Warframe: Thoughts on Story and the War Within (non-spoiler edition)

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Finished the War Within questline.

Immensely enjoyable.

I find myself reflecting on why I feel Warframe’s storytelling is better than Guild Wars 2’s, and somewhat reminiscent of what I enjoyed in Guild Wars 1.

I think it boils down to elegant simplicity and personal, emotional impact.

It doesn’t try to be overly clever; you don’t need a summary of 1000 words broken up into various sections to help you track the plotline and where the hell it’s going; it’s content merely to hint at lore and leave a lot of things unexplained. Ultimately, it leaves you wanting more.

There’s usually one beat going through the main line – find something, track someone, one main goal to focus on. As a character, you know what you’re aiming to do.

When the game throws you a curveball, it impacts you directly, there are in-game consequences and even changes to the game’s mechanics to accentuate the point.

To pull a GW1 example, you work through several quest chapters to Ascend and that Ascension significantly changes your character in permanent ways – the Mursaat’s spectral agony no longer melts you.

To pull a GW2 could-have-been example, it’s as if Blish’s arm conveniently falling off and setting up an elaborate stealth mechanic game wasn’t just treated as “funny ha ha convenient, no?” and a milestone to hit along the plotline of multiple steps to take an outpost to build an army to storm a fortress to defeat Joko – but more along the lines of what-if the portal takes you and Blish into the depths of Joko’s fortress and just before he’s dragged off for questioning by Joko, he divests himself of the arm for you to stealth escape your way out (rescuing him in the process.)

Even better if Joko cuts off your arm during your own questioning and you have to replace it with Blish’s gift arm and get that skillset permanently (but that’s not happening since GW2 is allergic to imposing restrictions and consequences on player characters.)

But at least it would be slightly higher and more personally impactful stakes.

At the end of Warframe’s quests, something always changes. Your ship expands, develops, gains new additions. You, and the story of you, expands, develops, becomes more than you once knew.

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Warframe’s story does not hesitate to take some very dramatic steps.

It is helped along by some of the best video game music I’ve ever heard. They accompany the story beats, accentuating wordlessly the emotion behind what you witness.

 

Gives me chills just listening to it.

That’s a soundtrack sale right there.

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I’m hooked and definitely down for the Warframe ride.

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