For PC gaming, this is the age of the Free to Play game. There are so many titles worth your time that cost you absolutely nothing to play, giving you amazing content that you would never expect for free. Warframe is one such game that focuses on one specific quality – fun.
If you’ve played the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, you’ve already heard the concept before. Squad based, objective oriented player vs enemy gameplay that pits you not against other players, but hordes of enemies. In Warframe, you are a Tenno, which equates to what could easily be called a space ninja. You are given incredible freedom of movement, from sliding to wall running, from acrobatic backflips to jump kicks, and it all blends with the third person shooting gameplay.
There are numerous warframes to ‘pilot’ that all have different base stats and abilities. You are given the choice between 3 warframes in the beginning — Excalibur, Loki, and Mag — which are essentially fighter, rogue, and mage classes, respectively. The Excalibur has a healthy amount of shields and health, and can use his slash dash ability to cut through a chunk of enemies, damaging all of them; he also has an AOE blind, a super jump, and a move that instakills all but the meatiest enemies in a radius around him, pinning them to whatever they connect with. Loki can deploy a holographic decoy, cloak itself, switch places with enemies, teammates, or even a decoy, and has a radial disarm move that breaks enemies’ guns. Mag can pull enemies in a cone in front of her towards them, restore an ally’s shields or deplete an enemy’s, magnetize an enemy, causing bullets to get pulled into the affected enemy, or magnetically crush enemies in an AOE attack.
There are 3 main enemy types that you will encounter across our solar system. First you have the Grineer who are an army of genetically deteriorating clones that have lost seemingly everything but their aggression. Fighting them feels like a straight firefight, since they use machine guns and the occasional machete. They’re covered in thick armor so be sure to install an armor piercing mod before digging in with them. After the Grineer, there are the Corpus, the galactic Traders. The Corpus incorporate ‘walkers’ that are reminiscent of a Metal Gear, except they sound less like barnyard animals and more like digital dinosaurs. These are accompanied by crewmen with bizarre headware that feels strangely religious, and drones that are frustratingly agile; the drones also either shield their allies or drop timed mines everywhere. Last, but certainly not least, is the Infested. The Technocyte infestation was created by the ancient Orokin (which also made the Tenno’s warframes) and has spread across the solar system. Fighting the Infested feels akin to a zombie mode, as they have no projectiles and come in overwhelming numbers.
Customization is integral to Warframe, both aesthetically and functionally. You can choose to color your warframe and his or her weapons with a set of 18 colors and can unlock full palettes with platinum. Modifications to your warframe and weapons which enhance or add effects drop from enemies randomly and can be applied to your weapon or armor. As you use a warframe and weapons, your affinity with them increases, leveling them up. Every level will add extra capacity for mods. Mods for your frame include your ability mods (the ones that dictate which warframe abilities you can use), shield and health boost mods, mods that increase your sprint speed or maximum energy, and many more. For your weapons, you can get mods that increase elemental damage, grant the puncture ability that lets you shoot through a certain thickness of cover, and clip or fire rate mods. You can even use the fusion system to enhance your mods and increase their effectiveness by an incredible amount. You can customize your build to enhance your strengths or limit your weaknesses, and the freedom of being able to customize your build to suit your playstyle is a definite strength of this game.
I’m a fan of slow grinds, maybe it comes from the absurd amount of time I’ve spent in free to play korean mmos, but there is something that appeals to me in the crafting system in Warframe. Blueprints drop from system bosses and as rewards for alert levels or daily login rewards. You can also buy blueprints from the market, letting you craft weapons that you want to acquire. Building a warframe involves gathering blueprints for the chassis, helmet, and systems. All the blueprints for each warframe drop from one specific system boss, so playing through the level and farming him until he drops what you need is the route for acquiring new warframes without spending platinum. Bosses also have a higher drop rate for the rarer materials, though I’ve had rare drops from random enemies and containers. The feeling you get from finally crafting your new warframe makes it feel even more valuable, and adds a lot of enjoyment to the leveling and crafting experiences.
You can also form a clan with your friends and stay connected to each other, though that functionality is also achieved through the friends list. The real reason to start or join a clan lies in the clan dojo. The clan dojo starts off as a measly room with two doors at either end, and at these doors you can choose to add a variety of rooms and connecting hallways. You can add a dueling room where you can fight with your friends (this is currently the only option for PvP available at the moment), research labs that allow you to create new weapons and equipment, and an obstacle course where you can parkour until your fingers bleed.
The more gameplay is limited, the harder the grind can feel to get through. Once you’ve expended all options available to you, you’re left with nothing left to do but rinse and repeat. In Warframe, the freedom of movement mixed together with melee fighting, dynamic gunplay and intense abilities makes for a varying and fun game that keeps you playing. In addition to this, the structure of free to play games allows for more frequent rejuvinative updates that add content to the game, increasing the gameplay dynamic and strengthening the core gameplay. Warframe is poised to deliver an evolving story arc that will progress with these updates, adding new areas, warframes, weapons, and core gameplay changes.
So if you like space ninjas, third person shooters, micromanagement, custom build mechanics, sci fi, space marines, crafting, co-op, or swordfighting, you should download warframe and play it. It’s free, so you’ve literally got nothing to lose. If you want to join the PxlByte clan, tweet me your character name at @RyanPxlByte and I’ll send you an invite.
Thanks go to our very own Shelly Vo for these amazing gifs.