There is a really neat free to play third person action-RPG at the core of Warframe. Something that might have stuck with me for hundreds of hours in other circumstances. Almost everything was there; The mechanics were solid, the core gameplay was fun, there seemed to be enough customization/progression options and overall this grindy feel that came from the whole thing made me think this was going to be my next 'filler' game; A game that I'd play whenever I had free time with nothing else to do. Sadly, it all broke down after a while and the came couldn't keep me interested a single second more.

As a free to play game, I understand you need to make your money in some other ways, selling characters is one of them. However, you still need to let players choose a character for the beginning of their journey so you throw a few free choices out there. You can choose between three characters when you start Warframe, they probably have different stats, but the game does not surface that at all. You just see their skills - in a very descriptive fashion, with no numbers or anything. It's a bit tough to make a good choice when you start a game for the first time and have to pick something without even knowing what the game is about. Perhaps they could've given everyone the same starting default character and let people choose another free one after they've played for a bit?

Warframe at its core is a third person action RPG. You move around, jump (and even double-jump, jump on walls, etc.) fire guns, use melee attacks and special abilities, solve some light puzzles and try to kill enemies stealthily so they don't raise alarms. The gameplay is quite fluid, the core mechanics work well and I had no problems controlling my character. You can carry two ranged and one melee weapon and everything levels up. You can socket cards on your gear and you can put more and more cards as it levels up, and I like it. Things that level up is a cool mechanic and having almost all of your equipment being able to do so is cool.

There is a store where you can buy things, various weapon types ranging from shotguns to bows, there is also a forge where you can craft stuff, you can fuse cards together and feed cards to your cards to make them stronger, there are about two dozen different currencies you can get from tons of containers laying around and from enemies, there also are a great number of other classes you can buy and the world map is huge, filled with missions you can accept with special events and timed encounters, all of which is great in theory.

In practice, it's a huge mess. None of these systems work especially well and this was a big letdown for me. The store seems to only deal in premium currency items, with a very very limited number of things a player trying to just play along could buy; The crafting system works with blueprints and there are no indications of where you could find such items; The card fusing system was confusing for me because I never could say which card was worth fusing and which was better to be kept on hand; I couldn't figure out what to do with any of these currencies and I don't think I ever came close to unlock a new character, and the map is filled with boring repetitive missions with no direction to them.

The mission system is probably my biggest gripe with Warframe. The game starts with a storyline pitting you against some guy that did a thing, this is a tutorial of sorts for the game and it brings to to many different locations to do various objectives. After a while, you kill the guy and finish that section of the game... And then nothing happens. You are completely left to your own devices. And this is what killed it for me. There is no progression, no clear path of what you should do. No quest log telling me that after doing X, Y and Z I will get a cool thing. Instead, you have to go do these missions where you have to defend something/kill things/take control points/stealthily do a thing, ad nauseatum. There might be another story beat coming up, or a cool thing that I could grind for - if I knew where - but just leaving me with this content and hoping I create my own fun isn't really working out.

That's why I quit Warframe so quickly. I really loved the core gameplay and the mechanics on its periphery seemed neat, but when I got dropped into the vastness of their design space, with no clear goal and no clear objective - in-game or not - I just decided to leave this one alone.

AuthorJérémie Tessier
Categories3/5, Action RPG