What to expect of Warframe?
Sometimes in the game industry, developers who really want to improve their game are able to do so. That's the case with Warframe, a franchise I've been following since its closed beta. Is nostalgic to remember when we could only play just a few tilesets with some already made warframes, a content you could complete in a day. Yet, since those times it has improved a lot: New weapons, prime warframes (A improved version of an existing warframe), more tilesets themed around the planet or facility we are in. A ship for ourselves, story missions, lore, boss mechanics…
Melee mechanics overhaul, damage mechanics overhaul, Warframe reworks… I could go on and on. Is like a huge inverted pyramid where every update is a stone, all converging in a real interesting setting: A solar system, altered over the years to an unrecognizable state, under the rule of three different factions. The Grinneer, the Corpus, and the Infested. And you, as member of the Tenno, are feared, sought and hunted. All planets can be your battlefield, each with different missions, resources and weapons… and most of them can be approached either by stealth, or out loud. If you are looking for some sci-fi ninja themed co-op shooter, which let's be honest, it's very specific, then Warframe is going to be an unexpected discovery.
However, this article is not about just Warframe, but also of its latest addition. Why is it relevant? Well, Plains of Eidolon is a free update which features the first Open world experience in Warframe's history. However… is it worth your time? We'll get that, but allow me to introduce you to a little of the Lore first.
As said before, you are a Tenno. You warframe is your sword and shield, yet the only light guiding you is the Lotus… A much needed aid seeing you are suddenly at war with the Grinneer, a race of militarized and decayed human clones which only seek two things: power and domination; the Corpus, profit and technology made one, equipped with laser weapons and supported by advanced robotics; and the Infested, victims of a virus with a mind on its own, a failed weapon attempt by an ancient and extinguished race called the Orokin.
Your mission? Assist and protect the recently woken up tenno, reduce the enemy's power either by sabotaging or stealing information, stop them from getting their hands on warframes or ancient Orokin technology, and much others. Your Task will take you on a tour around the solar system, from space stations to the actual planet surface, like the frozen corpus facilities on Pluto… or the Plains of Eidolon, on Earth.
Lorespeaking, the new map of Warframe (from now on "PoE") embodies what was an old battlefield where the Sentient (Another enemy faction you'll uncover if you play the story), and the Orokin fought during the Old War. Is also the place where the inhabitants of Cetus get a great deal of the resources they need to live, which is important because YOU will be the one harvesting those resources. What's more, before even being able to access the plains you'll first need to unlock this settlement, which situates around a giant Orokin tower called Unum.
Personally, I found a worrying lack of lore behind PoE. You only get to play one story mission in the entire visit that doesn't grant much relevant knowledge, or not as much as I'd have liked at least, and only after having already explored the plains and gained enough reputation. I didn't need to play much to access said mission, but it did disappoint me. It was an out of the million love story that led me to uncover the existence of the new warframe: Gara. I mean, I'm glad the love story ended well… but I'm a space ninja in search for another kind of thrill, if you get what I mean.
Afterwards, however, I met the Quills, which is a highly unexploited new branch. They are a misterious order at the command of Unum – a being who inhabits the tower at Cetus– and are also closely related to the population in said settlement. It seems they have the ability to foresee future events, of which they ask the help of the Tenno to end those they deem harmful to the colony. In order to be able to provide said help, you'll need to finish Gara's story mission, and The War Within, an important step into the world of Warframe.
Which brings me to the most important part of the review:
The Plains Of Eidolon Inner workings
Ok, let's get one thing straight from the beginning: in Warframe, you will have to grind. A lot. And PoE is not an exception. In fact, the mayority of the resources I had from playing before were completely useless, so I had to start from 0 and curiously, the materials which I could have gathered from before and were needed in the plains… were exactly the ones I ran out of. So yeah, PoE started as a "fun" experience for me. I suddenly felt like I was playing one of those games where every update meant all your hard won equipment abruptly becomes just weight in your bag.
