By: Jeff Cater
Warframe is a free-to-play, third-person shooter that has uprooted from its PC nativity to find a comfortable summer home on the PlayStation 4. Players assume the role of ancient, recently awakened cyber ninjas called the Tenno, and your task is to fight the various forces threatening your galaxy. Developed and published by Digital Extremes (of Unreal Tournament fame!!!), Warframe is one of the sharper edges in PlayStation 4s armory.
Being a port from PC might make one think that the controls are overly simplified, but having played both versions it’s safe to say that Warframe transferred beautifully in this respect. The thumb sticks control movement and your view direction, while triggers aim and fire weapons, respectively. Crouching and rolling is bound to L1, which, when in the heat of battle, isn’t the instinctive button to mash when you need to get out of dodge.
Each Tenno can also defend themselves against most ranged attacks by deflecting shots with their melee weapons — this is curiously bound to “up” on the d-pad, which makes movement advancement while deflecting bullets an exercise in hand gymnastics. The touchpad on the Dualshock 4 is also used in the game to activate your Tenno’s chosen powers; four can be selected and a swipe in the corresponding direction on the touch screen activates them. It’s definitely weird at first, but not as clumsy as the ducking/rolling mechanic. There are a few different controller layouts, though none that address the clumsiness of ducking and blocking.
Warframe looks pretty. It’s not the most technically impressive or taxing title, but where there is an area lacking it is made up for in another facet of the visuals. While some of the textures are inexplicably blurry at times, the animation sets are well done and vary from weapon to weapon and Tenno to Tenno, which creates a smooth and visceral feel to the action. The special effects are also very well done. The energy of your suits and weapons glow softly against the environment, the lighting is vivid but not overbearing, and overall the effects just fit. The aesthetic of the game varies depending on which part of the solar system you’re in, so you’re in for a change of scenery quite often.
Aside from some thumpy techno escalations, there’s not much in the ways of music. Characters important to the story have full voice acting ,which I personally found to be surprisingly well done. During each mission your objectives are also constantly being relayed and read out aloud, which never became annoying or overbearing, but instead was rather essential when receiving instruction in the throes of combat.
Immediately upon playing Warframe one can tell that it is built to be a cooperative experience, though a careful and talented Tenno can solo all but the hardest missions. Once you’ve selected your Tenno after the tutorial, you start to make your way through the solar system fighting a race of jerks called the Grineer. There Is a wide mission variety included in Warframe, from simple extermination/assassination missions to tower defense-like survival missions and thrilling rescues.
As mentioned, it is designed as a co-op experience, and to get the most fun out of Warframe you’re going to want to convince your friends to download a BADASS FREE-TO-PLAY NINJA GAME, which really shouldn’t be hard to do. Combining the powers and various tactics of the Tenno creates unlimited strategic potential. Unfortunately, matching up with randoms can cause severe lag spikes that make the game utterly confusing (mini-map showing positions of teammates while they actually aren’t there and other similar issues).
Warframe also features in-game purchases in the form of weapons or even whole war frames to use. While the term “pay2win” comes to mind, describing Warframe as such is inaccurate; each weapon and war frame can be either unlocked through experience gained or by buying blueprints and assembling them over time. This is actually pretty fun because the action of grinding for resources does not feel at all like a chore; probably because grinding for resources in this game generally means dicing enemies into pulp, so there’s that.
Some of the different Tenno available are just too damn cool and tempting, so Platinum (Warframe‘s currency) is easily purchased from either the in-game market or through the PlayStation Store. War frames are all customizable with different armor pieces and color schemes available to suit your needs.
It has swords, cyber ninjas, thrilling co-op and, on top of that, its free, so there’s literally no excuse to skip over Warframe. Digital Extremes shows us that they’ve still got it, and if Warframe is any indication on what is to come from these guys, gamers are in for some treats this console generation. Now hurry, go spend nothing and play some Warframe!