Warframe is an upcoming TPS (third person shooter) game being developed by Digital Extremes (best known for games like Unreal, Bioshock and Homefront). The game follows the brave protectors of the universe known as Tenno who have awakened to battle the fearsome Grineer who are threatening the world as we know it. Sounds like your average sci-fi shooter doesn't it? Well Warframe has a trick up it's sleeve; the game can be played either as solo or with friends. There are no competitive multiplayer modes available though.
The player characters in the game are known as Warframes. Each of the three available Waframes (Excalibur, Loki and Volt) has it's own set of skills and powers it can use. The Excalibur focuses on gunplay, the Loki is for stealth players who like to surprise their victims with special powers and finally the Volt is for players who like close quarters combat. Other than the ability to use special powers and unleash deadly sword-skills the gameplay is your basic TPS; you run around the (big and maze-like) levels with your character and shoot at everything that moves (unless playing with friends of course). You have a decent collection of weapons that can be customized with gained experience.
Each weapon (along with the Warframe itself) collects experience and ranks. Each rank you can select a new skill for the Warframe or the weapon that has gained the rank. Warframes have skills like extra shield capacity or new abilities to use and the same applies to the weaponry; you have stuff like extra ammunition in the clip or extra damage. New weapons can be purchased with earned (or found) cash or made from blueprints found on the levels. These blueprints require materials which can be found during missions on different planets.
The game focuses on our own solar system and each planet has multiple levels with different objectives; you have Sabotage (just as the title says, blow something up) and Assassination (kill some big bad-ass enemy) for example. The missions are randomly chosen as you select a planet which is a great feature. Unfortunately the game crashed after I completed the first mission. The levels are rather large and if you plan on checking each corner for extra loot, prepare to spend some extra time wandering around.
The enemies are your basic sci-fi stuff; you have ordinary riflemen that pose no real threat, heavy gunners which can easily kill you if they get close and melee-specialized baddies that try to use their saws to cut you in half. The AI is decent as it tries to flank you and take cover but unfortunately they have no idea how big they are; when they're in cover you can easily still shoot them. One extremely annoying thing is the way the game spawns new enemy patrols... Always behind you. I can't even remember how many times I was ambushed when I thought no one would be in my behind (get the joke?). Luckily (at least at the moment) the game saves all your gained experience points and gear even if you quit during a mission.
The graphics are a two-bladed sword; the textures are quite bland and dark but the lighting effects in the game look excellent. The game uses bloom like it's going out of fashion and the results are obvious; even the blade on your back flashes like a lightsaber. Overally the graphics fit the game nicely and the game runs great. One odd thing I found out was that the game ran better with higher settings than with lower; I got steady 120 FPS with everything set to maximum (yeah even anti-aliasing) but when I switched the textures and shadows to low, I got only 107 FPS. Extremely weird. The game also supports PhysX.
Overally the game shows a lot of promise for a free-to-play title. The cooperative theme of the game is great and there seems to be enough levels to keep you occupied for a while. Even if you don't have any friends to play with the game works great as a solo experience; ranking up your different weapons is fun and addicting. The one game-crashing bug/glitch aside, I didn't notice anything 'wrong' or 'broken' with Warframe. If you enjoy action-packed TPS games (and even better if your friends like them also) then keep your eyes on GD for the announcement of the release date which isn't available yet. I'm definitely going to do so.