Warframe: Officially a Nintenno Switch Player

It’s official: I’ve made the Switch switch. After dabbling in Warframe on the PC for a couple of years now, I’ve migrated to the Nintendo handheld world. I’ve always been a strongly PC gamer with a Nintendo console on the side for exclusives like Zelda and Smash Bros., but I never thought I’d play anything resembling an MMO, much less a shoooter, on console. Keyboard and mouse just gives you so much more accuracy than a controller, and most days I’d much rather communicate with strangers by typing than voice chat. But, for whatever reason, every time I try to play Warframe on PC, my hands and wrists start to hurt. I think it’s just the finger gymnastics involved in running, sliding, and jumping. I’ve tried remapping the keys to more comfortable positions, but it hasn’t helped. A USB Xbox controller makes things more comfortable, but then we’re back to the loss of accuracy problem. The solution: Switch gyro controls. Yes, I know, I’ve hated on the Wiimote’s motion controls for over a decade now, but playing Splatoon 2 on the Switch Pro Controller with gyro controls on has changed my mind. It’s the next best thing to a keyboard and mouse, because you can use the right thumbstick for course adjustments, and the gyro controls to fine tune your aim. It takes some getting used to, but after a couple of hours it feels pretty natural. I was actually able to beat a boss that was giving me trouble last time I played on PC on the first try!

Can we talk about how good this game looks on Switch? It’s not as good as maxed out settings on PC, but a few years ago I would never have believed Nintendo could squeeze this kind of graphical fidelity into a handheld tablet form factor. Next time someone claims that the Switch has the same hardware as the Wii/Wii U, I’m going to show them this game. Sure, it’s not 1080p@60fps, but I’ve never really been able to tell that difference from my couch. I saw some minor FPS drops on particularly hectic missions, but nothing game breaking (and I’m told these can be improved by dialing back the settings if you find them particularly troubling). It’s really impressive!

While the game is, sadly, not crossplay with the PC, Digital Extremes was kind enough to allow PC players to copy their PC accounts to the Switch, as they did when the XBOne/PS4 versions came out a while back. That’s really nice, because it would be sad to lose out on the items and gear I’ve spent time farming for (or gotten from Twitch). The only thing that didn’t transfer was the cash shop currency platinum, so I used up my platinum buying the Octavia ‘frame and some extra slots before I transferred. This techno bard-style class is one of the things that made me pay attention to this game; I actually thought Warframe was just a lobby shooter in the vein of Overwatch when I first heard about it, but for some reason I read an article on the launch of Octavia and my interest was piqued. I love bards in any form, so I’m looking forward to learning to play this one.

Will Warframe ever become my main not-quite-an-MMO? No, but it has replaced Marvel Heroes (which shut down 1 year ago today, RIP) as a mindless, casual side game that allows me to grind for lots of fun stuff without having to spend a penny (unless I want to look cool). The Switch version has made it a lot more accessible to me, not only because I can play it portably, but also because its control scheme is easier. I’m looking forward to the new open world Fortuna zone coming to Switch. I spent a little bit of time in it on PC and thought it was really cool (no pun intended) and made the game feel a lot more MMOish and less like the single player/co-op game that it launched as.

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Farewell Marvel Heroes, Hello Warframe

It’s been a while since I was so immersed in a game that it caused me to lose all track of time. And yet Warframe, a story-light shooter of all things, sucked me in over the weekend and, before I knew it, I had been playing for over four hours.

Oddly enough, the reason why I gave Warframe another try was because of Marvel Heroes. I was reading some forum and comment threads about what people were replacing the game with. Of course, there were a lot of people saying that there’s nothing out there to replace it, because a lot of the charm of Marvel Heroes was wrapped up in the Marvel name. I expected to see a lot of Path of Exile–both games are shameless, online Diablo clones, after all–but I was surprised to see Warframe popping up just as often, if not more so. Warframe is obviously a who different genre than Marvel Heroes, so at first it feels kind of strange, but beyond that, it actually has a lot of similarities. Both games are sort-of-but-not-quite MMORPGs with a lot of mindless action. They’re both heavily instanced, with random group matching, or not if you like playing solo. They both have a ton of “classes”–52 Warframes to Marvel Heroes’ 63 heroes–and both games have excellent free to play models, with all of those classes being earned in game or bought with money. And, as I thought about it, I realized that that was one of my favorite things about Marvel Heroes; it fed into my altaholism in the same way that Warframe had the potential to do. Another thing that both games have in common is that they’re both kind of hard to get into, so it took a couple of attempts, but now I think it’s safe to say that I’m hooked.

I’m still mourning the untimely loss of Marvel Heroes, but at least some good came out of it. I had dabbled in Warframe before, but I wouldn’t have given it as serious a look if I hadn’t read so many glowing reviews of it from ex Marvel Heroes players.

5 MMOs I Wish I Was Playing

Free time is a limited resource, and I can usually only budget my time into two, maybe three, games, MMO or not, before one or more of them get pushed out. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I get plenty of gaming time in, but there are a lot of games out there that I’d love to be playing right now that I simply haven’t had time to get to, or haven’t gotten to in a while. Here are my top five right now.

Destiny 2
This is, of course, the big new game in the genre. Yes, it’s an MMO-shooter hybrid, and I’m not really into shooters, but I loved the Mass Effect games, and couldn’t stop thinking how great those games would be as an MMO. Destiny 2 isn’t Mass Effect, but I think it could give a similar feel.
I played the PC beta, and, to be honest, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the story presentation. It wasn’t awful, but they did a very poor job explaining who these people are and why I should care about anything that’s happening. Maybe there are some things in the live game that I didn’t get in the beta?

Warframe
Speaking of MMO-shooter hybrids, there’s also Warframe. I gave this game a try a while back when Twitch Prime gave away a free ‘frame (promos work!), and was surprised by how much fun I had. I was especially impressed smoothness of the gameplay (running into a room, sliding, and headshotting a bunch of enemies with my bow before I stop is oddly satisfying). After the initial story arc I was a little lost as to what I was doing, ended up getting destroyed by some missions that were likely too high for me, and never got back around to it.

WildStar
I wrote a whole post on this not long ago, so I won’t rehash it here. Suffice it to say that I’ve been thinking about this game a lot lately, and I think I might just have to go back before the excellent Halloween event is over.

Guild Wars 1
I never played the original Guild Wars when it was in its heyday, but since I’ve been into Guild Wars 2, I picked this game up as well. I’d like to play through the Nightfall campaign, as it shares a location (and, apparently, some themes) with Guild Wars 2’s new Path of Fire expansion. Guild Wars is one of those games that seems fun, but I’ve always had trouble finding a class that I can get into. Hopefully one of these times I’ll go back and find one that clicks.

Star Trek Online
I used to make at least an annual pilgrimage back to this game, but I haven’t really played seriously since I played through the Legacy of Romulus expansion. I love Star Trek, but was really disappointed by Discovery. I’m not sure if that makes me want to come back for a dose of “good” Star Trek (not that STO is always high quality or canonically consistent by any stretch of the imagination), or stay away from it because inevitably there will be ST:D (seriously, CBS, you really need to think about your acronyms. There are five other space shuttles you could name your show after, you know) crossover content.