Warframe | Digital Extremes – An Honest Review

Saryn Prime - Particle effects - Warframe

Warframe is a free to play loot shooter with incredible movement and masses of content, giving most games in the same space a run for their money. The game was a last ditch effort to keep Digital Extremes afloat. Warframe as a concept was pitched numerous times over the years with no luck Instead the studio kept landing for hire contracts. This kept money coming in and the doors open, but nothing more. Although not in ideal circumstances still Digital Extremes begun a last ditch effort to save the company. They put together a proof of concept demo, and so the life of Warframe began. The initial release was met with mediocre review scores, and any hype fizzled out pretty quickly.

Eurogamer’s original review stated
“Sadly, the core mechanics chugging away beneath the uninspiring exterior aren’t up to much either. This is a glitchy, murky game with no nuance or depth.”

Unlike pretty much every other MMO on the market Warframe has no endgame in the typical sense. World of Warcraft and Destiny 2 both have raiding and Guild Wars 2 has fractals and raids. Warframe doesn’t have a real end game with players choosing their own aims and goals. Many gravitate towards fashion frame, which is the art of making the coolest looking warframe possible. Working towards a specific frame or weapon could also be your end game. On the surface it all sounds a little pointless, but the sheer amount of content and activities on offer gives you plenty of engaging content to dive into. Personally I would like to see a real end game in Warframe, but I’m not sure how it would work nor what it would even look like.

Early game

The early game mainly consists of completing missions which in turn opens up more missions and ultimately also entirely new planets. Gathering resources, blueprints and then crafting new frames, weapons and equipment plays a large part in the early game. Although there is a basic tutorial, it doesn’t really do much outside of showing you the absolute basics. This game features many complex mechanics, which you will likely have to turn to the games wiki and fan run sites. With such a friendly and active community finding out the information is made easy even when search engines fail. The game is heavily instanced, however the end result makes the game feel as if it is one big open world. Warframe utilizes procedural terrain generation, placing tiles together in a random fashion, whilst keeping the level structured. When you first start playing this will make each mission, even ones using the same tile set feel completely new. After a while you no longer notice the subtle changes from the generation.
The standard set of missions are:
• Arena
• Assassination
• Assault
• Capture
• Defection
• Defense
• Excavation
• Exterminate
• Free Roam/Bounty (Currently Plains of Eidolon & Orb Vallis)
• Hijack
• Infested Salvage
• Interception
• Junction
• Mobile Defense
• Pursuit (Exclusive to Archwing)
• Rescue
• Rush (Exclusive to Archwing)
• Sabotage
• Sanctuary Onslaught
• Spy
• Survival

Each planet has its own unique tile set, design, enemy forces and material drops. A big part of Warframe’s progression model surrounds the mod system. Every weapon, warframe and even companions can be upgraded with mods. The mods themselves can also be upgraded further increasing your power or utility or both. You have a set number of points which increase with weapon level and can also be increased using special items.

How Damage Works

Damage types can be combined creating secondary damage types with special bonuses, including reducing enemy health, armour, gas clouds and more. This is one of my favourite parts of Warframe. There is so many different options which can be tailored to your play style. There is a loose meta when talking about damage types, but 99% of missions can be completed with unique niche builds. It might take a little longer but chances are it will work just fine.

Movement/Parkour

Movement aka parkour plays a big part in this game and feels great too. Instead of sprinting being the best way to get around, you can perform various parkour moves including bullet jumps, rolls, slides and even glides. The movement flows naturally and feels great to use. As you progress you will be able to upgrade frames to move even faster using mods and items, whilst still remaining fun and fully responsive.

Free DLC – Plains and Fortuna

More recently the game has been updated with 2 fully fledged expansions which have been released free of charge to all. The first saw Earth get an open world area complete with new factions, activities and rewards. Just last year saw the Fortuna expansion release, bringing another open world area, new activities and gear to earn. I am glad they are moving away from procedural generation and towards creating missions around what feels like a living, breathing world.

