Cheating on WoW: A (War)Frame Job

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.

Activating a junction in WarframeThat 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).

A story quest in WarframeInstead 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.

Practicing my archery on the Plains of Eidolon in WarframeSubjectively speaking, though?

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.

A story cutscene in WarframeAnd that’s about all there is to say. For all the negativity in this review, it’s a pretty solid game, and it plays well enough. But it’s just lacking any special spark to make me care.

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.

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6 thoughts on “Cheating on WoW: A (War)Frame Job

  1. Can’t say I disagree with any particular thing you’ve said here. On the other hand, a mindless loot grinder is right up my alley right now, so I’m still enjoying it a lot, though I can already feel myself “falling off” from it as well, so I think I’ll keep it installed, but it will be one of those “pop in for an occasional diversion a time or 2 a week” games for me, and definitely won’t take over as a primary or main game.

  2. Actually… now that I think about it…. visit some of the “clan dojos” if you ever log back in. They are insanely huge, and the decorations are gorgeous. I joined a relatively new clan so it’s still building out the dojo and even with that some of the stock rooms without deco are just amazing.

    But yeah, the overall tilesets used are pretty grungy until you get to the Void. The “Orokin” tileset used there is very pretty.

  3. Nice review. Interesting to read your thoughts on this one! Well, if anything I guess it make me curious about the archery. That should be my new mission… to find games with excellent archery! I’ve been taking it up in real life, so it’s got me more interested in it in games than ever. If you have any game recommendations there, please let me know.

    • Oh, that’s really cool you’re getting into archery IRL. I used to practice — had my own bow and everything — but I’ve kind of let it slide. Distracted by other things, and it’s just so hard to find a place to practice in the city. There’s like one archery range in all of Toronto, and it’s quite far from me and therefore a real pain to get to.

      Can’t say I know a lot of games that have realistic archery, Warframe aside. I guess Hanzo in Overwatch could count, but I found him more frustrating than anything. The game’s too frenetic.

      The only other thing that comes to mind off the top of my head is the Myth franchise, but those games are like 20 years old now, and the archers were just units you commanded, rather than something you played directly.

      I loved playing a hunter ranger in Neverwinter, and the ranger class in Aion was fairly fun too, but neither of those are even remotely realistic.

      • Yeah finding a convenient place to practice is tricky. I’m pretty fortunate to be closer to a couple of places since I moved to a new apartment about a year or so ago. That’s cool you also got into archery! Thanks for the game recommendations. Sounds like realism is hard to find.

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