I always have a craving for Role Playing Shooters. I’ve tried The Division, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, was even captivated by Destiny between its years two and three, which truthfully held my attention longer than most games do these days but none of these really slaked my thirst. I’m a progression junkie and I love being able to accomplish tasks that make my character stronger over time. So it should be of no surprise that this is what Warframe is, a free to play third person action shooter by Digital Extremes, and it’s available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The story of Warframe isn’t the bit that will keep you interested but it’s easy enough to follow along. You are a Tenno and Tennos control Warframes. You are awakened from some sort of cryogenic sleep by the Lotus, who acts as a sort of leader for you. As you are waking up, though, you’re attacked by the Grineer, who seek to control you and use you as a weapon. The Grineer are highly armored, low tech, cyborgs (they remind me of a poor man’s version of the Borg from Star Trek). Eventually you’ll come across other species of enemies that have their own strengths and weaknesses. You fight through their attempts at controlling you and eventually make your way to your ship and you’re eventually at a point where you complete specific missions to regain control of the system. Each planet has a specific boss that you must take down, along with other specific objectives, in order to progress to the next planet. As you progress from planet to planet the enemies you encounter during the missions get stronger and stronger. At the point where I am in my game I don’t quite know what the entirety of the story entails but I know that it is merely on the surface of what this game is truly about.
The combat, and in some ways the grinding, is what brings people back to the game more often than not. This can get pretty deep so bear with me as I attempt to explain it. You can have up to three weapons equipped at any time: primary, secondary, and melee. Primary weapons contain weapons like rifles, shotguns, and bows. Secondary weapons are mostly pistols though they do have a bit of variety with hand shotguns and torpedo launchers. Melee weapons are exactly what you think they are containing just as much variety with weapons like swords, staffs, hammers, and daggers. All weapons do something a bit different and no two are alike. Switching between weapons isn’t quite as fluid as I would hope so if you’re needing to switch to something else try to make sure there aren’t a lot of enemies nearby. Going on the offensive, though, can make your Warframe seem like a device meant for destruction. During missions, wave after wave of enemies will generally come after you and with the right setup you can cut them down like a hot knife through butter. There are moments where I don’t feel like a cybernetic ninja and more like an overpowered Gundam or mech just wrecking everything around me. I’ve accidentally lost track of the objective several times due to how fun the combat is. The acrobatic movement system in the game can also make you feel unstoppable as it can be used to cover a lot of ground very quickly.
Once you’ve leveled up your Warframe or weapons you can put Mods into them to increase their power. There are hundreds of different kind of Mods which create a vast number of combinations. There are some guides out there that will tell you the best things to use but I highly recommend that you experiment for yourself as Mods can be freely changed or swapped out. Warframes and each weapon type have different Mods. So, for example, primary weapon Mods will differ from secondary weapon Mods. Even Rifle and Shotgun Mods will vary. Mods can also be ranked up which increases their capacity used in either your Warframe or weapons which is why it’s important to level them up so you can use more Mods. Warframes and weapons also have polarity slots which can be used to half the cost of a Mod which is very useful for Mods that have a high capacity. The Mod system is intuitive because it allows you to add or detract stats from your weapons. All weapons are essentially blank slates with varying base stats or firing types (full auto vs burst fire, faster or slower reload times, smaller or bigger magazine sizes, etc.). Sometimes these Mods will simply increase the over all damage the weapon does, other times it will increase a specific type of weapon damage. You can combine two kinds of elemental damage to create additional elemental damage types (fire and cold combine to create blast damage which causes additional knockback). The drawback to all of this is in order to get some of the best Mods in the game you will have to grind for them. This means running the same mission several times, killing the same specific enemy type over and over, or increasing faction rank. Duplicates of less important Mods can be converted to Endo or sold for Credits
Companions are useful allies that follow you around, attacking enemies that you attack or that attack you. The game gives you a Taxon near the beginning of the game and I’ve found that to be the most useful thus far. Taxon, like most Sentinels, is a little robot that hovers around you. It comes equipped with a beam weapon called the Artax which slows enemies down with cold damage. Taxon also comes with a Mod that boosts your shields whenever it does damage to an enemy that gets a bit too close to you. It’s quite useful for the early game as your Warframe tends to be quite squishy but don’t over rely on the little guy as Sentinels have smaller pools of health and shields so, yes, an enemy can take them out if you’re not careful. There are a handful of other Sentinels to choose from, each having its own unique abilities but if you want something a little more lively look no further than the Kubrows or Kavats, essentially dog-like and cat-like creatures. The companions have more health and tend to be stronger on the offensive side but require more care and maintenance. You have to grow these creatures though an incubator and also take note of their Genetic Stability. This decreases by a specific percentage every 24 hours and once it reaches -100% it basically dies. There is a way to increase its Genetic Stability but it requires purchasing DNA Stabilizers from the Market for 75,000 Credits which will only slow the destabilization by 40%. The good news is that these come in packs of six, which is very handy. I personally do not use a Kubrow or Kavat simply because of how expensive they are and the amount of additional time they consume. Having a war dog or cat is an amazing experience, I did breed a Kubrow just to try them out, but knowing that eventually it would pass on unless I spent a pretty insane amount of Credits (to me at least) just wasn’t worth it. I find the Taxon to be good enough as I don’t care if my companion doesn’t do a massive amount of damage, the increased survivability is more than enough for me. These companions have their own Mods that you can use to increase their damage, health, shields, and give them unique abilities. For example, a very useful Mod for Sentinels, Vacuum, pulls resources and Mods dropped from dead enemies to you at a distance which means you’ll never truly leave a stone unturned!
