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What's Bryce Playing? Warframe!

I know there's maybe five people that actually read my blog, and of the one of those people I actually know, I know they're already playing Warframe, but allow me to try and sell you on it anyway.

Warframe is something I've been waiting for, for a long time, it's a free to play, online RPG, that's not focused on competitive player vs player combat, and it doesn't punish you for not spending money on it.

What's the premise of Warframe? In the far future, humanity has spread out through the solar system, and various factions of post-humans are engaging in all-out warfare over the various resources of the solar system. You wake up from cryogenic stasis, a member of the Tenno faction. Tenno have access to biotechnological suits of armor, called Warframes (Think Iron Man, but rubbery... Rubber Man?). Warframes are rare, but they are powerful, which of course suits a videogame quite well. You can obliterate swarms of space baddies like you're mowing the lawn.

Okay, that's the premise, sure, I could go into more depth, and if you want it, it's there, but there's not much in the way of a proper story, there are some quest givers, but mostly you're just moving from one mission site to another, until you've cleared a planet, and then you move on. At any point, you can replay old missions to farm for material, as well as there are plenty of quests and special missions that reuse the same locations but put a different spin on it.

So, what kind of game is it? If you think RPG and assume swords and sorcery, then that image I popped up there is probably pretty confusing. This is a third person action game, when you go into a mission, you have three types of weapons you can carry:

Primary - Rifles, shotguns, big guns.

Secondary - Pistols, SMGs, throwing knives.

Melee - Swords, hammers, staves.

There's quite a bit of shooting, but you can also focus primarily on hacking and slashing if that's your preference.

On top of that, you have your Warframe, you only start with one, and getting a second is quite the undertaking that won't happen for a long time. It determines the closest thing to a "class" that I've seen in this game. Every one has a passive ability, as well as four activated abilities, kind of like spells. They also have differing amounts of armor, shields, health and energy. More on all of this in a minute.

Now, I went into Warframe looking for more Borderlands, and it's not that at all. If you want enemies to drop tons of gear, all with color ratings to tell you how rare it is, you're going to be disappointed. Warframe never gives you anything, except for your starting gear. You get to pick one of three Warframes, an assault rifle or bow, a pistol or throwing knives, and then a sword or stave. After that, everything new you find is in the form of a blueprint. Once you've got a blueprint, you'll need the required resources to make your new piece of gear, and then it'll take time for the foundry on your personal spacecraft to fabricate it. Sometimes a LOT of time. Depending on the piece of gear you're crafting it can take between 12 and 72 hours. Some items that don't fit into the classes I've mentioned can be crafted in much less time, but generally once you finally get all of the components, you're going to have to wait until you're next gaming session before you can try it out. Thankfully, that is real-time crafting, meaning you don't have to be logged into the game for time to progress. It's kind of nice to fire it up the next day and get a notification that you've got a shiny new gun to try out!

Now, if there aren't oodles and oodles of procedurally generated guns how do you get your loot fix? Your gear is HIGHLY customizable, everything can have mods plugged into it. Mods are found all of over the place, enemies will drop them, you can find them in chests, and you can get them as rewards for completing missions. This is where the RPG mechanics start to come into play, you have a master rank for each weapon, which determines how many mods can be installed on it. If you really like that sword, and keep using it, eventually you'll be able to put mods on it to make it do 4 times as much raw damage, as well as adding elemental effects, or increasing the range and/or attack speed.

Since we've already started talking about mastery ranks, now I'm going to talk about Warframe abilities. Like I said, each Warframe has a passive ability, and 4 active abilities. Which ones you have access to, as well as how potent they are, depends on how high your master has progressed with that Warframe. Warframes also get more health/shields/energy as you rank them up, weapons JUST get an increase to their mod capacity. One thing about this game is that it's definitely a requirement to read the wiki if you ever have questions about something. For instance, My first Warframe was Mag, she has magnetic powers. Her first ability pulls things. Second ability hold people in place. Third ability generates a pulse that depletes shields of enemies in range. Fourth ability lifts all enemies around Mag and crushes them. Pretty straight forward, right? But there's all kinds of weird reactions between those abilities. The second ability creates a sphere around enemies, pulling nearby enemies to the center, and redirecting all projectiles towards the center, magnifying damage. If the enemy dies before the sphere collapses, it will cause an explosion on collapse, further magnifying all damage it absorbed and distributing it to nearby enemies. If you use the pull ability on an enemy that's been magnetized, it augments the damage, because they're being pulled AND held in place.

That's just an example of the weirdness that isn't really explained in the game.

Okay, lastly, lets talk about freemium. This the first free to play game that I've played that you can just play like it's a normal game. It's not constantly throwing it in your face that you haven't paid enough money today, and if you just give them some, then you can do this next part of the game. The things you can pay real money for are:

Speeding up timers: If you've just got to have that new gun now, you can give them some money.

Straight up buying gear: Remember how I said you only get blueprints for things in the game? Well, most everything you see you can just buy with real money, if you want. Personally that kind of defeats the purpose of the game to me, but to each their own.

Blueprints: You can buy some blueprints to craft rare materials from more common materials. With the wiki, you can just look up the best places to find things and get the rare resources that way, but yeah, if you're impatient, it's there.

Inventory space: This is the only one that I'm tempted to use. Right out the door you can only hold two warframes in your inventory, and something like 6 weapons, altogether. That will last you for awhile, but it starts to fill up, and then you're left with the decision: Sell an old weapon to make room for that gun that I want, or put some real money down?

That last point comes to my "normal game" comparison. The inventory space is the only thing that makes this feel like a regular $60 game to me. and it costs about 15 platinum (bought with real money) to expand your inventory a slot. The most cost effective bundle for platinum is to spend $200 and get 4300 platinum. Now, stop, take a deep breath, I'm not suggesting anyone spend $200 on Warframe. What I am suggesting, though, is that you think about that bundle, and when you open the reward for signing in every day, occasionally you'll get a coupon for discounted platinum, and even more rarely, that coupon will be fore 80% off. That means you can get 4300 platinum for $40, about what I think this game is worth, and have more platinum than you're ever likely to need to keep up with your inventory.



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