New content for Warframe tends to fall into two categories. There is the content that builds upon the game’s established foundation, such as the recent The Old Blood update, and there is the content that adds something completely new, like the long-awaited Empyrean expansion. While The Old Blood introduced a powerful new enemy to fight, Empyrean brings us a whole new way to engage with the world of Warframe. At first, I wasn’t sure what the long term appeal of Empyrean would be. I worried a little that it would be a new system added into the game that would fall by the wayside as time went on.
After seeing it in action on both a new developer stream and getting a sneak peek in an exclusive viewing, I am all aboard the hype train. What I have seen of Empyrean looks exciting, engaging, challenging, and most of all, it seems like the logical destination for Warframe to end up moving toward.
Despite being space ninjas, space itself has always acted more as a backdrop for the adventures we have as Tenno than a mechanic in the game. Yes, we had Archwing, but the majority of missions took place on planets or in other spaceships. Archwing failed to find a foothold in the hearts of players, and that is not a problem Empyrean will have. Empyrean will finally let us loose, fighting in the harsh vacuum of space in our Railjack ships. Many players will already have built their ships, which arrived in the game with the recent Rising Tide update. Those ships are now sitting in the Drydock, waiting for Empyrean to unshackle them.
Empyrean won’t just let you fly ships, though; it will allow you to engage with the game in a whole new way. Digital Extremes have stressed the importance of cooperative play, bringing Warframe back to its roots, before power creep and intelligent manipulation of builds turned us all into titans. In Empyrean, we start fresh. New ships, new abilities, weapons, and character progression. We must once again turn to the Tenno beside us for help.
The first step in Empyrean will be outfitting our Railjacks to survive the coming fights. We will need shield arrays, reactors, engines, avionics systems, and weapons. We will also need a crew. At first, this will mean other Tenno working together, which is when Warframe is at its best. We will all be learned how to fly and how to fight as a community. Eventually, we will be able to utilize allies in the game to help us aboard our ship, and a lone player should even be able to take on the toughest of the expansion’s content and survive. For now, we will once again become freshly-woken Dreamers, trying to find our feet.
New skill trees will dictate how well we can perform specific actions. How well we can pilot the ship, or take care of it mid-fight, or which abilities we can utilize will need to be leveled up over time. As your skills increase, new ways to interact with the ship will become available. The difference in how a ship flies with a new pilot, versus a leveled up pilot, will be noticeable. A skilled pilot can slip through space like a shark, before rapidly darting among enemies to allow gunners to deliver a killing blow. Those same gunners will increase in lethality as they level up, eventually gaining access to a full 360-degree gimble that will enable them to decimate enemies all around them.
As your ship takes damage, people will need to put out fires and complete repairs. Resources need to be managed mid-fight, and more than anything, communication will be crucial. There will be a job for every Tenno, and every Tenno must do their job. Sometimes you will need to leave the ship, darting through space on your Archwing to reach an enemy vessel, board it, and take it out from the inside. You might need to probe for weaknesses in an enemy structure, infiltrate to expose weak points, then have the Tenno still aboard the ship destroy it in a coordinated attack.
When players look at expansions like Empyrean, the big question they have is, does the new content give them a reason to play the game? Empyrean very much does. If you have grown a little tired of the level of your power, and if you want to feel rechallenged, then Empyrean is for you. I also expect a long support tale, with further expansion building on what Empyrean will offer.
We don’t know when Empyrean will release, but the same style of tweets that ushered in Rising Tide have been appearing on the Warframe Twitter account again, so it feels like it is coming soon. There will also be a big announcement about the game at the upcoming The Game Awards tomorrow, so is it too much to hope that Empyrean is just a day away?
I am unprofessional-levels of excited for this one, Tenno. It’s always fun when the next step for something we enjoy also feels like the logical step. I am eager to get my hands on Empyrean, to see if those Railjacks feel good to fly, to experience exactly how challenging this new content will be. As always, the new expansion will be arriving on PC first, with console players needing to wait a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t worry, though, space is big enough for all of us, and our brand new Railjack ships.