The First Descendant vs Warframe
Image Source: By Twinfinite

The First Descendant Vs Warframe: Which is the Better Looter Shooter?

I promise I'm not biased.

Live service looter shooters are far from a new concept in the gaming space these days. With most looter shooters failing to gain any long-term traction, how does something like The First Descendant fare? Today, we’re comparing TFD to one of its biggest inspirations, Warframe, to see how The First Descendant stacks up.

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The First Descendant

Combat in The First Descendant.
Image Source: Nexon

The First Descendant just released to both fame and infamy. This third-person looter shooter borrows many elements from the other shooters in the space to create something new that tries to be more than the sum of its parts. You’ve got your loot drops with a variety of affixes. Then you have your 14 playable characters, all with passives and four active skills that are quite diverse.

Then there’s TFD’s mod system that is straight out of Warframe. The First Descendant also combines the shared-world elements of Destiny 2’s patrol zones with dynamic quests. All these elements in such a slick Unreal 5 package have helped propel this game to the top—at least, for now.

Warframe

Warframe combat
Image Source: Digital Extremes

Warframe, developed by Digital Extremes, is one of the first games people think of when they think of live service looter-shooter. One of Warframe’s most iconic features is its randomly generated levels in a compelling sci-fi universe where you explore the entirety of our solar system and then some. This has allowed Warframe to continually grow in content and scope without vaulting large chunks of earlier content.

Combine that kind of replayability with dozens of Warframe characters, over a dozen modes, and hundreds of craftable weapons, and you have a looter shooter that has stood the test of time.

Round 1: Moment-to-Moment Gameplay

Warframe combat
Image Source: Digital Extremes

When it comes to gameplay, Warframe gives you many options for you to perform on a moment-to-moment basis. While there isn’t a grappling hook, you do get the ability to crouch, slide, bullet jump, glide, wall jump, wall run, and hang onto walls as part of any Warframe’s basic movement gameplay. You can shoot guns and use abilities too, but Warframe also gives a bigger focus on melee gameplay through basic attacks, heavy attacks, combos, slide attacks, and ground pounds.

In contrast, The First Descendant offers double jumps, a grappling hook, and mantling for movement options (outside of combat abilities). From there, you have your character’s abilities, a melee attack, and gunplay from three different categories of weapon ammo types. That’s about it though, which I found disappointing compared to Warframe or even what Destiny 2 does to give you mobility and ways to fight.

I mean, imagine my shock when I learned I couldn’t even crouch. That effectively means there won’t be any level design built around taking cover unless it’s big enough for you to fully stand behind.

Winner: Warframe

Round 2: Visuals and Optimization

Three characters in The First Descendant.
Image Source: Nexon

Warframe has been around since 2013, and sometimes that age shows – how can it not? However, Digital Extremes has upgraded the engine Warframe runs on over the years, which allows for the use of newer rendering techniques and better textures. This results in a game that looks surprisingly modern but has been optimized the entire time. Combined with DLSS support, Warframe is guaranteed to run well on virtually any system and any console made in the last ten years.

On the other hand, The First Descendant utilizes Unreal Engine 5. Now, Unreal 5 has an amazing amount of graphical fidelity, including some impressive ray tracing technologies like perfectly accurate reflections, shadows, and global illumination. Truthfully, The First Descendant is an amazing-looking game with some of the most impressive cutscenes I’ve seen in a game. That said, there is a flaw with how TFD performs.

It’s not the worst by far, but if you try to use DLSS 3’s frame generation, you’re going to experience incredibly choppy gameplay. It was to the point where I found myself choosing lower framerates with higher input latency over a much higher framerate.

Winner: Tie

Round 3: Loot and Progression

First Descendant Bunny best build bunny module screen
Image Source: Nexon Games

Both Warframe and The First Descendant feature a mod system for characters and weapons that are nearly identical, with the mods themselves being the primary differentiator. Both games also have a mastery rank system that benefits the player by giving more inventory, weapons, and character slots. Fully leveling weapons and characters, and completing missions, also helps increase your mastery rank in both games.

Where The First Descendant goes above and beyond is by having weapons and gear that feature randomly rolled affixes. The First Descendant also drops weapons and gear on enemy kills, as opposed to Warframe, which is largely crafted-only. That said, Warframe does have several extra progression systems like gaining focus to progress your Warframe’s operator abilities. Warframe also lets you capture and design your own upgradeable pets that help you in combat or make it easier to collect loot.

Ultimately, both games feature many ways to grind and progress.

Winner: Tie

Round 4: Fair Monetization

Gauss Prime DLC
Image Source: Digital Extremes

Let’s be honest here, when it comes to The First Descendant vs Warframe, both games don’t really have the best monetization systems. Case in point, both games have Prime or Ultimate versions of characters that cost a ridiculous amount of money or time to grind for free. Additionally, both games ask you to wait hour upon hour for the completion of a crafted weapon or character or make you pay premium currency to circumvent the wait.

That said, where The First Descendant falters further than Warframe is by having all of Warframe’s microtransaction structure (and then some) with none of the ability to earn premium currency via player trading. Sure, they say trading is coming, but it should have been here on launch. Especially since TFD has an awful cosmetic system with one-time-use paints that can only be used on paid skins. No thanks.

Winner: Warframe

Round 5: Multiplayer and Matchmaking

The First Descendant key art featuring three Descendants.
Image Source: Nexon Games

Warframe and The First Descendant both have online coop and matchmaking. What’s cool about what The First Descendant does is that you can dynamically join and leave player squads in the game’s Destiny 2-esque maps. It’s so dynamic, in fact, that all you need to do is shoot the enemies that were spawned to join one of these open-world quests.

Warframe doesn’t have this kind of open-world dynamic quest-joining functionality as its large open zones are instanced. That said, for a while, The First Descendant didn’t offer matchmaking for its dungeons called Infiltration Operations. Thankfully, Nexon just went on record saying a hotfix is incoming that will add matchmaking functionality to Infiltration Operations.

Such a hotfix is a win for players who don’t always have friends online and don’t want to visit certain Discord channels to find help. This puts The First Descendant much closer to Warframe in terms of your ability to find people to play with. Both games allow you to matchmaker into any mode, and while Warframe has Railjack missions that allow for a greater depth of co-op play, it’s not enough to give it a win over The First Descendant.

Winner: Tie

Winner: Warframe

The First Descendant does have compelling gameplay, visuals, and features. It’s also not the worst way to spend your time. However, for borrowing so many elements from Warframe, The First Descendant doesn’t do enough things on its own that are better than what Warframe provides.

I can and will cut The First Descendant some slack for just releasing the other week. So, don’t get me wrong. What there is on launch is pretty good. Here’s hoping The First Descendant continues to add more variety to its gameplay and tones down the microtransactions going forward. If Nexon can manage that, then they will have a shot at owning a game that players return to for years to come.

For more like this, check out our other comparison articles looking at Content Warning versus Lethal Company, Enshrouded versus Valheim, and Lethal Company versus Phasmophobia. You may also be interested in seeing what we think of Hoyoverse’s Zenless Zone Zero with our review.


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Author
Image of Ali Taha
Ali Taha
Whether its new releases, or a new Destiny 2 season, Ali will flex his gaming and freelancer skills to cover them extensively. He started off writing features for Game Rant but found a better home here on Twinfinite. While Ali waits for the next Monster Hunter title, he enjoys publishing his progression fantasy novels as an indie author.
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