‘Warframe’ iOS Review – Controller Support, 60fps, Cross Save, and More

Warframe(Free) finally launched worldwide on iOS last month after being revealed for mobile a few years ago. Due for Android later, Warframe for iOS has launched with full cross platform progression and cross play support, and it is the full game complete with all expansions, updates, mobile-exclusive features, and more. Having played Warframe on Switch before, a bit on Xbox One, and more recently on Steam Deck, I was curious about how it would scale on my iPhone and iPad. Before getting to the rest of this feature, I want to be clear that this Warframe iOS review is going to focus on the mobile port and not the actual game’s story and expansions because there is too much on that front given the game’s age and amount of content.

If you’ve literally never heard of or played Warframe before, it is a free to play fast paced action looter shooter with a sci-fi setting. It excels in its gameplay, customization, lore, and art. Even when I played it on Nintendo Switch, the gameplay was superb despite the technical cutbacks. Since then, the game has gotten many content and feature updates, with the newest major update hitting as recently as a few months ago. With full cross progression and cross play now in the game, the time for releasing on mobile had finally arrived, and I don’t have too many complaints with the port right now, but there is work to be done.

When you launch Warframe on iOS, you are prompted to login with Apple. Warframe is an online-only game, and you are required to login each time you boot up the game. This is also the case on Steam where you need to enter your Warframe password. On console you don’t need to enter your password each time, thankfully. If you plan on linking your existing Warframe account to iOS to continue playing, I’d recommend making sure you’ve set up cross save by linking whatever console versions you play so everything goes well when you link your iOS account.

With that done, you will be prompted to either download the tutorial part or the full game. As of March 4th, Warframe uses up 14.36GB on my iPhone 15 Pro with everything installed. For reference, Warframe takes up 17GB on Switch and 36.34GB on Steam. This is still a lot smaller than other live service games that approach 100GB. Warframe is very well optimized across the board, and I actually waited for a few mobile updates to cover the port. That paid off because Warframe on iOS is in a much better place right now than it was at launch with various improvements and fixes already like a 60fps option.

If you’ve ever watched Warframe gameplay before, it is very fast. You’re probably wondering how that is even playable on a touchscreen, but I think the team at Digital Extremes has done a great job translating the controls over with some mobile-exclusive options. Like Dead Cells, Warframe has automated attacks by default. You can disable this, but Warframe feels great with this enabled on a touchscreen. When it comes to shooting, moving your crosshair onto an enemy will make your weapons fire automatically. This also applies to melee.

In addition to the automatic attack options, there’s a new sensor that hints at things happening around you. This is especially useful if you are playing without headphones or sound so you can keep track of things near you. The sensor is color coded for white being non hostile things and red being hostile.

Warframe on iOS has controller support. I tested this with my 8BitDo and DualSense controllers. Both worked fine on my iPad. On iPhone, I wanted to play with touch controls, and they needed a bit of work. You can adjust the scale and transparency for most buttons here. The touch targets for some interactions were a bit too small by default, so I tweaked them. Some of the menus you use outside gameplay need to be larger though. Even some of the toggle switches are tiny on the iPhone screen. I’m not sure if these feel better on the Max size phones, but on my iPhone 15 Pro, some menus are a bit too small.

If you use a controller you can have Warframe auto detect buttons or force a specific set of controller button prompts. This includes Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch options. One thing I’d like to see added is gyro support. There’s a vibration setting, but Warframe also has haptics on iPhone, which is always good to see.

On the visual side, the default configuration was a bit too conservative on my iPhone 15 Pro. A recent update finally added higher frame rate support. At launch, Warframe was capped at 30hz on every iOS device. You can now increase this to up to 60hz, and it makes a huge difference even if the 60hz target isn’t met perfectly. Keep in mind that your phone will heat up with this unless you turn some more settings down. In addition to frame rate, you can adjust field of view all the way up to 111, use any quality preset, or adjust settings manually. These include motion blur (which is a bit too strong), film grain, distortion, depth of field, effects, shadows, dynamic resolution (with resolution scale), and more.

One thing to note is the iPad version on my iPad Pro (2020) has a lot of menu elements that are blurry like button prompts. I hope this can be improved in updates. While the game itself can look very good even on this older iPad, the menus looking bad is surprising. I don’t have an M1 or later iPad to see if things are better there.

A lot has already improved with Warframe on iOS since launch, and things will likely only get better. Having spent time with it on iPhone 15 Pro, iPad Pro (2020), Switch, Switch Lite, Steam Deck, and Xbox before, I’d put Warframe on iOS a bit above the Switch version right now if you use touch controls, and well above it if you use a controller. I only really recommend playing the Switch version if you don’t have access to a newer iOS device and don’t have a controller to use on said iOS device. The best portable version is on Steam Deck from the platforms I own for sure with much better visuals and performance across the board compared to even iPhone 15 Pro I’ll be playing it through the year seeing how the iOS version and others evolve.

Warframe is a free to play game, and while I can’t say how things might be in a few months from now, the team has proven itself over the years to deliver a non pay to win experience. Warframe is always considered one of the best examples of free to play live service done right, and you can experience that on your phone fully right now. I know free games are more about whether they are worth your time or not, and Warframe justifies it. If you’d rather not play it on your phone, give it a shot because it is available on every current platform as well as on iOS.

In its current state, Warframe is an impressive port of an excellent game. While I was hoping it was better in some aspects, Warframe is worth trying out on iOS for sure. It remains one of the best examples of free to play done right, and the complete game with no major compromises is now playable on iOS with cross play and cross save support. I can’t wait to see how Digital Extremes enhances the mobile version through the year leading into the Android version.

Warframe iOS port review score: 4.5/5

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