I played Warframe with Wiktor the other day, and we streamed most of it, the video of which you can find embedded below.
I also think that this is a good opportunity to share some of our thoughts on the game, so here goes:
In short, Warframe is lots of fun. The whole experience is designed to feel fluid, and it certainly does. It has gorgeous graphics on top of near-infinite customization options which, combined with the deep modularity of the environment design, comes with an incredible replayability that is not often seen in games. While it’s true that it does feel repetitive at times, and the story is pretty much non-existent, the gameplay makes up for whatever it may lack on other fronts.
Of course that short summary is not enough to clearly communicate what this game is all about, so let’s examine it in a little further detail:
I want to start off with the graphics, since it’s one of Warframe’s most remarkable features. Real-time reflections, chromatic aberration, depth of field, motion blur… Warframe’s got all the bells and whistles, and knows how to use them. Metallic surfaces and organics are appropriately mixed to make for a visually appealing mix of highlights and reflections, which makes for a spectacle when the shooting starts. Bullets and gunfire also emit light, so firefights in dark hallways are certainly the sight to behold. At times, one might argue that the image suffers from what might be called “lens flare syndrome”, but otherwise, the addition of nVidia PhysX particles on top of everything else results in nothing less than a treat for the eye.
But environments are not the only thing that catches the eye: character designs are intricately detailed, and designed with a mixture of mechanical and biological parts. The player characters feature biomechanical exo-suits that incorporate designs inspired by actual anatomy, while NPC’s gravitate more towards a deus-ex inspired layout, ranging from full robots to mechanically augmented “humans”. It all makes for an interesting mix, so from the art side at least, you won’t run out of things to look at.
The gameplay, as previously mentioned, is good. It’s streamlined, action-packed, and exciting. The near-infinite variation of enemies keeps things fresh and challenging, providing an ever-increasing level of difficulty as you progress through the missions. One might argue “but isn’t this more of the same? I just need more bullets for the same enemies, and maybe I have to keep moving a little more, but that’s pretty much it”. While this is true if you want it to be, the designers have offered plenty of opportunity to develop a very specific expertise with a variety of weapons, among which the melee type forms what I consider to be the most fun.
For the more focused player, it is also worth noting that different warframes specialize in different play styles. Abilities to go along with this further accentuate these play styles, which makes them all the more entertaining. These abilities are in fact remarkable in their own right: the designers have clearly gone to great lengths to craft every warframe to deliver an experience unique to that specific frame. Valkyr for example, my own warframe, is a “berserker”-class warframe. She specializes in surviving through mobility until she can gather enough energy to set off her ultimate ability called “Hysteria”. As you will see in the video stream below, it basically turns her into an unstoppable killing machine that is completely invulnerable to damage for the duration of the ability (which, at its maximum level, can be up to 30 seconds). This, and many other abilities from the various other warframes, make gameplay varied and very much enjoyable all the way through to the endgame content, at which point you are again faced with different challenges.
Apparently, the designers didn’t think they had enough content, so they decided to add a whole other level of depth on top of everything else. Every weapon and warframe comes with a number of equipment slots that take “mods”. On warframes, that’s also where you equip abilities (you don’t start off with all of them unlocked). Every mod can be upgraded for different effects as well, which requires resources and credits. The first impression of this mechanic is underwhelming: you’ve seen it a thousand times before, and the typical scenario for this is that mods don’t necessarily influence the gameplay very heavily, since this opens up the possibility of a pay-to-win scenario.
“nothing less than a treat for the eye.”
However, the Warframe designers have made it so mods do in fact influence the gameplay very extensively. So extensively in fact, that a typical mod, after being upgraded to about 50% of the way towards its maximum level, has the capability of effectively doubling the player’s max health, shields, or ammo. As for the pay-to-win factor in this: yes, you can pay to win, but the balance of pricing has been specifically crafted to make it a lot more attractive to buy items like blueprints for weapons and warframes. All of which, by the way, can be found by playing the game without paying. Every single purchase outside of cosmetics can be dropped in the game, so as far as that goes, there really isn’t much incentive to spend a lot of money upwards of what you might spend on a regularly-priced game anyways.
In conclusion, Warframe is a game that I personally think everyone should at least have tried, considering the fact that it’s free to play. If my short reflection hasn’t convinced you, however, consider watching out livestream below:
Watch live video from MaVCArt on TwitchTV