Space ninjas. When Warframe was first released publisher Digital Extremes likely banked on that tagline to get gamers to download the rather forgettable first version of its game. Today, Warframe can back up the cool space ninja troupe with real substance. And boy, does it have a lot. It’s a third person shooter MMO in the vein of Destiny where fast paced, high fun, and multivariable action gameplay reigns supreme. The tutorial takes you through the basic movement and weapon skills that are easy to grasp but may take some time to master, especially the movement. A futuristic solar system is your oyster. You play a Tenno, a super powerful space ninja beset by 3 factions as you play through the quests, missions, and star systems however you please.
More than 60 space ninja types to unlock and a labyrinth of upgrades and missions to explore.
Immensely fun gameplay coupled with a smooth engine and boundless progression, what’s not to love?
Steam or a standalone installer from the Warframe site gets you started. You’ll have to sign up for an account but it takes seconds. After a lengthy download of 25 gigabytes, you’re thrown into the first mission tutorial which gets a gold star for showing the lore and ropes of the game in an easy to grasp walkthrough.
Choose among the Excalibur, Mag, or Volt Warframes to get a taste of the RPG-like classes where each Warframe murders bad guys to a different tune. Excalibur has a good mix of melee and ranged weaponry and is the standard choice. Mag uses more utility and energy manipulation while Volt electrocutes everything to death. Each Warframe has 4 main abilities that unlock as you level up and have multiple primary and secondary weapon choices. This keeps the fundamentals basic but the upgrade system, discussed later, allows for big customization.
The engine of the game, called Evolution, plays smooth even on less-than-capable machines. Movement is fluid, fun, and the weapon mechanics make sense. Manipulating the world around you feels cohesive. You can tell from the start that the pace of the game tends towards the manic as you dart around the screen and parkour off walls. The game rewards mobility over pure aim, opposite of something like Counter-Strike, so if you prefer twitch over precision then you’re in luck with Warframe.
Unlike some MMOs that have linear progression, Warframe plays like a choose-your-own adventure book where the measure of success is really up to you. Collect cosmetics, farm bosses to unlock all the Warframes, or work towards total item and mod mastery of a few “frames”. You can also play solo or as co-op with other party members, and there’s even burgeoning but underdeveloped PVP. Despite the fun factor inherent to the gameplay, the grind of the game will deter some newcomers, especially those more comfortable with a linear direction. Luckily, it’s a true free to play title whose missions typically last under ten minutes so you can come and go as you please.
Progression can take many forms once you finish the first mission but make no mistake – Warframe is a game of farming, collecting, and building. New players should focus on unlocking as many planets as possible to provide the most variety of available things to do and resources to collect. Once you establish that access network then comes the decision on how you want to build out.
Resource farming happens as you play so you should approach it with a plan. If you want to catch all the Warframes like Pokémon, prepare to farm bosses which drop the different schematics for each. Weapons and other mods are a little less prescriptive with the in-game market providing access to many. Some items require dojos (guilds) or come as reward by specific missions, quests, and missions.
The learning curve looks like a slick cliff face so make use of the active Warframe community. Plenty of newbie guides exist to help with the question of where to start. One thing that could use improvement is more in-game explanations of what you can possibly do, however, developers know that the average gamer spends time on forums, YouTube, and Discords and that kind of information disseminates naturally through social channels. Definitely make use of it.
Where can you run this program ?
Warframe runs on Windows for now. You’ll also need a 64-bit processor (32-bit is a no-go), a 2.2ghz CPU, DirectX 10, 4GB of RAM, and about 30 GB of HD space at the minimum. You can run it on Windows 7 and higher. The Evolution engine has great optimization for lower end PCs.
Is there a better alternative?
Warframe devotees will say that the continual addition of varied content has made the game a unique snowflake. For newbies, it’s worth mentioning Destiny 1 and 2 as these are also third person co-op space shooters with a high focus on loot and grinding. But they can’t match the high-energy pace of Warframe’s gameplay. PVP interested players should think of Overwatch, which has the same class-based play and a smooth engine. Path of Exile and Diablo 3 have the same kind of loot grinding, character-building angle but of course are action RPGs and naturally play differently.
The positive tenor of this review sums up our take. The game went from dustbin to underground hero because of an engaged development team and active fanbase. The growing pains along the way have delivered a game of somewhat overwhelming depth and complexity, yet retains a fun and fast core gameplay which makes the discovery and mastery of all that depth exciting. It shows no signs of slowing down which adds a level of security to your time investment.
Should you download it
Yes, you should. Warframe offers a true free to play experience (because of little PVP there isn’t much pay-to-win) on a smooth engine with fast and engaging gameplay that can take up years of your life given the depth and complexity of the progression system. Don’t overlook it.