As far as video games go, I’m not a big fan of shooters. I downloaded Fortnite for my Switch because it’s free and hey, why not, but I really suck at it, and I haven’t “dropped” in that game for months.
I’ve always admired the long-standing MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and EVE Online, but when I tried them, I always felt as though the games held me at arm’s length, and required of me more than I felt I could give. No, I didn’t want to join a big guild and be online at certain times (for hours on end) for raids and such. No, I didn’t want to spend much actual money beyond the cost of the game itself to have enough in-game currency or gear to be a viable player. No, I didn’t really want to have to learn really complex economies and trade for ingredients for items I needed to craft to level up, and on and on.
So how the hell did I fall in love with MMORPG looter-shooter-slasher Warframe?
At the risk of repeating what everyone else on the Internet has said about this mystifying, wonderful, addicting game, it’s just different. First of all, it’s free to play on every platform (PS4, XBOne, PC, and now Nintendo Switch). I mean REALLY free to play. There’s practically zero incentive to spend actual money to advance in this game. In fact, it seems as though people who do spend money miss out on satisfying gameplay (or wind up getting things they already purchased as rewards for key missions, etc.).
And even though I really suck at shooters, as described above, the combination of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style running/flying/leaping movement, elemental powers, traditional sidearms, and an absolutely vital melee combat system makes this unlike any shooter I’ve ever played. (As a quick aside, I’ve never played Destiny, the game that most other reviewers compare this to, though it’s worth noting Warframe came out even before the first Destiny, meaning at best, that game is an imitation of what makes this one special.)
In fact, the combat system is so different in this “shooter” that I rely almost entirely on my character’s sword for dealing damage and defeating baddies. In other games, I can’t even land a single melee hit on a player/enemy. You should see me whiff with all manner of bats and swords and clubs in games like Team Fortress 2. I’m honestly terrible. And yet in this game, my go-to attack is to swoop in on an enemy holding a rifle and slice and dice them from above, below, behind, and right in front. I can even deflect bullets with the sword, though I admit to not being as skilled at that part yet.
Also, unlike so many other games where the focus seems to be on how much people can “pwn” others in a PVP battlefield, this game is very open with regard to people’s playstyle preferences. Do you want to level up alone? You can do that, and never get bothered by anyone else. Are you having trouble with a specific level and would like to team up with others to get past it? Just change your setting to matchmaking and pick up a team of randoms who also want to do the mission, or go make friends and hand-pick your team. Do you never, ever want to have to fight another player? Great, you don’t have to. Do you really get off on fighting other players? The game offers duels, capture-the-flag-style games, deathmatch arena-style stuff … and they’re adding more content all the time.
Do you like crafting items? Do you like playing with your character’s loadouts, tinkering with add-ons and mods to get the most DPS or defense or survivability or speed, etc.? Do you like FISHING and MINING? Do you like in-game PETS that actually add something to the gameplay? Do you like games that you can devote as much or as little time and attention as you want, and still feel like you’re making some sort of progress?
Warframe has all of this. It’s like they picked and plucked all the best parts of every existing MMORPG, Battle Royale game, deathmatch shooter, RPG shooter, and hunting simulator, and left all the worst parts out.
I’m sure there are criticisms that can be made about this game. I’m sure there are people who’ve put time (and perhaps money) into it and have felt the sting of regret. I’m sure this game isn’t for everyone, just like Destiny isn’t for everyone, just like World of Warcraft isn’t for everyone.
But somehow, this game about alien space ninjas who shoot and slice their way through waves of enemies on various planets and moons in and out of our solar system in the distant future has captured my interest. It’s wormed its way into my brain in a way that makes me feel like playing it a lot more than I really should, so I spend some energy each day resisting the urge to play when I should be productive. This is all despite me not being a skilled or even willing player of any other game of its type. That says something about its quality that should warrant a download for anyone who vibes with the features I’ve described here. Again, it’s 100% free, and if you don’t like it, all you’ve lost is the time it took for you to try it.