Sunday, April 21, 2013

warframe: first look

Out of boredom and the need to release stress (because virtual computer games is my only known way of stress relief), I've been trying out several of the free to play games on Steam currently. In the past few week, I have battled on the vast plains of Auraxia (Planetside 2), engaged in numerous space battles in my trusty fighter (Star Conflict) and sail the seas in search of wealth and fame (Uncharted Waters Online). And just yesterday, out of pure randomness during a chat with Joshua, I've decided to try out the latest free to play game available on Steam, Warframe.


to be honest, i would love to try out titles like starcraft 2 and bioshock infinite, but since I am a student... 


From my first few hours of experience in the game, I can say that the game has some quite unique gameplay style and features that make it enjoyable and stands out from the majority of the MMOs out there. However, there's still some improvements that they can implement to make the whole gameplay experience better. But in general the whole game itself is quite addictive and fun.

You take on the role of the Teeno in the game, a group of warriors who are skilled in both gun fights and the melee weapon mastery, and your role is to clear the Solar System of the evil factions that have laid siege to it. Fighting takes place in a instance or dungeon like setting, where you need to choose a map to "liberate" it and then unlocking the next map so you can progress. The entire Solar System is divided by planets and moons with numerous dungeons under one planet with different enemies and terrains that you will be battling on. So the entire the game is like progressing through the maps one by one until you liberate the entire Solar System.


each planet (or system) has its own boss that you must defeat and different maps with different objectives


Like I said earlier, the gameplay of Warframe is quite unique in how they combine third person shooter play style with elements of hack and slash game like Devil May Cry. It kinda reminds me of Mass Effect though, in that in addition to your guns, you can get to use different type of abilities in combat depending on your job or class, which is called Warframe in this game. Each Warframe has it's own different set of abilities (limited to only 4 and preset to the keys 1, 2, 3 and 4 on your keyboard) that will change the essence of the game depending on how you use it.


le aim down the sight third person shooter style


What's interesting however, is that in addition to that, there's also the melee fighting option that you can use to battle enemies if you're the person who prefers close quarter combat rather than shooting from afar. There's a whole array of melee weapons you can choose from, ranging from katanas to hammers and even some electric gloves, and how you unleash them in the battlefield is entirely up to you. Which is quite awesome because when the animation of the enemies being sliced into half when you deliver a killing blow with your katana is quite fun to watch.


that's me failing to hit my target with my sword


On top of that, I think the most attractive part of the game is the amount of customization that you can do on your character. While the skills come preset, no one Teeno in the game is the same that I can say. Because as you play the game and explore the different maps, you'll get to unlock special customization options called mods, which are like power up cards that give special effects to both yourself and your equipment, for example adding a percentage to your health or giving electrical attacks to your sword. Depending on whether you want to be a tank or a damage dealer, the mods are there to help you.

And did I mention that they even have bows as a weapon choice too?


for people who hate to go in guns blazing


Another reason why I liked the game is because of it's lack of PVP elements or rather the non-existence of it (as of now). The entire game itself is built on PVE elements, meaning that all your battles are basically done with you fighting enemies with up to 4 person per team in a fight. Something like Left for Dead. Of course you can choose to go solo if you hate having other people disturbing you (you can adjust the settings). But from my experience, having 4 people in your team helps to cut down time tremendously during missions (after all you have 4 guns) as compared to doing it solo. Besides, the ammo drop from this game is not sufficient to last you through an entire map so there's a high chance of you running out of ammo halfway through the map and have to resort to slashing people instead.

However, one thing that I do notice about the game is the stealth element of it. You can choose to go stealth if you want to, choosing to avoid enemies and just focusing on fulfilling the quest objectives instead and the game have features like the enemy running towards a console to trigger a ship wide alert once they see you. And there's an option of stealth attack using your katana from behind the enemy, which I have not had the chance to try out yet because the general tendency is to shoot first and just rush all the way.


example I found on google which I never got to try out


However, while the game is quite exhilarating and fun to play, with it being a free and massively multiplayer game does have its downside. For starters, there's a heavy emphasis on using cash to make gameplay more enjoyable. Take the Warframes for example. While there are around 10+ Warframes to choose from, you are only given the choice to access 3 at the start of the game, which kinda takes the fun out of it when everyone's running around with almost the same Warframe. You can immediately unlock other Warframes using cash, that is for sure but should you choose to go the non-cash way, it is a long and hard journey. Let me explain why.

You see, to be able to acquire Warframes on your own, you need to build it manually yourself. And do build it manually yourself, you need to have a blueprint (which you can buy in the market for about the prize of 25-35 games) which specifies the components you need. That's okay with me but in the blueprint of the Warframe itself  you need other blueprints to complete it. For example an Ember Warframe blueprint requires a helmet, chasis and systems as its component. However, to be able to obtain the helmet, you must first have the helmet blueprint which specifies which components you need to build to helmet. So not just only you have to buy Warframe helmet from the market, you have to farm for its components blueprints and blueprints materials too for you to be able to build the Warframe.

And the funniest part is not even the blueprint-ception that they have, but rather the amount of time you need to unlock the Warframe. You see, rather than getting the components instantaneously once you have to the required materials, you have to BUILD it. And building takes time. To build the Ember helmet takes 12 hours while the construction of the Warframe itself takes 3 days. And that is not even accounting for the farming time for the materials and blueprints. It's ridiculous the amount of effort and energy needed if you want to unlock the Warframe without using cash. And whereas if you use cash, you can just obtain the Warframe instantaneously without even having to gather anything.


and that's not taking into account the manufacturing cost too


Other than that, I also find the social system a bit lacking. To chat in game is hilariously difficult, the chat screen comes out at a weird corner and instead of "Enter" you need to press "T" to chat and adding people as friend is a whole load of work, in that you cannot add someone straight away during a battle (if there is the system is really not newbie friendly) in that you cannot press "Tab", right click a person and just add friend. You have to wait until you're in the main menu, hit up the contact tab and input the player's name manually to be able to add him as friend. In fact, the whole chat in the main menu is constantly minimized too and I find it a hassle that I must always maximize it every time I finish a game to see what people are talking about. I don't know about you but I think an essential part of MMOs are their chatboxes and if it's not really prominent in that you cannot always see it, it kinda takes the MMO feeling away.

Last but not least, some of the keys of Warframe also kinda conflicts with what I usually experience for shooter games. This might purely be me but for interaction (use), the default key is "X", melee attack is "E", switching weapons is "F" while the numbers 1 to 4 is for your abilities. I don't know how many number of times have I ended up doing something stupid because I messed up the keys function, for example using my skills that I was saving up for the boss when I wanted to switch weapons (pressing 2 instead of F to switch to pistol) or slashing the elevator controls when I wanted to press it. I understand about the abilities one but it really takes some getting used to and can get frustrating sometimes.


arghh why did I used my ultimate skill on a minion when all i was planning to do was to switch to my pistol and finish him off?


But nevertheless, Warframe is a game worth playing. While it has some hiccups here and there, it's quite easy to overlook them as the game in general is quite awesome. It offers a quite new perspective into the MMO genre with its shooting and melee combination and the entire battle fields and maps are quite intricately designed too. There's a high amount of detail that goes into the different locations (some quite scenic) and the developers also gave a lot of thought into the background story too, which is the underlying theme that unites the whole game. Besides, it's quite fun too to be able to build your Warframe in a way that is uniquely yours. 


how scenic can


A 7 out of 10, I would rate

Pros: Unique gameplay, high amount of customization
Cons: Overly emphasis on cash, some minor faults in social and default key bindings


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