Warframe: Closest We’ve Got To PC Destiny?

Warframe [official site] is a free-to-play third person online shooter/stabber, in which you customise and upgrade a sort of spiritual robo-guy and battle hordes of AI-controlled foes, usually with the help of other players, and always in the pursuit of more loot. Yes, much like Destiny, although Warframe was released some 18 months earlier. This is my first time with it, and I was curious as to its ongoing popularity.

“Just let me die,” he called forlornly, as he was swamped for the third consecutive time by a horde of silent, rectangular-helmeted evildoers. Hey buddy, I thought, I feel dirty for spending so much time jogging on this infinite loot wheel too, but it’s not that bad, is it?

Turns out my team-mate was bugged, stuck in place thanks to one of Warframe’s many physics glitches, and his dutiful squad’s constant attempts to resurrect him were confounding his plan to respawn elsewhere. This is Warframe in a nutshell: a game of huge ambition and some frankly eerie similarities to the mega-budget Destiny despite pre-dating it by over a year, but it can’t quite keep all its plates spinning.

So I let him die, like the hero I am. He respawned elsewhere, free once more to be showered in a dozen different varieties of loot. He seemed happy. Was I?

This fleeting moment of twisted humanity, almost a cinematic mercy kill, had engaged me more than any other aspect of Warframe. Sure, that’s the inherent beauty of online games for you: unexpected unison or enmity with strangers, working together to best or stretch the game. Yet it also speaks to how hollow Warframe is. I do not consider it ‘bad’, but simply hollow. Hollow is what many folk want, of course.

There are so many things to upgrade, and so many ways to do it. A titular Warframe, for instance, is the mech-shell your character inhabits, and you choose/buy which of several dozens types to use.

Then you choose cosmetic tweaks for it – helmets, arms, legs, chestpiece add-ons, regalia, cloaks, colours for each. Each of these has a price, which requires either completing/repeating tons of missions and/or trading the rewards gained from them, or choosing to stump up real cash to shortcut. On top of that you’ve got Mods, an enormous array of very specific upgrades, such as shield strength or movement speed or crit chance, and which are available in various strengths and rarities. On top of that, they can be crafted into more powerful forms, or have their polarities reversed to unlock new combinations or… Well, you take my point. And this is just the armour. The weapons have most of the same options and systems too, plus you can have a friendly combat drone which has its own upgrades and mods.

The rabbit hole is deep, and post-mission re-upping is extensive. This is the real game of Warframe, and the frantic shooty-stabby combat of its looping, austere missions is merely the conduit to doing more of it.

It’s as hollow as coin-collecting, yes, but similarly there’s a pleasure to it too. Building the character you want. Someone built for tricks and speed, for stealth and range, for tanking and firearms: it’s your call, rather than specific classes. Hell, simply painting my giant Anubis-bot Warframe in a colour scheme that vaguely resembles Ultra Magnus is a good time, even though it requires buying paint colours.

I can do the same with the exterior and interior of my ship too – the ship being essentially a crafting menu incarnate, but as a result it’s where I spend most of my time. I’d play Starship Home Improvement happily enough, but I’m not sure I’ll stick with the shooting game it’s wrapped around for long.

The combat itself has meat to it: there’s a constant and pleasurable choice between ranged and melee available, both suitably crunchy-feeling, and with MMO-style super-abilities in the mix too, but I’ve found the structure of the few dozen levels and the missions I’ve played tiresome. Sprawling mazes in frequently indistinguishable locations, chains of doors and static scenery, enemy hordes who do little more than rush-attack, tedious objectives such as kill every one of 93 foes or defend five pylons twice each.

Sure, there’s a variety of mission types, plus randos like Just Let Me Die enhance any experience, but there isn’t much flow to it. Destiny (I know the comparison is somewhat unfair given that Warframe is by far the earlier game, but the similarities are striking; whether coincidental, homage on Bungie’s part or the result of later Warframe updates I cannot say) is a no less looping experience, but it does fold escalation and visual drama into its non-patrol missions.

Warframe’s tasks so far have tended to be ‘go in, keep doing thing until it ends’, and I’m rarely left with a sense of triumph at the end. Granted, it’s only had a day and half of my time and no doubt stiffer challenges await, but trouble is it hasn’t thrown any thrilling situations at me during that time. Hence, I feel little pull to go back, beyond a dim nag to stick some better mods on my cyber-crossbow. Destiny’s lustre wore off too and I have no desire to ever return to that game, but at least it took a while before the inherent repetition was unavoidable.

I do like the weapons, I must say. Many different styles have been thrown into a tombola: throwing knives and dual pistols, machine guns and bow and arrows, Bōs and flaming cyber-gloves. In terms of selling a clear theme it’s all over the place, but in terms of picking the toys that you most get a kick out of, it’s definitely onto something.

I’m robo-Anubis with a poison mech-bow, a spiky staff and throwing knives, and that does tickle me. I wish I got to be that guy in a more interesting game, and one more willing to acknowledge the rich silly streak of the character and weapon designs. As for plotting and dialogue, well, Warframe makes me pine for Wizards On The Moon guff. Not that anyone’s playing Warframe for that stuff, but it’s a shame it has to be quite as turgid as it is.

