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Why Do People Play Warframe?

So here’s a legitimate question for you guys… why is Warframe so popular all of a sudden?

I know why it’s being played by all of the Twitch streamers. They have #ad in their titles and are being paid to play.

I know why it’s being covered on some of the bigger news sites. They have disclaimers about being flown to London, and many NA-based outlets are happy to accept the free vacation in exchange for coverage.

What I’m curious about is why the sudden surge. Warframe came out in 2013 and the reviews weren’t favorable. At best it was in that “hey if you like this you might also like this” category, scraping by with 40%-70% scores. I tried it and it felt like a spaztastic shooter game with big emphasis on looting and being a fashion show. The game I tried was generic and lifeless.

Today they announced a Nintendo Switch version at something called “Tennocon” which I had to Google in order to find out it’s literally a con just for Warframe. Maybe it’s popular because it’s F2P? The model kicks you in the teeth when you see it go from “oh that looks achievable by playing” then skyrockets to “welcome to the rest of your life in grindville!”

They also made several announcements about being more open-world, and space gameplay. That’s cool and all. Total props for supporting their game for this long and for rocking the marketing hype wagon. If the reactions on Reddit are any indication, they know what their fans want and they’re giving it to them.

What I’m genuinely trying to wrap my head around is what I’m missing. What bridges the gap between the PvE grinding shooter gameplay I experienced and the tremendous love so many people have for it? I couldn’t find a purpose. Maybe some Warframe fans can help me out here.

  • Jeromai says:

    The simplest answer is to try it again for yourself. It’s been improved since it first launched to incorporate more content.

    When I first tried it several years ago, it seemed nothing significant and quite janky to boot. I dismissed it thusly. Fast forward a couple years, and it’s gone through a number of layered iterations and has an overall underlying story of “underdog devs work hard, stay passionate and improve their game, reaping a fanbase in the process” that has a certain appeal to some audiences.

    It also has lateral progression, a lot of content, a lot of items to earn/collect that appeal to grindy PvE achiever types. The parkour appeals to the player subset who love to go fast/freedom of movement. It’s easy to step into and just play, being that it’s a free to play shooter, but going further requires a fair amount of learning investment into its concepts, which possibly builds some loyalty to the franchise in the process. The ridiculous number of warframes allow players to try different gameplay styles that suit them or the mission.

    But if the overall repetitive loop of running warframes through levels and shooting/slicing/otherwise mauling enemies in some way doesn’t catch your fancy, it’s not a game that can personally last for you.

  • Pkudude99 says:

    I don’t normally like shooters, but a friend has been playing it off and on for a couple of years, so last December I gave it a shot. It is exactly what you said — a grindy looter-shooter. I normally don’t like those either, but….. Somehow it grabbed me. Why? I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s that I can have whatever level of challenge that I want… I can be a good among mortals slaughtering everything in sight or I can choose a different mission that I accomplish by the skin of my teeth, or even fail until I get better, or figure out a better mod build or try using a different frame or weapon or….

    Actually that might be part of it. For all that it’s “just a looter-shooter” there’s still an amazing variety of activities and methods of accomplishing those activities so it still doesn’t feel stale.

    And I can pop in for 5 minutes to do a mission and still feel like I have accomplished some progress, or I can just go fish in the Plains of Eidolon for hours to just relax.

    There’s just a lot to do, and it’s somehow just viscerally fun for me. Most of my recent posts on my blog are about Warframe if you care to click through for more in-depth reading than just this comment. Here is a link to my 1st post about Warframe to get you started.

  • Misaligned says:

    I tried it about a year ago. I played for a week and a half or so. It was enjoyable. I thought it was pretty good for a F2P game and the cash shop never felt intrusive during the time I played.

    I enjoyed my time but it didn’t hook me long-term. I’d recommend to anyone to give it a try and see how they like it.

    Spaztastic is a good word for it.

  • Azuriel says:

    As others have mentioned, the game is actually fun and it’s F2P.

    I was fine with the grind… up to a point. I eventually got bored with the starting Warframe, and slowly started grinding up the mats to unlock the Rhino. At some point along the way, a resource I needed (either for the Warframe or something else) only dropped from some of the destructible set pieces. Which meant I went from being a space ninja terminator to a space janitor, slowly walking through levels and cleaning each corner for mats. I had to do that… or pay $$$ to skip the grind. So, I dropped the game.

  • Solarbear says:

    Simply if Unreal and Diablo 2 had a space baby it would be Warframe.

    The game improves every year. Its not the same game that released in 2013. Movement, combat, graphics, loot systems, ui, everything is under constant improvement. It looks better than most ptp games and the movement is amazing.

    Its heaps better than most of the games you review on here and most of the games you have been playing.

    Powerful. Unlike every other ftp game and many ptp games you feel powerful and fun from day 1. You hunt out new frames and weapons because they might be fun to play not because you have to.

    The movement is amazing and fun. Moving across a map is a puzzle of jumps and slides that seems fresh.

    Variety. It has a large variety of mission types and the maps are random. This gives it a feeling of variety even if it is repetative. Add in the fact changing warframes and weapons gives you an entirely different experience.

    Collecting. There is so much stuff to collect and try. Mods, weapons and warframes are the core but there are hundreds of other things too. Most have a very unique feel and usage. Even just using a different pet can be the difference between fun and frustration. I just dig trying stuff out.

    Constant progression. In diablo 3 if I was missing an item, my build would suck. In Warframe there is so much sideways progression that I never feel that way. Again I am hunting for stuff to give me more experiences not because I feel like I have to to keep up with my friends.

    Fair Ftp. The game actually wants you to find the stuff within it rather than buy it.

  • Yohkev says:

    If you take the game and just grind I can see where you might say I don’t get it, but if you go in and follow the story? They have created an amazing story line and they seem to keep adding new surprises.

  • This Skill Up video from last year might answer a few of your questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vuJitrbTFY

  • Yazid says:

    Honestly, i have a good number of hours on warframe 300+ and i just cant get around to playing it again.

    There is no Endgame, there is no “goal” you can focus on one warframe and one or 2 weapons and with that you can do all the hardest content of the game, getting more warframes or more weapons are just for fun, that is the endgame, getting new weapons and new warframes and trying new combinations that you find fun.

    I honestly cannot take the grind anymore, i can grind allright when i have a GOAL in mind, there’s none of that on warframe unfortunatelly.

    • Solarbear says:

      Do you need the developers to give you a goal?

      I find your statement very interesting. Clearly, lots of game players want predefined goals. Most games have them built in and they are obvious. I wonder how important this is.

      WOW for example has various levels of obvious power and goals built in. It is very successful. I found it kind of limiting and frustrating as a player.

      Warframe is more of a collecting game that leaves you to set many short term goals for yourself. It is also very successful. But clearly didn’t gel with you. I prefer it.

      I wonder how important it is for a game to say this is your goal? And whether it is split in demographics?

      • Yazid says:

        I do need developers to give me a goal.

        I’m not a very creative person and honestly when it comes to gaming i can be somewhat lazy on “content creation” for myself so that’s why Warframe is not the right pick for me even tho i have played it for quite a bit.

        WoW/FFXIV on the other hand i enjoy the threadmill, leveling alts, tackling harder content, the game does it for me so i don’t really need to look for it (Lazy) and i can quickly find other people to do content with either via automated systems or a well done region-wide party finder.

        Bear in mind, i have already played quite a bit of sandbox games like Ultima Online where there is no real “goal” other than somewhat live in that world, but i find that nowadays this does not attract me anymore like it once did.

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