Warframe: Space Ninjas, in Space
Another day another Free to Play game. A few months ago I saw advertisements of Warframe but the gun/blade wielding warriors fighting some strange beasts did not appeal to me overly. Some time ago I watched a number of videos with EatMyDiction1, where him and his pals played Warframe, and I got slightly more interested. Recently, I decided to give it a go myself, and I am both pleasantly surprised and somewhat disappointed. For a Free to Play game Warframe has a bit to offer, but is it enough to keep me interested? Or for that matter, is it enough for you?
Warframe – What is it about?
Without looking into a Wiki or special site trying to describe what the Story is all about, the game feels like you are a Space Ninja, and you do stuff for money. Sometimes this stuff appears to be a contract with a private client, sometimes it’s your own “Agency” taking care of personal business. While each mission tries to give you a rough idea of why you are killing countless dudes I did not really need a motivation to begin with. I have my guns and blades, and all I have to do, in essence, is to kill dudes… Well, alright, there are other objectives, but in between there is a lot of dude killing.
There are all manner of enemies, and as you gain in levels tougher opponents will appear. This will keep you constantly on your toes, since you will have to steadily improve your “Warframe”.
Right, let’s start at the beginning…
When you start your “career” you choose one of three possible Warframes. These warframes start with four core “powers” but you cannot use them, until you level up your Warframe. Here is how things work, more or less. If you have a Level 3 Warframe or Weapon that means you have 3 Mod Slots open. What that means is that you can add a number of Mods that have a sum “Power” of three or less. So, the more you level up your specific Warframe or weapon the more Mods you can put on them. Warframes and Weapons can have special “Polarized” Mod Slots. These will be marked with different symbols, and when you attach a Mod with a similar symbol marking it’s “Power” need will be halved. In turn, if you put a Mod with one symbol into a Polarized Slot with a different symbol the “Power” consumption will vastly increase.
Mods are found in the “Wilds”, and they can influence different aspects of your weapons or give your Warframe new powers (this includes “Stat buffs”). Your Warframe’s powers use Energy. Typicaly the more powerful (or fancy) the power the more Energy it uses. Energy is found in “Crates” and sometimes dead enemies will drop it. Mods can be “Fused” with other Mods or Cores. What this means is that when you have a Mod called Invisibility you can increase the Mod’s Level, thus improving some aspect of it (in the case of Invisibility it would be the duration of how long you remain invisible).
You character will carry three weapons, at all times. Close Combat Weapon, Sidearm and Main Weapon. These vary, especially if you decide to dabble in creating some items through blueprints or buying them on the Market. For example, among Main Weapons you have the Bow, different types of Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Heavy Rifles, Sniper Rifles… You get the idea. You can adjust your Weapon Set to your Warframe, in order to be more efficent or classy. The problem, at least for me, is that all the “cool” stuff needs to be bought with premium cash usually, or at least for now, or at least until I can find the blueprints.
Well, I am being a bit unfair now. You can buy the blueprints for any warframe or weapon available on the Market. So you can spend in-game cash for a blueprint of a weapon you want, then play on the different levels to gather the resources you need, and then craft your weapon/warframe. Each System (series of Levels) will drop different resources that you can use. So in order to complete a project you might have to return to different levels in order to obtain the materials you need. Boss fights also work in that way, since they will also drop items that you typically need. You can farm different Quests for resources, and that becomes a bit frustrating, at least for me. (By the Way, if you want to know what you can craft in Warframe and where you can find the different Blueprints/materials, check the Warframe Wiki)
You see, Warframe appears to be all about “Farming”. You need to improve the Level of your Warframe or Weapons? You keep doing the same quests over and over. Need enough of a specific resource? Same. Didn’t get it the first time? Tough luck, you will have to do it again. The Good news is that when you play in a group resources will be shared among all of the group. When an enemy drops a Mod everybody will be able to grab it (though everybody has to walk up to it, and thus players can mark it for others to see). The same goes for resources, credits, energy/health/affinity spheres. Everybody can get equal rewards, if everybody sticks together. That was a bit of a problem for me, because while the game invites team work there is very little of it, at least at the early levels.
There is no communication as such, people rarely type. People will sometimes mark Drops or Waypoints for others to know where to go, but normally this is not the case. During one Game I literally had to run behind a higher level player all the way through, without picking up a single piece of extra loot, because he simply spearheaded his way through the entire Level… and then killed the Boss in a single blow. Since higher levels can join lower level games they can “farm” different bosses as much as lower level players. Thankfuly, if you get frustrated with the Team Experience you can always play Solo, or only with friends. From what I could observe however, a player, rather than a server, acts as a host. So if the target player has a poor connection things can get wonky. However if the host crashes a new host will be selected, so the game will continue, unhindered.
What of Premium?
Now, Warframe has Platinum (odd, most games would use gold) and Platinum can be spent on Weapons and Warframes from the market, as well as Revives (you get four Revives per day, that can be used during a mission, but you can restock them more rapidly with Platinum), packages, coloring… A lot of things. Of course, most of the stuff you can make on your own as well, through buying or finding blueprints, so you do not have to spend platinum. However, if you want to fancy out your Warframe, with nicer colors or helmets, you will have to use some cash.
As such here too you do not have to spend money on anything, but reaching a suitably high level to obtain useful blueprints and materials will take an awful lot of time. Do not expect to advance rapidly, equipment wise, from one day to the next. Even crafting my very first sword takes 12 hours, and then I will have to level it up in order to install any mods.
So you can see, Warframe, while fun mechanically, has some flaws. The teamplay is fun, but flawed with “Randoms”. Obtaining any good equipment will be a long grind. I must say that the combat can be intense, and as you level up your Warframe you will start to feel which areas of your Warframe are most important for you, and after some time you will be able to customize your Warframe to suit your style perfectly.
In case you missed the first part, this game is Free to Play. Registry is surprisingly quick and the client is very small (just under 3 Gigabytes). There is a short tutorial to introduce you into the game, but a lot more tricks you will have to learn on your own, including wall running or “the sliding hack” attack. If all goes well you will be a proper Space Ninja in no time. Here is a link to the Main Site! Oh, and while you can download the game on Steam Warframe appears to be unable to copy your Steam Account details/login to be used in-game, so you will have to register a new account.
Alex “WriterX” Bielski