In the beginning the game looked set to fail, but Digital Extremes kept improving and refining the games experiences ultimately creating one of the best loot shooters to date. Another big plus positive was the game was free to play. Warframe is everything Destiny 2 should have been, just without quite as much polish. What this game does have is plenty of is content, thanks in part to the procedural generation but also they kept releasing new stuff whilst perfecting what is already present.
The graphics are overall pretty damn good considering how tight the original budget was. As time passed updates improving graphics placed the game in a good place. Recently the Plains of Eidolon DLC got a face lift, improving graphics dramatically. The vanilla content still gets minor graphical updates including revamping lockers making it clearer which ones can be opening.

Digital Extreme’s not only pump out the usual bug fixes and balance changes but adding new story lines, enemies, activities regularly. This game is the perfect example of a studio treating their game with the love and respect it deserves. It isn’t being milked for every penny unlike so many other MMO titles.

Weapons & Equipment Choice

You have an immense arsenal to choose from. Want a flamethrower, rocket launcher, shotguns and much more. The sheer size of this games armoury is impressive with some real gems when it comes to having fun. You will naturally gravitate towards certain guns based on your play style. Don’t tie yourself down to one weapon or warframe. Check as many as you possibly can out you might just find a new favourite. Certain weapons require you to have a certain mastery rating to use. The more weapons and frames you level up the higher your mastery level will get. Each time you have enough affinity to gain a mastery level you will have to complete a small test. Each one is different but most as pretty easy. If you fail you will have to wait 24 hours until you can try again.

The community is one of the most friendly and helpful I have encountered whilst gaming. From Overwatch to Dota 2 toxicity is a big problem but other than the odd blip, you will find everyone want to help out and will even give you stuff to help get you on your feet. Although voice chat is available many don’t use it. The in game chat channels are very much alive. If your stuck or don’t understand something in game the community will be more than happy to help. You will find most friendly and happy to offer advice and help out.

Microtransactions/Business Model

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, chances are you have heard about the overarching and often greedy micro-transactions in gaming. Destiny 2, Battlefront and Call of Duty Black Ops 3. I no longer have the tolerance I once had towards micro-transactions. There is something different about Warframe’s business model that studios like EA could learn from. You can purchase various boosters
Not only can you trade platinum the games premium currency with other players. You can build almost all equipment whether it is premium content or not. I cannot think of a single game where premium equipment is obtainable without getting your wallet out. I have a love hate relationship when it comes to micro-transactions in general, but I think Digital Extreme’s have created a good balance. I can’t tell you that it is all cosmetic but you aren’t railroaded into buying premium currency as you can earn almost everything without spending a penny. Another big positive regarding Warframe’s premium currency is that you can trade it between players which when combined with the 3rd party website Warframe market connecting buyers with sellers is done in just a few clicks.
The community is the unspoken hero of Warframe. I have spent a lot of time playing MMO’s, strategy games, first person shooters, and no community has been as helpful and welcoming. The community is in my opinion a big part of the current success Warframe is seeing and I hope that this continues.

Digital Extremes Documentary Part 1

You can watch this very interesting documentary about how Warframe came to be and how dire things were looking for Digital Extremes as a studio.

Summary

Within the documentary mentioned above there was a segment interviewing a staff member who goes on to describe how one player spun the RNG (random number generator) wheel 500 times seeking a rare Kavat skin a purely cosmetic item. Once they saw this they removed it the next day. How many other studios have you seen remove a very profitable micro transaction? The community wasn’t even asking for it to be removed. This shows they truly value and care about the players and not just the money.
Warframe is by far the best loot shooter even if it isn’t quite as polished as Destiny 2. Not only does the game already have what seems like endless content but they keep adding more and even releasing entire expansions completely free. Digital Extremes treat the playerbase with respect keeping micro-transactions reasonable and in control, something other studios have struggled with endlessly. If you’ve not already tried this game
I highly recommend you do because you’re really missing out on a gem in the rough here. It is a shame that there isn’t any dedicated servers instead using a peer to peer system which when you get a bad host can be rather annoying but not a deal breaker by any means.

If you want to try Warframe out you can sign up and download the game here

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