Warframe PC review | PCGamesN

Warframe PC review

Warframe is an oddity; but a popular one. It’s a third-person action shooter set inside spaceships. A free-to-play co-op romp where you shoot grimy alien things, and earn XP and credits to be spent on upgrades between missions. Think of it as an early free-to-play prototype of Bungie’s forthcoming Destiny: a cross between Borderlands and World of Tanks set on spaceships. Where everyone wears shark fins as faces.

It works... kind of. Works enough to send it to the top 10 on Steam’s most played list during it’s open beta period. But not enough to hold my attention beyond the first few hours.

You play as a sword wielding space ninja thing: you’re given simple objectives to storm a space-ship and cause havoc. You’re accompanied by three friends, or three matchmade internet humans. You carry three weapons: a rifle, a pistol and hammer or sword for melee. The missions aren’t particularly varied: kill a boss, or kill many baddies, rescue and escort a prisoner... the kind of objective that can be easily scripted and presented, and completed in around 15 minutes.

They’re enjoyable. If you choose to solo the missions, you’ll be left bored. There’s just not enough variety in the way enemies choose to attack to make them interesting. But with four people romping through the cavernous fighting spaces, you’ll quickly discover that it’s quite fun. You can blitz through enemies at a fairly furious pace, and rattle through the rooms without pausing. It’s not perfect: the melee actions are clumsy, and the weapon noises don’t have the right kind of heft, but stuff falls over in a shower of experience points and that’s basically enough.

There’s a nod to fast-paced action games like Devil May Cry with the hint of some more complicated movement options. You can occasionally flip of the edges of balconies and boxes, and wall-run, all though in practice, I only used the occasional jump and heavy downward slash to do area damage.

Warframe’s powered by Unreal Engine 3, and Epic’s tech is doing what it does best* the Evolution engine, and it works creating atmospheric rooms lit by glowing computer screens and plasma bolts. It’s rendering an unusual art-style: while the rooms and ships you fight in could be transplanted from any space-horror game you’ve played; think Doom 3 or Dead Space, the characters and enemies are more organic than robot. They’re bulbous and grotesque, and split apart with a pleasing spray of gore and flesh.

But there’s plenty wrong with Warframe.

First of all, the level design is a disaster. When you’re fighting, Warframe is fun. But a good half of your time in the missions is spent trying to work out where the exit or door to the next room is. This is a disaster for the game’s pacing: when four players are trying this, it’s often a case of herding cats. Annoyingly, the level designers have seen fit to hide passages behind breakable materials (you can occasionally break through into an air-vent, for instance). It’s not helped by players being able to lay down a waypoint by hitting a key: that waypoint then overwrites the game’s automatic waypointing. Nor is it helped by the game’s lack of visual variety: there’s only so many chrome and metal space engine rooms you can work through before you start to lose any sense of direction.

What Warframe desperately needs is a glowing line on the floor that shows the most direct route to the next objective; if players want to deviate and explore, they can. This is not an idle problem: I think that most of my frustration with Warframe comes from the amount of time I spent trying to find the next door.

It doesn’t help that the AI enemies aren’t much fun to fight. There’s no cover-system mechanic, even if the enemies make a half-arsed attempt to hide behind boxes. There’s no really interesting behaviour patterns from the baddies, and they don’t shoot at you with interesting weapons. At best, they’re just bullet sponges. At worst, they’re nippy and annoying flying things, or melee zombie cat/dog things. Melee zombie cat/dog things that are foiled by your player standing on a high crate, or running around a box in a circle.

The game’s structure is relatively clever. There’s a star-map which unlocks new paths as you complete missions. Missions can then be repeated for more rewards. The system for improvement is neatly circular: materials and blueprints earned during the missions can be used to craft upgrades; albeit on a time delay. As you use the weapons, they level up, and as they level up, they gain points that can be spent on modifications. Those modifications are themselves earned through play, and can be combined through a process called ‘fusion’. Your warframe also levels independently, growing in statistical power, and can be modded. Lastly, your character can advance in ‘ranks’. To progress, you’ll need to enter an arena mini-game where you fight increasing waves of enemies. It’s presented as a test: and if you fail, you have to re-apply 24 hours later.

