In the event that some folks are avoiding this game because they assume there’s a “catch”, I thought I’d explain how it works.
Warframe is available on PC, PS4 and XB1. (PC being the lead platform.) It is 100% free to play, forever, without any kind of cap. You can fully level your Warframes and other gear, unlock all locations, progress through all story quests, and participate in endgame activities at the highest level.
So what’s the catch? There are three.
1) Slots. To start with, you have 2 Warframe slots and 8 weapon slots, meaning that’s all you can hold in inventory at a given time. You can rotate anything you want through those slots and experience everything the game has to offer, but it’s gonna sting like hell every time you need to sell off a beloved possession to make room for something else. This is by far the biggest catch.
2) Time. It takes time to build things. For a new Warframe, you typically need to acquire 3 component blueprints, which usually drop from bosses, and construction materials. Then it takes 12 hours to craft the components followed by 3 days to craft the Warframe. Weapons are simpler— buy the blueprint, farm the materials, and build in 12 to 24 hours. This “grind” can be rushed along or skipped entirely by spending $.
3) Cosmetic items are very limited if you don’t want to spend money.
How to work around these three catches?
There are two main in-game currencies. Credits are farmed and used to buy blueprints, rank up mods, build new items, etc. Platinum is the premium currency and can only be purchased with real $. (Well, not exactly. More on this later.) Platinum is used to buy slots for more weapons and Warframes, rush construction projects, buy prebuilt gear, and purchase cosmetic upgrades.
You start with 150 platinum for free. Warframe slots cost 20 and two weapon slots cost 12. So as far as catch #1 goes, you’re handed a Band-Aid right off the bat. 150 platinum will buy you 4 Warframe slots and 10 weapon slots with some left over. That’s plenty to keep you busy for a long ass time. If you find you still need more slots, then you’ve played the fuck out of the game and maybe it’s time to support the developer.
On point #2, the grind is the game, and I hate the term grind because it usually comes with a negative connotation. You get credits, resources, and blueprints by just playing. You don’t play to get those things, you get those things as you play.
And point #3 is largely irrelevant. Cosmetic items are superfluous by their very nature. That said, there’s a reason many people refer to the endgame as Fashion Frame and I’d be full of shit if I denied spending hours fine-tuning color schemes.
Finally, if you’re piss poor and/or absolutely refuse to spend a dime on the game (even though you’d pay $60 for something you’d put less time into) there is a way to get platinum in-game. You can farm rare mods and Prime parts and sell them to other players. So ultimately, it is possible to have everything for free, but it would take an immense amount of time.
What I like about this model is that you only spend money on the things you value, as opposed to paying a flat rate for a game or DLC that may include stuff you don’t particularly care about. YMMV.