Warframe: a Relic of the Past, or a Hidden Gem?


Map of the Warframe world without missions or specific locations shown.

Every gamer has been bored a million times in the past, and I’m no exception. Everyone knows how it feels to get burnt out in the grind, unsure of where to go or what to do after you reach a certain point, countless publishers releasing more and more trash [cough cough Activision], so sometimes you resort to looking at the Free to Play section on Steam. Oh boy, what a section that is. Full of viruses, crappy remakes of popular games, very low-effort games, cash grabs [Ed. Note—these aren’t all the same thing?], and the not-so-PG games. In the wasteland, you’ll very rarely find a rough gem, a dying candle in the void, a glimmer of hope, and you decide that you’ll try it out and possibly nurture it.

I’ve tried this a couple times with games like Path of Exile, which was way too much to handle for me, but then comes along Warframe. Developed by Digital Extremes and released on March 25, 2013, Warframe is an MMORPG with a few tiddlebits of third-person shooter, open world, run’n’gun, looting with no end in sight, and many other elements in one game. You play as a “Warframe,” which is a human “Tenno” of some sort that was originally meant as a protector, but they mainly fought for the innocent people that couldn’t do anything for themselves. These Tenno are badass. I mean it. You take something that’s basically a robot, give it a sword, a scythe, and gun, whatever you really want, and you get to control its mass murder of exploiters and villains across multiple planets, by yourself or with others. Warframe has hours upon hours of content for any casual player, and so much more for the completionist.

Across every planet, there’s a variety of missions ranging from rescuing hostages, eliminating as much of the enemy as you can, defending an objective, or just looting whatever you can, and it varies enough in content and difficulty that most players can just spam E to attack without any thought and others can get blown up by a million things and try to take down anything through a series of combos, abilities, and really whatever strategy you can think of. The game isn’t meant to be played one way or another and you’re free to play however you want, wether it be melee or ranged, quiet or loud, brute force or calculated, but most importantly, solo or together. Almost every mission you can do by yourself; the enemy spawns are fair and the mission may stump you at first, but take a trip back to your personal spaceship with your good friend Ordis, upgrade and change your gear, decide what’ll work for this specific mission, or you can just team up and rip through everything in sight.

On top of being multiplayer, there are clans, which provide many bonuses and opportunities for mission completion and material grinding just by being in one. The game isn’t all just kill, loot, and repeat, but there’s actually a rich story around every corner if you pay attention.

Most missions have at least some dialogue to keep you oriented and updated on what you’re supposed to do, but many other missions have conflict between good and evil trying to control you as a Tenno (albeit a bit biased towards the good), and very emotional interactions between NPCs. Over time the player forms a connection with many NPCs, whether as business partners, companions, or saviors. All of them have story behind them involving missions with some new gameplay that takes two brain cells to figure out (so our publisher might be out of luck). There’s just so much variety in the game to take in, which gives it such a high replayability factor.

A picture of the stats of a weapon with some comparisons of stats.

Back to your Tenno. You first have a choice between a few base Warframes (I’m an Excalibur enjoyer) and many more you can make later, whether it be through grinding or just paying your way through the game. Each Warframe comes with its own set of abilities, which are all very powerful under the right conditions. The abilities require energy to use, which is obtained by slaying your foes and stealing their own energy—when it drops, which is rare. You then have three weapons: your primary features (swords, axes, guns, glaives), a whole slew of weapons that could suit you, and then you have two primaries which could be bows, sidearms, kunai, and really whatever suits your taste. All of these have their own breakdown of stats that give you the kind of damage you’ll deal, whether that’s electric, cold, magnetic, or a few others, and also what you should pay attention to when modding your gear (I’ll get to that in a bit).


There’s also mastery levels obtained from using the weapon over time, and these mastery levels basically say how much you use it, and how good your weapon is and could be. It doesn’t actually give any benefit to my knowledge, but every so often you can take a trial to prove your skill with your weapons and Warframe to show that you’re not a total loser.

A mod for the weapon Skana

Back to the topic of modding: mods are little fragments that drop from killing enemies that you can put on your arsenal to give them substantial boosts in their effectiveness. As you can see, these mods are a little bit good, and there’s just a couple of them. Just a few. But all of these mods have a few things. First off, their rarity determines how good it is to start off with. Each mod has a number in the top right which takes up a certain capacity on your gear, and the symbol next to it that determines its “flow,” which basically means that if your gear has the same flow it will take up way less space, but if it conflicts too much, then the usage will skyrocket. At the bottom there’s little lights which indicate how many upgrades it has, which in turn increases the stats exponentially. These mods are a little boost when just starting out, but when you play the game for even a bit longer, these mods are absolutely necessary to progress at all. What’s great is that you don’t even have to worry about doing these mods yourself most of the time, because your friend Ordis will do it for you automatically if you tell him to.

I could rant about this for hours, but I just don’t have that much stuff to talk about, plus I wouldn’t want to spoil the game for you, now would I? But seriously, if you’re looking for a FREE (if pretty grindy) game that has hours of content, many playstyles, and a bundle of lore, then this game is totally for you!