Warframe is a game that kept showing up in the ‘now playing’ status of long lost friends on Steam and Discord for a while now and another friend left a comment mentioning it on a Jacobin article about politics in games. I’d never bothered to actually find anything out about it though until today when I realised it had appeared on the Switch eshop, was free to play, and didn’t involve Nintendo’s extortionate online fee. I went in completely blind, not even reading the description, and this is how it felt.
After the lengthy (12.5GB) download, I booted up the game for it to reconnect to the internet and download some more, then it’s like Press A and away it goes, straight from the title screen into the opening cinematic. I don’t really know what was going on, something about an old war but then some bad guys landed their spaceship on a planet and you know they were bad because they talked about sinister plans before shooting two guards who didn’t seem to notice their spaceship land 50metres away from them. Oh and they were ugly and as you know, ugly = bad guys. Anyway so these bad guys walked into some lair and then the game asked me to choose a warframe, which i guess is my avatar in this world. There were three to pick from that seemed to embody different playstyles but one was recommended to new players, unfamiliar with the game, and that sounded a lot like me so I went with that. The twist was that it was the baddies who summoned me into the lair but then some other force released me from their thrall and I started slashing them with my powers.
A disembodied voice led me through a linear level, promising to take me to my ship and away from the baddies. Along the way I was given a choice of melee weapons as well as stealth or more conspicuous firearms. This introduction level was laughably easy, I’m not sure I even took damage, but it was enough to demonstrate the game’s basic combat mechanics and control scheme. What was also clear was that this is a very well put together game. Maybe this is something for future discussion but, Bethesda aside, you don’t really see sloppy, shitty games on the market anymore, not even in the free to play space like Warframe. I’m referring here about the basics of video games; the controls, the camera… everything works and everything looks good. I can’t make a judgement call on the whole game but I’m happy to say now that it isn’t a hack job.
What the introduction level failed to do though was give me any more context as to what the fuck was going on. After escaping to my ship, the ship began talking to me, expressing its shame in not being fully prepared for me. Also a chatroom appeared and strangers began talking. I felt it was a good time to express my confoundedness.
I eventually found the planetary navigation module and went to Earth to do another mission but after stumbling around, shooting a few enemies, I got stuck. I appreciated that this level was more expansive than the intro, but I still found the navigation took me down a hallway to a bright light that didn’t move out of my way – the map indicated it kept going. From behind me it looked like a big cannon was pointing at the light. Maybe I had to activate that somehow? Anyway then my girlfriend came home and I put the Switch to sleep to respectfully engage with another human with eye contact and all that bullshit. When I went to return to the game it complained that I had disconnected and kicked me out of the level.
Despite this abrupt end, the game seemed good enough that I might give it another go. But maybe I’ll ask those people on my friends list for more information first. Do you know anything about Warframe? Can you explain a bit for me? The comments are open!