That isn’t to say that you start off with no idea what was going on. You get the absolute barest overview of what’s taking place before you launch into your first encounter, which makes it clear that you’re waking up slowly and have to get right back into the thick of things right away. But it was an impressive experience insofar as it really does feel like you shouldn’t quite have a clear picture of what’s going on. Something is happening, yes, but there has not yet been time or opportunity to explain much.
Here’s the unfortunate side: All of that also extends to the actual tutorial itself, which covers the bare minimum of actions but still doesn’t cover some rather important points. For example, I’m really happy that readers told me about activating bullet-jumps by leaping and then zooming – not only does it make it easier to shoot things while I’m in the air, it also seems to make for wider leaps and more effective traversal in places. The game doesn’t mention this at any point.
The game in general, in fact, seems to be long on making things happen at high velocity and short on giving you context for it until later. Part of me appreciates that, insofar as it works to give you a sense of “hit these things to collect items” before you’re going to be told why you’re collecting this stuff. But it also feels like you’re constantly being bombarded with messages devoid of context.
Have a new type of mineral! Resources! Open your foundry! You can work with mods now! How do you work with mods? We’re never actually going to tell you that, although it turns out it’s the “upgrade” screen on your armory, but there’s nothing pointing you that way! The next few missions will be hell without them! Hope you figured it out.
The thing is, the more I play stuff for Choose My Adventure the more I appreciate decent tutorials and the way that the really good ones point you in a direction without holding your hand along the way. Warframe, unfortunately, fails badly on that front. It frequently doesn’t point you in the direction in the first place, much less giving you an explanation of what direction you’d even want to head in. It tells you the controls and acknowledges the existence of systems, but it doesn’t waste even two minutes giving you some idea of what those systems are about.
The result is that I’m a few hours in but still don’t know how to actually acquire new frames yet. But I do know that the “1” key activates my first power. (The tutorial doesn’t show you any others, because you don’t get any others for a while. I think.)
Having said all of that, none of this would matter if the actual gameplay wasn’t worth the time it takes, and I’m happy to say that it is. All of these are very real problems, yes, but the heart of the game is running around as a cyborg space-ninja shooting people. Turns out that doing so is a lot of fun! Who would have guessed?
Playing solo in particular is satisfying because of how the game is structured. A lot of people told me ahead of time to default to a solo queue for the first few runs, which was good advice, ad it works well from a balance standpoint. I’ve never felt overwhelmed by enemies or in huge amounts of danger, but neither do I feel untouchable amidst swarms of enemies.
My frame can stand up to a decent amount of damage, but once the shields are down it doesn’t have a whole lot of health, and a sustained firefight takes my shields down quickly. So the smart thing to do is to focus on stealthy kills and picking off small groups before they can sound the alarm. Yet it never feels like that’s the endgame; stopping alarms isn’t tremendously difficult, so if things go cross-eyed it’s a matter of being smart and taking the next steps necessary.
It’s a rare game where the fighting and the stealthy operations are both fun enough to hold up under scrutiny. Obviously, it’s a very light sort of stealth, but it feels like a natural transition back and forth without ever being obnoxious or uncomfortable.
It also helps that your starter weapons feel like weapons, rather than discarded trash. I can see things I don’t like about my assault rifle and pistol, for example, but I never feel like I’m plinking away with inaccurate or weak weapons. So often games start you with absolute garbage, and I appreciate that’s not the case here.
The actual story and missions are fairly perfunctory “go here and do a thing” sorts of affairs, with the early focus being on restoring your half-damaged ship and getting that restraint off of your body. You get the strong sense of being caught between larger icebergs, to steal a phrase; it’s clear that you don’t have the whole picture, but it’s also clear who your allies and enemies are. (Surprising no one, the enemies are the horrendously weird Grineer.) You’re not being manipulated, you just aren’t getting the full story.
Suffice it to say that I’m enjoying the game so far, though. There are some definite weaknesses in presentation and in teaching, but the actual moment-to-moment gameplay is fun, and while a lot of things are under-explained, nothing feels so terribly obtuse that I’m not confident I’ll figure it out eventually. Really, the only thing I totally dislike is the way that weapon swapping works, helped not a whit by the muscle memory reaching for “F” for melee strikes.
Now, a poll. Thus far I’ve been heading straight through the game’s main missions from start to finish, focusing on that above and beyond any side ventures. That doesn’t mean I don’t see those side ventures, though, and perhaps I ought to be exploring those instead of just having tunnel vision. But is that the right way to play? For that matter, is that the play style that people want to see? Let’s put it to a vote!
CMA: How should I proceed?
- Continue this storyline to the end (34%, 43 Votes)
- Start doing side missions (8%, 10 Votes)
- Do a mix of both (58%, 73 Votes)
Total Voters: 126
As usual, polls are open until 6:00 p.m. EST on Friday. Until then, you can feel free to leave comments and feedback down below, or mail them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. More advice and suggestions are also welcome, since the game definitely has lots of things which require an explanation they don’t actually get.