The story of Warframe is an interesting one, and I think other game developers would be well-advised to study it. A smaller game from a relatively unknown studio, it’s clawed its way into the public spotlight with little more than a slow build-up of positive word of mouth.
That positive word of mouth was enough to finally convince me to give the game a shot. I’d long ignored it for any number of reasons that now seem silly (I think I somehow had it in my head it was a PvP game for a while there).
Before we go on, I’d like to note again that I’m not a big shooter fan. I don’t hate shooters — indeed, some of my all-time favourite games have been shooters — but all things being equal I prefer a good RPG or RTS.
Also, much like bhagpuss, I’m going through a phase of wanting to stick with more familiar games rather than chase the next big thing, and I decided to try Warframe more out of a sense of professional obligation than any genuine desire for something new. So I may have been predisposed to judge it more harshly than it deserves.
So keep all that in mind, but if I’m being honest, I greet Warframe with a hearty “meh.”
The trouble with shooters is that they all end up feeling kind of samey, at least to me. This whole post could just read “it’s pretty much like Destiny,” and that would tell you most everything you need to know.
Of course, there is the element of being able to switch between different warframes (the game’s equivalent of classes), but I didn’t get far enough in the game to have access to anything but my starting warframe (it’s never a great idea to put your game’s defining feature behind a grindwall).
Instead I need to look to more subtle elements that set the game apart. Like the fact the enemy AI is dumb as a bag of rocks (I’ve gotten stealth kills on enemies that were ten feet away and looking right at me), or the fact it has way too much loot, to the point where I seem to spend more time cracking open crates than doing anything else.
On the positive side, I do like that Warframe offers some weapon choices that are fairly unusual for a shooter. My arsenal consisted of a staff, throwing knives, and a bow.
Man, I loved that bow. Accurate, lethal, and with just enough arrow physics to grant verisimilitude without being too much of an inconvenience. It’s the closest I’ve ever seen a game come to capturing the beauty of archery in the real world.
The frustrating thing about playing as many MMOs as I have is that there’s always at least one feature in all of them I wish I could import to my preferred titles. It would be so amazing if archery in ESO felt like it does in Warframe.
Beyond that, the main things to set Warframe apart would be its setting and art style, both of which are rather… strange.
Warframe’s visuals — especially the warframes themselves — are certainly different, I’ll give it that. And I hesitate to be too harsh, because the world does need more games with unique art styles, and from an objective standpoint, I admire Warframe’s originality.
Dis game ugly.
I’m especially baffled by all the effort that’s spent on different ways to customize your warframe, none of which stop them from looking utterly bizarre and awkward. You can have any look you like, as long as you like being a technicolour robot space bug monster from a bad acid trip.
(To be fair, the Plains of Eidolon are gorgeous.)
As for the lore, it’s very much a game that throws you into the deep end and expects you to swim, which makes it a bit hard to judge from the small part I’ve seen.
It’s definitely a unique-feeling setting, and it’s clear that a lot of love and effort went into the world-building.
The trouble is the game doesn’t give you any reason to care. Your character is literally faceless and voiceless, so it’s very hard to get invested in them. Or anything else, for that matter. There are no characters to care about; there’s nothing to fight for.
So while I think Warframe’s lore could prove pretty interesting if you invest enough time in it, I lack the motivation to get that far.
But that’s fine. I needed another MMO to play like I needed a hole in the head. Maybe I’ll give Warframe another try if I ever really need something else to play. For now, it’s back to the old favourites.