The characterization of a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO, is self-explanatory. Or is it? By definition, it means a large number of players on the same server — hundreds, thousands — and a big open world that continues to evolve. So does Warframe, the sci-fi co-op shooter developed by Digital Extremes, hack it?
Let’s address the elephant in the room first and foremost. Warframe is not categorized as a traditional MMO. Players select missions individually from a lobby and progress through them sequentially, either solo or with a squad of four total players. There’s also no specific roles to fill (DPS, tank, support, etc.) in the game, like one would do via the dungeon finder in World of Warcraft — which no one doubts is an MMO.
However, there are indeed classes in the game…kinda. Warframe features almost 50 different “Frames,” which is the character you operate that utilizes different skill sets in accordance with the desired playstyle. That choice varies further when considering all the unique weapons available to add to your arsenal.
On top of that, there’s progression in the form of leveling and crafting as well as customization in regards to equipment. You also choose which Syndicate you want to work for; there are 18 separate factions and players are able to raise their “Standing” with whichever group they complete quests for. So there’s certainly some RPG elements in the game, which do matter when it comes to defining the MMO genre.
Now, even though players can only form squads of four when doing missions, this number goes up to eight when it comes to raids, trials, and conclaves (PvP). There’s also Relays, which are the hubs where players interact with one another. The maximum limit in these instances? 50. That same figure applies for Dojos, which are headquarters used for Clans. It’s worth pointing out too that guilds can include up to 1,000 members, which sounds pretty “massive” to me.
So, is Warframe an MMO? Nah. But then why does Destiny 2 consider itself one? Both have similar player limits when it comes to missions, PvP, and raids. Yet players hanging out at The Tower in that game can only interact with 25 other players, while in this game the same can be achieved with 49 in Relays. Neither are “massive” but Warframe is at least more so than Destiny 2, no? I’m just saying.