A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Warframe is a free-to-play downloadable third-person sci-fi shooter for the PlayStation 4 and Windows computers. It's played primarily online, cooperatively and competitively, with up to three other human players. Its action-heavy gameplay revolves around violence -- shooting and swordplay -- as well as superhuman skills like energy blasts. Combat contains considerable blood, gore, and dismemberment. While there's no iffy language within the game dialogue, the open chat for multiplayer communication means that players could encounter bullying, profanity, and inappropriate conversations.
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What's it about?
WARFRAME revolves around a war between a race of ancient warriors and a militarized race of human/robot hybrids known as the Grineer. As one of the ancient warriors, you're pulled out of stasis to fight off the Grineer and are quickly reacquainted with your high-tech battle suit (called a "Warframe"). The suit lets you give and take damage as well as run and jump to superhuman heights. It also gives you unique combat skills that can be modified and upgraded. Gameplay involves two things: completing story missions to advance the main narrative and going on repeatable missions to gather resources to unlock further areas for exploration. This can be done either alone or cooperatively with up to three other players. Mission objectives vary in difficulty, and rewards are proportionate. As of November 2017, an expansion called Plains of Eidolon introduced an MMO-like (massively Multiplayer Online) element to the game that lets players explore, take on bounties, craft weapons, mine, and fish.
Is it any good?
Players looking for hours of engaging and intense science-fiction multiplayer combat are in for a treat. Warframe is a fast-moving shooter that takes you zooming through space exploring spaceships, planets, and moons. Missions can be taken on alone or with others; either way, you earn resources and experience points (XP). The idea is to gather enough currency and resources to upgrade your armor and weaponry, which means lots of exploration and replaying missions. Thankfully, mission environments are randomly generated, which cuts down the tedium.
Naturally, missions are easier with other players, and Warframe's slick matchmaking system takes the intimidation factor out of cooperative play. You could stay busy for a long time just joining up with other players, fighting and upgrading your skills, but the recent Plains of Eidolon expansion offers you new ways to interact. The scavenger town of Cetus offers lots of shopping options, the option to learn fishing and mining, and the ability to create your own weapons. It also offers bounty-style missions you can complete within a large, open MMO-like area. Both the expansion and the main game are cool to look at thanks to good graphics, effects, and sound design. At its 2014 launch, the game had unfortunate camera and connection issues and lacked a tutorial. Thankfully, those things have improved. Admittedly, the game's upgrade/mod system remains almost overwhelmingly complex, and players' complaints about the time and effort needed to earn resources remain valid. Still, the game is constantly changing as the community makes its needs known, and all signs point to it continuing to change for the better. Parents of younger kids are right to be concerned about the constant violence and unmoderated in-game chat, but Warframe's easy matchmaking and tons of content make it a solid choice for older teens and adult fans of sci-fi shooters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy violence. Is violence against aliens in a fantasy setting like Warframe more acceptable than violence against humans in a realistic setting? Why or why not?
Discuss the risks of online play and cyberbullying. Do you know what to do if other players get mean or start inappropriate conversations?
Think about budgeting time and money for online games. How much of either is reasonable to spend on an individual game?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free (Contains optional in-game purchases.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Digital Extremes Ltd.
- Release date: November 15, 2013
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood
- Last updated: August 29, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.