At this point, I’m running out of things to praise Warframe for. Sure you can argue that most of the things are superficial and boring in Warframe but it’s better than everything else on the market.
Warframe doesn’t have a lot of innovative ideas in terms of game mechanics. Almost everything in the game has been done in previous games from other genres. It’s a brainchild of borrowed ideas, the fun part is that Warframe does every idea better and more efficiently. The fun part is that Warframe refines all the mechanics beyond the point of perfection. Digital Extremes puts balancing at the forefront and makes content king. These two things that allow players to retain their love for their gear and invest into newer weapons and warframes. Thus, in turn, keeping the flow of content moving and not stagnating the shoot-loot pool.
You shall not pass
Battle passes have been around since 2013. Nobody actually called them Battle Passes because Valve decided to call them Compendiums. The Compendium would allow Dota 2 players to get cosmetic items through gameplay means. The Compendium was later on transferred onto their Dota Plus system. The Dota 2 Compendium’s revenue gain directly influences the game’s eSports sector. Dota 2’s The International’s prize pool is made up of 25% of the total Compendium revenue. In 2018, Dota 2 introduced a permanent Battle Pass with Dota Plus alongside the seasonal one. Considering that The International’s prize pool is in the millions and grows each year, the Compendium purchase crowd definitely exists.
Valve’s successful seasonal monetization was a marker in the history of gaming. Some might even call it a black mark. Whatever the case may be, battle passes have gone on to become a staple for many games. Team Fortress employed a seasonal pass back in 2015. Dauntless, the free-to-play monster hunting game has a battle pass for the last 2 seasons.
But if any genre has benefitted from a Battle Pass system, it is the Battle Royale. Introduced by Fortnite, this monetization policy has become a staple for the genre. Currently, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Ring of Elysium and any other famous battle royale has a battle pass system in place. Even Apex Legends, the new kid in Battle Royale town will get a battle pass sometime this month.
All these games more or less employ a two-fold pass. The two folds are basic and elite (paid). While the basic pass does have some items here and there, the paid pass has ludicrously more content. It’s a trend that is tried and tested through wallets and purchases. And while I’m on the fence about locking items behind a paywall, at least it isn’t lootbox gambling.
Nightwave making waves
Warframe has always been a free-to-play game. And the monetization has never been a problem for Digital Extremes either for being extremely consumer-friendly. Now when you’re talking about Battle passes, Warframe is the last game that comes to your mind. But it’s true. Warframe has a battle pass now.
Even though it is named “Nightwave”, the core concept is the same. You get daily and weekly quests by simply logging in and playing the game. Some of the challenges can span multiple missions while some can even take days to complete. These challenges reward you with “standing” which levels you up on the Nightwave syndicate. Leveling up each level grants you that level specific reward.
While these rewards are mostly cosmetic, some rewards have an effect on gameplay. This is especially good in Warframe as completing these levels can give players access to some really high-level loot. While low-level players do benefit the most, high-level players don’t need to grind endlessly for the same things.
Apart from the usual level-bound rewards, some levels reward players with Wolf creds. These creds allow players to buy specific rewards from the Syndicate vendor. And that’s not all. If you manage to max out the Syndicate levels once, you can prestige the entire 30 levels again to earn more wolf creds. These creds can earn you special decorations, warframe cosmetics, Orokin catalysts & reactors and much more. Digital Extremes retired their old time-limited mission alert system in order to integrate the Nightwave into the game easily. And as such the alert-specific rewards were also reintroduced into the Nightwave system.
Nightwave does exactly what a Battle Pass is supposed to do. Make sure that players are engaged with the game in a way that both challenges and rewards them simultaneously. The twist here is that the Nightwave is FREE. What other games charge 10$ and sometimes upwards, costs nothing in Warframe. And the progression actually comes with a narrative focus as well. Presented to us a rogue faction, Wolf of Saturn Six is an actual field boss who can spawn in mission and hunt you. And even the field boss has certain rewards attached to it.
As I said at the beginning, I’m running out of things to praise in Warframe. But Digital Extremes are the studio that keeps on giving. In an age when almost every aspect of a game can be monetized, DE is skipping over everything to make it player-friendly. With a new update on the horizon (read: this week), who knows where they’ll send the game next. While other games and publishers run for every penny they can extract from their player base, Warframe does without a care about money. And that’s pretty commendable.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with The Wolf of Saturn Six.