Factor in a smattering of obvious bugs, be it Mr Let Me Die’s problem, a mission stuck forever on the loading screen or innumerable physics glitches that saw foes stuck in trees, enemy corpses thrown across the landscape or still standing after death, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that Warframe just doesn’t quite match up the high-gloss presentation. It’s not unattractive, and again some of the Warframe armour designs are pleasing, but muted, washed-out colours and too many differing styles blends it all into visual soup. I’m not 100% confident I could pick out Warframe from a gallery of sci-fi shooters 2012-2016.

As a free game, you can get some hours out of it but will almost certainly spend money if you want to achieve any meaningful upgrades without putting vast amount of time into repeating missions and selling loot gained from them on the in-game trade network. It’s Warframe’s right to make money of course, but trouble is that, if you want to maintain that sense of progression, you’re likely to keep spending cash, and psychologically that’s a trickier prospect than “I bought the whole game, let’s have fun.”

I feel that I’m going to suffer from “is that it?” buyer’s remorse most every time I choose to chuck some pounds at Warframe. Of course, some players are going to have friends and clans in here and thus be more inherently committed to long-term Warframing, and those who are willing and able to put huge amounts of time in every week will be be able to generate or trade sufficient in-game resources themselves, so please don’t take my response as universal. I do feel, though, that playing with randoms or semi-solo for only bursts of time rather than a long haul is likely to go the way it did for me.

There are two games in Warframe, the character designer and the combat missions, neither bad but neither wonderful, and most of all they don’t quite gel with each other. I enjoy hanging around designing my character until I run into cash-blocks and so decide to go into the field again, then I’m happy shooting cool guns and swinging my cool staff, but this wears thin from repetition and a lack of tangible escalation.

As with Destiny, playing with a regular group and learning to master high-end missions would make a world of difference, but crucially I’ve not felt the pull to do that, or a compelling reason beyond stat-chasing to stick with it for the long term. Warframe’s serviceable enough, but doesn’t have enough character to mask how brazen a hamster wheel it is.

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  1. Alec Meer says:

    Note: disagreeing with the piece is entirely welcome, especially when calmly elaborating why, but insults will not be tolerated and will be/have been deleted.

    Please also note that I lost interest in Destiny after a couple of weeks and frankly have zero interest in returning, so should not be deemed a 'fanboy', as a number of rather hostile Warframe community members did here before deletion. I made the comparison because I was genuinely surprised and struck by fundamental similarities between what both games are trying to do both at heart and in presentation, despite differences in execution. (Again, Warframe did it first, so all credit to DE there) Seeing red about the fact of the comparison does not prevent the similarities from existing, no matter how vociferously someone might try to shut down that particular discussion.

    Futhermore, any sense that this is an either/or scenario serves no purpose, and this piece was not written to encourage that. Specifically, Destiny is not on PC, and if someone who does not have a console wants an experience akin to it, the question I was interested in here is whether Warframe provides that or not. It is not a rejection of one game in favour of another, and nor do I have any interest in that kind of conversation.

    The additional question I was interested in was whether a couple of days of Waframe inspired me personally to keep playing for longer; the answer to that is no, it felt too grindy too soon for me, but this does not constitute an attack on those who felt otherwise. Different folks enjoy different types of progression systems.

    I am intrigued by several commenters' acknowledgments, including by some of the highly vitriolic now-deleted ones, that the early game does a poor job of showing off what Warframe grows into. It is good news that it improves, but I hope that the devs are able to ultimately make the first dozen+ hours more representative of this, because as it stands that is a significant issue with the game, and with persuading people to stick with it for the long-term. First impressions (especially for that long) matter enormously, especially in a free to play game that, unlike a paid one, can be simply dropped without guilt if it's not clicking.
  1. shinkshank says:

    Second Dream has permanently and irreversibly ruined the game for me. I don’t regret the 1000+ hours I’ve spent on it in the past, but I can comfortably state that unless they retcon the dramatic reveal of the Tenno’s true nature, I cannot face the game again. The gameplay was really fun, it was a fantastic podcast game, but now the fantasy has been shattered and the universe has been completely ruined in my eyes, and this greatly saddens me.

    • Monggerel says:

      O You who turn the wheel and look to windward,
      Consider Tenno,
      Who was once handsome and tall as You.

    • SlowerCat says:

      I agree 100% with You. If someone would told me back in beta that Warframe will end up with cats wearing wizard outfits and characters from “Spy Kids” as pilots, I would probably murder him with my laugh.

      • oggnogg says:

        I like the wizard hat. It’s even essential because my fish-faced cat looks so ugly, I might need to farm for a prettier one. But seeing that hat-wearing creature dart around makes me happy. Also don’t forget there are shoes for the fore-legs, which are part of that armor.

      • Xiyng says:

        I put on my robe and wizard hat…

      • Anti-Skub says:

        I disagree 100% with you. Warframes unusual, almost bizarre lore and aesthetic are some of the best things about it, wizard cats, space kids and all.

  2. Blackcompany says:

    Warframe is a pretty good game. Some of the most fun, moment to moment, that have had in gaming. Movement, powers, weapon variety…it all combines to form an empowering space Ninja experience.

    Unfortunately, the business model to which this play is attached becomes more egregious and awful with every major update. Right now, the mid game is borderline pay to progress, and many in game rewards have been made so intentionally hard and obnoxious to obtain that people are paying to avoid the outright frustration of not doing so.

