Warframe – Early Impressions
Much influenced by a certain Specktre, I recently got into Warframe, which very quickly made me want to write about it. As I am starting this I am still not entirely sure what I’m gonna write, apart from a few points.
Warframe is a very silly game. Any of you who believe otherwise are so wrong. Luckily it’s the fun kind of silly. There is a story that I’ve mostly forgotten, but it boils down to this: You play as a future super-soldier in ultra-high-tech power armour called “Warframes”, hence the title, and you run around acting like part John Woo action hero, part Hollywood ninja.
It’s a third-person shooter/action game with some parkour elements, set in a free-to-play pseudo-MMO model. You get to set your own status, and can change it at any time. Do you want to play open Online, where you just enter a mission with three other random people and you run around wreaking silly havoc, or do you prefer setting the game to Solo and attempting to badass all the missions yourself? There are also options for either playing the open style, but only with people on your friends list, or setting it to Invite Only.
Character customisation is initially minimal. The moment you log in for the first time, you are dropped into the tutorial, after which you get to pick one of three starter Warframes. There’s the newbie-friendly Excalibur which likes hitting things with its sword, the newbie-unfriendly Loki which probably does amazing stuff I can’t remember, and then the MAG which I picked.
The MAG has high shields, but low health, and is basically a space-mage. The blurb says it can manipulate magnetic forces, but I’m pretty sure that magnetising all of an enemy’s bones to make it implode takes genuine space magic, and not some mere science-speak.
The people inside the Warframes are called the Tenno, and I think they’re either immortal, or have been in stasis for a long time. It’s not made entirely clear. But they were gone for a long time, and now they’re making a comeback because humanity is in danger or something like that. Does it honestly matter? You don’t get to create a character, since the Warframes come with set genders and physical builds.
So what do you get to customise? Well, there’s weapon loadouts, mods, and you get to pick colour schemes. Since I wanted to be a sneaky ninja, I of course went for a sharp red with purple highlights, and coloured my sidearm a bright pink. My rifle is a nice mix of violet and orange, and my sword has a shiny, green edge. I couldn’t be more inconspicuous if I tried.
What might put people off is that, true to its free-to-play nature, Warframe is a very grindy game. You get handed a default set of starting gear, and then have to accumulate crafting resources, blueprints, credits and levels to be able to craft/buy different/better gear. While mods will drop, they’re usually very basic, and will have to be crafted into better ones. This is all to try to incentivise you into spending some money. It doesn’t feel as in-your-face as many other games I’ve tried though, and my starting gear has so far been more than enough for me to be an effective killing machine.
What will likely save it, is that Warframe is just a lot of fun to play. You can sneak around and backstab everything with your sword, and that’s pretty satisfying. And when you inevitably get discovered, the gunplay is fun too. Both the starting rifle and starting pistol feel good, though the rifle could maybe do with feeling a bit more weighty. On the other hand, you are a power-armoured action ninja, so an assault rifle probably wouldn’t have much kick to you.
Aiming feels precise, the guns behave as I expect, the sound assets are okay, and if anything gets too close you can just go nuts and start swinging your sword like a maniac. You can also fire while gliding along the ground. Or while flying through the air, which also causes you to do a mid-air glide thing. Or while running along walls. And you can run straight up a wall and backflip off of it. I have collected some of this, and other silly things, in a short video.
Yes, dive-kicking is a thing. Hitting an enemy with a dive-kick (which isn’t that easy considering the speed you’re moving at) will knock them over, which means you can do a coup-de-grace with your sword for silly damage. There are also other ways to knock enemies over.
So if you want a silly game about being a future space-ninja that flips out and murders everything in your way, and you might also want to bring friends along occasionally, then Warframe just might be for you. You can download it through Steam.
If you do get into the game, my username is Varewulf.