What is the game about?
What do you think when you head the term ‘Space Ninjas’? Imagery of mysterious, armour clad warriors silently dispatching legions of enemy aliens in a shower of blood and awesome comes to my mind. For the most part, Warframe delivers on this vision of spectacular perfection. Visually defining and well animated, Warframe presents itself as one of the most well-made free-to-play titles on the market today.
It’s a simple premise that developers Digital Extremes have cooked up. Acquire a warframe, arm him with primary, secondary, and melee weapons, and go to town on legions of baddies ranging from cloned space troopers to twisted monstrosities. Once your warframe and weapons are maxed out, it’s time to get new ones.
There’s an upgrade system in place, with each warframe and weapon being improvable via collectible cards called ‘mods’ that alter key characteristics about your armaments. Modding is a fairly in-depth system, with many different ways to outfit each warframe and weapon to suit the task. The mods themselves can be quite varied, from the standard fare of straight damage buffs and fire rate augments to the more imaginative sort; one of which gives the chance for arrows fired from bows to explode on impact.
This simple premise, however, also sets the stage for one of the most grind-heavy games ever. Layers upon layers of grinding. Whether you’re looking for that particular blueprint, or that one component with a notoriously low drop rate you’ll be praying to RNGesus for. Sometimes the repetitiveness can be a little much, especially with the rather sparse choices when it comes to mission selections, though this is currently being improved upon. More or less, think Mass Effect multiplayer mixed with Diablo III and you kinda sorta get Warframe as a result.
We can only be thankful that the actual gameplay portion, the killing of the enemies, is such a blast. Regardless of what objectives a mission has, rest assured that there’ll be legions of minions for you to blast through with Warframe’s exotic library of weapons: jet hammers, laser rifles, Japanese-inspired blades, and so much more. Plentiful death animations and a good variety of enemy types provide a wonderful warzone to let loose in.
Truthfully told, Warframe ends up being a game for the record seekers, personal or otherwise. People who seek the best from each warframe and weapon, looking to max out each and every mod for the best possible results. It’s the hook that keeps people playing, much like your standard Dynasty Warriors title. Warframe is easily accessible, with intuitive controls and simple combat mechanics, and it’s instantly gratifying.
How free is it?
Despite seemingly restrictive in your options as a completely free participant, Warframe is surprisingly forgiving if you don’t wish to partake in the premium. No pay-to-win here; every single weapon, warframe and companion can be acquired in-game without dropping a single cent of your hard earned cash as long as you have the time to invest. Buying equipment only serves as instant gratification, essentially paying not to play the game. Looking good is another matter though, as most cosmetic upgrades will require some investment. Platinum (Warframe’s premium currency) doesn’t come cheap, as a colour pack and a few armour pieces could run you up to $15 USD.
Whilst gating cosmetics behind a paywall might be okay, shoving weapon slots and inventory space behind said wall as well is a much harder thing to swallow. Free players are limited to only two warframe slots and five weapon slots, essentially encouraging players to purchase additional space to keep their hard earned equipment, or sell them to make space for more. Thankfully, Warframe features a trading system that allows players to trade rare weapon parts, blueprints, and mods in exchange for platinum. If you are keen on spending money, Digital Extremes also gives discount vouchers up to 75% off as a possible reward for logging in daily.
At the end of the day, it’s more than possible to enjoy all of Warframe entirely for free. How long that takes just depends on the effort put in by the player.
Is it worth it?
Warframe is a good game. Simple, yes, but presented in a shiny and colourful package that’s actually fun to play. In an age where playing games isn’t so much about the experience anymore, but more about the rewards screen at the conclusion of a round, it’s refreshing to play a game that disguises its mundane and mind-numbing grindfest behind a highly enjoyable co-op shooter. More often than not do I just jump on with no real objective in mind, just to mindlessly slaughter a small country’s worth of alien troopers with a space laser for fun. Boasting deep customisation, entertaining gameplay, and one of the most open freemium plans I’ve seen yet, Warframe is well worth the download.
Warframe is developed and published by Digital Extremes, and can be downloaded for free on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC.