NVIDIA Free-to-Play 2 ReviewGuest_Jim_* - September 4, 2013
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You are Tenno, a species of great warriors that have been dormant for many centuries. Now you have been awakened to fight a new war with your mighty Warframes. These tools are very powerful suits of armor that also have special abilities tied to them, such as the Excalibur's dash attack and the Loki's teleportation ability that switches it with an enemy. You are also equipped with three weapons; one primary weapon, a side arm, and a melee weapon.
To fight this new war, you travel from place to place completing missions, such as capturing an artifact, rescuing a prisoner, or just killing every enemy you come across. Every mission is placed on a tree, so completing one mission can unlock access to multiple, and this tree stems from Mercury and expands out into the Solar System.
The graphics are superb for a free-to-play game. Good detail and effects, including PhysX particles. Primarily I see the PhysX particles when enemy bodies dissolve into them. Practically the definition of eyecandy, but the effect is still nice to look at. At the highest settings, the game ran very well on my computer. When playing multiplayer there was some lag associated with the other players. They would jump around some, like their position was only being updated once every half second or so. That may sound extreme, but it is not that severe. It is not like they or the enemies were suddenly crossing the map, or I suddenly, and mysteriously, died.
Combat is fast paced, in a sense. Ideally you will be moving around as you fight, so your enemies have a harder time hitting you. However, your weapons, at least at the beginning, are not particularly effective or enemies are just so strong that you can expect it to take some time to take them out. Also the reload speed of your original primary weapon, an assault rifle, is so long that it will take a moment before you can re-enter the fight.
You have multiple options for how you want to play a mission. You can play in an online party, which means the servers find partners for you to play with; set up a private match to keep out the random people; set it to invite only, so only your own friends can join; and finally you can play solo. In this situation, all 'can' means is that you are able to do so, because honestly I do not know why anyone would, unless they are trying to show off. The game is very much balanced for multiplayer. Levels are labeled with what level of Warframe you should wear to play it. My Warframe is a level eight and even the very first level, meant for players with no experience in the game, killed me. You do have the ability to revive yourself, but you can only do this so many times in a day and when you do, you are revived on the spot, which may be surrounded by enemies. Also, do not try going slow and just exterminating every enemy you find, because they will just keep coming until you finish the level. You will run out of ammo before you run out of targets.
With multiple players though, the balance is much fairer. The other players are able to run over and pick you up, if you should fall. While on the ground though, you are able to crawl around and use your sidearm, being what help you can be. Fortunately the servers are fairly quick with finding you people to play with, though they do only look at the level you selected. You are not able to just view parties with room and join them, no matter what mission they are playing. One benefit, of sorts, with the mission-focused party forming is that you are not prevented from playing with higher level players. Players with the best gear may be playing with those that have the worst. Honestly though, even two poorly geared players are going to be more effective than a solo player.
There are a few pathways to get new weapons and even new Warframes, along with other equipment, in order to improve your effectiveness. You can spend real money for the premium in-game currency, platinum, and purchase them; find the blueprints and materials needed to construct them; or in a few cases, they simply unlock as you earn Mastery Points.
Warframe has two forms of experience called Affinity and Mastery Points. Affinity is associated with specific weapons and Warframes, while Mastery Points are tied to your character. Leveling up Affinity allows you to attach more mods to your equipment, and you acquire Affinity by using the equipment, so the more melee kills you score, the more Affinity your melee weapon accrues. Mastery Points are almost completely separate from Affinity. Instead of gaining them in a similar, fluid manner, you gain them by leveling up your equipment. Either way, we are talking about mechanics that take quite a bit of time to have any impact.
Naturally the next topic to address is if Warframe is a pay-to-win game. Technically no, as there is no competition between players; it is just co-op multiplayer. However, it definitely feels like one with how long it can take to improve your character, without resorting to the premium currency. You can expect to spend days trying to acquire something, like a new Warframe, and not just because of having to collect the materials. The actual construction of items takes hours. The only two items I have blueprints for take twelve hours to complete, each, and Warframes require three parts. Why it takes so long to build these parts, I do not know. I cannot think of what reason exists for this balancing decision.
Overall it is hard to recommend this game for its gameplay, unless you are willing to invest many hours into it, or real money. I could see this game working well as a medium for hanging out with friends. Getting everyone on voice chat and going on some raids could be fun, and it would not matter so much that it will take hours upon hours to really advance.