Recently, the free-to-play 3rd person shooter and looter, Warframe, has garnered some additional attention from gamers. A popular YouTube content creator, Skill Up, stumbled across the game and fell in love with it. His recent videos have brought a lot of deserved attention to Warframe from players that had never tried it before. At the time of this posting, his review of Warframe has reached over 700,000 eyeballs.
I myself have been playing Warframe off and on for the past 2 ½ years. I originally found it during a content lull in Destiny, not long after its launch. I was looking for something else fun to play and saw this free game in the Xbox store. I thought why not? It won’t cost me anything. I tried it for a day, and I dropped it. I felt overwhelmed. There was so much going on, and unfortunately a lot of it wasn’t explained well.
Something pulled me back though. There was just something about this game that made me want to figure out the game and its many mechanics. It was frustrating but fun. It split my gaming friends in half. Some of us loved it. Some of us just were completely turned off by the learning curve and what felt like a steep barrier to entry for new players.
It took time, but we started to get it. Things came together. One of the biggest things that helped was the Warframe community itself. I’m not sure if there is a better gaming community out there. I love the Destiny community, but there is something different about Warframe’s. You feel like you are part of a group of underdogs that all want to help one another in the game, and I am not just talking about clan mates helping out. Anyone I have encountered in the game has been willing to offer help where needed.
Warframe features an in-game chat in both the console and PC versions. There are different chat channels. One for your clan, one for recruiting, one for trading, and a global chat. Often times, if you watch the global chat, you will see someone just simply ask, “Does anyone need any help with anything?”
Could you imagine walking around in the The Tower in Destiny and just having other players if you need help beating a mission or figuring out how to get a piece of loot? It just doesn’t happen, at least not the frequency it does in Warframe.
I left Warframe for awhile for The Division, and then came back. I left again for Rainbow Six: Siege, once again, I came back.
Want to hear something crazy? Destiny 2 came out last week (you can read my first impressions of Destiny 2 here), and I love it. Want to know what I played more of this past weekend? Warframe.
It’s that good of a game.
If you have never played Warframe before, Skill Up gave it the best succinct description I have ever heard. He said it is basically a 3rd-person Diablo. I would go a little further and say it is a 3rd-person Diablo if you were an armored, futuristic, space ninja, and when can you ever go wrong with ninjas?
You are a space ninja constantly upgrading to better and better gear, becoming more powerful with each mission.
There are a few things that really make Warframe standout from other games.
First, there are currently 33 Warframes that you can play as. If you count all the special variants, known as Prime Warframes, there are 49 of them in the game. Each Warframe has its own base stats, including things like armor, shielding, health, and sprint speed, as well as its own 4 unique special abilities.
Want to be a speedy ninja great at crowd control? There is a Warframe for that. Want to be a tank to help out your team? There is a Warframe for that.
On top of the Warframes’ stats and abilities, you can also collect mods to put on your Warframe to increase stats. Want to take a speedy and squishy Warframe and buff up their health to make them more tanky? You can mod for it. Want to increase your energy levels so you can use your special abilities almost at will? You can mod for that.
Your weapons can be individually modded in the same way boosting things like their fire rate, ammo capacity, damage output, etc.
I’m not sure if there is any other game out there that offers that kind of variety.
The second thing that really stands out to me in this game is the movement. Forget about the normal laws of physics that ground you in most games. You can climb and race along walls, slide across the floor, spin through the air. Almost no ledge is unreachable. And you do it all very quickly. It is unreal what you can do and how you can do it.
Next is the level design. Most of the level designs are dynamic. That is they are generated from a tile set when you begin the mission. There are a few missions that are static or in some quests have static areas, but other than that, you can pretty much play the same mission 10 times in a row and end up on 10 different maps.
This makes farming, (read about why I think we need to drop the term farming in gaming), a lot less tedious, and keeps things fresh.
I also really like the crafting system in this game. What I like is that, with a few exceptions, you have to wait for things that you craft. Building that new shotgun you have been craving and finally got the last part for? Great, come back in 24 hours and it will be done. Oh, good you got the blueprint for that Prime Warframe you have always wanted. That will be 3 days.
Yes, that’s right. It takes 3 days for a new Warframe to be built. I like it though because it adds to the excitement when it is finally done. It makes you want to log in again day after day to see what items are complete or how long you have to go on other things being crafted. It’s a great mechanic that keeps players coming back.
Let’s be honest. Learning a little patience never hurt anyone either.
