By Travis Trombley
NOTE: This is a sample compare & contrast essay
After so many comments, I took the bait and downloaded Warframe.
Immediately I saw why so many people compare these two games. Both are science fiction RPGs that place players in the shoes of some kind of super soldier tasked with policing the solar system. In Destiny, you are a guardian, a knock-off Jedi Knight with special powers granted to you by a giant orb called the Traveler. Warframe, on the other hand, makes you a sort of space-ninja known as a Tenno, who also possesses special powers (the details behind those powers remain yet unclear to me). Both are online-only, multiplayer action-shooter games that task players with leveling up their characters and gear through hours of “grinding” so they can take on tougher enemies to get more gear...and so on. Similarly, the overall ‘plots’ of both games are rather vague. Each tasks the player to go from planet to planet accomplishing small missions, but few add up to anything more than an excuse to shoot bad guys. The plots, like the words themselves - solar systems of diverse-looking worlds populated by various science-fiction tropes (the ‘bad aliens,’ robots, space-zombies) - serve the purpose of a broad context for gameplay. In other words, they give players the excuse to go places and kill bad guys. And, of course, all of this bad-guy killing can be done with friends as each game is built with PvE massive-multiplayer elements in mind.
However, despite these striking similarities, Destiny 2 and Warframe offer vastly different experiences. While more casual players might enjoy the production value of Destiny 2, Warframe’s more diverse gameplay mechanics might make it hard for me to justify spending $40 on Destiny 2’s Forsaken expansion this fall.
But how important is voice acting when compared to the overall game experience? Both games will have players killing legions of identical foes, so making that combat enjoyable is key. For better or worse, Destiny's appeal-to-the-masses approach to gaming extends to its gameplay mechanics in the form of an approachable simplicity.
As a result, the moment-to-moment gameplay in Warframe is almost always more exciting than that of Destiny. Like its predecessor Halo, Destiny’s FPS experience limits players to a run, jump, crouch, aim, shoot, repeat mechanic. Sure, there’s a tactical slide, double jump, and sprint option now, but everything Destiny 2 allows players to do still seems sub-par. In 2016, Titanfall 2 allowed players to do everything Destiny 2 can do, plus grappling hooks, wall runs, and air assassinations. Why should a soldier with a jet-pack feel more powerful than a super-powered space-knight? No such issue exists with Warframe, which fully enables me to be the space-ninja I want to be. Like a third-person version of Titanfall, Warframe empowers players with movement: rolls, slides, double jumps, super jumps, and wall runs (both up vertical services and across horizontal surfaces). As in the Uncharted games, players can run in any direction while firing weapons from the hip, allowing for increased options of movement while attacking. Warframe also offers a series of melee weapons as a standard part of the arsenal, which not only allows for blocking (yes - you can deflect bullets with a ninja sword), but unique attacks that can be chained with jumps and slides. Melee combat can later be modified with the use of stances, which allow players to alter the effects of their melee attacks to best fit their playstyle and add powerful melee combos akin to those from more action-oriented games like Nier Automata or God of War.
There’s much more to be said on this topic. I didn’t get much into story, as I’m not far enough in Warframe to really understand it all yet. We could go on about Warframe’s intense degree of customizability, of course, but we would also have to discuss it’s lacking PvP offerings, which is an area where Destiny excels. I could dedicate an entire essay to the different approaches these games have towards charging for content (Warframe is free-to-play; Bungie, on the other hand, has caught flack for overcharging its players for sub-par DLC content). But that’s all for another day. The core takeaway here is the nature of game complexity. Players who want a simple, pedestrian RPG experience will find everything they want in the accessible, fun, sometimes wonderfully ridiculous world of Destiny with it’s easy-to-understand gunplay and leveling experience. On the other hand, those who want options in their approach to gameplay and are willing to put time and effort into understanding a game that does not easily explain its incredibly in-depth mechanics will prefer Warframe.