They were called Tenno. Warriors of blade and gun: masters of the Warframe armor. Those that survived the old war were left drifting among the ruins. Now they are needed once more.
This here gem is still technically in Open beta as far as I can tell, and as such it does have some issues - but when you factor in the amount of polish on this thing it's incredibly hard to imagine this thing being anything but a released disc-born full fledged game. Now, if ever there was a time when you wanted to be a ninja - and let us be honest, there probably was - then this game can deliver that in space! What's more, it's a free to play game. Want to learn more?
I've been playing this game for almost a nightly basis for half a month now, and they are constantly adding things and fixing things (it is an open beta after all). When we get to later sections, I want you to remember that, but for now lets get what I know of the plot glossed over shall we? You play as a Tenno - a sort of space ninja with "magical" powers. These folks are masters of warframe armor - this very Bio Booster Armor Guyver looking organic powered armor suit that is the source of those aforementioned powers. Woken from a long rest after being scattered across the ruins of the universe after a great war, Lotus (your vocal narrator/guide) informs you that you are needed as a new force has started to spread across the galaxy - that of the Grineer. You are then tasked to get stronger so that you can protect yourself and eliminate this galaxy-spanning threat. Plot wise, this is as far as I have gotten, and there are still a LOT of missions left that could add more to the story, so unfortunately that is where I will need to leave it.
As far as characters go, the only customization you will see is somewhat basic - you get to select from three starter suits at first, and the only changing you will do to the appearance of that character comes from the color palette (of which you are given a very basic selection of one of each color unless you buy a set through the real-money market).. It's slightly sad, as if someone has a particular taste for wanting to be a male or female Tenno, they are locked into using specific frames - for anyone who doesn't care what sex they are playing, this is pretty much moot. Beyond that, the only way to differentiate yourself from other users of the same frame is by color scheme and weapons, which in the heat of battle can be pretty easy to miss. Beyond that, each frame has a set of four specific powers associated with them, ranging from making decoys to powerful offensive area of effect moves that wreck havoc on any local enemies. This is by far one of the best parts, as between the different powers and the slightly different stats (armor, health, shields, speed) the play style from frame to frame can change drastically, making for a totally different play experience.
That play experience is only further enhanced by the incredibly tight controls, which comes thankfully with full support of gamepads (I can personally speak for the wired xbox 360 controller, as it is what I use to play). Keys can be fully rebound, making it so you can set things up just right for the various key combos you will need to press in order to do some of the special movesets like sliding across the floors and running across walls, which all only help to enhance the fast paced action feel of the game. Weapons all have specific feelings to them across their typings - the bow being a slow methodical ranged weapon effective at punching through multiple enemies, whereas the normal assault rifle provides an incredible functionality at tearing through enemy shields at an enhanced rate and panic spraying for example. They are also broken into three main sets: the primary (rifle) slot, the secondary (side arm) slot, and the melee weapon slot. Each one has it's own selection, each with different stats or different styles, and unique appearances.
That melee weapon I just mentioned also has it's own dedicated attack button, so you only need to ever swap between the primary and secondary ranged weapons, allowing you to quickly deal with the sudden appearance of a too-close enemy when the magazine finds itself empty with no time to reload it. The melee weapons also offer the ability to "charge" the attack, delivering a much higher amount of damage after fully charged (usually to the extent of one hit killing enemies) although on some of the weapons this charge can be interrupted by an enemy, making using it effectively a bit of an acquired skill. It also has a variation attack for when you find yourself jumping through the air, which for some does a very precise attack and others does a larger AoE move. All this diversity really helps to make it so you can really feel like you are playing with something different, as you fine-tune your Tenno to just how you want it.
All of those items, including the frame, allow you to slot what the game refers to as mods. I will warn you in full advance right now that I will probably call them cards instead of mods, as they most easily remind me of cards found in a collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering or various other games of its breed. Each mod card (including the frames power cards) has with it a number of associated things that aren't fully enlightened on you by the tutorial (which mainly focuses on how to attack and move in basic manners), so if I start to feel a bit explanative as opposed to reviewer, I apologize for that. How this works is thus: Each card has a name, a level, a price, a polarity, and an effect (also, a little picture, hence why I feel them as cards). The name and picture are for identification, and the effect is the main reason you want to slot them into your weapons or frame (effects such as increased health, ammo capacity, or damage).
