I loaded up Warframe: Chains of Harrow onto my newly built AMD Ryzen 7, GTX 1070 PC and didn’t know what to expect. A game I had heard of before; on PS3 or PS4. I may have even tried it before, it’s hard these days, with so many games coming out every month.
After signing in, I was immediately thrown into the tutorial. I had to choose between 3 character classes and I went with Tenno, the all-arounder. I typically choose a fighter with a balanced defense and offensive stats in games. I also tend to go with any cool looking character who uses swords; swords and guns sold me on Tenno.
The tutorial started with your Warframe sort of waking up (think Neo from The Matrix). Some evil bad guy is speaking about taking you over for team bad, and it doesn’t happen. It all seemed a bit generic, sci-fi video game story. The kind that you sort of look past because the game plays so well. I found it exceptionally hard to care because of the voice acting. Not to say that the voice acting is terrible, but it reminded me of English anime dubs. You know the kind; not bad, but kind of cheesy and over the top.
The first thing I noticed after I was able to start playing; this game is NOT optimized for a controller. I’m a new PC gamer, so I like to stick with my Xbox One Elite controller. Even if I was more comfortable with a mouse and WASD (I’m getting there), an action, 3rd personal shooter would still have me grabbing those twin sticks.
My first issue; the game was not playing on my brand new, 27” 1440p, 144Hz, G SYNC monitor, but on my 2nd display; a 27” 1080p, 60Hz, IPS display.
Once I was able to throw up the menu, I went to the graphic settings and could not find a way to switch to another monitor. Not the worse issue to have. It was my fault, as I did not set my 1440p monitor as my main display. I was playing another game, earlier, which had this option. So, I thought it was worth noting.
I continued to play the tutorial on my 1080p monitor. The game looks good in this resolution, but I did encounter some weird, graphical glitches. I saw some weird flashes, here and there while running around and fighting. Not all the time, but definitely noticeable. I eventually wound up switching over to my 2k monitor and did not notice this issue.
Now. back to not being optimized for a gamepad; the tutorial annoyed me a bit. Having a controller on and controlling the character should signal the game to adjust the on-screen display button prompts. The tutorial would tell me to press F or 1, or to hold the right mouse button; this was all very confusing. I eventually figured it out, but for a free to play game, this should be addressed. I may have just decided this wasn’t worth it and turned the game off at this point. I’ve done it in the past, but I’m glad I didn’t here.
In the tutorial, I was able to have my choice of a main melee weapon, side arm and long range. I chose the sword, pistol and assault rifle. These were a good choice for me, as they fit my typical play-style.
Once the game let me play without restrictions, I didn’t really know what to expect. What I found was that the shooting felt fantastic! I left all the setting to the default (except inverting Y, obviously) and it just felt good. Left trigger, right trigger has definitely been imprinted on my DNA.
More of what I loved – The act of exploring the game world is tight. Clicking in the left stick allows you to sprint (I later found you can toggle this button press, so you don’t need to hold the stick down). While sprinting you now have the ability to slide, or my favorite, dive into slow motion (Max Payne and Stranglehold style, bullet time). During this dive you have a few seconds of slow-mo, where you can unload a clip of bullets into your enemy. It’s very fun.
The traversal of the environment is also fun, because it is easy. You can double jump, wall run, slide and slow-mo dive to basically anywhere you want. In multiple levels, I was able to just kind of wing-it and force my way to where I wanted to go. I’m not sure if there are situations where you could take damage or die, I didn’t run into this problem.
What felt okay – The melee fighting. I don’t think the tutorial did a great job explaining everything. I know I had a sword attack on B and some sort of energy draining, power move on RB. If you held your weapon switch button down, you can switch between maining, your melee weapon or long range weapon. When your melee weapon is your main, holding the left trigger makes it, glow? I eventually figured out that left trigger, right trigger with the melee weapon, allowed you to deflect bullets. I just wasn’t sure if there are any other advantages of this stance. I can still do my energy swipe, by pressing B, while my assault rifle is out.
After the tutorial, (and other missions), you are sent back to your ship. The more missions I played (about 4), the more of the ship and load-out customization I was presented with. It seems typical of a free to play game. Play the game to unlock, or (usually) pay. I didn’t look into the pay side of the game just yet.
There seems to be a lot of classes, weapons, visual character packs (they range from boring lookingto bad-ass) and more to unlock. The game reminds me a bit of Phantasy Star Online. You play missions, look for materials or loot, sometimes with others and repeat.
Speaking of playing with others, I only managed to have one session with another person. It was fun enough, but at this point in the game, didn’t seen necessary. I’m assuming that later missions are much harder and require teamwork, or just more bodies firing bullets and slashing blades.
I’m intrigued with Warframe. At first, it seemed to be just a generic, 3rd person shooter. I find the shooting and controls to be exceptional. When I finally got the game running on my 1440p, 144Hz monitor, I was amazed. The game really looks nice. I was getting around 200 FPS, which kept the action looking extremely smooth.
No, I didn’t love the little hacking mini game or find the story that interesting, but oh boy, the gameplay. I think I’m going to have to put at least a few hours into Warframe to see where it goes. I’m hoping it’s not a grind fest. I’m worried that every mission winds up being the same and I don’t advance enough or unlock enough new gear abilities or classes. It does seem promising that all the weapons have XP bars that go up after missions so, I’ll have to see.
For now, Warframe gets my “I’m curious and will play some more” stamp.
Check out my gameplay video on YouTube and let me know what you think!