Digital Extremes, developers of Homefront, The Darkness II and the upcoming Star Trek Video Game probably don’t get enough credit for what they do. When it comes down to it, they make solid games which can all be considered pretty fun. So when I stumbled across a beta key giveaway for Warframe I grabbed one.
I’m not particularly surprised that I hadn’t heard of it because their titles don’t gather the kind of buzz that guarantees a big headline. Warframe is also an F2P shooter putting them up against some pretty stiff competition. So, as the eternal pessimist I went into it expecting a hastily slapped together generic shooter with microtransactions shoved down your throat. I was wrong, it’s not just pretty fun. It’s really quite good.
So what is it about? Well it’s hard to describe so here’s the official bio from the Warframe website
They were called Tenno. Warriors of blade and gun: masters of the Warframe armor. Those that survived the old war were left drifting among the ruins. Now they are needed once more.
The Grineer, with their vast armies, are spreading throughout the solar system. A call echoes across the stars summoning the Tenno to an ancient place. They summon you.
Allow the Lotus to guide you. She has rescued you from your cryostasis chamber and given you a chance to survive. The Grineer will find you; you must be prepared. The Lotus will teach you the ways of the Warframes and the secrets to unlocking their powers.
Come Tenno, you must join the war.
Does that make sense? Because it doesn’t to me. But I don’t care. You don’t play Warframe because it has an excellent story or rich lore (which right now it doesn’t), it’s gameplay first and foremost.
Why you should play it
Warframe is a very linear experience, but there’s nothing wrong with that in this case. You’re dropped in with a mission objective, usually go here, do something, escape. Perfect. What’s so special about that you might ask? Well the fact that this is a F2P title is why this is a redeeming feature. I find that with a free title I don’t devote time specifically for it; while my subs for SWTOR, WoW and Rift are burning it usually feels to me that allotting time for something I’ve invested no money in is a bit of a waste. So with Warframe I know that if I have half an hour spare I can jump in, have some fun and get on with my day. Did I also mention that you start with a futuristic Katana? That’s also a pretty big deal. So not only do you have a main weapon backed up by a pistol, all Tenno are masters of the sword. Where Call of Duty has a knife as a last resort weapon, if you were so inclined it’s possible to play with your sword as your weapon of choice. That’s how I play. Oh my assault rifle is specced up, but my blade is usually at the forefront of my attacks. Add to that an additional powers you can improve by leveling up and you’ll have a pretty broad range of combat options.
Warframe is bloody pretty. It’s also shiny, very shiny. It’s nice to see a futuristic title with a very clean look rather than a grim, war torn environment (not that I dislike that kinda stuff) but sometimes I wish I was raiding a well maintained space station rather than something two breaths away from falling apart. If I leave behind a flaming hulk behind me then, that’s fine, of course. Levels do occasionally lead you to areas that make you think “ambush” but that’s also pretty cool. Enemies often drive headlong at you in the early stages but as the difficulty increases you’ll have to contend with grenades, enemies firing from cover and sudden appearances of shock troops. Speaking of enemies, the Grineer are weird buggers. They’re supposed to be human but take a look and tell me if they look normal to you?
Warframe is also really pleasant to listen to, I don’t mention audio much but the weapon sounds and subtle drum-heavy music really resonates with me. There are lots of little things that I struggle to find words for but some games fail to make weapons sound threatening or end up leaving a disconnect between the design and the noise produced (take early Halo as an example) but Warframe doesn’t fall into that trap. Guns sound meaty but futuristic, swords hitting armour makes a ringing metallic noise and your footsteps are heavy on the deck. There are times when the area fighting through depressurises; whilst the atmosphere vents into space, sounds mute and distort in a convincing manner. Little touches like make me enjoy playing.
Right now Warframe is in beta and I can only see this game getting better. Our resident YouTubers the Two Angry Gamers, gave it a go and didn’t have a great experience with hilarious results. Check out their quickplay:
But that’s the beauty of betas and F2P titles; to find out whether Warframe is a decent game all you need to spend is a little bandwidth and electricity. Check it out now