    Which is why I cannot in good conscience recommend the game despite far too many hours playing it, and the wonderful RPS clan present therein.

    If you decide to give it a go, look us up. I’ve tons of stuff to help shortcut the increasingly substantial grind. But be warned, balance isnt really something the devs grasp, with most difficulty coming from either Borderlands style damage sponges or straight up robbing players of control, and the business model is 110℅ built on frustrating people into paying for stuff.

    Which is a shame. Because the core mechanics of the game are stuck, polished and fun as hell.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Also want to add: this article is more than fair to the “two Warframes” that exist. Bravo.

      • Ryos says:

        Warframe 1: the action part
        Warframe 2: the number crunching crafty bit
        not that there is only excalibut and inaros.

    • zxcasdqwecat says:

      nha, it’s pretty much garbage:p

  3. Premium User Badge

    Kitty says:

    While I can’t say I necessarily agree that it’s a hollow game (or perhaps my interpretation of the words, anyway), it’s not a game for everyone. It has many flaws, like the terrible new player experience, but I find that despite it all it is one of my all-time favourite games, largely because of the huge amount of customization, the very satisfying gun- and swordplay, and the visual design of everything from the frames to the weapons to the enemy factions.

    • Premium User Badge

      Kitty says:

      That said, I suspect it’s partly because I’ve poured a fair bit of money into it over the last few years of playing it – so I’ve never felt that limited by funds or resources in general – but like others say, the business model is not particularly player-friendly – hardly the worst examples, as everything in the game sans a few cosmetics can be earned through grinding and/or trading with other players, but it’s definitely not the most generous either.

  4. brucethemoose says:

    Wow, this mirrors my thoughts exactly.

    I tried to like Warframe, I really did… I put many hours into it. But there was just no one thing that I found really compelling.

    The upgrade system was extensive, but just feels like a chore after a while. The procedurally generated levels are interesting until you’ve played them a few times, then they’re all exactly the same.

    And, most importantly, the combat just doesn’t “click” for me… The weapons and enemies are OK, but I just don’t feel any satisfaction/rush blowing off that mook’s square head, and I never felt any sense of cooperation with my random team mates. It feels dry, like WoW-style loot grinding even though it’s an FPS.

    I guess I just wanted to love it like I LOVE ME3 coop. Despite the face-meltingly bad matchmaking and loot grind, the combat is just so, so good… All the art/design comes together to make mook heads just pop off in such a satisfying way, and there’s this constant sense of urgency at higher difficulties that keeps you on your toes and with your random internet squad mates.

  5. int says:

    I wish it were a bit more open-world.

  6. MetalDinosaur says:

    You have a very in-depth review of only like, 2 hours worth of gameplay. However, and I’m sorry if this is offensive, but if you really think that 2 Warframes is the maximum a player can have, then you haven’t played long enough to write a review. You write a review that has barely breached the surface of what Warframe has to offer. You are in no way required to pay for anything.

    This is really a very brief review. Perhaps playing for 2 weeks instead of 2 hours, maybe interacting with the built in chats on your spaceship and asking questions to the community, will probably show what a game Warframe is opposed to a shallow introduction that any new player would feel.

    Opinion, away!

    • Blackcompany says:

      Way to White Knight.

      If a new player thinks two frames is a hard limit, and nothing in the game days otherwise…don’t you see how that’s a problem with the game, not the player? Not to mention, frames require slots, and those are not free.

      People are so quick to blame and insult new players for not playing long enough. Never considering that the game has failed to.offer th a compelling reason to keep going.

      These are the lessons the devs need to learn. Their new player experience is utterly horrible. Their business model shows no respect for player time or investment, resetting your gear to Rank Zero every time you improve it, forcing you back to lower tier missions just to re level your once maxed items.

      It’s a decent game with a greedy business model and poor new player experience, but hey, keep blaming players.

      • oggnogg says:

        “resetting your gear to Rank Zero every time you improve it”
        It resets it to a rank equal to your mastery level.
        So at current max mastery of 22 you have 44 mod capacity with a reactor/catalyst, plus any capacity from an aura mod.

        • Blackcompany says:

          No.

          It resets the gear to Rank 0. It still leaves you mod points, yes, but the level is Zero.

          This is especially ridiculous for Warframes, which lose unlocked powers and have to unlock them all over again.

          • oggnogg says:

            Yes, you’re correct. I should have phrased that more like, Resetting gear isn’t such a big deal anymore because you now can instantly put some mods on (assuming sufficient mastery). Also it takes maybe one or two hours to get to rank 20 or 30 again, while all abilities are unlocked at rank 10, albeit with reduced capabilities.

      • Anti-Skub says:

        First of all Alec didn’t claim there were only two Warframes so you’re both arguing over nothing, but your stance is so ridiculous it’s annoying, so for the sake of argument lets assume he did.

        He’s not a random new player, he’s a journalist reporting on the game.

        A new player might be confused by a game and yes you can blame the game for not explaining itself well, but if a game journalist is confused by a game and states something as a fact that isn’t true, that is entirely their fault.

