8.5 Overall Score
Great graphics, fast gameplay, interesting and relatively unique storyline (space ninjas!)
Content isn’t particularly challenging and mobs feel generally very similar, getting materials is kinda boring
We checked out the fast paced third person space shooter Warframe this week. Whilst we’re obviously well aware of the game, aware of the updates and news that circulate it, we’ve not actively put the time aside to really play through the game in any depth. The last time we played was when we did our original first look two years ago, and checking back on that original video and how the gameplay looks now, it’s clear there have been a lot of improvements.
Firstly the game simply looks better, presumably more from their end than ours, though we always thought it looked pretty good back then; the special effects that come from some of the Tenno warframes (essentially the different classes) are a work of art, particularly the likes of Volt and the chain lightning attacks. Whilst we did put a lot more hours into our play through this time round, the biggest improvements and impressions were how the early game content has changed.
The intro is now completely different, the opening tutorial really expands the story of the game, is considerably longer and lets you play as one of three Warframes; we chose Volt (although when we got into the game our starting Warframe was Excalibur for some reason). The tutorial/started quest is a lot more involved, requires players to use a lot more types of tactics and mechanics, and results in players getting a ship that they escape in.
The initial quest line focuses on trying to rebuild your ship, with the main PVE story quest portion of the game really having a lot more depth to it such as having a mission to rescue a Tenno sympathiser who is also a Black Market trader. After this he becomes a contact and can send you on other missions to help gather components to rebuild your ship, which in turn unlocks new features such as crafting, modding, PVP, etc. and was a pretty interesting way of doing things. One of the things we thought was pretty cool (and a reoccurring event from last year) was the ability to purchase elaborate moustaches as cosmetic items from the store, which look completely ridiculous on your otherwise cool helmeted warrior, with proceeds going towards the real world “Movember” where people try to grow moustaches throughout November to raise money for men’s health.
What we particularly like is that even the story–arc quests are shared co-op content and can be accomplished with other players who need them as well. Unlike our experience two years ago, we never got a full group and either the population is lacking or there’s just not as many new players joining when we initially played.
Lack of players wasn’t really an issue for any of our co-op quests (some of the non-quest chain missions we did get a full team), the early game content is pretty easy and the difficulty level ramps up quite slowly and isn’t overly taxing. This is probably one of the bigger disappointments at this stage; whilst we’re sure the game does get more difficult at the higher levels, it did start to feel like a bit of a slog fighting through the same types of Grineer over and over, due to this it simply wasn’t that fun sometimes.
“Co-op” typically resulted in players going their own way or running off and just killing everything en route to the objectives, which is fine, but there’s no real strategy needed to overcome particularly difficult opponents that really require other players; the closest we came across being needing two players to activate a terminal in two locations. It was good to get a summary at the end to see which of the players had the most kills, deaths, accuracy, damage, etc. just to see how great you are (we were pretty great). It does however feel quite antisocial and there’s no need to try and communicate really, there’s an in game voice chat that no one seems to use, and with the content being relatively easy it was a long silent slog for the most part. The highlight for us was towards the end of a level where we had to do a double jump over a big gap that dropped us to our death, and we had to wait for our teammate as he died about ten times trying to do it whilst we just used the /boast emote over and over to add insult to injury. Thankfully you instantly respawn where you die, which is good because there’s so many areas where you don’t know they are deadly until you go into them, also if you get to the end then you start a countdown for finishing the game and can still complete even if your ally doesn’t make it.
The combat is very very fast, with the camera angle and the blur distance, the double jumps, high mouse sensitivity and relatively similar colour palette on everything, as often as not we would get lost with what we were attacking when we started getting acrobatic. This was even worse in PVP, trying out the Annihilation (Deathmath), and Team Annihilation, neither of which we found particularly fun at low levels especially when we were generally teamed up in imbalanced teams where one team had more players than the other. Cephalon Capture was more fun, a capture the flag style mode, though the lack of indicators on the map and joining in the middle of a game made it really hard to work out what exactly what was happening, one of the things that did make us “wtf?” was in the middle of a game the match paused, informed us it was switching to a new server or some such, then after about 15 seconds carried on the game. Weird.
Warframe is good, it’s quick and easy fun, if you are playing with friends or a clan against the higher level content then we imagine it’s pretty good with the random dungeon/mission spawns, but at early game on your own it does feel like a bit of a grind. There is a constant roller coast of “Oh cool” peaks and “meh” low, such things as the camera distance blur when you are aiming at something far away then the things closer to you go out of focus, and vice versa if you are aiming at things closer, it was a very cool cinematic effect that we thought was really well done. However, then there were things like the sheer number of chests that you could destroy in a level to get items and resources, normally we like hunting down everything (such as in RPGs where no part of a map is left uncovered), but with Warframe there were just so many that very early on we really couldn’t be bother attacking them and would just run past, which meant we were missing out on resources needed to grind crafting. After playing for a good few hours we finished at a point where it’s hard to say whether we were on the cusp of the game ramping up a little bit, or about ready to enter grind mode for the rest of the game.
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