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Warframe's PS4 port keeps the action fast and the price low

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Warframe, Digital Extremes' free-to-play multiplayer shooter, seems a perfect fit for PlayStation 4. Its twitchy combat and complex controls are well suited for the console, which in turn is more conducive for the game's free-to-play business model than its predecessor ever could be.

During a brief hands-on demo with Warframe's PS4 port — it's currently available in open beta on Windows PCs — at Gamescom 2013, we had a chance to see how its adaptation to consoles is going. The title hasn't changed too drastically in the transition; it's still an interesting hybrid of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer component and Ninja Gaiden's acrobatic mobility, letting up to four players work together to clear out waves of enemies and complete missions across the galaxy.

The inspiration of those two very different games is completely evident in Warframe's combat. Your customizable character is able to execute dramatic maneuvers in combat, stringing together John Woo knee slides, wall runs, backflips and aerial melee attacks with more traditional shooting and sci-fi powers. The mission I played was a Horde Mode-esque affair, tasking me with mowing down waves of enemies with a co-op partner; even at its most repetitive, the game's unrelenting speed kept me entertained throughout.

I wouldn't be surprised if Warframe made its way into the libraries of many a PS4 early adopter.

Your special powers, some of which seem to have been taken straight from Mass Effect 3 (like one power that traps enemies in a stasis field), are all mapped to the DualShock 4's touchpad. By swiping a thumb up, down, left or right on the pad, you can activate one of four abilities you've assigned to those directions. I was worried about the accuracy of those gestures at first, but it also worked quite well.

Warframe's progression structure also hasn't changed in translation; it's still surprisingly deep, and effectively lets players choose between spending time or money to obtain the best upgrades for their characters. Outfitting your Warframe is basically a deckbuilding metagame; in combat or in purchaseable booster packs, you can find cards that increase your capabilities in certain ways. You can slot those cards into your Warframe, unlocking new powers and increasing your stats; you can also slot them into your weapons, increasing their effectiveness as well.

Your Warframe and weapons level up individually, increasing their card capacity and letting you load them up with even more boosts. Cards can be leveled up, too, by feeding unwanted or unneeded cards to them, making every pick-up worthwhile.

Warframe's not the most complex or highly polished game in the world, but chewing through enemies with friends while wielding ninja attacks, magic powers and machine guns is a fun, time-honored tradition. Given its non-existent price tag and launch day availability, I wouldn't be surprised if Warframe made its way into the libraries of many a PS4 early adopter.