction of where to go, or what many things are or even do within the context of the game which can be highly intimidating for newer players. A degree of determination and willingness to ask questions and look things up online is required to get past this initial hurdle. Luckily Warframe has a thriving player community with a wealth of information to be had, as well as many players within the game being willing to take the time to help new arrivals get to grips with things.
I will admit that Warframe is not the sort of game I normally enjoy; I tend to veer away from online games as my personal experiences haven’t been stellar in the past. Warframe, though, has found that secret sauce recipe, that perfect mix of engaging combat, procedurally generated maps that mean no mission plays exactly the same way twice, a friendly and open community of players and a healthy progression of new weapons, skills and locations that all blend together to give the game that hook that keeps you up till late in the night going “just one more round of defence”, “just one more mission to rank up my new frame”, just one more, just one more, just one more.
And all this comes to you at the bargain price of free, with nothing gated off behind paywalls. Warframe is well worth your time, just do be aware that the first couple of hours can be very frustrating for newer players but your persistence will be rewarded with one of the richest gameplay experiences I’ve had in all my years of gaming.