This is the stupidest mechanic I’ve seen in videogames in forever.

It feels dirty in that horrible free-to-play way: like the developers are attempting to weaponise their monetisation. And it’s not the only example: Warframe will throw gifts and bonuses at you to begin with, and encourages you to log in daily with a bonus lottery. I was surprised by just how much content is locked off from free players: many of the weapons are only available to purchase; they can’t be earned through the crafting system. There’s also no way to trial them ahead of purchase.

 It is efficient: presumably thanks to the well-optimised Unreal 3 tech. On my PC (an i5 2500k, 8Gb RAM,  2 Gig Radeon 6900) it ran flawlessly on the highest detail settings at 1920x1080. For those that get motion sickness during play, Warframe includes an FOV slider (note that it doesn’t include the numerical values that show your true FOV).

It loads quickly: you can be playing in less than ten seconds, but most importantly, in two days of play, I didn’t once lose connection. Impressive, for a beta. Downloads and patching is handled either through Steam, or via a separate installer available on the Warframe site. You can buy items either via credit or debit card, or via the Steam Wallet.

What strikes me about Warframe is how it could be really fun. The design is close to how I imagine Bungie’s Destiny could and should be. But the level design let’s it down dramatically. I think it’s a great concept: I like the idea of an afternoon adventure: a half-hour romp through an abandoned spaceship. But it doesn’t follow through on its promise - you’re just as likely to spend your time lost and bored as you are to spend it rampaging through enemies.

Warframe is out now.


*Apologies: I'd believed the game was running in Unreal. It isn't. My mistake. 

Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
VinsanityV22 avatarstanman avatarcorbae avatarFreelanceZero avatar
corbae Avatar
3 Years ago

love the new update but it sounds like this "reviewer" hasn't really played the game. Just little things that he said it seems like he might have played for about 15 minutes and talked to a few people then wrote a really bad bad bad misleading review.

"But a good half of your time in the missions is spent trying to work out where the exit or door to the next room is.""What Warframe desperately needs is a glowing line on the floor that shows the most direct route to the next objective";"you’re just as likely to spend your time lost and bored as you are to spend it rampaging through enemies." You spent half of the 15 minutes you played lost? Seriously you were lost for half the time? How would you get lost? You do know there is a map that tells you where to go? It is very simple and take like 5 minutes to get used to. I think you are lying and/or stupid.

"If you choose to solo the missions, you’ll be left bored." First what is a solo mission? The quest lines? They are not boring, I think maybe you are. I really do not think you have played warframe for more the a couple minutes. 5/10? Seriously? So you are saying the best fps f2p game ever released is shit. With a great dev team lots of updates. Gorgeous visuals, the artist at de are incredible. A very deep loot system. I think you should get a new job or at least review titles that you would have a chance at liking. Obviously no matter how good this game was you wouldn't have liked it. Stick to what you know.

VinsanityV22 Avatar
5 Years ago

I applaud DE for a) not abandoning the original idea for Dark Sector, and b) churning out a game that generates levels, theoretically keeping the game fresh forever. But man; procedural generation is boring if all it can pump out are "Kill x numbers of baddies" missions. And also, it seems to be lacking enemy types and character types... although that can change with time. If DE properly supports this, it can easily become something better than it is today. But for now, I'm going to pass. Even though it's free.

stanman Avatar
4 Years ago

For a 60$ console game Warframe would be a bit expensive (without regarding that its still in BETA) but for a Free2Play and not Pay2Win game this is a F**king triple AAA --> 10/10 game!!!!!!!! Cant believe the score of 5/10 eventhough it has been a months since then. The Devs have made great progess since the start of the open Beta and the game gets more and more interesting. Have played about 90+ hours now without spending money on it and its still far from getting boring for me...

