This week on Why Aren’t You Playing I’m looking at a game that brings you more than a bang for less than your buck. Just out of BETA is Digital Extremes Warframe, a third person Co-op shooter that seamlessly blends melee combat with tight accurate shooting mechanics, but perhaps best of all this game is free to play via digital download from warframe.com. So if you’re broke from Bioshock: Infinite and fancy some co-operative killing on the side Warframe’s got you covered.
You are a member of Tenno, an ancient faction of warriors who have awoken from centuries of cryo sleep to find yourself at the centre of a war between the Grineer, a race of militarised humans and the Corpus a pro-corporation of humans that use ancient, powerful technology to control all trading within the galaxy. There is some lore here that can be invested in outside the game itself, mainly though it’s an excuse for you and your buddies to tear across the universe wiping out waves of enemies as you go.
Being third person the camera is angled behind the shoulder and does a fantastic job at capturing the action and your fully customisable Tenno warrior. The Warframe armour in which you inhabit is the games selling point, this armour gives you heightened reflexes in that you can run up walls and multi jump but isn’t a key feature in gameplay, however still a nice addition to the style gurus amongst us. You resemble a certain Sci-Fi cyborg ninja who shall not be named but it isn’t just in character design that games influences are evident. The slick menu interface wouldn’t go a miss in the Halo universe environments, weaponry and certain enemies could easily pass for Mass Effect props and even some very dubious MGS style gekkos make an appearance. In a generation that has been criticised for openly borrowing from multiple developers Warframe surprisingly makes use of influences as they are all strictly aesthetic leaving gameplay unique enough to feel like a new experience.
Gameplay itself sees you take on waves of enemies within a specific mission objective played out among multiple game types. There is a multitude of weaponry both ranged and melee to unlock, build or purchase via a microtransaction system. As you blast your way through one of the several beautiful but limited maps enemies will drop goodies like credits, weapon blue prints, parts and health regens. Credits can be used to purchase a multitude of weapons all of which cost a small fortune but can be obtained quicker by using real cash. As microtransactions become more and more familiar with the gaming industry it seems like a necessary evil in the free to play market. Should you wish to keep Warframe strictly free to play however it is more than enjoyable without paying a penny. To stop paying players from overtaking others an XP system is used to lock the better weapons forcing players to be skilful enough to handle the elite gear. This levelling system isn’t as deep as other shooters systems like Borderlands but serves as another component in the already impressive customisation suite. All in all there is a lot to invest in outside core gameplay in Warframe and for a free to play venture it makes a good impression on the market.
Shooting has weight and feels both accurate and satisfying. As rounds smash into your foe number damages slip out of your target helping you to feel your shots register. From sniper rifles to dual pistols there is a wealth of options that anyone from marks men to demo experts can all take full advantage of. The most interesting area of combat however is the melee that makes use of sword staff’s and things of this nature. You can’t exactly run around every mission without firing a shot but melee offers an alternative dynamic to combat and can be very useful when surrounded by enemies and when combined with the athletic ability of the Warframe suits. There is fun to be had playing the game solo but by all means was intended to be played cooperatively by four players and this is where the game thrives. There are seven game modes available, Alert missions are only playable for a limited time (20-50 minutes) and are definitely the most challenging, with multiple objectives should you manage to complete these missions expect to be rewarded handsomely also enemies drop rate of rare loot is increased. Capture missions send you fighting your way through hordes of enemies while trying to reach a VIP target within an enemy ship. Once you reach the target expect a boss like gun battle in order to incapacitate, dematerialise and take back for interrogation, then it’s time to battle your way back to the extraction point. Raid missions send you in to complete several smaller objectives scattered across the map such as hacking in which a mini game is to be completed or collecting specific items to be returned to the extraction point, all whilst having to deal heavy enemy resistance. Hostage missions task players with finding and releasing an NPC ally from a jail cell within enemy territory. Sabotage missions sees players trying to destroy a ships core reactor once complete the ships stability begins to decline and a timer is started, players then must battle their way to the extraction before the timer runs out. Defence mission’s tasks players to defend cryo pods for two minutes against increasingly difficult waves of enemies. After successfully defending a cryo pod players must find a terminal hack it and then defend the next cryo pod all until the timer runs out. Finally is the aptly named Extermination, players must wipe out all enemy units within one of the games larger maps. An enemy count is visible on the HUD and the mini-map lets players know whether a room has been cleared or not.
All in all Warframe is a unique cooperative shooter with great gunplay and interesting melee combat, with a wealth of game play variants and customisation options all wrapped up in a beautiful Sci-Fi setting. With it all being free to play makes Warframe more than worthy of your time as that is all it asks, so check the system requirements here then head over to warframe.com to begin your all out war. Happy hunting!