This article is a continuation from Part 1, which gives a primer on what Warframe is. For Part 1, click here.
How does it play?
Warframe’s core gameplay is smooth, fast, fluid, but very repetitive. Blowing away enemies might be therapeutic, but very low drop chances for specific items can turn an experience frustrating very quickly. In addition, building new stuff is a double-edged sword: You’ll get a lot of cool gear really quickly, but will just as quickly discover that every piece of new gear takes between 12 and 72 hours of real time to build and takes up a precious inventory slot – New slots and time skips can be purchased for premium currency.
“But why would I want to swap out my favorite weapon for a new one?” Well, the game’s main progression mechanic is the “mastery” system, which awards points for every new piece of gear players level. Another double-edged sword, this system encourages players to experiment with new gear, but players may feel like they’re being punished for wanting to stick with a single item.
As a third double-edged sword, Warframe is a title that began as a very thinly funded game, a fact which is quite apparent in the content players will have access to. Beginning players will be hit the hardest with the game’s repetition and low mission variety, as the starter content was developed before the devs had access to much extra money. However, as players grow more accustomed to the game’s systems, they’ll begin to feel the world explode around them: Later planets and settings are grossly more interesting than starting layouts, later-game Warframes (While not objectively stronger – all frames are decently balanced) have cooler-looking abilities and more interesting playstyles, and campaign missions quickly shift from a series of “Go kill these enemies with a dialogue prompt” to full-blown cinematic adventures. I’d like this to change, but since the devs are obviously most committed to making new content that will appeal to those already playing, I don’t see them putting much more time into the beginner aspects anytime soon.
But why shouldn’t I play it?
For lack of a better word, Warframe is a perfect addiction machine. The long build times on items give you a reason to log in tomorrow, the major ‘login milestones’ (example: For logging in a total of 50 days, consecutive or not) will keep you coming back, timed “resource doublers” will force you to build your entire schedule around the game, and more.
There’s always something to do in Warframe, and a team of dedicated developers producing a steady stream of new content ensures that there’s always something new to look forward to as well. The grind is infinite, endless, and tremendously time-consuming, with new pieces of gear and high-level challenges promising fun just around the corner but never really delivering on that promise. And that’s intentional.
Every Warframe is a tool to get another item. Every gun is a tool to complete another milestone. Literally, every single time you level up a piece of gear, you’re advancing your mastery system to unlock new, cooler gear. And the most ironic thing about this is that Warframe has no endgame: Veteran players often complain that there’s actually nothing to do once you’ve completed every mission, leveled every piece of gear, and so on. For this reason, the endgame is known to the community as “FashionFrame” — Stuck with no content to complete, endgame players pour hours and hours into making themselves look as cool as possible.
Be careful. Warframe is a trap, a big load of progress towards a theoretical goal that, as noted by thousands of other dedicated players with thousands of hours in the game, doesn’t actually exist.
It looks really cool. It can be really fun. If you have the ability to play in moderation, do so. But moderation can all to quickly turn into dedication, and dedication into dependence. While certain monthly-subscription MMOs encourage players to play a certain number of hours per day to stretch out progression over more months and keep players paying longer, Warframe’s model depends on the players who play max hours every day. Those are the players who can’t wait for those 24-hour build times on their guns, who will spend money to use them now, more money on inventory slots to have more stuff at once, and even more to skip crafting items together through the store.
Download with cation. There’s a lot of things that can go very wrong very quickly.