However, the secret to grind in Warframe is that you never actually gather only one resource at a time. That's what makes it fun and, well, bearable. And Poe, once again, is not an exception. You have several things to do in only one run, like:
Fishing and Mining
In order to hunt for fish or be able to carve some minerals out of stones you'll need some special tools. A spear, and a laser pistol. You can obtain them in Cetus after you have completed one or two bounties and earned some standing as a result (The numeral amount of reputation you have with a syndicate) and each one has some low skill cap in order to be efficiently used. To fish, you need to aim and be patient, as the alien creatures tend to run fast if you miss a shot; and to mine, you need to aim the pistol to the glowing part of the rock and take a good look at the figure which will appear around the mineral. Once you start firing, the lines will disappear, and depending on how well you draw it from memory, you'll get more or less rewards.
Minerals are scattered around the plains, and are usually near caves or any pure rock surface. You can also find them with the help of the mining tool: If you equip the laser pistol you'll hear a beep which becomes faster the closer you are, much like a radar. In the case of fish, you'll need to stay close to a lake for some time for them to appear, but once they do is free fishing season. You can also buy bait in order to lure a certain kind of fish out.
These resources are really important, as they can be used to craft a great deal of PoE blueprints. They can also be exhanged for standing with their respective vendors: Old Man Suumbaat for minerals, and Hai-Luk for fishing. They also sell special offers which cost platinum and are usually gems or rare fish.
Bounties and Incursions
If you talk to Konzu, he will offer you a list of missions to take on. Each one has a higher difficulty, which also affects the level your enemies will have the next time you enter the plains. Bounties are a series of short tasks which will be send to you as you complete them, from to hack and protect a drone while it scans a certain area, to kill all enemies at an outpost and then defend it as waves of Grinneer try to recapture it. Each time you achieve an objective you'll receive some standing, and once you are through with the final one, you'll also get awarded with one of the items from the pool. And of course, the harder the difficulty, the better the rewards.
As for Incursions, they are random missions which can be given to you as you roam around the plains. They are usually near you and are the same kind of task you would encounter in a bounty… which is why they also award you with standing, and sometimes other items. Unlike Bounties though, they can only given at daylight hours.
Day and Night Cycle
As you may have guessed, day and night are also part of the mechanics the developers have implemented with the new update. Unlike the Earth normal tileset missions, Plains of Eidolon passes through a real-time cycle, where a day lasts 100 minutes, and a night 50 minutes. It also changes the kind of enemies and fish you will encounter, adding difficulty and variety… plus the new Sentient enemies called Eidolons. Some are easy to kill yet numerous: The Vomvalyst; and others are a single giant bipedal being which requires strategy to be killed: The Teralyst. Of the later spawns only one each night, and usually move in just one straight direction, attacking everything in their way.
So yeah, if you are a new player you probably don't want to wander too much at night.
Probably one of the most anticipated parts of the update. If you go meet the old man Hok in Cetus, you'll be able to craft your own kind of melee weapon, with the stats of your choosing. However, is not all blades and roses, as you'll have to acquire the blueprints for every part and craft them. He also exhanges other crafted weapons for standing, changes the name of an already crafted weapon as long as its maximum rank, and offers premade weapons. Yet, both these last services are paid in platinum I'm afraid.
For those who don't know, an Archwing is a flight system developed by the Orokin to allow the tenno to fight in outer space… and it has been modified in order for us to employ it in the plains too. Usually, if you were to fight with an Archwing you would also have at your disposition several Archwing weapons, but in the plains that's not the case. Even if you are flying you'll still use your normal and already equipped ones. As PoE is a large map (2.25 km x2.25) you will probably find sliding around (Yes, ninjas do not run. They slide) something tiresome with time. That's where the Archwings come in. In order to use them in the plains though, you will need to craft two items first: an Archwing Launcher Segment for your ship; and seldom Archwing Launchers which will act as beacon. The first one has to be researched in a Dojo (A clan's personal station) and then crafted, and the second one's blueprint will appear automatically in your Foundry once you finish forging the segment. Or, you can buy them for platinum.