        Whether the game is at fault or not is irrelevant. He should be checking what is true, finding that what the game initially led him to believe wasn’t accurate, then reporting that the game doesn’t communicate these facts well, because THAT is the flaw that the game has.

        If he just reports his initial assumptions as facts without bothering to check if he’s right, then that’s just poor journalism and he absolutely should be called out for it. Whether you like the game or not, he’d still be wrong.

        As I said, Alec never said this anyway, I just found it particularly annoying that you were ready to defend what would be a sloppy bit of reporting as “the games fault”. Like he shouldn’t be expected to have any background knowledge, or spend any time researching what he’s writing…it should just be whatever comes off the top of his head while he’s playing it, like one of those ridiculous unboxing reviews you get on Youtube where some moron tries to give you their opinion on an item they’ve never used before.

        • oggnogg says:

          I was actually trying *not* to argue, but correcting facts in the comment above me (not the review). Which I initially got wrong, my bad.

          ready to defend what would be a sloppy bit of reporting as “the games fault”
          That’s because Alec would be the first player of Warframe to not be confused by it! This game is far from perfect, but I like the many good parts (subjective, I know) despite the bad new player experience (known to the devs, every now and then improved, still not good enough), inconsistencies, and what not. And while I still complain about these issues I guess I should also be thankful, because it gives me the opportunity to explain things to new or less-invested players (I like sharing knowledge), help them find quick ways to do stuff (I like their gratefulness and showing off builds I stole from the internet) which otherwise they might grind to get to forever.

      • eLBlaise says:

        “Not to mention, frames require slots, and those are not free.”

        That is far and away my biggest gripe about Warframe, those damned slots! This isn’t a misers complaints either as I’ve purchased plat twice in my near 100 hours of gameplay. I simply detest having to spend it on slots for arguably the games primary selling point. I don’t mind spending it on weapon slots, color palettes (okay I mind a bit), crafting components or even frames but being made to buy frame slots feels a bit like larceny. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve a Frost to level.

    • Ryos says:

      The two warframes in that the game is split in two, the crafting market par tand the action shooter part.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I meant “two Warframes” as in “two different sides to the game”, not as in two in-game options for what Warframe you own. I have clarified the line in question in order to spare further confusion.

  7. C0llic says:

    Warframe. It’s pretty good for what it is. I stopped playing when I reached a point where running through the levels was getting boring, and the only reason I was still tempted to play was for more stuff. At that point I started to consider spending cash to get some of said stuff quicker.

    But would the game be that different if I did? I decided it wouldn’t so moved on. Better luck next time, free to play !

  8. Hyena Grin says:

    I’ve played.. oh wow, 810 hours of Warframe. Has it been that much? Goodness. I wasn’t in a ‘real’ clan but I did have friends I played with regularly, we built a dojo together, collectively we spent hundreds of dollars on prime packs, we watched the bi-monthly streams and told each other about upcoming frames and patch notes, etc – and it was GENUINELY fun, for a while. Finally I managed to collect every single warframe available and had many of the prime versions, and that was more or less the point where things started to grind to a halt.

    Each successive frame that was released seemed to have an increasingly miserable grind to unlock. Unlocking them relied on increasingly minute RNG nonsense. People are expected to do the exact same mission hundreds of times in some cases. It’s insane. I know that they’re trying to get people to spend money. It’s a business.

    Fine.

    But ultimately that mercenary approach drove me and my friends away. Playing the game was only genuinely fun if we were working on things, but the goalposts kept getting pushed further and further away for our schedules to allow for the possibility of achieving those goals. So the fun got sucked out of playing the game.

    We could’ve gone and bought frames, but what would we be buying them for? To play missions for basically no reason? To spend countless hours grinding for a different frame or prime parts that the developers increasingly didn’t want us to get for free?

    I dunno. It’s hard to complain about a game that I’ve spent so long playing, and liked enough to put real money into it, but at the same time the progression mechanics grew more and more hostile over time, and I stopped feeling like the kind of player they wanted to keep around. Even though I’d already spent more than I have on almost any other game I can think of, excluding monthly fee MMOs.

    I’m mostly just bummed about it.

    • oggnogg says:

      Unlocking them relied on increasingly minute RNG nonsense.
      I agree with that. So I’m happy to see that they attempted to remedy that a bit with Void 2.0 where you can use resources to improve drop chances.
      But it will take a bit to show if that just puts the too grindy parts somewhere else.

      • Hyena Grin says:

        Yeah. I mostly mean the new warframes. Grinding for prime stuff always felt like a side-thing, but unlocking new warframes created fresh new gameplay (new powers, etc), and as time went on they got harder and harder and harder to get, to the point where most people with anything at all else to do were unlikely to ever actually unlock them for free.

        It’s unfortunate, because honestly I felt like there was a good balance before – getting frames was a little grindy, but totally doable, and grinding gave you something to do. But there was so much content to unlock that spending money on the game made sense anyway. As soon as the grind got to be too much and working toward frames started to feel like a waste of time, we stopped buying things.

        Maybe we’re not their target demographic, I dunno. But it sucked.

  9. Monggerel says:

    A game is built hollow so you can sink more things into it. Time, mostly.

  10. oggnogg says:

    And for the record: there are currently 42 warframes, of which 13 are prime (shinier) versions of others.

  11. zxcasdqwecat says:

    Doesn’t really matter, to put it very simply the game has perfectly fine mechanics, simple shooting and moving lorded with stuff which doesn’t add anything to shooter part of the game. It pretends to roleplay because of random crap. Easiest way to explain it. Bad games are bad;l

  12. oggnogg says:

    I think this was a pretty good review by TotalBiscuit:
    link to youtube.com

    Maybe he gets a few minor things wrong and some stuff got changed already (because Warframe constantly changes, which also causes bugs, currently I think more than during most other times):
    But I found this to be quite fair, bugs are mentioned, some unfinished modes are described, and also reasons while you might or might not like the game. Worth watching IMHO.

    This is a game about acquiring gear, the review definitely got that right. Which is why I fell into a bit of a hole now that I got all but 4 parts. But then I remembered that I mostly just hunted for parts but haven’t played/tinkered with many of the Warframes. So the next goal will be to research builds and try to do fun things with them. Also wait for the release of the next warframe this month :)

  13. Ryos says:

    He didnt say there are two different playable warframes, he was saying how warframe the game has two distinct parts, the crafting and the action.

  14. Alec Meer says:

    I meant “two Warframes” as in “two different sides to the game”, not as in two in-game options for what Warframe you own. I have clarified the line in question in order to spare further confusion.

  15. Baines says:

    I wanted to like Warframe when I played it oh so long ago, but the developers’ disregard towards fixing a known networking issue (that happened to affect me) had already soured me on the experience. (The issue basically caused a sizable minority of the player base to be stuck with Strict NAT settings regardless of how they configured their ports or router, which meant those people themselves could only play with a fraction of the playerbase.))

    Then I realized how boring and easy one of the wave-based survival missions was. And finally I just snapped at failing one of the annoying license challenges, which you had to wait 24 hours to attempt again, and was something that bore zero reflection towards actually being able to play the game well. I just realized the game had the potential to be fun, but that it was only potential that had been squandered.

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    zigguratvertigo says:

    If the PC needs a console game, it’s The Last Of Us. It isn’t Destiny.

    • zxcasdqwecat says:

      You mean Shadow of the Colossus? But we both know what we need is a cowboy bebop game with zero fillers.

  17. datreus says:

    Unfortunately not the world’s best review but that’s a function of time and approach due to the flawed premise of the article.

    Thing is, Warframe has more to it than Destiny does, both in terms of gameplay depth and narrative content. It’s just that both of these are harder to get to and are not spoon fed up front.

    Warframe is a game that consciously chooses to eschew open exposition (you know, like having Peter Dinklage read out a small novel after a six week bender) in favour of allowing players to absorb information as they progress through the game. The rich background story is handed out in snippets here and there and unless you put effort in, will appear empty and tacked on. It’s the same approach taken by Dark Souls and like DS, you either love or hate it but that will be utterly subjective.

    Gameplay wise, Destiny sets out to be a simplistic shooter than anyone and their gran can pick up, with simple loot systems that trigger your World of Warcraft reward synapses. Warframe on the other hand has an extremely complex loot system on top of its more detailed combat – again though, this is subjective and optional. You can slap together pretty much anything and progress through most of the content, you only need to get out your spreadsheet if you want to run end game content.

    Two utterly different games that are most likely going to appeal to very different audiences.

    Destiny is the McDonalds option – intentionally simple, brightly coloured and the food is sugary and bland but likely to make you ill if you overdo it.

    Warframe is that Nepalese hole in the wall restaurant down the stairs behind the shopping centre – the menu is confusing and hard to read, the service is spectacular but you’re not sure if the waiter speaks English, and the food will either have you coming back every night or sending you on an explosive bog-trot.

  18. HisDudeness1101 says:

    I’ve been playing warframe just about since launch at this point, and I do agree with a lot of what you’re saying. However, a lot of the meat of the game is still left there for you to get to. Story content that’s actually pretty cool, fun boss fights, events, raids, and the ever evolving nature of warframe are what keep it interesting. Is it a perfect game? Hardly. But it’s not quite as hollow as you say.

    Like a few of the commentors have said, its not for everyone, but its free, its constantly updated, and its a fairly unique experience worth trying out with friends.

  19. ThatsNoMoon says:

    I think a combination of Warframe and Destiny would be amazing, microtransactions so they can keep additional content free, but only cosmetics can be bought, community events like Warframe’s, mission design of Destiny (or better, Halo), intense weapon variety of Warframe, weapon customizability from Warframe, but weapon progression from Destiny.

  20. lihimsidhe says:

    Alec Meer: Closest Thing to a Destiny Fanboy Reviewing Warframe?

    See when I load the opening salvo like that it kind of poisons the well don’t you think? I don’t know if that was your honest thought or some editor telling you that your header needs to be more controversial to stir up the pot. Even so some parts of your review were spot on and others… not so much.

    “The rabbit hole is deep, and post-mission re-upping is extensive. This is the real game of Warframe, and the frantic shooty-stabby combat of its looping, austere missions is merely the conduit to doing more of it.”

    I would say that the core loop and the re-upping go hand in hand. The only time I’ve experienced mobility like this in a game was Prototype. Movement in that game, and Warframe, was a reward in and of itself. Even most WF players I see don’t take advantage of the game’s extreme mobility and instead play it like they were displaced CoD/Destiny players oblivious of the tools at their disposal. Either that or jumping backwards of a building, John Woo style in slow motion, firing dual machine gun pistols landing acid-fire headshots on your enemies, then launching into a bullet jump to wall run to in air power use just isn’t your kind of fun.

    The missions are kind of austere I will admit that. And nosensical at times as well.

    “Not that anyone’s playing Warframe for that stuff, but it’s a shame it has to be quite as turgid as it is.”

    This is mostly spot on. However, there are some people that do play for the narrative and lore me being one of those players. However, the narrative delivery is as you said… turgid. Quests like the Second Dream really show what DE is capable of when they get serious with their narrative. Other than that I think turgid is the compromise to be made to be accessible to most. It’s often a caricature of itself and I don’t like it. I wish DE felt the freedom to be more high brow and serious with the story.

    “Warframe armour designs are pleasing, but muted, washed-out colours and too many differing styles blends it all into visual soup. I’m not 100% confident I could pick out Warframe from a gallery of sci-fi shooters 2012-2016.”

    The distinct visual style of Warframe is what drew me into this game. The first bait were the armor designs. Then videos of gameplay. I’m the type of player that takes screen shots of beautiful scenes in game. I do this as much with WF as I did with Dark Souls 3.

    “As a free game, you can get some hours out of it but will almost certainly spend money if you want to achieve any meaningful upgrades.”

    Absolutely false. For someone who spent only a day and a half with the game it’s not surprising you would think this. However, WF’s new user experience is damn near abysmal.

    tl;dr: anything can be obtained for free.

  21. Je-Tze says:

    The conversations about Warframe always seem to be dominated by–or at least emphatic of–the loot grind.

    It’s unfortunate because that’s really a secondary, added bit of engagement, with the option to minimally participate at that.

    The real, and persistent headline about Warframe really should be about how FUN, varied, and ecstatic the ACTUAL gameplay and mechanics are.

    • oggnogg says:

      Thank you, why didn’t I mention this? This is also a point TotalBiscuit makes in his re-review I linked to above: He argues that playing Warframe is the good kind of grinding because the repetitive actions which earn you progression are actually fun.

  22. SBGVaper says:

    Man, been a frequent lurker on the site and needed to comment on this one. This review while having some valid points, is incrediblly poorly done, sounds like you played through a few hours of content and wrote this. The games new user experience is fairly bad, but it sounds like you just plain needed to play more before writing this.

  23. tonicer says:

    What i have seen of Destiny (i can’t play it. No console for miles. Which is good.) it seems to be just a Borderlands-clone with even crappier shooting mechanics.

    Warframe on the other hand has awesome gameplay … just the progression system is crappy but aren’t progression systems in games always crappy? Yes, they are! You disagree? Okay think about it. Why do you play games with progression systems? To get that next gun? If the answer is yes then ask yourself if you would play the game if it didn’t had a progression system. If the answer to that question is no then the game isn’t probably a lot of fun.

    Progression in games is just an easy way to make people play a game more instead of making a really good game.

    Look at Quake 1/2/3, Unreal Tournament 1/2, CS:1.6/S or Battlefield 1942/2 for example. People play(ed) those game for endless amounts of hours without those games having any sort of progression.

    Modern games (especially console games) are just poorly designed, rushed and not fun enough to keep people playing them for more than a couple months.

    That’s where progression systems come into play.

    Same goes for achievements.

  24. Unsheep says:

    I like the fast-paced nature of the game, and there’s a nice variety of missions. You also don’t have to grind as much as in Destiny, or at least it feels quicker. In Destiny it’s quite a hassle to even get to missions at times, and everything takes longer.

    Between the two I definitely enjoyed Warframe more.

  25. Anti-Skub says:

    I’m 90% sure that the scenario you opened this with wasn’t someone bugged in terrain. He will have wanted you to let him die because his pet was dead.

    When you die you can use one of 4 revives that cost XP, it also revives any pet you have. People will often ask not to be revived to get their pet back if it was killed.

    I’m sure this was the case because dying and reviving wont unstick you. You don’t respawn somewhere else, you just stand back up where you were. If you let him die and he thanked you, it’s not because he was stuck.

    • Alec Meer says:

      he specifically said “I am stuck and want to respawn to see if it fixes it”, and then announced that it had worked.

  26. Alec Meer says:

    Note: disagreeing with the piece is entirely welcome, especially when calmly elaborating why, but insults will not be tolerated and will be/have been deleted.

    Please also note that I lost interest in Destiny after a couple of weeks and frankly have zero interest in returning, so should not be deemed a ‘fanboy’, as a number of rather hostile Warframe community members did here before deletion. I made the comparison because I was genuinely surprised and struck by fundamental similarities between what both games are trying to do both at heart and in presentation, despite differences in execution. (Again, Warframe did it first, so all credit to DE there) Seeing red about the fact of the comparison does not prevent the similarities from existing, no matter how vociferously someone might try to shut down that particular discussion.

    Futhermore, any sense that this is an either/or scenario serves no purpose, and this piece was not written to encourage that. Specifically, Destiny is not on PC, and if someone who does not have a console wants an experience akin to it, the question I was interested in here is whether Warframe provides that or not. It is not a rejection of one game in favour of another, and nor do I have any interest in that kind of conversation.