The next thing I want to touch on is the incredible trading system and premium currency, known as Platinum, that is in the game.
The worry with an in-game trading system is that it can really ruin the game. Teams of players that have more time than they know what to do with can help outfit their buddies, but worse than that, they can really set and dominate the market.
Diablo 3’s Auction House disaster is a perfect example. It largely shifted the objective of many players. Instead of being out there trying to farm the most sought after gear, people were farming gold to buy the gear. Gold became the most sought after resource.
Warframe has avoided that pitfall. Not everything in the game can be traded. You cannot trade resources, for example. You are going to have to farm them yourself. For the most part, you can only trade blueprints and parts for Prime Warframes and weapons.
You can trade gear for gear or you can trade for Platinum. Platinum can be bought with real money. It cannot be farmed. It cannot be found anywhere in the wild. The only way you can obtain platinum is by putting down your credit card or trading items to someone that has Platinum.
I thought you said this was free-to-play? It is. Nobody forces anyone to buy Platinum and everything that can be obtained in the game, minus a few exclusives for initial donors known as Founders, can be done so for free.
Each player is given 50 Platinum for free. What you do from there is up to you. It’s not hard to farm things that people want and will be willing to trade Platinum for in the game. If you want to buy stuff from other players but do not want to put in the time farming gear yourself to trade, you have the option of spending real money to get the Platinum you need.
Myself, I always played for free and never bought Platinum. I have more than I know what to do with. Despite that, I recently did buy a Platinum pack. I have spent many hours in this game and gotten a ton of enjoyment out of it. This is exactly the kind of publisher I want to support with my money, so even though I did not need the Platinum, I bought it anyhow. Digital Extremes, the creator of Warframe, more than earned my money.
The last thing I want to touch on about Warframe is the clan support. It is pretty awesome. I have never seen anything like it in another game.
Each clan has its own dojo that it builds. That’s right. Your clan builds its own social space. Think of it like The Tower in Destiny, but it is only for your clan. Each member of the clan can donate resources to build new rooms and add decorations to existing rooms.
There are also special resource labs that can be built to research a few Warframes, weapons, and other gear that are only available within the clan system. Don’t worry. It is easy to get into a clan. There are tons of them, and they are always recruiting.
The whole thing just works really well together and gives the clan stuff to work on together collectively.
In the title of this post, I stated that Warframe is The Best Game You Have Probably Never Played. It is true that Warframe does not get the notoriety or acclaim it really deserves. The game has been out since 2013 on PC and 2014 on Xbox One and PS 4. Reviews were mixed at launch, and probably rightfully so.
The game was not what it is today. It was a good frame of a game, pun totally intended, but not everything was flushed out the way it is today. Maybe the most amazing thing about Warframe is the way that Digital Extremes supports it. They push out weekly updates and patches. If something is wrong with the game or a bug is discovered, it will probably be fixed next week.
There were 8 Warframes at launch. As I said earlier, there are now 49. New weapons are constantly being pushed out. New missions. New quests. I have never seen a game so consistently put out new content after launch.
The next highly anticipated large update promised this fall, titled Plains of Eidolon, will introduce an open world to Warframe. I cannot wait for this.
Unfortunately, none of the big gaming sites do post launch reviews or review updates 2-3 years later. If Warframe was launched today in the state it is in right now, I have no doubt that most of those sites would have to rate it a 9 or 10.
Although it does not get the recognition it deserves, that is not to say that the game is a ghost town. In an interview with PC Gamer in 2016, Digital Extremes indicated that on a daily basis, Warframe hits roughly 100,000 peak concurrent players across all platforms. That was 3 years after its launch. Those are concurrent players, meaning players all gaming at the same time. Not total players in a day.
To put that number into some context, last week on September 9th, Bungie announced that Destiny 2 hit 1.2 million concurrent players.
Thank you all so much for playing, Guardians! Right now Destiny 2 has over 1.2 Million concurrent players online. We’ll see you in the wild.
— Bungie (@Bungie) September 9, 2017
Yes, 1.2 million is a lot more than 100,000, but Destiny 2 just released 2 days before that with the whole marketing arm of Activision pushing it down our throats for the past few months.
So 100,000 concurrent players, 3 years after a launch with little to no fanfare, is pretty impressive.
If you have never tried this game or if you tried it in its early iteration, you owe it to yourself as a gamer to give it a try. If not today, keep it in mind for the first Destiny 2 content drought. You know it is coming.