Warframe is a four-player co-op shooter with action and plenty of customizable options.
Being a co-op game doesn’t mean that you have to ignore a competent storyline. Warframe seems content to establish its universe at a basic level: players are acrobatic robot-suited warriors fighting an alien invasion. Your primary goal is to shoot endless waves of enemies.
It’s good, because Warframe makes it quite fun to kill things and watch them die. Movement and shooting feels smooth and responsive, targets are plentiful, and there’s just enough ragdoll silliness in the enemy death animations to always make you look forward to the next kill. There’s a good variety of guns to choose from, including a powerful bow that can pin enemies to walls, and although the sci-fi swordsman archetype.
Animations in general are fluid and interesting. The primary fodder of Warframe are the Grineer, a race of privateer space marines that do a passable job of taking cover and attempting to retreat or advance as the situation demands. However, they’ll also regularly send out seeker bots, which are by far the most annoying. Meanwhile the Infested race (read: space zombies) are almost exclusively melee attackers, and we found we could usually reduce them to confused immobility simply by standing on a tall box.
Standing on top of boxes is just one of the abilities of these high-tech super soldiers. Each of the three warframe classes gets a suite of four unique superpowers: Volt relies on electrical attacks, Nyx uses psychic powers to turn enemies against each other, Loki becomes invisible for stealth attacks, and so on. Those abilities are fun to use, but the downside is that you wind up unlocking all of them fairly early on; some advanced superpowers at the upper end of the level curve would’ve been a nice reward for sticking with a single suit. Also, any of the three warframe classes can use any gun, which is understandable given that you might be paying real money for them.
As with most free-to-play games, Warframe contains a store where you can exchange real-world money for one of the two in-game currencies, platinum. There isn’t much in the cash-only store that could be considered mandatory, although some of these items, like the in-game pets that stun and shoot nearby enemies, additional daily revives, and power-boosting items that let you slot in twice as many mods to your frame and weapons could be classed as “very, very handy.” Still, the economy feels fair, especially since you’re only paying to be able to kill AI enemies more efficiently. You’ll also earn the other currency, credits, as you play, and the market does a reasonable job of ensuring that most items can be purchased with them.
One other note: Warframe’s technically in open, but there are often only a few hundred players on each regional server and it can be difficult to actually find anyone to play with. But, because it’s free and requires only four players for a full game, it’s a easy enough to bring three friends along for the ride.
Monthly content updates are promised, so some of this will be arriving soon. Digital Extremes has created something that’s often genuinely fun to play, and given the cost of entry, Warframe’s well worth a try if you’re in the mood for something different.