Sony probably walked away from E3 confident that it'll lead the console race, especially after the press conference at which it cheekily announced its dirt-simple method of sharing PS4 games. While Warframe is by no means a brand-new title (it's in open beta on the PC), it's set up to serve as a trojan horse for the PS4 -- a horse filled with chocolate and not a handful of soldiers. Unfortunately, my demo was too short to get the lowdown on how the PS4 version may be different than the PC version and how some of the more intricate systems of Warframe work.
One hardware aspect that Sony is trying to push hard with Warframe is its PS4 controller touchpad. The execution of the touchpad for this game didn't really work well, as swiping my finger across the surface resulted in my character firing a barrage of energy blasts directly into a wall, thus expunging all my saved-up energy. It was difficult to get a handle on whether the touchpad worked in a directional manner or touching certain areas would procure a different result. Another swipe of the pad later on in my skirmish turned my character invisible, and a clone jumped out to distract. These actions could have easily been mapped to the buttons, so it's a question of whether or not the touchpad actually has a use in the game other than just to get PS4 owners oriented to how the pad works. With the lackluster success of the Vita, it remains to be seen whether Sony will take full advantage of the touchpad as Nintendo has done in the past with its (still!) strong-selling DS line.
There have been reports that a lot of player maps on the PC beta are generic and repetitive, with each design resembling cookie-cutter churnouts (three times fast, go!) with little variety in build and texture. It clearly wasn't evident with the PS4 demo, and we'll be able to tell if there will be an improvement only once the PS4 launches this holiday season. What also doesn't appear to be fully fleshed-out is how microtransactions will work for the PS4 version. I was told that microtransactions ease players into obtaining weapons and special abilities, but I'm not certain whether that aligns more with pay-for-convenience or pay-to-win.
At first glance, Warframe
certainly dazzles, but players are going to have to sit and work with it at the PS4 launch to see if it's truly worth their time. It could evolve into something powerful that will stick with PS4 players (one can recall the lifespan of Team Fortress 2
) or a title that will get gamers to sign the Sony petition immediately to get hardware in the home fast. We'll keep an eye on its evolution and hope for the the former outcome.
Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!