Thursday, March 27, 2014

Warframe (Playstation 4, 2013)

Looking at another free-to-play PS4 game. Lots of people say this is the best game on the system so far. Given the lack of competition, it might well be.

Normally I'd lead with the title screen in a lot of these things, but in this case the title screen is INCREDIBLY CREEPY. Where is his face? Dammit, WHERE IS HIS FACE?

The short answer is that this game is about ninjas in space. The various levels are on different space stations orbitting planets and moons in our solar system, where you must control your space-ninja in battles with nefarious alien villains.

The level map is huge and expansive. Most of the levels are locked until you attain higher levels; the only immediately accessible levels are around Mercury and Venus.

The game in action. It isn't that far above a PS3 game graphically, and resembles Mass Effect 3 more than a little bit. Difference is that this is pure action and there's very little command-issuing.

You run around and engage in squad-based combat. Most of the combat is via range-weapons. The numbers that pop up tell you how much damage you do, RPG-style.

As far as I can tell the enemies are all CPU-controlled, so this isn't PVP so much as a bunch of people going through a game together.

Cipher puzzles frequently pop up when you try to open sealed doors, and you only have a few seconds to sync up all the lines. The first few times this happened I failed at it and let other people take over, but then I got the hang of it.

The missions tend to be over pretty quick (maybe 5-10 minutes each) so this is a good game in bite-sized doses. I don't usually play online multiplayer games, but I might give this one more of a go in the future.

There are also melee weapons in the game; you can carry two range weapons an one melee weapon at any given time. For the most part, these cybernetic space ninjas use katanas. There are also battle axes and all kinds of other weapons to be found/bought, though. Tons and tons of options. It's pretty impressive.

Not sure how much of this game is locked behind microtransactions, though. At least at the beginning, I have yet to encounter any needed microtransactions. There are a ton of them in the various menus, though. I hope it isn't a game where at some point you hit a wall in needed items to progress and have to either grind for a while or pay $1 to just buy them and proceed. This game is, admittedly, a mystery to me at this point.

Here's a swing of the katana. Bad-ass! While the graphics are very clear, I feel like the game isn't that visually impressive due to the relatively dim lighting.

The end of a stage is denoted by these creepy doors that you and your three cohorts have to all step into. It's like I've suddenly walked into a Terminator factory or something.

Now this place is interesting. Puke green is a very underutilized color in our next-gen games so far.

Time for the first boss, as my squad and I face off against CAPTAIN VOR. He's here somewhere behind all the electrical explosions.

There's his ultra-nefarious face. He spends the entire fight teleporting around and trash-talking, and he killed each of us about ten times. Good thing we could revive each other. We were basically chain-reviving just to stay ahead of the murder spree of the boss.

Microtransaction Alert: It looks like you can revive yourself three times in a stage (if no one else revives you in time), but after that you have to pay for more revives. I can see this becoming an issue later on, but maybe not. At this stage, as difficult as this fight was, I never needed to self-revive even once.

With the first set of stages and the first boss trumped, it's time for the next set of stages. Out of many, many, many more. This game is LONG, and it's surprising that it's free. The microtransactions are likely a necessary evil to support the game being free, but hopefully they aren't a requirement for beating the game.

Took a quick look at the next stage layout, and... looks like more of the same. All of the areas so far have been claustrophobic and resembled the infamous Phazon Mines from Metroid Prime. It may handle a lot like Mass Effect, but this game lacks the open areas of those games.

A quick look at the weapon shop. There are -SO MANY- weapons in this game. I'm really hoping for a laser weapon, but as far as I can tell all of these are ballistic projectile-firing weapons. Not sure why so many modern futuristic games have such a fear of lasers. It's like no one wants to step on Halo's toes or something.

So, the verdict on this game? I...really have no idea. Played it for a good hour and I still can't tell whether the game is as good as people say or not. I certainly had fun with it, and it looks pretty deep, but it also started to get redundant before that hour was even up. You're running through stages, opening doors, taking out enemies, finding the goal. The stage themes are few and the result is a lot of recurring environments. Even if there are hundreds of stages, it loses a lot of luster when many of those stages are repeats of each other. So it looks like a good game, and it's a blast to play... but it also seems unnecessarily padded and redundant in a way. And the microtransaction lists in the various menus are definitely a source of worry.


  1. Played this a lot at the end of the year. You can get to the end without making use of microtransactions. Well, as much of an end as the game has, because it's still kind of in beta. There isn't really a normal endgame. Give it a shot, it's a lot of fun.

    This looks fun indeed, particularly with multiplayer. Cool that the missions are a team effort.

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