If you haven’t played Warframe (at all or recently) here is a two minute non-commentated clip of an assassination mission I completed this morning to give you an idea of the gameplay. I am using the Frost Prime warframe (free with Twitch Prime! Even better is that it is free with a Twitch Prime *trial account! Which is how I got it. I am using the starter bow as my primary weapon (I like it because it’s silent, which allows for stealthy play around the map) a giant Axe as my melee, and a sidearm as my secondary.
That is the base model (colors and everything) but the only addition is that kickass cape, which I colored myself when I put it on. You’ll notice a few fun things:
- Enemies try to run to set the alarms a few times, which I am able to stop them from doing (you can do a hack minigame to turn them off. The alarms increase number and frequency of enemies)
- The beautiful of two bow moves which makes the gunplay incredible – one when I am running away and shooting over my shoulder, and the second when I zoom in, floating down, Legolas style and kill a baddie.
- I used two of my four abilities in here (and both not well) – first is “freezing” an enemy, and second is sending frozen spikes in a straight line that kills anything it hits (I hit nothing).
- You can jump, climb, slide, etc – just move over any part of the map. It’s parkour all the way.
- The little guy (Taxon I think?) is my companion who loots for me (all items within X range), and I have outfitted him with a gun which freezes enemies. He also steals shields from enemies and transfers them to me.
- Maps are randomly generated, and are varied and well put together. It’s impressive.
There is a taste of the gameplay, of which I wasn’t doing particularly great, but should give you an idea of the style of the game. I was sliding too much. (Bullet jump – the forward moving barrel roll – is jump+slide buttons together.)
I wanted to show you that before describing the game to give you some background and flavor of style and game substance. Steam says I have put in 25 hours into the game but Warframe says I am at ten and a half – assuming WF is correct here.
It does so much, so much better than Destiny 2 and outside of the FPS vs TPS difference (a biggie, granted) I can now see why people wish Destiny 2 had adopted much of what is good in Warframe. Which is most of it. Caution here is the first 10 hours “new car smell” of it all but I can’t stop playing right now.
- More unique content than I can imagine consuming at this point
- Playstyle for everyone – over 30 Warframes with different skills and powersets, and hundreds of weapons
- No barriers to progression in early game – haven’t seen the need to spend money outside of wanting to reward the developers (but, not sure of a good way to do that either!) Feels like F2P done well
- Personaliztion to the nth degree – colors, addons, weapons, frames, ships, companions – you name it
- Co-Op Matchmaking for all gameplay and game styles
- Deep and interesting systems
- Tight shooting and fighting gameplay
- Movement. Wow, The Movement.
- Codex in game
- You get your home home base, your ship (which can also be fully personalized)
- Helpful community in game and on Reddit.
- Fun, Interesting and varied mission types
- Story campaign is drip fed. I am still confused on what is going on
- Codex is gated behind in game scanning. Which is cumbersome and challenging.
- Third Person only
- Systems do not interlink effectively or efficiently, and are confusing at first (and persistently so sometimes)
- Co-Op “rush” mentality
- New Player Experience needs fixing / updating
- Biggest new update does not apply/ not effective for new players
- Art style is love / hate
Unique Content: Good
I am not going to write a paragraph about each thing (today) but going to touch them over a series of posts. First off the universe is gated by jumpgates and repeatable missions. In Destiny 2 they gave you a handful of planets but took away the original handful from Destiny 1. Here is the solar system map in Warframe, through my ship’s Navigation system (pictures taken with my starter Warframe, the Volt, which I personalized to be blue).
When you zoom in a bit it shows how they are connected and gives you an idea of the number of missions available on that planet.
And of course, further zooming in shows how the missions on each planet are connected.
