Updated Fri, Feb 22, 2013 by Ralphedelominius
This week we’re running a beta key giveaway for the latest game from Digital Extremes, Warframe. To help give our readers an idea of what Warframe is all about, we’ve put together an intro guide to some of the game’s core features. For those of you who end up snagging one of the closed beta keys we’re giving away this week, it will also provide some useful insights into what makes the game tick.
Also be on the lookout later this week for our hands-on preview of Warframe. Xerin and I have been playing the heck out of the game, and each offer up our different perspectives on the game based on our time with the closed beta so far. In the meantime, this primer will get you up to speed on what Warframe is all about.
Warframe isn’t what you’d expect when you hear the words “online shooter”. Instead of focusing on PvP match types, Warframe is a cooperative PvE game. Teams of up to four players can embark on a series of progressively more challenging missions that take place on enemy spaceships. The missions themselves are very reminiscent of your typical hack-and-slash setup of randomized dungeons, enemy encounters, and loot.
Don’t get me wrong though; Warframe is very much a third person shooter through and through. For those of you unfamiliar with developer Digital Extremes’ place in shooter history, the studio is co-creator of the original Unreal. Needless to say, DE knows a thing or two when it comes to solid shooter gameplay. And unlike where the Unreal Engine ended up going in later years, Warframe is more about action gaming rather than boring cover systems and dudes who don’t know when to stop taking steroids.
Following a brief tutorial, you’ll be able to pick from one of three available starting warframes:
A perfect balance of mobility and offense. Excalibur is the ideal Warframe for new players.
Desired by advanced players, Loki offers a variety of specialized reconfiguring abilities. The creativity of Loki's powers allows players to master the battlefield through manipulation.
Volt can create and harness electrical elements. This is a high-damage Warframe perfect for players who want a potent alternative to gun-play.
You can purchase or create a pretty decent variety of Warframes, each offering a distinctive playstyle. For example, Mag focuses on magnetic manipulation and is perfect for reducing enemy shields, pulling targets into melee range, or crushing them for massive damage, while Trinity plays more of a support role, capable of providing another means for players to regain health or energy.
To swap out your active Warframe, open up the Arsenal tab at the top of the screen, and then click on its portrait. This will open up a listing of any Warframes you own and those that can be purchased for credits or Platinum. Blueprints to create certain Warframes can be purchased in the market, and then created using the Foundry.
To start out with, you will have one additional open Warframe slot, with other slots costing you Platinum to unlock. We’re also dubbing Warframe a “dude game” due to the fact that all starting Warframes are male, while female options have to be purchased for cash or created from blueprints. The logic behind this move baffles us to be quite honest, but I suppose some game developers still consider female shooter fans to be a myth maybe?
Advancement works a bit differently in Warframe than in your standard online PvE experience. While you do get an overall ranking as a player, power advancement is based on active usage of a specific Warframe or weapon. As such, all warframes and weapons you own will not only level up independently from one another, but also come bundled with their own skill trees.
Swapping out weapons will be the same process as swapping Warframes described above. From the Arsenal screen, click on the weapon and you will see a complete list of available weapons. From here you can equip any weapon for that slot you currently own, purchase new weapons, or even some blueprints to create new weapons in the Foundry screen.
As you actively use a weapon in combat, you will earn experience towards leveling up that specific weapon. Each time you level one up, you will earn one skill point that allows you a certain degree of customization for a particular weapon. This includes things like unlocking mod slots, faster reload times, bigger clip sizes, or even higher damage output.
As shown above, all standard weapons or those purchased with in-game currency will come bundled with a basic skill tree. Advanced (Pro) trees can also be unlocked, but will cost you Platinum (Warframe’s virtual cash shop currency).
While Warframe does have a brief tutorial that helps familiarize you with combat basics, it really is pretty basic stuff that just about any shooter fan or online gamer will grasp fairly quickly. There are a number of other things to be aware of that can help immensely once you begin running missions.