Warframe has been one of my favorite games for the last while. It's very fun to run around being some kind of magical space ninja in a funky metal suit. And, without really getting into the game, it appears that the business model is really fair. Other than a few items which have been removed from the game, and three that were exclusive to the limited-edition "founder's pack", you can get everything by simply putting some time in and playing.

However, after spending a decent amount of time with the game (over a 150 hours give or take should be sufficient to get a good understanding of what's going on), there are a few hidden costs that I'm not so keen on.

Yes, it's absolutely true that you can technically get basically everything by actually playing the game. All the different Warframes can be collected through various methods, the majority being collected in pieces from various bosses and then assembled in the foundry. Weapons have a little more variety, but most can be bought as blueprints in the market for in-game money and then assembled in the foundry, gotten as drops from various missions as parts and blueprints and then assembled in the foundry, or gotten as blueprints from research and then assembled in the foundry. (There's a running theme here.) Sentinels, which are little robots that hover at your shoulder and do things, too can be gained from research or in the market for in-game credits and then assembled in the foundry.

Seems fair, right? Well, for the most part, it is. But there are some things that are extremely unfair, and it mostly has to do with "end-game" content.

All weapons, sentinels and Warframes have a level cap of 30. There's content that goes well past that level. You are able to take on that content by having high-level mods applied to your stuff. But, you only have so many points you can use to apply mods. Well, every mod has a polarity, and if you slot a mod into a slot with the same polarity, then it costs half of what it usually does. You can use this thing called Forma to change the polarity of a slot on a weapon, but you have to have that weapon fully leveled and using Forma makes it so you have to re-level it. Oh wait, you can also use these Orokin Reactors/Catalysts to double to mod-energy on a piece of equipment. (Reactors for frames and sentinels, catalysts for weapons.)

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Here's where it gets a little dirty: Reactors/Catalysts only drop from 3rd tier log in rewards and specific alert missions. You have no guarantee that you'll ever get a single one. But they sell them for real money in the marketplace.

This and a few other points are what drag this game down, and I'd like to address these.

Reactors/Catalysts

As I said before, lots of mod energy is absolutely necessary to even play the "end-game" content. Having a reactor or a catalyst is basically required to play end-game content, or at least to play it well.

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The only times I've seen the alerts that drop either a Catalyst or a Reactor are right after the devstreams or "prime time" streams put on by the developer. I have yet to even witness a Reactor or Catalyst or blueprint of either dropping from the daily chance. (All I get are worthless affinity bonuses and blueprints for weapons/Warframes I already have, but that's a different gripe.)

I wouldn't mind if these were more like Forma, which is difficult to get and only drops from "endgame" content, like the Orokin Void or Orokin Derelicts, but actually drops from a specific set of missions. I don't care if the missions are hard and need you to have some decently set-up gear, but please don't make it so hard to get these if they're going to be necessary to taking on parts of the content.

Clan Research

Clan research is another sore spot for me, since it's necessary to do in order to access content, but costs some pretty hefty materials to even build the facilities just to get to the research. To build the rooms you need to even do any research, you have to get forma, and then you have to spend it on those rooms rather than on your gear. Yeah.

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This seems to be the reason they sell Forma for real money in the marketplace. It's also the reason why the game has these huge clans that control the solar rails and then jack up the taxes on them, but I digress.

If you're actually doing some of the lower-tier Orokin Void missions, you accumulate an adequate number of Forma blueprints so you can apply polarities to your good weapons and keep up in terms of damage so you can take on higher-level content. But, for most people who can't get into a clan that already has everything done, you're going to be spending all your Forma building your dojo so you can do research. It's crap.

The research system itself isn't too bad actually, it's just what it takes to actually get there.

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Massive Building Times

The time it takes to build anything in this game, whether that be dojo rooms, weapons, Warframes, sentinels, etc., is more comparable to games like Dungeon Keeper Mobile than it is to games like Minecraft. You click a button and then have to wait until it gets done sometime within the next 12 to 72 hours.

Ah, but wait, you can pay platinum to rush the building of anything.

If your build times are so long that people would pay real money to skip them, then they're probably too long. Some things are a bit ridiculous. It takes 12 hours to build each of the three parts you need to build a Warframe, and then it takes 72 hours to build the actual Warframe. I get that you're trying to parse out content, but you could do it in a way that isn't frustrating and makes people want to pay to get past it.

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I wouldn't mind if you had to complete some sort of task in order to actually make every piece of stuff that I'm building. Heck, you could create more content that people wouldn't mind playing through if you did some sort of mini-game to craft equipment.

As it stands, crafting things in the foundry is boring and seems a bit like a cash grab.

Buying Slots

This is my biggest problem of the game. You start out with two slots for Warframes and eight slots for weapons. This is pretty much ridiculous as there are somewhere around 24 Warframes, counting the primes which take up a separate slot, and somewhere near 147 weapons in the game. I understand that there are a lot of these weapons that you're basically meant to level and then sell, but holy crap do we not get enough slots.

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Take into account that you can't get extra slots through any way other than buying them with real money. That is some bull crap right there.

In my humble opinion, the number of slots you have needs to increase with your mastery rank (which is basically your account's level), or they need to be purchasable through in-game means.

It is absolutely stupid that we have so few slots when there are so many different pieces of equipment that we need to keep on hand for different situation in the "end game" content.

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In the end, Warframe is not a bad game. There are a lot of very enjoyable parts about it. But. There are these points that need to be taken into account in order to make it a better game that isn't using dirty tricks to grub for money.

Free to Pay is a space where I complain about aspects of games' business models that seem really dirty to me. Join me in complaining about games on the internet.