As a gamer I have always been a bit hesitant about free to play games so it’s not surprising that I was wary of reviewing Warframe, a game that fits into this genre. In my experience free to play games have typically been full of lower quality graphics, had mediocre story lines, and of course we can’t forget the option to pay for additional items well beyond the original release of the game. For these reasons I would rather just shell out the 60 dollars for a title to begin with rather than the be faced with the nickel and diming method these games tend to follow; however, as a reviewer I wanted to give Warframe the opportunity to prove me wrong and I was really hoping it could.
First things first, you are provided with a choice of which Warframe to play as. You can choose from three starter types including the Excalibur warframe for complete newbies or Loki & Mag warframes which are for more experienced players with each offering up different play styles. Your warframe can always be switched out later on in the game too. Once you choose you start off in a tutorial mode to help you get adjusted to the gameplay particulars including controls and some of the storyline to make things part a bit more interesting. The real tricky part about the tutorial is actually getting into the actual missions as it took a painstakingly long amount of time and was constantly bugged with numerous disconnects and freezes. A handful of times I actually had to reboot the game completely, and that in itself added additional time as the game goes through its loading sequence including checking for new content. To say this was incredibly frustrating is an understatement, especially when I just wanted jump into the game and kill some enemies.
Once in the tutorial started to improve and I was pleasantly surprised how familiar and easy it was to get into the controls of the game. Working like most shooters out there these days the controls are natural and effective except for my melee attack which was rather funky to use. This move is performed by clicking in the right stick and by doing so you swoop across the screen with your weapon and attack an enemy, but there didn’t appear to be a convenient way to aim the melee attacks as you could melee from a distance. Throughout the tutorial you are mostly seeking out parts to upgrade your ship so you can access ways to do such things as craft equipment, buy equipment, upgrade current equipment, etc.
The story arc consists of removing a piece of tech from your body that was implanted in you by a Grineer (enemy) by the name of Captain Vor. He is the one who released you from your slumber with the goal of capturing you and using you to increase his favour with his leaders, but this plan backfires when you escape and start to fight for your freedom. Yes, the story is a bit cliché but it does a good job of introducing all of the different things that are available in the game more gradually rather than thrusting it all in your face. Sure, it could have explained things a bit more in detail for newbies to gaming in general, but veterans should be able to easily put things together as you unlock new things on your ship.
Eventually you’ll get through the tutorial story and this is where the game starts to go downhill somewhat. For me, I couldn’t figure out what to immediately do from here. Now, I don’t need to be hand held to play through games, but I love a great storyline and there didn’t appear to be anything happening that I could jump into and follow along with after the tutorial. Sure, there were a lot of missions to do with friends online or solo, but there no clear direction. I eventually figured out that I could go on quests that have stories attached to them but these were 100% optional, and in my opinion they should have been mandatory. After some online research I was able to discover that there is in fact a story, but I shouldn’t have had to hunt it down via a Warframe wiki. As a side note the Warframe wiki found HERE is pretty extensive if you’re looking for some information while you’re playing that you didn’t catch in the game and or if you need clarification on something feel free to reference it.
Although Warframe lacks in the story department it sure makes up for it with a lot of different gameplay options such as Assassination, Capture, Conclave, Deception, Endless/Wave Defense, Escape, Exterminate, Hijack, Interception, Invasion (Solar Rail), Mobile Defense, Rescue, Sabotage (Hive), Spy, Survival PvP, Environmental Hazards, Nightmare Mode, Tile Sets, Alerts and Pickups. Some of these options are pretty self-explanatory based on its title so I won’t bore you with all the minute details of what each mode does, but I can say they are a lot of fun and I particularly enjoyed Assassination, Capture, and Rescue modes because when I game I just want to hop on and kill some bad guys before going off to bed for the night. Anything else a bit more complicated can be saved up for the weekends when I might be able to play for more than an hour or two.
What I also really enjoyed about the missions is that I didn’t need to have anyone to group up with to play the game to enjoy it. Thinking a huge part of free to play games consist of this to encourage the lifespan to the game, I was glad to see that I had the option of going solo or creating a group with up to 3 other friends to complete the missions. Upon completion there is the requisite loot that you end up with as well as experience to level you up. All of the mission options are a positive point to Warframe and they will definitely keep you busy. If I had to critique this area I might have to go back to my original comment regarding the storyline. If they had focused more on streamlining the game with less options they may have been able to control the movement of the gameplay and provide a better story and experience overall if that’s something you enjoy.
Graphically the game is not horrible at all, but it definitely looks last generation with some decent polish. The customization options are quite extensive where just about everything can be changed up with different Warframes, equipment, weapons, and colour. You start off with the basic starter options, but if you want to get more you’re going to have to grind the game to earn some money to buy some things, but in other cases you have to purchase platinum with real life currency to buy the really good stuff. That being said, I was happy to find that you didn’t really need to bust out extra coinage for gear to get you through the game and gameplay is not affected in the least. Overall, the graphics are uniquely designed; however, the game also seems to have pulled inspiration from other shooters combining bits and pieces for the overall presentation.
The other side of the artistic flair is the music and sound which was quite lacklustre and often boring and recycled. Sure, it’s a free to play game and it’s more about the gameplay, getting experience and getting the new pieces of equipment, but it is still a game and all aspects of it including the music should be balanced throughout and not an afterthought. Most of the voice work that I encountered was during the tutorial and virtually disappeared for the rest of the game except for some NPC screams and grunts as I gunned them down. This was by far the weakest area, but at the same time with the market they seem to be going for I am not sure if it is worth their time, but when compared to more of a traditional title on consoles it is sorely lacking.
This free to play game has come to consoles and although it isn’t a horrible game it also isn’t particularly fantastic either. The lack of a story as well lack of quality music and sound are glaring issues and although the gameplay is decent it is far from perfect. I enjoyed my time playing the game for the first while but it endied up turning into a grind that wasn’t intriguing enough to want to continue. If you’re looking for something to pass the time you could definitely pick this game up for free as you just might get a good chunk of time enjoying it, but I would definitely spend your money on a full-fledged title rather than having to pay in a free to play game for all the good bits.