When one increases the level of a card through the fusion system (essentially, you pick this card, and then absorb other designated cards - the most useful being copies of the original card), the point cost of the card increases by one, but the effect is increased by the same value of the original effect (a bonus of 15 % damage would increase by an extra 15 %). Leveling through fusion requires more and more fused sacrifices each level, as well as a monetary cost associated with the fusing. The polarity, which is expressed by a little symbol (such as one that looks like a minus symbol, or similar to an equals sign) comes into effect when you have an open slot (in weapon or armor) with a polarity symbol in it. If you match these two symbols together, the card will cost half its actual point cost to slot, if they don't match it will cost one point more to slot, and if only the card has a polarity but the slot has none, then it will cost the face value of the card.
The points needed to slot these mod cards is earned through leveling of each individual item, be it frame or weapon. Each will have it's own experience bar (known as affinity in this game) that will gain from use, and each level counts as one point towards your allotted mod cost. This can be further increased by buying some real-money items like the Orokin Reactor (for frames) that will double the points you get (2 per level opposed to one). It sounds complex at first, but after playing around with it for a bit it becomes second nature, and helps to add a depth to the game to separate it from a simple level-up similar to Mass Effect 3's multiplayer.
The music is pretty rocking, although I'm starting to wonder if there is only one track or two - the pulsing "trouble has arisen" taiko-esque drum beat that plays is very energetic, and helps to make you want to partake in the action that is generally abound all over the place. Sound effects are splendid, from the 'gat' of pistols, the 'thunk' of bolt weapons impaling enemies into walls, or the wonderful "sklish" of a melee sword slicing through an enemy. Even the sounds of enemy troops closing in on you from behind as you hear their armor-clad boots clanging across the metal floors.
Graphically, this thing is a powerhouse when set to it's maximum settings, easily on par with games that you normally shell out a 60 dollar price tag for (if not surpassing most of them). The shine off the metals, the spurts of blood from weapon impacts, the particle effects from various mods adding electricity and flame to weapons, even the massive amount of bloom caused by some special moves (radial blind, I can't look at you because you hurt my eyes) is just plain impressive. The details on the suits themselves give a very organic vibe to them, and the fact you can change your field of view to be greater or more narrow only helps you take in all those wonderful looks.
As I did say, it's not without it's issues. Sometimes the camera gets a bit wonky during cutscenes - occasionally you'll back yourself into such a tight place that you can't see by your frame's head to what you were hiding from (in the case of the Loki frame, it very well may just be because my head is shaped like a hammerhead shark). The enemy AI is intelligent enough to take cover and mostly prove to be a threat, but the never-ending waves of enemies provided in some missions can make trying to play solo an incredibly difficult manner. Playing co-op with other friends can also sometimes prove difficult, as the game doesn't have any lag tolerance from what I can see, and whereas most games would give you a lag spike and then catch back up (potentially causing your death), this one kicks you to "host migration" (sometimes without any warning) which often breaks up the team and can sometimes result in you now having to either exist the mission and lose some progress, or try and finish it alone. One of the bosses also has quite the bug in it, which causes it to fall through the floor and lose any chance for the players to claim loot from its defeat (which happens to be blueprints necessary to make one of the warframes).
Although one can certainly play the game and have fun without ever spending a real dollar on it, it is certainly set up in a manner that is made to have you want to spend the money instead of take the time to do certain things. Crafting an item in this game first requires you to buy a blueprint from the market, which then requires you to gather generally large (300 +) amounts of various materials (3 or 4 normally) and spend more money to craft it, which then puts it into a crafting state for the next 12-24 hours at which you finally can use whatever it is. In the case of warframe blueprints, this is further elongated by adding in three separate blueprints (head, chassis, system) that can only be gotten through drops (from specific missions), each requiring materials, money, and time to make before you can buy the master blueprint from the market (for a hefty sum) that is used to combine the finished products of the other blueprints into the final useable warframe. Compare the amount of time and effort it takes to do that as opposed to dropping 30 dollars to get enough platinum (cash shop money) to buy almost any of the frames (which frames bought using real money come with an Orokin reactor installed as well as a free inventory slot, so as to not take up you open slot) and it becomes apparent that they really would prefer you pay them money to get the frame.
Beyond that, I have been having immense fun with this game, finding it and it's daily log-in rewards to be rather addicting. I'm not the only one either, as I have gotten a friend or two to start playing this game and they have started logging as many hours if not more than I have. The random drop nature of mods keeps you wanting to know what you'll get next, while the very direct nature of blueprints gives you purpose to go to specific planets and replay the missions. If only the session-dropped issue would be remedied, this game very well could escalate to a whole new level, as it's exactly the face paced action that a lot of people have been craving - especially given that it's free.
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