Important Stuff!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Warframe first impressions, or, "I'm a ninja, I do what I want."

Not often am I able to describe a game as: "You play as a robot ninja from the past and you use various swords and guns to fight armies of clones, robots, cultists, and aliens." I think the last time I could give a summary like that was 1998. I'd installed the game on Steam some time ago but wasn't initially grabbed; it wasn't until the past PAX, when I watched some gameplay at the nVidia booth that I decided to take it up again.

You play as a "Tenno" which I have come to understand is an elite warrior that has been in hibernation since the end of an era where a species called the Orokin ruled the solar system. Apparently technology was very advanced back then, because the Tenno alone are able to pilot the advanced war machines called Warframes. There are roughly 100 missions in the game, plus random "Alerts" that pop up.

So far I am marginally impressed; it's filled a niche that Mass Effect 3's multiplayer had vacated. I've been looking for a 3rd-person-shooter/action-coop-game (try not to laugh at my attempt to throw it into a genre). Though I've now only played a few days of it, the game seems to have potential to fill this role. It is mainly co-op and the mission choices runs the gamut from "Kill everyone" to "Protect this thing for X waves" to "Capture a scientist" (which actually involves "killing" the scientist, then disintegrating him/her into your palm....and yet the mission operator insists that it is "safe").
Brings new meaning to the phrase "Contemplate the universe..."
 On that note, the NPC operator "Lotus" is quickly becoming tied with Firefall's "Aero" and/or "Oilspill" NPCs for the coveted position as "NPC ally I most want to shoot" thanks to her repeated statements of the obvious and generally unhelpful statements about enemy status ("Enemy security force ahead." As I open a door to an empty room).

Gameplay wise, it's "parkour" inspired movement sounds cool on paper but in practice it tends to be a little awkward due to factors like lag. The gunplay however is quite satisfying, and enemies seem to take a reasonable amount of damage before falling. To me that is somewhat important, I get quickly tired of enemies that soak bullets like a sponge (*cough ME3 Banshees cough*) just to force a DPS test on the player. Bosses break this rule, but I am more willing to forgive for them.
You start a large number of missions by jumping down from a grate in the ceiling...even when defending your own base,
The melee combat also is fun, though it takes a few "mods" (upgrades you find during missions that improve you and your weapons) to make your sword feel like it does the right damage.

The powers are used by expending "Energy" which you have roughly 100 of (though leveling up seems to increase this by increments of 5 periodically) and it mainly replenishes by finding orbs of 25 energy lying around on dead enemies or in storage creates. There is an item later that gives passive regeneration to this bar, but at only .6/second I think its a little slow; but I might just be pining for ME3 and it's more rapid-fire powers. That said, Warframe's powers are also a lot more potent than the ones in ME3 were, and can routinely clear large numbers of enemies, so it's a balancing issue.

I mentioned mods...and the game suffers from that feeling of "Here, have a million things to be aware of new player," which follows a rather brief and incomplete feeling tutorial. That said, though the game drops you in the deep end, thus far most of the mechanics I have been able to divine through bumbling around and the game does not seem to hit you with any "no turning back" situations (for example, you can freely move mods around outside of missions, they do not lock once put in to my knowledge).
There are a ton of mods, and maybe it's the design, but they feel a bit like trading cards.
Also, the market DESPERATELY needs some kind of filter system so I can arrange the items. It would be nice if I could see side-by-side stats, or even arrange them by HOW I purchase them (they sort the in-game and out-of-game cash items right next to each other, something World of Tanks should work on too).

Difficulty is also iffy, and is given as a number at the beginning of a mission, but seems very hard to read. I've had two missions with the same numerical difficulty be vastly different in actual difficulty. It also means that it can be hard to find an appropriate challenge. Furthermore, the matchmaking system seems to use a player as a host, and puts you in randomly so occasionally you are with hosts far away with high ping.

Despite all the critical comments, I have been having a lot of fun with it, I just issue them as warnings about things you'll encounter. We'll see how it goes going forward.

1 comment:

  1. You are not a Ninja. You are not stealthy at all. You run in guns blazing sword swinging with hordes of enemies coming at you. If anything you are a Samurai. but most likely since it's the future and neither of them have existed for some time. You are a special forces soldier.