Monday, June 20, 2016

What about Warframe?

I downloaded Warframe back when I first got my X-Box One mostly because it was a free-to-play game and I didn't have many games under my belt for my new system. I didn't play it at all until recently because so many other games came out fast to catch my attention and I just never got around to it. However, in the wake of One Piece: Burning Blood being disappointing and my finishing of Dark Souls III I needed something new to play and now I'm playing Warframe and yeah. I play Warframe and that's it. So, it led me to wonder: how had I never heard of such a HUGE game?
Now, the game is pretty popular among gamers. It's the fourteenth most-popular game on Steam (beating out the likes of Witcher 3 even) and is streamed on Twitch quite often, from what I understand. However, mass audiences have probably never heard of this game nor have they ever bothered with it. There are a few reasons why I think this is, but first I'll answer the question many of you are wondering: What is Warframe?

Warframe is a free-to-play online third person shooter with common MMO and RPG traits. It's out for the X-Box One and Playstation 4 on their respective online stores as well as available to play on PC. Updates are constantly coming out for free, too, with one coming up pretty soon to add new Quests and gear and what no. 

In Warframe you play as a Tenno, a warrior that's been in cryosleep and awakens to a galaxy at war. The Tenno fights various alien and robotic fashions with a fast array of weapons and gear with no clear favor, though there are times when missions require you to team up with certain factions to fight the absolute evil of the galaxy: the Infestation. Along the way you unlock new systems, discover a mystical realm known as the Void, and join with other Tenno in "clans" where you can trade and do cooperative missions, both in something called a "Conclave" (basically to fight) or do in-game missions with others. 

Warframe relies heavily on cooperative missions. I've always preferred to play campaigns and missions by myself and then team up with other players for an all-out death battle, but I will admit that getting to team up with others in missions is a treat. With a great team, Warframe's multiplayer really makes you and the three others feel like a unit. It doesn't even matter that you can have all the same type of player. I had a squad once where we divided into two teams of two and one team dealt with leftovers while myself and another player charged forward, opening up all the loot places and clearing preliminary baddies. 

The gear in this game is also pretty fast, and weaponry is separated into three different archetypes: Primary, Secondary, and Melee. Primary consists of rifles, shotguns, and bows. The rifles and shotguns might feel like they're blurring, however some rifles can be paired together to form a dual-wielding weapon, adding a new flavor to them. They also have different abilities and advantages against certain enemies. While factions like Grineer are more susceptible to the bow, I've found, the Corpus faction will get plowed by a shotgun. Each faction requires a new strategy, and when there are multiple-faction missions, it requires you really just go at it with your load-out and hope for the best. Weapons can be leveled up and given mods so that they will have certain edges to them. A basic sword can have radiation damage and have incredible slashing abilities while a specialized weapon will just be something to slice through foes. There is a whole lot of options in this game for customization, and all of them feel relevant. It's not just "oh, look, now your gun is green lolz." It makes each weapon feel new, feel like it's a valuable part of your fight in the universe. 

The combat in this game is pretty good. While I like to be able to lock onto my enemies, most melee attacks have a wide enough range that if you just start swinging your weapon around you'll be hitting something. Everything is fast, too, especially when you're sprinting. 

One of the cooler features of Warframe is the maneuverability the player has in terms of how they can attack or hide from their enemies. The developers of the game, Digital Extremes, wanted this game to focus on movement and it shows. The player has to constantly be moving around the battlefield to find new enemies. One way they do this is through sliding. I always love sprinting across a room, sliding, and then leaping up with my dual blades and diving into an enemy horde. Or just sliding across a room and blowing a Corpus into the air with my shotgun. 

Parkour is a big part of movement. Sometimes it feels like a "Super Mario" game when I'm bouncing off of walls to get to a higher platform. Parkour also allows for my favorite combat feature: slow-mo. If the player jumps into the air and uses their aim, the game goes into slow motion and the player shoots their weapon. As a real-life archer, it is so satisfying to perform a front-flip off a block, slow-mo aim at a monster, and then just let loose. The benefit of using the bow, as an aside, is that if the enemy is hit hard enough or in the head, usually, they soar across the room and get pinned against the wall with the arrow. 

It's glorious. 

Now, these are just some of the features. There are still multiple companions, a different mode for the Warframe the player chooses to inhabit, and other combat techniques I haven't gone over. And you may have forgotten, so I'll remind you: 

Warframe  is a FREE GAME. 

It sort of sickens me and makes me happy that this is a thing. It sickens me that a game with this much content can exist for free and yet we regularly get games like Star Wars: Battlefront, Destiny, and Evolve for $60 when those games are barely worth half of that price. Sure there are expansions, but none of them are free and most should have been in the game from the beginning. It's probably the most toxic thing, other than pre-pubescent boys on FPS servers, about the gaming industry. Now, not all games that come out are like this. Grand Theft Auto V, Dark Souls 3, Bloodborne, and Fallout 4 are all very recent examples of how a game can, and should, be worth full-price. 

It just makes me happy that Warframe is free and that people are eating it up. It should show more developers that games like this can work and can be a huge success. There are hundreds of microtransactions within Warframe but I'm not going to be angry with the developers about this. They have to make money, too. But the microtransations aren't necessary. Warframe allows for you to get all of the different blueprints and pieces of gear if you put in enough time and effort into the game. Assassination missions and Void missions alone cover the resource cost of what you need to get the blueprints to make the necessary gear. It does get annoying when I find a certain weapon that would be a perfect fit but I can't unless I actually buy it, but then I just keep playing an already super-fun game and I work for it. 

So, why aren't more people talking about Warframe, a game that has good combat with a HUGE pull for online cooperative missions and is actually a very pretty looking game to look at? Well I think part of the problem is that it's online exclusive. You'll probably never find Warframe at your local gaming retailer, which is how most people come across their games. Another thing is that some players refuse to go online and therefore just can't play the game due to the membership costs Microsoft and Sony ask for. 

All of those, combined with no push from anybody, are what bog down the popularity. People online play it and know about it because the online community is prone to way more conversation and communication about certain games. Outside of the online community, you'll never hear about Warframe other than through a friend. 

The lack of a push is curious, though. I'm still seeing big ads for some upcoming Destiny expansion and even Star Wars Battlefront is getting new content. I understand that some games are coming out with DLC soon like Dark Souls 3 but those aren't integral to being in the main game. We have a complete game, and now we'll get expansions exploring other parts of the world. So, why are we getting so much attention for bigger games? Well, I just answered my question. Those games are huge, and they're popular among non-gamers. Bungie and EA know better than to let a dead horse stay dead, whereas games still growing like Fallout 4 and Dark Souls 3 can keep expanding because those horses are alive and well and allow the player much more play-ability. I don't mind pushes for those games because, quite honestly, they deserve them. 

Warframe does as well. This is a free to play game that, right now, could be worth $60 if you were to try and sell it. It's a shame that it's popularity seems to be so obscured, as with a bigger push, we could see more excellent games like this. I don't see myself stopping Warframe for a good while, too. It's just a chill game to play. If you're able to play online, give it a go. 

Not like it's going to cost you anything. 

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Twitter: @seanovan13
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