I recently got back into Warframe, and you definitely should too
One hell of a game, still kicking after four years of improvements
It seems like Warframe has gotten a bit of more mainstream attention as of late. Attention, that it most certainly deserves after doing a deep dive back into the game after not playing it for a few years. This big resurgence in popularity can certainly be attributed to various YouTubers giving the game an updated re-review, with probably the biggest contributor to this being the awesome channel Skill Up. His 2017 Review of the game was not only welcomed by Warframe's current fan base, but it seemingly got a lot of new players excited to jump into the game, or in my case, return to it after a multiple year hiatus.
I probably stopped playing around 2015, right after the new Movement 2.0 Parkour has been added, which, thinking back now, baffles me because it fundamentally changes how you traverse through levels in a much more fun way. However, I also remember feeling a bit soured after missing the previous year's migration from PC to PS4, as I had already invested not only time but money into it and wanted to continue my robo-ninja adventures on my console. Of course, I had also reviewed the game back in 2013 when it first launched on PS4 and was thoroughly impressed with what Digital Extremes has achieved.
Fast forward to this year, when my interest in Warframe was once again completely piqued after the announcement of Plains of Eidolon, the newest content update that will completely change how a part of the game is played. This is because Digital Extremes will be introducing a fully open world map that players will be able to explore and co-operate together on. It was an announcement that instantly prompted me to fire up my copy, not only so I'm ready once that content actually drops, but so I could familiarize myself with everything that's changed since I've stopped playing on console.
One thing I immediately noticed was the inclusion of full-blown story quest lines, only one of which I had completed, which was taking down Vor. I had remembered taking him down before, but I never remembered it being a part of an actual quest. This quest structure was actually a really fantastic way for me to get acclimated with everything that's been added since I last played. Immediately I was able to take part in the Archwing quest, which consisted of finding parts for, and ultimately building my own Archwing, a device that straps to the back of your frame and lets you fly around outer space. After that, I was led through the quest to acquire a Kubrow egg and ultimately breed my very own faithful companion, a feature that wasn't present at the time of the account migration process to the ire of a lot of players.
What Warframe has now as opposed to its previous state is "structure." I never find myself confused at what to do next, because it seems like there's always something inching toward something. I can either take part in the myriad of quests, assuming I have the prerequisites to start them. I can simply complete levels as I move through nodes from planet to planet. I can focus on completing Junction requirements in order to be able to start them and unlock new planets which, in turn, give me even more nodes to complete. I can focus on building weapons or Warframes by running missions that yield materials required to build them. I can focus on creating the perfect build by collecting and leveling up various mods. The choices I have now seem endless, even if they're not.
What makes the experience better is how seamless everything is when trying to play with other people. Sure, I'd love to always have three friends ready and available to join me on my cyber-ninja escapades, but the reality of it isn't so convenient. Warframe's matchmaking is near-instant, with only very few cases where I legitimately can't find anyone playing a particular mission that I need help in. Since Warframe's mission structure relies on quick, bite-sized experiences, I never feel the pressure of having to hold my own or expect that from my teammates as well.
The roster of available Warframes is also quite huge, now comfortably sitting at 33, with a new glass-themed one coming relatively soon. While the game certainly does give players the ability to outright buy Warframes and weapons at will, given you have the money to spend on them, I was also pleasantly surprised at just how good the game is at rewarding you with frame parts to build your own. The difference here is you have to have patience as building takes a few real days. Provided the game is built around a lot of mechanics that reward players who stick around for the long haul, this system didn't bother me. Given how many players are still actively playing on a daily and monthly basis, it seems like it's not bothering them either. In fact, I'd say those looking for instant gratification with the necessary funds to immediately buy all the Warframes, weapons, companions, etc. that their heart desires, will lose out on a large chunk of what makes that game special.
I should also state that Digital Extremes has given me some Platinum, as I was pretty bummed when I missed out on the transfer from PC to PS4. At first, I was incredibly tempted to just buy a whole bunch of items, many which I've never had in order to experience the most content in a short time. However, after contemplating this, I simply re-bought the items and Frames I already had in the PC version and continued to play the game without splurging. So far, it's been paying off. I love logging on with a new goal each day, whether it's to specifically focus on trying to get a Warframe part blueprint in order to unlock a new Frame or running missions that yield materials that I need in order to build myself an awesome new high-powered rifle. Had I just bought everything that I could with the amount I was given, I feel like I'd be losing out on what makes me keep coming back each day.
It's funny how my mindset has changed now as opposed to when I first reviewed the game. Reviewing games as a full-time job means I don't always have time to consistently keep playing games after I've either completed them or put in enough time to write my review because new games are being released constantly. In my review, I gave a slight complaint about the game feeling like a grindfest, and that in order to get any sort of instant-satisfaction, you have to pay real money. And while that still holds true today, not reviewing games on a full-time basis allows me to enjoy games for an extended period of time. Instead of wanting to experience the "right here, right now" mentality I've had before, I'm much more content with working my way through the game at its intended pace.
With that said, Digital Extremes has put in place some genius tactics to incentivize players to occasionally treat themselves with an instant gratification prize. Daily rewards sometimes consist of coupons for 25% or 50% off the purchase price, making some more expensive items much more affordable, and I'd be lying if I haven't indulged in a few of these purchases. But like I stated before, the enjoyment doesn't come from instant gratification, at least not for me.
As of right now, I'm currently trying to work my way up to the Second Dream quest, which I'm hearing is an absolutely mind-blowing quest line. I'm not quite there yet but slowly & surely inching my way closer to it. I also love hopping on with friends who are either just starting out, or, like me, are returning after a long break, and helping them get settled with all the changes. It's that kind of game, where even if I'm not personally progressing toward my goal, I'm finding satisfaction through helping others achieve theirs.
And the future? The future for Warframe is certainly bright. The Planes of Eidolon, which is the new open-world area releasing this year, will surely not only provide a slew of new content to experience, but fundamentally change how that part of the game is played, and I'm curious to see how Digital Extremes pulls it off. The team is currently working on a new game called The Amazing Eternals, which unfortunately doesn't seem like it's my cup of tea personally, but I sincerely hope that doesn't mean they'll stop working on Warframe, and continue to keep it as the gold standard when it comes to Free-to-Play experiences.