It’s incredible how much there is to Warframe. Not only for a free-to-play game, but for any game. The sky really is the limit for your abilities, acrobatics, character design, modifications, ship décor, clan dojo, companions, and more. Everything is customizable.
You play as a Tenno, descendants of a lost warrior race and the only beings capable of piloting the Warframes — basically biomechanical suits of armor, each with its own unique abilities. You don’t know much about this mysterious race, but answers come in time as a reward to those who persevere.
You then choose one of three Warframes and are taken through the basics of how to move and fight. After that, you’re ushered out into the solar system, whether you’re ready or not. In all likelihood, you’re not.
The start of the story is fairly straightforward: there are four groups battling across the solar system and you undertake missions to deal with each. There’s a nice variety of missions: defense, survival, rescue, assassination, and a whole bunch more — there are 20 types of missions in total.
It sounds like a lot, but after you’ve sunk a decent number of hours into the game, you start to feel like you’re playing the same situations repetitively. And this is one of the major criticisms about Warframe.
Although there are only four groups, there are also six syndicates whom you can ally with that will give you more missions to undertake. Each syndicate has its own exclusive rewards that you’ll want to hunt after, but you can’t be buddy-buddy with all of them. Some are allies and some are enemies, so you’ve got to be careful about who you decide to help.
Weapons of mass destruction
It doesn’t take long to get your first Warframe and weapons to the max level of 30. But once you do that, you’re still not going to be very powerful. There is so much more you need to know that the tutorial doesn’t adequately explain. The game is too in-depth, and you’ll soon find yourself on YouTube and the game’s wiki trying to work out what to do.
This search will lead you to finding out about mods. Mods are essentially your build and they’re how you make aspects of your Warframes more powerful. Do you want more ability power and energy to create stronger, longer lasting firestorms, or would you prefer more health and armor to be an un-killable titan?
And that’s just the Warframes. You can do the same thing to your companion and to each of your three weapons – primary, secondary, and melee. There are so many ways you can customize each Warframe and weapon that it can be too overwhelming. Many players bow out at this point, not wanting to go through the effort.
If you want to progress further in the game, the story, and your power level, you need to invest the time into working out how mods work and how you can become powerful enough to deal with the rising toughness of your enemies.
Alternatively, you can get help from other Tenno. Warframe does a really good job of getting players to play together — up to four in a squad. As you browse the star chart (where you select missions), you’ll see other groups that are busy engaging missions you want to do. With one click, you can join them. Or, if you leave your party open, while you’re doing missions people will join you.
Another way to get help is by joining an active clan with players willing to lend a hand — of which there are many. The Warframe community is truly something special. If you just put yourself out there, help will come. And the help can be invaluable.
Plus, you’ll get to watch powered-up Warframes lay waste to enemies beyond your capabilities. The Warframes in full flight are something to behold. Their abilities are visually stunning, and they feel impactful and powerful. It will leave you in awe and make you want to improve to that point.
The thing about Warframe that always grabs people’s attention is the acrobatic parkour movement. It looks impressive and it’s incredibly fun once you get the hang of it. Without even taking the actual fighting into consideration, this element alone is more entertaining than many games. And it’s not that tough to master.
A weapon for every occasion
There are a ton of different guns and melee weapons that make up your arsenal and it takes a long time before you get tired of experimenting with them. Some guns fire bolts that pin enemies to walls, some shred them with blades, while others are precise and make a satisfying thud when you land critical shots. There’s a gun that fires a wall of light, another that fires self-imploding gravity fields, and another that shoots turrets that shoots bullets at your enemies. They’re wonderfully varied.
Your choices for melee weapons are as varied as the guns, and they feel very satisfying and impactful. You can wield swords, staves, axes, hammers, whips, claws, glaives, and probably a few more beyond that. As you wade into combat with your weapons of choice, you’ll watch your enemies being slashed, bashed and carved up as you strike them.
Here’s the tough part, though: you need to go out and find blueprints for each Warframe and weapon. And then you need to craft them. The game doesn’t really explain to you where to find these things or how to get the resources you need to complete them. So, once again, you’ll head to the wiki for answers. Thankfully, it’s incredibly detailed and well-maintained.
Spoiled for choice
Another problem — but this is much more of a “good problem” — is that there are a lot of Warframes. It can be overwhelming trying to decide which one to go for and then committing to powering it up. But they all have the potential to become weapons of mass destruction: it’s all about how you build them.
Once you’ve invested in a Warframe, you’ll then happily lose hours to the incredibly detailed visual customization options. You can change the headpieces; equip different flairs on your shoulders, legs, chest, and back; change a whole array of colors on each individual part; and you can wear a cape — the style is your choice.
You can customize each of your weapons to the same level of detail. There’s another name for Warframe thanks to this incredible customization system — Fashion Frame.
Truly free to play
When you hear free-to-play, the first thing you want to know is just how free and what do people who pay get that I don’t? In terms of power levels and access to content: nothing.
This game is completely free and not pay-to-win. Paying will only get you access to things faster, like Warframes and weapons, but all you’re really doing is paying not to play the game.
The one thing you will have to pay for, just for convenience, is more slots to store Warframes and weapons. But you get a free batch of Platinum (the paid currency) when you first start the game. If you don’t waste it on other things, this will be more than enough for a long time.
Warframe is an amazingly well-looked after game. Digital Extremes are very responsive to their community — they engage on social media and fix bugs and issues in good time.
The depth of the game is immense and there is so much to do. But it can be a bit too grindy. As you strive for more power, missions become repetitive and progression begins to feel like a chore.
Also, the vast amount of research and planning that needs to be done may be off-putting, but if you enjoy the gameplay, this is probably going to be more fun than work.
I recommend sticking it out. Once your Warframe powers up to the endgame level, you’ll be able to enjoy new content whenever it is released. And there is a lot of new content for a free game.
You don’t need to play Warframe constantly, but it’s really, really fun to play in patches.