    The additional question I was interested in was whether a couple of days of Waframe inspired me personally to keep playing for longer; the answer to that is no, it felt too grindy too soon for me, but this does not constitute an attack on those who felt otherwise. Different folks enjoy different types of progression systems.

    I am intrigued by several commenters’ acknowledgments, including by some of the highly vitriolic now-deleted ones, that the early game does a poor job of showing off what Warframe grows into. It is good news that it improves, but I hope that the devs are able to ultimately make the first dozen+ hours more representative of this, because as it stands that is a significant issue with the game, and with persuading people to stick with it for the long-term. First impressions (especially for that long) matter enormously, especially in a free to play game that, unlike a paid one, can be simply dropped without guilt if it’s not clicking.

    • oggnogg says:

      During the last dev stream it was mentioned that Destiny influenced Warframe – though they didn’t get into specifics.

      The following is that part of the dev stream, starting with the community question “Could you please formulate […] a unified vision of what Warframe is intended to be?”

      Spoiler: “space ninja, shooter stuff” is about the closest they get.
      Some players like the result, some do not :)

    • lihimsidhe says:

      “Please also note that I lost interest in Destiny after a couple of weeks and have no interest in returning, so should not be deemed a ‘fanboy’, as a number of rather hostile Warframe community members did here before deletion, but made the comparison because I was genuinely struck by fundamental similarities between what both games are trying to do at heart, despite differences in execution. (Again, Warframe did it first, so all credit to DE there) “

      It stands to reason that you should spend weeks with Warframe then. If both games have the same strong fundamental concepts yet you spend under two days with one and weeks with the other that doesn’t seem exactly fair. You’re not obligated to uphold the Mantle of Fair Reviews but that would make sense yes?

      “After spending weeks playing both games….”, is a lot more solid of a foundation to stand on then where the review is at now. I’m not saying you have to like Warframe. Please like whatever you like and be honest about it. But spending days with one game and weeks with another while drawing direct comparisons isn’t kosher.

      “he early game does a poor job of showing off what Warframe grows into. It is good news that it improves, but I hope that the devs are able to ultimately make the first dozen+ hours more representative of this, because as it stands that is a significant issue with the game, and with persuading people to stick with it for the long-term. First impressions (especially for that long) matter enormously, especially in a free to play game that, unlike a paid one, can be simply dropped without guilt if it’s not clicking.”

      On this sir you are absolutely right. The new user experience should be their #1 priority. For example, DE is fooling themselves if they think the average person knows what to do when looking at the mod station for the first time. Or what syndicates are (I ran across them accidentally). Or how mods are multiplicative and not additive. The list goes on and on.

      So if you were to make a direct comparison between Warframe and Destinty new user experience would be the place to start. How is Destiny’s, “What am I supposed to do/where am I supposed to go”, factor vs Warframe’s?

      The first mission, Vor’s Prize, does a poor job of letting a player know what is going on with the game as a whole. While there it suspect that you didn’t give WF as much time as you did Destiny I’d say this is more DE’s fault than yours for providing such a poor user experience.

      When I started playing I was so in love with the mobility in the game I was willing to work through huge blocks of confusion. Then one day I was in chat obviously struggling to figure out what’s going on and I had a WF vet/clan leader take me under his wing and showed me the game’s ropes. When my friends started playing I did the same for them and received the feedback of, “If you didn’t do that, I would have stopped playing.”

      If you find the narrative to be turgid (which it absolutely is 9/10 times) then the new UX is threadbare. There just isn’t enough there to signal the different areas within the ocean of systems that is Warframe.

      • Alec Meer says:

        Please understand that it is simply not economically viable for any writer here (or on any other site) to play *any* game for two weeks+ before writing it up, unless done only in their spare time or with the intention of ongoing coverage. Had Warframe’s first 14-odd hours given me good reason to make either of those the case, it would have been a different story. 1-3 days of play is our norm before a write-up of anything.

        By contrast, I bought Destiny for ‘fun’ (though this intention was ultimately frustrated) rather than work and have never meaningfully written about it (RPS being a PC-only site). Had it been free, I would have stopped after a couple of days too. (And I’ll bet you 80p that most of its reviews were based on just a few of days of play anyway).

        • lihimsidhe says:

          “Please understand that it is simply not economically viable for any writer here (or on any other site) to play *any* game for two weeks+ before writing it up, unless done only in their spare time or with the intention of ongoing coverage.”

          Totally get it. I’m just saying that if you are going to draw direct comparisons, an equalish amount of time spent with each game would do a lot to minimize the fire that has made its way to your review comments. You’d still get it because just about every large scale game has a passionate community base but you’d just get less of it. That’s all.

          “Had Warframe’s first 14-odd hours given me good reason to make either of those the case, it would have been a different story. 1-3 days of play is our norm before a write-up of anything.”

          This. This a dozen times over. I love Warframe but god is that new user experience awful. I go to school at Drexel for Interactive Digital Media and UX is a big part of what we study. So I’m a bit more sensitive to UX than my peers.

          If the game fails to convey to you it’s breadth within the first ten hours, that’s a design flaw and not yours. The game’s job is to draw YOU in. The game’s job is to entertain YOU to Hell and back.

