Warframe is a free-to-play action role-playing third-person shooter multiplayer online game developed and published by Digital Extremes. The concept for Warframe originated in 2000, when Digital Extremes began work on a new game titled Dark Sector. Initially, the growth of Warframe was slow, hindered by moderate critical reviews and low player counts. By 2012, in the wake of the success of free-to-play games, the developers took their earlier Dark Sector ideas and art assets and incorporated them into a new project, their self-published Warframe. Since its release, the game has experienced positive growth. Released for Windows personal computers in March 2013, it was ported to the PlayStation 4 in November 2013, the Xbox One in September 2014, the Nintendo Switch in November 2018 and the PlayStation 5 in November 2020. The game is one of Digital Extremes’ most successful titles, seeing nearly 50 million players in 2019. It’s also planned to be ported to Xbox Series X/S. The game is in open beta.
In Warframe, players control members of the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors who have awoken from centuries of suspended animation far into Earth’s future to find themselves at war in the planetary system with different factions. The Tenno use their powered Warframes along with a variety of weapons and abilities to complete missions. While many of the game’s missions use procedurally-generated levels, newer updates have included large open world areas similar to other massively multiplayer online games as well as some story-specific missions with fixed level design. The game includes elements of shooting and melee games, parkour, and role-playing to allow players to advance their Tenno with improved gear. The game includes both player versus environment and player versus player elements. It is supported by microtransactions, which lets players purchase in-game items using real money, but also offers the option to earn them at no cost through grinding.
The player starts out with a silent pseudo-protagonist in the form of an anthropomorphous biomechanical combat unit called ‘Warframe’ possessing supernatural agility and special abilities, a selection of basic weapons (primary, secondary and melee) and a space ship called ‘Orbiter’. Only later, in the course of the game, the player gains direct control of the ‘Operator’, which is the true Tenno protagonist in physical form (and no longer silent). The Operator is able to physically manifest themselves in the environment by projecting out of the Warframe, and disappear by resuming control of it (a process called ‘Transference’), and possesses abilities of its own. Subsequent to that, the Operator is able to Transfer into a larger, purely mechanical combat unit called ‘Necramech’, which is the technological precursor to Warframes. Players can engage in space-bound combat using an auxiliary combat platform called ‘Archwing’, mounted on a Warframe, which comes with a new set of abilities.
Players can use their weapons, special abilities, and a number of parkour style moves to navigate through and overpower forces within the mission. Downed players may choose to revive themselves up to a maximum of four times, or can be revived by other players an infinite number of times. Once complete, players are rewarded with in-game items, as well as in-game currency and items picked up while exploring the map; failure to complete a mission causes these rewards to be lost. In addition to cooperative missions, the game includes player versus player (PvP) content through the multiplayer “Conclave”, which also rewards the player for placing high in such matches. Warframe is designed to be free-to-play, and has avoided using pay to win elements; all Warframes, weapons, and other non-cosmetic equipment can be acquired in-game over time through normal gameplay, which may involve grinding. Spending the in-game currency can simplify and quicken the process.