Missions are varied and take place in instanced zones which you can play alone or through the game’s matchmaking system. I’ve had the most fun when there are others playing the game especially in the Survival and Defense mission types. In Survival you have to last as long as possible while waves after waves of enemies come at you. The longer you survive the more loot you get, generally in the form of Credits (the true in-game currency), Endo (used when upgrading your Mods), Relics (used in fissure missions and contain one of six items in it. These items can be Prime Warframe or weapon parts or unique items like a Forma blueprint which creates a resource that adds an additional polarity slot to Warframes or weapons.), or Mods. Defense missions are played out in a similar way except you have to defend a specific item from being destroyed while a counter counts up. After five minutes for Survival or five waves, unless doing an Alert type defense mission, for Defense you get your reward. There are several other mission types in the game to check out.
You also better get use to these missions. Grinding in this game is the main focus as the combat and movement is what moves you along from point A to point B. If there is anything you want in this game then you will probably have to grind for it unless you want to flat out pay real money to unlock/obtain it. This can make the game seemingly become boring in places. Currently I’ve hit a slight brick wall in Jupiter because I need to do an Archwing type mission on Mars but my Archwing is under-leveled so I need to grind some of those mission types. The only problem is that I’m not a huge fan of Archwing missions even though they are the closest thing in the game to feeling like you’re piloting an actual Gundam in space. So this is what keeps me from fully embracing the game even though I’ve spent countless hours in it already. There will always be a ceiling for me, a point where I won’t feel like progressing any further because the grind gets to me. If you can’t stand grinding for resources and materials in a game then you probably want to steer clear of this game altogether. I personally feel like I’ll always have a love-hate relationship with it where the combat is just so much fun yet the grind of this game is a bit extreme.
The game does include a PvP aspect, the Conclave, but as of this writing I have not tried it out. In these types of games I always prefer PvE as PvP tends to stress me out too much.
Lastly, I want to touch on the crafting system in the game. You’re going to be grinding a lot in this game, if not for a specific piece to a new Warframe you want to build then for the resources necessary to craft that new weapon you’ve been drooling over. Once all the necessary requirements have been met you then have to wait real time hours before it gets completed. It’s a small price to pay in the long run though. Outside of trading with other players the “pay with your own money” currency Platinum, this is the only way to construct the much sought after Prime Warframes which have better stats than their normal versions. You can obtain these parts through trading with other players or by grinding through specific missions once the Prime variant is released out of the Vault. Digital Extremes have done a great job at making sure the best content of the game is made hard to achieve.
Warframe is a great game to sink a lot of time into. You can spend hours just tinkering with certain builds or even changing the color of your Warframe, weapons, and companions (which is why this game becomes “Fashionframe” towards the endgame!). It has a very deep combat system, tons of weapons to try out, and dozens of Warframes to set a goal towards. As a free to play game I cannot recommend this game enough, especially if you’re tired of Destiny and are waiting around for Destiny 2 to come out. The tutorials in this game aren’t the greatest so I do suggest searching on YouTube if there is a specific part of the game you need help with or checking out the Warframe Wiki. There is a lot to love with this game even if after some time the grind will eventually get to you.