Ninjas. Space ninjas. The end. Seriously, that’s all I need to say about this game, but I’ll continue if I must.
These space ninjas, known as Tenno, are the bane of the Grineer: twisted looking aliens who lack the grace of the Tenno. What they lack in grace and skill, however, the Grineer make up with galaxy crushing numbers. Similar to the Jedi order, what remains of the Tenno must now band together to fight back against the tyranny of evil.
It’s nice to have a reason for the hacking, slashing and shooting, but this game is really about the gameplay. With a combination of a melee weapon (sword, knife, scythe, etc.) primary guns (assault rifles, sniper rifles, etc.) and side arms (kunai, handguns, etc.), you suit up in your warframe. These warframes vary in stats and abilities. Some will be better with melee attacks while others specialize in support abilities. Each suit comes with up to four special abilities that you have to level up to be able to equip. These abilities can range from a dashing slash attack to repairing shields or setting an enemy ablaze. Players will bring all this firepower to bear against various enemy types in several mission types including sabotage, assassination, and all out elimination—my personal favorite.
When battle becomes too difficult, you can invite up to three friends or strangers to help you tear your foes to shreds. Every mission is fully co-op, so you can always come back to a mission that had you outnumbered and get sweet revenge with allies. My connection is far from the best and I have yet to experience anything more than a second or two worth of lag and the chat is very clear using the standard Sony ear piece.
Graphically, the game is quite solid. During battle, the designs of the various warframes stand out from enemies and other warframes. Even if you and a friend have the same frame, color palette swaps can be done to both the frame and your weaponry to bring a little unique flavor to your Tenno. New planets bring new locations, which have their own unique style and color palette. Firefights pop with the flash of gun barrels, and slicing an enemy in half is much more satisfying when you see his severed remains hit the ground. All the wonderful details that make the combat as beautiful as it is visceral.
As if all of the above wasn’t enough to pique one’s interest, let me give you the kicker: it’s free. Yes, Warframe is a free-to-play game. If you feel so inclined, you can spend money to expedite getting some of the more powerful weapons and warframes. You can also grind it out and earn in-game money to purchase blueprints and use materials (found during missions and rewarded after successful missions) to build those same items. It’s completely up to the player.
The only major issue I take with the game is the control scheme. With only two preset configurations, which simply swap how character powers are activated, there is very limited room to customize it. It was almost five hours into the game before I realized there is a block button because it is relegated to the up directional button. The placement would be fine if you are meant to block while stationary, but if you want to block bullets on the move, you will have to contort your hand into quite the odd position. Activating powers can sometimes be hit or miss using the touch pad as it can misread your swipe in the midst of a firefight. Early on, these don’t present much of a problem, but as the enemies become tougher, any misstep trying to adjust to these controls will cost you your life.
If you can’t tell, I am in love with this game. The difficulty can become a bit much when trying to play alone, but with a solid team of Tenno, it should be easy to avoid the invisible wall of progress that gamers sometimes hit. Worst comes to worst, you played a free game you didn’t like. If you end up anything like me, you’ll have a digital hit with more than enough enemies to slice and riddle with bullets for months to come. Enjoy my fellow ninjas.
Warframe is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC.