A new free to play third-person shooter that ticks all the boxes? Perhaps
Free to play online fight fests have matured somewhat in the last couple of years, take for example DC Universe online, a good example of a third-person MMO, but it lacks certain elements that make for a truly unique online cooperative experience.
Warframe, takes the helm then. A very extensive third-person shooter that takes place in a heavily story led Sci-Fi, dystopian future.
There’s a little of something for everyone here; your character, a choice of three types of agile, alien ninja, has an impressive array of primary weapons available, from rifles to shotguns and a mix of both, to a secondary pistol which can be swapped out for something with a bit more grunt. Finally, the melee combat is nicely taken care of with the addition of a sword strapped to your character’s back. In addition to the weaponry, each character has some kind of super ability, psychic powers, invisibility and electrical powers.
As with every good MMO going, you can mod and upgrade your current selection of weapons through the collection of certain items that enemies drop. Once you are of an appropriate level, and you have the necessary elements, then you can craft and upgrade your existing arsenal, or by collecting very well hidden blueprints, you can craft your own instruments of destruction. As well as the base crafting system, your character can level up and unlock various benefits, such as special attack moves, more health, or the ability to wield a more powerful gun, and, depending on the type of initial character you chose from the beginning, your super ability is also improved.
Warframe may follow the tried and tested route of a standard MMO, but it hides an interesting element that makes it stand out from the crowd. By default, you are online and when entering a mission will be matchmaker’d into the session with other players to fight out the cooperative match. However, if you opt to go offline, then you can engage the enemy in the same missions but solo. This solo experience may not appeal to everyone, but it does give you the feeling that you’ve managed to gain a free game out of the free to play online experience. However, there is the loss of other players to contend with, and there’s no loss of the number of enemies, so if you think you can handle it then that’s up to you.
While Warframe ticks as many boxes as possible, it is let down in several ways. For starters, the missions, although being played across a very large map, are very repetitive: destroy a reactor, kill all the enemies on the map, retrieve an alien artefact… and so on. After a while you also become used to the layout of the maps, so you can pretty much guess where the enemy are located.
Also, the enemy AI is rather limited; a well-placed sniper shot will make its target, and the enemy will run around like a headless chicken, then suddenly stop and carry on with its pre-set duties until you come within range and trigger the attack AI. Fortunately the decent graphics, ragdoll physics of the dead enemies and fast paced action make up for the monotonous trudge through the maps. There’s still a lot of work left to bring Warframe up to scratch, and the initial instructions and tutorial need an overhaul, as once you’re introduced to the controls you’re pretty much left to your own devices. But the gameplay is there, and in time this could turn out to be one of the best third-person shooter MMO available.
• Price: Free/Free to Play
• Manufacturer: Digital Extremes Ltd.
• Website: warframe.com
• Required Spec: Windows XP SP3 and beyond, Core 2 Duo 2Ghz+, 2GB RAM, 8600GT/Radeon HD3600, DirectX 9.0C.