You aren’t going to run out of anything to do in the short term. Each of those planets and missions are very different, and procedurally generated so if you are running them for the second, tenth, or twentieth time at least there is some variation. You can see with the blue lights the missions I haven’t completed yet. The mission types I have participated in so far include (and I don’t know if I have done them all yet):
- Assassinate: Kill a high priority target
- Terminate: kill X number of bad guys
- Defend: Protect an item at a specific spot for X waves of enemies
- Mobile Defence: Carry a hack terminal to three different spots in the map, and defend it while it downloads information
- Spy: Steal data – if you get seen near the hack terminals and alarms get set, the data will get destroyed so have to be stealthy
- Rescue: Save a hostage(s). Fun part is after you release them from their cell, you can give them your secondary weapon to help fight. You have to be stealthy in the first part (setting them free, or they could be exterminated) and then escort them out of the area safely in the second part
- Sabotage: Destroy strategic objectives within a map
- Interception: Capture and hold control points on a map
- Survival: Be a distraction so a fellow Warframe can run a mission. Set off the alarm and survive for X minutes.
And I think there are more, but those are the ones I have tried. There are also there “bad guys” at this point – the Grineer, the Corpus, and the Infested, so each of them have their own style and substance to those missions.
Story Clarity: Bad
Remember those factions I mentioned just a couple lines ago? I don’t quite understand why I am killing them all. In fact, I don’t even understand why I exist at all. I know my ‘handler’ The Lotus, who gives me my missions calls me a Tenno. I know she somehow rescued me from Vor and the Grineer who were trying to capture me. I don;t even know what I am! Am I a person inside the suit? Human? Or am I a robot? When I change suits (are they suits?) do I leave one and jump in the other, or is my programming sent over, OR am I some sort of ghost /soul that floats between constructs to do the bidding of the mysterious Lotus? Who am I fighting for?
By paying attention to what I have found IN game I know the Grineer (who freed me to try and use me for their own desires) are dying out because so much cloning has made their DNA fragile and unintelligent, and that they had planned to use me to rebuild themselves. Or something like that. But I don’t know what year it is, (IS THIS TRUMPS AMERICA IN 2025?) or what/who I am, or how I got here. The Corpus, the second enemies I ran into use more robots and look different but I still don’t know why I am killing them either, or what their society looks like, and how they got to where they are.
The infested, on the other hand, I have sorted out through in game means that they were a weapon that the Corpus were testing on and of course they got out. There were some in game mentions that the infested lived long ago but were thought to have been defeated – eliminated, but these mentions and findings in missions are often during periods of hectic fighting and survival and I don’t always absorb all the information fully.
The Codex: Good AND Bad
Big points for having a Codex in game. Big negatives for not having story elements in baseline. All the questions I have about the Story Clarity in my previous paragraph should be solved through the Codex. It still might be. There is a lot of base information available immediately – all the weapons and Warframes – but the things in the world have to be scanned by you.
You can buy a limited charged scanner from the marketplace for in game dollars (and cheaply) but this isn’t explicitly instructed and I had to sort that out on my own. Add to that, how difficult it is to scan in game (you can’t be interrupted, and its hard to be in a non-combat state) so things are not fleshed out. In 2 of 20 possible scans of a single Grineer Fronteir Lancer (They have more than a dozen Grineer enemy types that I have seen so far – maybe far more) I get little information. I want background info, not stats. 18 more scans to find out!
In the first bit of P2WL (Pay to Win – Lore) I saw in the Codex for companions that instead of my companion that steals shields and loots for me, there is one that automatically scans codex entries. You have to pay real money for it (sadly) or find the Prime blueprints (very rare) via in game activities. I have luckily found 1 of 4 components for that particular companion but also have 1 of 4 components for a dozen other items too. It’s not looking good from a lore / story Codex particulars. And I think when you are trying to build context in a world and game that this part should be especially accessible. I am hoping the story becomes more clear and obvious as I unlock new planets – long time readers here know how much I appreciate stories in games. I have really trashed Destiny 2 for this, but that was because they doubled down on a terrible story/premise. I liked it better when there was benefit of the doubt, of which, the story of Warframe still has.
From a pure game perspective it is incredibly fun to navigate through a map, shoot bad guys, find items, and complete objectives – all the while leveling up your items and frames, customizing skills and abilities, and exploring new planets. All items that I will discuss in future articles.