Now, personally I found the plains to be a really good idea, a great step but… not as fun as I thought. First of all, is not an experience a new player would like to enter right away. There is just too many weapons, missions, story missions, warframes… which don't require PoE in order to be crafted or completed. If you reach the plains by unlocking the necessary missions, you'll still need to continue in the basic game if you want to be able to call an Archwing. Oxium is material which you need in order to craft the blueprints for that too, and as you may have guessed, is not something you are able to obtain on Earth.
Second, yes is an open world and it feels amazing, but if you want to level up a warframe, a weapon, or obtain several other objects… is better if you just stick to the normal basic ways which are more effective. Moreover, even if you just say "I want to play PoE only for a time" there are several bugs with Host Migration, or with the bounties themselves which can make you fail them. Sometimes you can be in the middle of a bounty, finish a task, and the second one would never appear. And the worst of all is that you can't complete the mission if you don't go back to Cetus. There are moments when you are just tired and want to go back and enjoy the spoils of battle, yet that's not possible because the only option you have is to abort mission, or go all the way back to Cetus's entrance… I mean, if I can call an Archwing down, can't I ask for my ship to extract me somewhere nearby?
All in all, the experience I've had in the plains was fun. It just felt like a really wide but shallow lake… yet is also true Warframe's developers improve their updates depending on the feedback they receive, it has been like that since day one. Which is why I have high hopes for the game in the future. Besides, it looks great, which brings me to…
Visual and Sound effects
From fishes to the Eidolon Teralyst. Warframe has been always a game which impresses me by the great optimization it has despite the graphics it possesses. For starters, even when looking down from my Archwing in the air, my FPS never went down 60… and that's a surprise given my specs. My PC is one of those who can run everything but never at the maximum, of anything. From water to light effects, everything looks right. They day and night cycle further enhances the effect of an open world: the map is just not the same depending on the hour of the day.
However, let's not forget a few problems, like the lag bug which makes half my warframe disappear, including its head. It only happens when there is a sudden lag in the connection as my character exits invisibility, but since I started playing in the plains it has become something way more frequent. I mean, Is ok because we are around halloween but I don't see it sticking through christmas you know?
Warframe was always and instanced experience. Your missions were given in a random generated map with an entrance and an exit. But then suddenly the developers wanted to take it one step further, higher, better, and created their first open world map. Is hard for it to sink in if you have never played Warframe before… but is huge. Like World of Warcraft when it released kind of huge. It just opens so many possibilities for the game that now I find myself really looking forward to it.
An Open world map means changes I wasn't aware of when I entered with my level 7 Mag to see what the plains were made of. For starters, and it should have been obvious but it wasn't: enemies come from all directions. If you alert them they'll start calling reinforcements… which also include ships. Bombardment. Chaos. After a few minutes I realized the only way that was going to end was with me at the end of a spike as to demonstrate Grinner power.
So yeah, I'll try an stealthy approach next time.
Plains of Eidolon is also an interesting map to just roam around, full of caves, enemy bases and patrols to explore and encounter. I did miss some extremely huge ruins underneath or something… and maybe they do exist and I just haven't found them, but I doubt that given the time the update has been out. In any case: I'm enjoying my time in the plains. I'm still a bit lost though. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like to search for things in internet unless I have absolutely no clue or I need some really specific data.
And did I mention everything is free to play?
Personally, I find Warframe to be one of those games which are shaped by their community and really comprehensive developers. The game has come such a long way until now that even though I stop playing from time to time, they always release something which makes me come back. Is it a game which only a certain kind of gamer would like? yes, definitely. But those kind of gamers will also probably never leave. Not entirely. So, what it'll be? Do you want to become a Tenno?
|+ New open world experience.||– Repetitive after a while.|
|+ New weapon customization.||– Not recommended for new players.|
|+ New enemies and game mechanics.||– Lack of lore.|
|+ New activities, syndicates and materials.|