The key to being in a long term relationship with someone who plays the same kind of video games as you is flexibility. It’s not always smooth sailing — my partner and I had to rearrange our entire apartments so we can sit back to back and not spoil each other on games. We once got into an actual, legitimate fight over our disparate Borderlands playstyles. But it’s always a delight to find a game we can dive into together. For us, Warframe has become our evening activity.
There are lots of games that claim to be social or cooperative based, and some of them are fantastic. However, a good date night title needs to be able to survive many sessions of play. It also needs to have good social features that consistently work, and it needs a consistent balance between conversation and action.
Warframe hits all of these notes for my husband and I, and it’s another reminder that this free-to-play shooter manages to eclipse the allure of newer titles.
It’s nice when things are easy
Listen, there’s absolutely room for date nights that are elaborate and expensive. But after my husband Aaron has spent a day in a warehouse and I’ve handled making dinner, we don’t always want to go all out.
Warframe has social features that work, which is a big plus. (After playing titles like Fallout 76, this is absolutely delightful. You turn the game on ... and it works! Hooray!) Beyond just joining parties and inviting friends, Warframe lets us to pursue our own paths alone, but also band up together. When we have friends who are lagging behind, we don’t have a problem doubling back and helping them. In fact, we’re rewarded for it in item drops or achievements. Warframe is always a touchstone we can return to and play together, even if one of us is technically ahead of the other.
Sometimes we plan very elaborate dates, like booking steakhouse reservations and going to cool local activities like a sci-fi bridge crew simulation escape room. But sometimes we want to just wear mismatched socks and sweaters with holes in them, order a pizza, and play video games all day together. We just needed the right game to make it work.
Ebb and flow
There’s a cadence that’s perfect for online gaming with friends, and not every game hits it. If a game is too slow, too methodical, then it becomes a placid endeavor and something I tend to prefer to do solo. If a game is too chaotic and twitch intensive, then the conversation inevitably strays off into pure logistics.
So, a game should be challenging enough to inspire its own conversation (“Oh, shit, did you see that ultimate?” “Yeah, that was awesome. Okay, dropping cage and picking up the batteries.”) but have enough downtime that you get to relax. Warframe allows this thanks to its mission structure, and it helps that there are ten thousand small goals to pursue. We’re always getting something done or working towards some goal.
It also lasts much longer and is cheaper than a movie, so that’s nice. You expect me to go downtown to a microbrewery and then watch a matinee? In this economy?
Not just a shooter
There are tons of moments from Warframe’s core gameplay mode that I remember, especially since I tackled them with my best friend. At one point, Aaron fell at the hands of an assassin, so I bullet jumped through the air, slow-mo aimed and took his attacker out with a few well placed shots, spun and then opened a portal to the sun that obliterated all of our enemies. The core combat of Warframe is great at making us feel like rock stars.
But the novelty of Warframe comes from the fact that there’s so much to do. Possibly too much to do. There’s a Guitar Hero-style mini game that accompanies an actual, working, musical instrument. There’s a Flappy Bird clone, a fighting game, ship decoration, decorating our individual warframes, talking about the lore, and that’s not even mentioning crafting and factions.
This was a frustrating onslaught of content when I was new to the game and alone, but when I have a partner who I regularly visit the world of Warframe with, it’s delightful. We essentially have a game that we both enjoy that stretches far into the distance.
It’s always nice to have a steady date night title in the rotation, especially as we enter an era where there are so many gaming options to pick from. Many titles are running in different directions, each with their own incentives to play. There have been days at a time where my husband and I are each pulled in opposite directions — he wants to play Red Dead Online, and I want to play Teamfight Tactics. There was a long stretch where he was really into Apex Legends, and every time I asked if I could join, he guiltily admitted his squad was filled with coworkers.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I don’t blame Aaron for spending time in any of these games. But on the occasion when we can find a game we play together, it’s awesome. Warframe has proven to be that game for us. It’s always nice to have a reason to come together, even if it’s over something as simple as getting a handful of argon crystals. Sometimes, it’s the little things.