|Dev: Digital Extremes|
|Pub: Digital Extremes|
|Release: November 15, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood|
by Jenni Lada
I don't play shooters. Wait, scratch that. I do play shooters, but I usually play them the wrong way. I championed the super-easy-baby mode when I went through the Mass Effect series. I flailed my way to failure in Uncharted, which led to my never even touching the free PlayStation Plus copy of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. I suppose Saints Row IV counts, but I tend to rely on my puckish rogue superpowers to save the day there. This means that I don't normally look at any game involving guns that doesn't have automatic aiming or a turn-based battle system. But I not only looked at Warframe, I also went for it on the PS4. It's free, and there's really nothing else to play. Surprisingly, I found that it's a third-person shooter that's not only enjoyable, but also easy to play.
Warframe is set in a war-ravaged future. The Grineer have a stranglehold on the solar system, and are moving to take control of every planet. The Corpus are trying to get every bit of Orkin technology. Both groups are filled with despicable people. Fortunately, the players aren't one of them. They're Tenno, ninja-like warriors who went into cryopods during the Orkin era and have just re-awoken. They're known for their strength and upstanding morals, and they prove it by going to war with the other two factions to make the galaxy a safer place.
But don't worry about Warframe's story. It doesn't matter too much. What does matter is that players who pick this up are now soldiers, armed with one of three starter Warframes, a pistol, a Long Gun, a melee weapon, and three special abilities. The Excalibur, Loki, and Mag Warframes are immediately available, with each having a different specialty. Excalibur is a well-rounded warrior, recommended for beginners. Loki focuses on stealth. Mag is good at handling large groups of enemies. Since the Warframe first picked is one players will have to stick with for a while, it's best to think before making a decision. I didn't; I went with Loki because he looked cool and had an awesome name. I'm more of a run-in-and-attack-everything kind of girl, so now I have to learn to be stealthy because I didn't think things through. It's my own fault.
I must say that I would have appreciated a little more guidance in Warframe. To start, my tutorial had a bug. While I was learning what it meant to be a Tenno, the game got stuck. I was told to shoot a Grineer, pick up the ammo it would drop, and then reload. I defeated it easily, and ran to grab the ammo, but for some reason, my character wouldn't pick it up. I tried running back and forth over it; I emptied my clip in case I didn't have room for it, and I even did an interpretive dance over the ammo. (It was lovely.) My character wasn't cooperating, and the tutorial wouldn't advance. So, I skipped over it and decided to go on without it.
Fortunately, I didn't miss much by doing so. It's easy to acclimate to Warframe's missions, even if the player isn't particularly knowledgeable about cooperative, third-person shooters. My sole experience with the genre is Mass Effect, but I felt quite comfortable after a few rounds. Players go around a map, using guns and melee attacks to defeat any Grineer. To make it even more simple--if the figure in your sights has a red health bar, shoot it, stab it, or use one of your Warframe's three special abilities to take it out. You keep this up while exploring the map and listening for guidance from the Lotus. She'll tell you what your objective is, if you're getting close, when your team's completed its mission, and when it's time to pull out.
Actually, Warframe has something else in common with Mass Effect 3, specifically the multiplayer. While players do have access to a melee weapon--a sword--it's best if you don't rely too heavily on it. I found the melee combat to be a bit inaccurate. The camera didn't feel right, though it worked fine when I relied on my guns, and it seemed like the momentum from sword attacks would push me past a Grineer, leaving me susceptible to a back attack. This didn't dissuade me from attempted stabby-fun-times, but it certainly made me much more cautious.
An extra hand would have been appreciated during Warframe's missions as well. Since I'm not super familiar with third-person shooters, I felt like it would be best for everyone if I followed my teammates, assuming they would know where they were going. Sometimes they did, other times they didn't. An indicator will appear on screen when you are near an objective, but otherwise, you get nothing. I missed extraction numerous times because I couldn't remember where I came in when a mission began, and would lose track of my comrades. (They, of course, somehow knew where to go. I was taunted by this knowledge, because Warframe made a point of saying they were waiting for me.)
Still, as frustrating as the sword and extraction issues are, they don’t distract much from general Warframe mission enjoyment. There are ten different objectives, which means people aren't constantly repeating the same routine. To be exact, there are assassination, capture, deception, defense, extermination, mobile defense, sabotage, rescue, spy, and survival missions. These take place on different planets in our solar system, and while each one does eventually come down to shoot/stab any Grineer in red, the varying goals are appreciated. I especially enjoyed the assassination missions, since it involved special bosses, but I also liked hunting down enemies during extermination missions.