Warframe is my favorite game, but it could be accused of settling into a cycle as the years have gone on. Open world expansions, Prime Warframes, and the occasional boss fight would be added from time to time. Nightwave, the new alerts mechanic, was a bit of a surprise, but the future of the game seemed pretty set in stone. At Tennocon 2019, we learned more about the upcoming Empyrean expansion, and it changes Warframe on fundamental levels that I didn’t see coming.
While Warframe’s expansions have always felt like separate entities, playgrounds you drop into and have fun with that also feel removed from each other, Empyrean aims to change that. The new content will gently sit on top of the existing game, connecting everything. There will be new ships, called Railjacks, that engage in missions set in space. A system very similar to the Nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor is being implemented, the engine is being overhauled, and the plan is that a game that has been built up section by section will feel like a cohesive whole.
To Infinity And Beyond
The most significant aspect of the expansion centers around the new Railjacks, multi-person space-faring vessels. They can be upgraded and changed to suit your style and needs, and they can be filled with crew members collected from around the game’s universe. Getting your ship will be end game content, but newer players can still take part in ship-based missions with friends, or random groups. You’ll be trying to gather resources and earn rewards by completing missions with your Railjack, and the system will support seamless transitions from your ship into regular missions.
There will be a broad array of space battles available, from the very simple, to complex interactions between multiple squads and squad members. One will pilot a ship while others board an enemy vessel in search of a commander, and other players will need to take out enemy leadership on other vessels and highjack their ships and turn them on your foes.
Where it gets exciting is the new Squad Link feature that will be coming to the game. You can use a beacon to request aid from other squads elsewhere in the game. While I am fighting in space, I will be able to ask that someone take out a planet-side objective to help me in my mission. Is a remote shield battery on the Earth’s surface causing you problems? Just ask another squad to take it out for you. Watching the video linked above from about the 27-minute mark onward will let you see it all play out. It’s an incredibly exciting thought, the coop game becoming more connected, players efforts more integrated with each other.
The Perfect Enemy
Another new feature coming to the game are persistent enemies that we engage with again and again, who grow stronger as they adapt to our interactions. The Kuva Lich will act very much like a Stalker, showing up in our missions to try and kill us. When you kill him, you gain a brief respite, but he will be back. Eventually, you will need to find a way to put him in the ground for good, and it will involve a massive battle in space as you try to get to the rotten heart of his ship and consign him to a floating tomb. The Kuva Lich will remember the Warframes you like to run, the weapons you want to use, and the tactics that you employ, and he will adapt to them.
On top of all this, the game will be getting a complete engine rebuild, changes to a massive amount of in-game assets, such as the interior of your Liset ship. New lighting, textures, reflections, and shadows will all give the game yet another leap towards the future as Digital Extremes prepare for the next generation of console hardware.
We also got to see a brief glimpse of the Duviri Paradox, the next open-world expansion that will come to that game during Christmas this year. It looks to run deep into the strange lore of Warframe, as we see an adult operator engaging in a fight with an unknown figure atop an Orokin horse, all set in a weird and dreamlike world.
So yes, the future of Warframe is fascinating indeed, and if you are not already playing, then now is the time to join 35 million other people who have embraced the game. The future looks bright, Tenno.