          In Don Norman’s book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ Mr. Norman noticed that when a user fails to use an interface properly their first most likely reaction is to blame themselves and not the design of the interface itself. So if that’s the common trend and DE still knows that new UX is a huge problem it speaks volumes of how bad it really is for complaints to keep rising from a silent majority of players going ‘I just need to figure it out that’s all’. Since I love this game and want it to be around for a good long time, this really concerns me as if they don’t address it, it will eventually catch up to DE in a terrible way more than it is now.

          Also this interview does a lot to explain the influences Warframe and Destiny have had on one another.

          • oggnogg says:

            I love Warframe but god is that new user experience awful.
            I was agreeing on that (duh) with a friend, then I thought: They surely have finite resources to balance. And since the game is continuously in the Steam top 20 it seems to me that they’re doing some things right. Probably they’re missing out on growth, but a better new user experience won’t keep current players engaged, either.
            I think I prefer them making me stay once I took the initial hurdles, rather than getting in new players in droves, but lose them again soon.

          • oggnogg says:

            Nice interview! Since your link seems to be broken, let me post it here:

    • Anti-Skub says:

      Whoever told you Warframe grows into something else is just flat out lying to you. You got it right on the money first time, it’s a game about grinding, although calling it grinding makes it sound unnecessarily negative to me. To me, part of the games appeal is it’s Pokemon, gotta catch em all style appeal, or the way in which Diablo or Path of Exile keeps you coming back to the same levels for more loot.

      What I would say is that the game has a surprisingly good plot, even if it is a little saturday-morning-cartoonish. I also think you’re doing the game a massive disservice by implying that the art style is generic. I can’t think of another game with more interestingly unique models for it’s enemies, weapons, ships, or the titular organic-flesh-robot things that are Warframes.

  27. xman1276 says:

    To say warframe is the destiny of PC is like saying a dad is like his son the son got his abilities and attributes from the dad. Destiny is the warframe of console, Destiny exsisted way after Warframe was even in the process of being really put together. The only reason why people would say Warframe is closest thing to Destiny is because they are not doing the full research and probably do not know that the release of warframe was on March 25 2013 while Destiny’s release was september 9 2014 a year and 6 months after warframes release. This game has so much more variety than Destiny in Weapons, Play styles, and “class” options. Those of you who say this guy probably has never played destiny he’s a PC master race guy, well ive played Destiny and was not that impressed the console is however inferior to the PC in almost every way and if you really like using a controller you can hook your controller up to your computer now. So please never say warframe is basically destiny for PC because Destiny is warframe for console they both have the farm qualities and require teams for missions with weapon rewards. Thank you for reading this. Warframe is still in my opinion better than Destiny.

  28. Turgid_Terwilliger says:

    link to pcgamer.com

    New player experience = very, very steep learning curve.
    However,
    1. Graphics are incredible and run well on relatively weak hardware
    2. Parkour and Weapon mechanics are excellent and can be “modded” hundreds of ways.
    3. Constantly being updated, quite a few bugs…but
    4. It is free, regardless of the perception that it isn’t. Farming stuff in the game to sell can easily cover the frame/weapon slot cost. Being impatient can be expensive, but otherwise spending real money on it is entirely optional.

    This is a game that’s more about gameplay than story, yes, but for many of us that’s a positive thing. Apparently, on any given day about 100,000 people are playing, maybe they agree?

  29. capt.chemosh says:

    For all those complaining about the new user experience being bad… you have no idea how bad it used to be. Now, there is a tutorial which shows you basics, and helps you get into things. Before, there was nothing, just the Lotus barking at you to get moving. No floating prompts to show you what your controls were, no clue how to do anything. So, by and far, warframe’s first few hours have become a thousandfold better for new players. The art design is gorgeous, especially for a free game. The updates are constant, the devs reply to the majority of community concerns. The grind is so much smoother now in void 2.0, and the lore is only getting deeper thanks to cephalon fragments. While I’ll not hate on the author for not knowing, if you are stuck in the terrain typing /unstuck will relocate you safely. This was something the devs put in because they listened and understood that the physics could get wonky and you could end up being stuck in walls with no way to escape. I thank you for not gushing about destiny, but showing a rather impartial attitude towards warframe and destiny sharing fundamental similarities while not being the same game. Destiny is limited, exceptionally so, and behind rather huge paywalls. The grind of destiny is also exceptionally worse. So much so, that Bungie put the loot cave into the game on purpose to combat the grind but then the community complained so they removed it. Warframe is still working on ways to make the grind less, grindy, as it were. Void 2.0 fixed grinding keys, dealing with T4 keyshare necessity, and helped to abate some of the RNG madness. Most of the remaining grind though, is actually tolerable, I adore being able to fire a sawblade through the air, have it ricochet off a wall, and slice a lancer cleanly in two from behind his cover. Simply put, yes, warframe is not for everyone. It takes time, a lot of time, to get the most out of the game. But, this is true for just about every free to play game. (I mean the good ones, like warframe, not money sinks that turn your friends against you like farmville)

    • capt.chemosh says:

      sorry for the large bolded section ^^;;

    • WiseGamer says:

      Improved as the new player experience may be, it’s still probably the worst I’ve seen in any game. Without the internet and Google, this game would be indecipherable.