Warframe: Ninjas in SPPPAACCCEE
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
(This review was done on the 18th of July 2018 and all points presented are relevant for that time)
As I zoomed through the air, dressed in my most fabulous reds, yellows and greens, gunning down mutants before drawing the remaining foes into a alternative reality with the tip of my red top hat, I couldn’t help but wonder, why am I this bloody awesome and how can I keep being this awesome? I ask my friends about ways to become more awesome and they recommended different weapons, Warframes and a million mods that can improve my mutant killing-reality warping capabilities. Who knew space ninjaing could be so much fun with friends and have reality manipulation?
You play as a recently awakened Tenno, a member of a race of near godlike warriors who are trying to stop the warring Grineer from taking over the entire solar system. With the motherly Lotus for guidance you will help fight the Grinner and restore order to the solar system. At first glance and indeed the first few missions the story appears somewhat uninspired and boring. However with each story based mission that gets released the better the writing gets. While I do not want to spoil anything I have to say I am impressed with the quality of writing, the story missions become something of adventures within themselves and I found them highly engrossing. So much so that I feel it almost works against the game’s favour. Especially after certain story missions (again no spoilers but long time players will know what missions I am talking about) where the story is not only involving but reveal great secrets about the Tenno as well as contributing to the world building, making the universe appear more alive than ever. When it ended I was left feeling quite upset that I had to go back to the grind (I know it is a main part of the game) I wanted to experience more the story as Digital Extremes have shown that they can be great story tellers. Forcing the player to go through countless hours of grind for such a great story feels somewhat annoying and brings any ongoing pacing and narrative stakes to a screeching halt for grind and PvP. I must admit I want a single player story driven game by Digital Extremes. I doubt they would do that but one can hope can’t they?
Game play is primarily 3rd person shooting with a bit of RPG flavouring; you have multiple Warframes (which all have different play styles and different skills) and multiple weapons which all behave differently and very in power and visual style. This not only gives the game a lot of replayability and variety but just fast paced nature of the combat, being able to fly and jump around the battlefield with such speed and grace that would bring tears to the most skilled of parkour artists out there. It is just fun to traverse the levels, you are encouraged to always be on the move when under fire; finding the best way to flank your opponent and cast your spells. It feels satisfying and exhilarating to play and makes the grind a lot less boring. The Warframes for fill different roles just like other MMOs with supports, tanks, assassins etc, with the twist that the player can pick the roles without having to start the entire game again. This not only makes it stand out among other MMOs but it encourages people to expand their comfort zone, overall I like this design choice.
The inventory management can be a little bit finicky with modding with you having to check what level the mods are and how much space; you have available and getting rid of useless ones through an interface that could be streamlined for less tabs and windows. The tutorial is an absolute joke, I am not even sure it should be called a tutorial but rather a start. It barely explains anything and what it does explain is done extremely shoddily. This puts an unneeded barrier to entry that can put off new comers. If you decide to play this game please make sure you have someone who knows the game to help you because the tutorial will not help you much if at all. To get parts for Warframes and or prime parts you have to grind certain enemies or bosses and only that select few/one. The trouble is that certain parts drop more than other parts, you cannot buy the blueprints and nor trade them with other players so if you get unlucky with the drops then it can be very mind numbing, frustrating and non encouraging, this again puts up another barrier for the new players and makes farming them just that little bit more tedious. Speaking of tedious when drops spawn it is in a random location, this might not be so much of a problem until you have to get one particular item to advance progression in a story mission or just in the game in total you might have to spend long boring hours trying to find that one solitary drop that you may not even find until probability smiles on your annoyed face. This could be streamlined and made less artificially padded.
Graphics wise the game looks crisp, it has gone a long way since its inception and looks quite beautiful. Art style wise the Warframes all look unique and memorable as are the enemies and visual world design. The world looks alive, delightfully science fiction mixing with nature taking back the planets from long dead civilizations. It looks great. The Enemy designs are suitably horrific and grotesque and most importantly distinct and memorable.
Bugs may or may not appear or disappear later in the game’s life span, I will be happy to say that there are minimal performance problems, it is able to keep to a 60 fps for a majority of the time with some exceptions where even the most expensive PCs struggle to maintain performance, this point in time the major bug me and friends have encountered infinite loading screen every couple of times forcing us to restart the entire game. In a game that uses grind as a core game play loop which means jumping from one mission to another or restarting it over again, it is quite frustrating to say the least. PVP is fine as none of the micro transactions effect game play and Digital Extremes is quite generous with the value for money. I have no doubt that the bug will be fixed at some point and the PC port is fine.
Warframe is a great game that can be an uphill battle for new players without outside help. However if you are able to get over that barrier then you will have hours of fun being awesome as a space ninja. One of the good games-as-service out there as well as one of the best MMOs flawed as it might be.
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