Three Years ago Warframe was released on PS4 and there have been 18 expansion updates that added new elements to the game since then. There’s a lot to get through so let’s get to it. Digital Extremes studios develop Warframe, the team behind classics like Bioshock and Unreal Tournament. Though it was Dark Sector that Warframe is arguably the spiritual successor to. Technical limitations meant it would be five years before their full vision would be realised in this ‘Free to Play’ online multiplayer shooter.
You play as a Tenno, the ancestors of the ancient yet technologically advanced Orokin Empire that has long since vanished. The Void is all that remains of them as their technology still protect the towers in that sector. The Tenno are cryogenically frozen warriors that use exosuits known as Warframes to bring order to a Universe in the grip of war and chaos. You awaken from your cryostasis slumber to an on-going battle between several factions. The Corpus that use robotics and laser technology in their campaign for domination. A clone army called the Grineer that specialise in genetic tampering and high explosives. In the Old War against the Sentients the Orokin released a horrific biological weapon. The result created the terrifying creatures known only as the Infestation. Twisted grotesques of anything it comes into contact with, organic or machine. Possibly due to your Orokin ancestry Warframes are the only thing that is immune to the virus.
A brief tutorial allows you to pick one of three starter Warframes and a choice of primary, secondary and melee weapons. In retrospect these are easily some of the most powerful base Warframes the game has to offer. The weapons less so but they cater to clearly different play styles; a bow or a rapid fire gun, A pistol or throwing knives, a bo staff or a sword. Add to that you have the versatility of an incredibly fluid and responsive parkour system and you’re a frickin’ space ninja! Yet, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface, as you will find yourself on your own personal space ship. Through a series of campaign missions you will unlock new features. The forge is where you will use components collected in missions to build weapons, armour upgrades and even consumables that give you your own personal army. A mod facility that allows you to enhance upgrades that buff your weapons, armour, companion and Archwing.
Your companion is a choice of a Kubrow, a genetically engineered bat-dog creature that’s a Tenno’s best friend or a Sentinel, which is a small floating machine of death. The Wyrm sentinel has a hidden secret, if you go to its’ appearance and press L1 button you will find yourself in a shoot ‘em up mini-game. This is just on example of hidden extras you will discover purely by accident. Others include being able to hack Corpus Walker spawn cabinets to get a Walker as an ally. Environments are so well crafted that on certain space vessels a stray shot can cause the glass to shatter and your immediately plunged into a vacuum. The cold of space even drains your shield until you hack a console to activate shutters that seal off the breach.
The Archwing is a mech-suit like something out of Gundam with a huge sword and even more ridiculous sized gun. However, it’s more than just an additional mode, it’s directly incorporated into the game. You’re never quite sure if you are going to end up in one during a mission. The destroyed vessels on the space missions are massive and there’s a real sense of the vastness of Universe. As you fly through the wreckage at top speed, which takes some practice, it’s like that moment in Star Wars when the Millennium Falcon speeds through the Death Star. That’s not all as the Archwing also serves as a submersible for underwater espionage, which is just a beautifully crafted.
The amount of content is quite simply staggering and it doesn’t just feel like filler. You have a plethora of Warframes with drastically different abilities geared toward different play styles. Some of these have objectively better Prime versions. Simply by playing the game you can collect all Warframes including the Primes. To construct them you need Blueprints and all Bosses drop Warframe blueprint parts guaranteed. Not only that but beating a boss unlocks 1 of 16 locations comprising of all 8 Planets, 4 Dwarf Planets and 2 Moons all within the Sol System. Additionally there’s the Derelict, unlocked by constructing keys using blueprints in the market. There’s also the Void where you garner the most rare blueprints including Prime parts. You can join or construct your own Clan Dojo where you can research and trade advanced gear.
Of course as it’s a free to play game it follows the same kind of model that we are more used to on ‘freemium’ apps. You can buy ‘platinum’ using real money to access things immediately and speed up timers. However, for those with the aptitude for grinding there are ways to get everything. Don’t let the idea of grinding put you off, as it’s more a pleasure than a chore. There are spy missions where you need to apply stealth instead of just kill everything. Finding routes through ventilation systems and using high wires is a nice change of pace. No matter how easy a level starts, the longer you stay, the harder it gets, as enemies scale according to your ability. You can acquire death marks from killing bosses and work for syndicates. This attracts unwanted attention from other rival factions who send assassins to invade any match at random just to keep things interesting. There is a reuse of maps but they have multiple randomised pathways over a huge area. The fast paced parkour gameplay makes it feel like a virtual playground as you leap great distances and speed across the landscape to your next destination.
Warframe: The Second Dream is everything Destiny wishes it were. There are the occasional glitches and some match making issues but nothing that distracts from the thematic environments and immersive gameplay. DLC is in the form of blueprints you can purchase using in-game currency, not real money. There’s simply no reason you shouldn’t at least try this game yourself as it absolutely free. So do yourself a favour and download it today, like, right now!
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