Warframe keeps “Free to Play” fun without being “Pay to Win”

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By: Gary March 4, 2014


MMO (Massive Multi-Player Online) style games have been around for quite some time now. At it’s peak World of Warcraft (WoW) had nearly 8 million subscribers and all of which played on PC. WoW required a monthly subscription to play and many new MMO’s are moving to a “Free to Play” model. Warframe is a fairly new MMO style game that is Free to Play. While there is no monthly subscription to pay you can purchase in game items with real world dollars. However, everything that can be purchased with actual cash can be found or created in the game. Your first Warframe is free but, building a Warframe (or character) requires the player to earn 3 separate schematics through boss battles and missions, then obtain the blueprints for that Warframe. All of the items needed are seemingly given out at as random rewards. It may take 30 or so playthroughs of a level to get the item(s) you need to build the Warframe. The Warframe then takes 72 hours (not counting how long it took to build the other 3 parts) to build. The other option you have is just to get your credit card handy and purchase the Warframe you want for around $15. You can also purchase alternate helmets, skins, and color schemes for your Warframe for added customization. As a player you gain experience and rank up, allowing you access to more powerful weapons and Warframes. Each Weapon and Warframe has a gains experience similarly to how the player does allowing for increased stats and use of modifiers for various bonuses. Use of Levels and Experience requires the player to actually play the game and prevents the game from being Pay to Win.

Warframe is sort of a sequel to Digital Extreme’s 2008 Video Game Dark Sector. If you have played Dark Sector, you’ll recognize words like the “Glave” and “Tenno”. If you haven’t played Dark Sector, the nods are so subtle you wont miss anything. In my experience of playing with other people online, no one seemed to be aware of the connection. The structure of each mission revolves around you as a player teaming up with up to 3 other human controlled characters (via online play) thorough randomly generated levels to accomplish a preestablished goal. The mission types range from Survival (which plays more like a hoard mode), Exterminate (kill x number of enemies), and Sabotage (find something and destroy it) to Assassinate (Fight a Boss) and Spy (hacking computer terminals). This game is PvE or Player Verses Environment as opposed to PvP or Player Verses Player. The “Environment” of this game is one of several of the warring factions of computer controlled enemies. There are around a dozen different planets/planetoids, all taking place in our Solar System, with from 7-20+ levels on each. The game does an excellent job spreading out objectives and balancing difficulties to make sure that you 100th hour is just as interesting and fun as the 1st.

The game plays similarly to most 3rd person shooters with focus on melee attacks and acrobatics. As a player you take the role of a “Tenno” and use a powerful suit of Armor called a Warframe. The faction of Tenno are humans (you never see a character without a suit) and as told by Lotus (the current Tenno Leader) are the “Good Guys”. As a Tenno you make use of all sorts of weapons like assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, bows, swords, claws, etc. throughout each mission. The combat in the game can be fast paced at times and requires you to be sharp and quick on your feet. Your character is extremely nimble, capable of flipping and running along walls which comes in handy when you get surrounded  by enemies. Each of the  18 (as of update #12) Warframes have many different stats and abilities so that no two frames will play the same way. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses making it impossible to declare one Warframe “the best”.

Released in March of 2013 on PC it made its way to PlayStation 4 in time for the console’s launch. I have been playing on PS4 for several months now and the game has done an excellent job of keeping my interest while not forcing me to constantly pay to have fun. The online community is very active and welcoming to new players. For a PC port the game runs extremely well on PS4 and plays perfectly with the console’s controller. The game’s developers are very good at keeping constant updates for the game adding new weapons, levels, and Warframes every few months. If you like 3rd person shooters, MMO games, have a PS4 or gaming PC and are looking for something to play I’d recommend giving Warframe a try.

Warframe is rated “M” and is available for download now from the PlayStation Store (PS4 only) or via Steam on PC.