FreelanceZero Avatar
FreelanceZero(45 days 18 hours played)
2 Years ago

A few things to point out, minus a lot of salt of the previous reviews, and given that this review is past two years of age (At the time of writing)...

"...the melee actions are clumsy, and the weapon noises don’t have the right kind of heft..."

Considering most games don't even have a melee system that come close to this, I'll trade 'clumsy' for 'nonexistant.' It's an option; nobody said you had to use melee weapons, as you could easily blaze a trail with a gun or two. Speaking of that, gun sounds also vary with weapons themselves; pick up a Hek shotgun, or an Opticor LASER CANNON, and you won't be complaining about heft. They have a satisfying sound to go with a satisfying expectation of the gun.

TL;DR, opinions and selections will MAKE your game.

"First of all, the level design is a disaster."

It's the minimaps that have issues, not necessarily the level design. I agree the minimap at times have become absolutely infuriating, sometimes even redirecting me to a totally wrong location. Once you play long enough (2 days at max, per tileset) you'll know the ins and outs of the tileset and won't need to rely on the darned minimap as much. Rinse and repeat.

TL;DR, the minimap needs work but the maps themselves are fine.

"There’s just not enough variety in the way enemies choose to attack to make them interesting."

For a F2P game, it has more enemy types than most Triple-A titles. Grineer Guardsmen on Ceres can deflect shots from their front, turning a small enemy force into a bigger problem. Corpus Nullifiers deny you your (in)famous Tenno abilities, forcing you into using your wits or some other brute power to bypass or eliminate the problem. And these are only two unit types amongst dozens of others, and in varying amounts of each could make for either another simple encounter or an unexpected situation with no single 'right' solution. While the Corpus are in desperate need of new unit types to boost their diversity, it's a problem the Grineer largely doesn't share.

TL;DR, go compare Warframe's enemy diversity with other Triple-A games. It might surprise you.

"I was surprised by just how much content is locked off from free players."

...And that is where you lost most of your credit with me. This shows that you have not even tried to poke around the Dojo system, much less the Void. A good half of the possible weapons are researched and procured from Dojos, or the Clan Hall for a lack of better description (It utilizes the same tileset system the maps are built on, albeit player-managed). Before anyone starts, this is an excellent way to entice players to actually join a clan and socialize in a game where public games follow in the order of "join squad, play mission, leave squad." The Void is something else entirely; while it may not be satisfying to use a random number system for its dropped parts, the Void grants you access to the most powerful weapons in the game by collecting its components and forging it yourself. You can't even buy these weapons off the market, unless you trade for all the parts with fellow players.

TL;DR, you can unlock almost everything without spending a penny; just lots of hard, honest work and waiting for the fruits of your labor to come out of construction (Literally. Patience is a virtue here).

I do acknowledge the sheer age of this review, and that a lot is simple opinion. And with all due honesty many veterans of the game admit that it has evolved since then. Perhaps you should consider doing the following if you choose to ever revisit the game:

1) Play with fellow players. Solo play becomes mind-numbingly boring fairly quickly, and this is coming from a primarily solo player.

2) Play at least once in each of these areas: Earth. Phobos. Europa. Ceres. Eris. Void Towers.

3) Actually pay some attention to your surroundings, and don't hesitate to look up information or ASK for it. A lot of the information in Warframe simply isn't handed down to you on a silver platter like most games today. While frustrating to figure out on your lonesome, making some friends can ease your transition into becoming a regular. It gives a new meaning to "strength in numbers."

4) Play with your loadouts. Use a warframe you might not think of, or a weapon that usually doesn't suit to your usual needs. Tinker with your mods, maybe try a max-critical or max-status chance build for raw power or to set smucks on fire, respectively. Your loadout dictates your gaming style, and the generous amounts of options gives you lots of room to experiment.

I doubt the reviewer will actually pay attention to this review, but for newbies seeking to try this game and reading this mess, take into account one thing, above everything I've said here: Patience is rewarding. Most of the time, anyways.