A long time ago I made a bet with several of my friends. You see during the glory days of MMOs, you know when free to play was a possibility and not an inevitability, my friends would jump from one MMO to the next as the new releases tantalized them. However, in their rush to get onto a new MMO game they would inevitably try and conscript me. Since I was significantly more cagey and cynical I made them a bet: If they kept playing any MMO beyond six months I would join them. As a result I watched and laughed as they bought lifetime passes, collector’s editions and other such nonsense as each of them dropped like flies. I honestly thought Guild Wars 2 might have been the breaker but they skirted right by it, at long last as jaded about the prospect as I was.
And then, finally, one of them made good.
So now I’m playing Warframe.
Ninjas… from space!
Warframe is part of the current generation of MMOs who are now trying to vary their gameplay so they don’t appear as a traditional MMO (read WOW clone). It is also part of a group known as the Open Beta MMO meaning that the game is still in development and at any time they can add major changes to the game.
But the cash shop is open.
So what is Warframe about? Well a lot of the story is still behind closed doors (the developers’ doors) but you play a creature known as a Tenno. You’ve been asleep for a significant period of time (presumably in the century category) and you awaken one day. You’re contacted an individual known as the Lotus, a female figure we know little about who guides you through most of your quests which are mostly mercenary missions.
Yeah, we all think she’s going to screw us over at some point.
As a Tenno you wear an exo suit known as a warframe that gives you up to four powers at a given time and only four for that warframe. In addition there are about twenty to thirty weapons available at launch but more can be unlocked or found in the game.
The bulk of the game’s internal mechanics is that of mods. Unlike a conventional MMO where you would find newer and better weapons, Warframe has you building a basic weapon, levelling it over time and as time passes adding mods to the weapon that increase and vary damage as well as abilities.
Mods can be applied to your Warframe as well.
As such what the cash shop does is give you access to weapons and warframes without having to go find the parts in the game to build them or save up your money. There was a founder’s pack that gave you content you couldn’t get without purchasing it but it’s long gone now. As of this writing the only content that you can buy with platinum that you can’t through credits and effort are vanity items like different paints and visual add-ons.
The only other thing you can buy that you can’t earn are weapon and warframe slots. As such the really limiting thing is the lack of inventory options. I would like it if there was an option to earn a certain amount of platinum offered at each level up (as it is you can max your character’s level at rank 14.5 or so) So eventually everyone pays up. Conversely for about twenty bucks you can buy most, if not all the slots you’ll ever need if you buy on the right day. So there’s that.
I’ve gotten into long arguments about if the cash shop being open in Beta is a good thing. Several of my friends have pointed out that the company needs to make some kind of money and I point out that the game might as well just stop saying it’s in Beta.
I enjoy that the gameplay doesn’t suck. Rather it is incredibly enjoyable. In Warframe you can run, jump, wall run and flip as you like to avoid enemy fire. Each mission has a maximum of four players at a time and you have various missions with different rewards all across the solar system.
As such it plays differently from a normal MMO and there’s a massive focus on speed combat. It gives the sensation that even if you are in a disadvantageous situation you can still evade the damage. Because you can pick any Warframe you want it feels like you have a wide option of choices at any time for any situation which is more option then I’m used to hearing about in an MMO.
The only problem is, and it’s a big one, is that Warframe is not a game you should play alone. Rather you should play with four friends and make sure that one of you reads the wiki a lot so you know what you’re doing. You can advance and unlock new levels over time but if you have a friend who’s already unlocked them he or she can invite you in. Running with people you randomly meet isn’t as much fun since you’ll want to chat and co-ordinate assaults when things start getting dicey.
Plus with the latest update some content was moved so that you can only acquire it if you are in a guild so it’s advisable to join or start one of those up if you can. Again though, that’s going back to the whole requirement of playing with friends.
So is Warframe worth it? Well I’ve had fun but I know I’m going to hit a point where I’ll stop playing for a bit and go nutter off on something else. For now though it’s a fun way to spend an evening with my friends and the gameplay is enjoyable enough that I don’t mind not getting the treasure I want at the end of the mission so take that as you will.
So too does this work exist.