Warframe‘s third open-world update was announced via the game’s official YouTube channel on July 20, 2020 and was released on August 25, 2020 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and on August 27, 2020 for Nintendo Switch. It is the game’s first expansion to receive a simultaneous release across multiple platforms. The update adds Deimos, one of the two moons of Mars, as a new playable location within the game’s solar system. Deimos includes the Cambion Drift, an Infested open-world area that is smaller on the surface than the other two open-world areas but features procedurally generated underground tunnels. Much like the “Fortuna” and “Plains of Eidolon” updates, Deimos also contains a social hub called the Necralisk that houses the Entrati, an Orokin-era family known for creating the first technologies that could harness the power of the Void. Alongside Deimos came the introduction of the Helminth system, which adds the functionality for players to “infuse” new abilities on Warframes, including abilities from other Warframes. The Heart of Deimos included also new piece of craftable equipment called Necramech, which functions as an exosuit with unique abilities. Lastly, the Heart of Deimos update brought some improvements to the game’s new player experience. This consists mainly of reworked tutorial that is including a cinematic intro film directed by Dan Trachtenberg, which first premiered at TennoCon 2019. The film was produced by Digic Pictures using a combination of motion capture and CGI.
The “Empyrean” update was revealed during TennoCon 2018 in July of that year and released on December 12, 2019. The update allowed players to construct a Railjack, an upgradeable spacecraft inspired by FTL: Faster Than Light. Players will be able to gain non-playable characters to populate the ship, customize the ship, and add upgrades. The Railjack can then be used in larger space-based missions, including space battles with enemy forces. Additionally, the game will gain a system similar to the Nemesis system in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and feature boss characters that the player will fight multiple times, with the boss changing its armaments and tactics based on the past fights with the player. Empyrean update will be released in 3 phases, with the first phase released on the PC on December 12, 2019.
The expansion “Fortuna”, was released on PC on November 8, 2018. The update focuses on the titular Fortuna Solaris Debt Internment Colony, which serves as a hub for the game’s second open-world map, Orb Vallis. The people of Fortuna (known as the Solaris) were enslaved by a Corpus known as Nef Anyo which uses ancient Orokin devices that made gallons of coolant for the Workstation and trade center on Venus. The area expands upon concepts introduced in Plains of Eidolon, along with new activities, and the ability to obtain a hoverboard-styled vehicle known as a K-Drive. This update also adds more modular items such as a plasma pistol called a “Kitgun”, and a robotic companion called a “MOA”.
An update to the game in June 2018, titled “The Sacrifice”, added the third cinematic story to the game. Following on the events of Warframe‘s previous cinematic story quests, The Second Dream and The War Within, The Sacrifice sends the Tenno on a hunt across the solar system for a rogue Warframe known as Umbra. This quest provides insight on Umbra’s past, the ability to gain Umbra into arsenal after the quest’s climactic point, and information on the origins of the Warframes themselves, answering multiple questions, but creating even more. The Sacrifice also features the Alignment system introduced in “The War Within”.
An update to the game in November 2017, titled “Plains of Eidolon”, added an open-world area to the game. The Plains are a semi-open world, initially accessible through a “hub” named Cetus, a settlement on Earth where a people named the Ostrons reside, then directly through the player’s ship. As the game describes them, the Ostrons are “A tight-knit band of hucksters and merchants.” This expansion added Warframe‘s first open-world experience to the game, the ability for the player to gain reputation with the Ostrons, side-activities of fishing and mining, a Bounty system, consisting of five missions of ascending difficulty, where the player can choose to play any mission they would like regardless of whether the previous ones have been completed, a new quest named Saya’s Vigil which rewarded the blueprint for the Warframe Gara, more customization options for the Tenno’s combat pets, Kubrows (dogs) and Kavats (cats/ocelots), and the ability for the Tenno themselves to wield their own modular weapon, called an Amplifier (or Amp, for short) as well as another modular blade called a “Zaw”. Finally, the “Plains of Eidolon” offer a new series of boss fights to the game: the titular Eidolons. These Sentient-origin titans require extreme gear and in most cases teamwork to take down for unique rewards.
In November 2016, Warframe‘s second cinematic quest was released, titled “The War Within”. This quest sends the player on the chase for Teshin, the master and overseer of the Conclave, as he is seen suspiciously searching the pods of the newly awakened Tenno. Tracking Teshin across the solar system leads to the discovery of the Kuva Fortress, a massive asteroid under Grineer control where the (so far only known as a legend) Twin Grineer Queens reside. The Queens are shown to have their origins as far back as the Old Empire, and Teshin is revealed to be a Dax Soldier, meaning he was under their command due to them being of Orokin origin thus gaining the ability to wield the Kuva Scepter. The Queens cause an overload on the connection between Tenno and Warframe, forcing the Tenno to seek them out themselves, slowly discovering their Void powers. On the mission’s climax, the Tenno unlocks Transference (which replaces Transcendence), an ability which allows them to roam independently of their Warframe at will, weakens the Elder Grineer Queen and has the option to kill her or “Let her rot”, since all Grineer bodies decay over time due to excessive cloning. This quest also introduces an Alignment system to the game, with possible options being Sun, Neutral and Moon. This alignment has so far not had any consequence in gameplay, leaving its purpose unknown.
In December 2015, Digital Extremes released Warframe‘s first cinematic story quest, “The Second Dream”. This quest features prominent characters from the game and introduces a new faction, the dreaded Sentients. Also, and most importantly, The Second Dream serves as an “Awakening” to the Tenno’s true nature, as more than a mere Warframe, “more than human, but once a child, like any other”. Completion of this quest grants access to a new game mechanic named Focus and allows the player to enter the battlefield as themselves, temporarily, through Transference. During Transference, the Warframe is temporarily deactivated (Provided the player isn’t using Excalibur Umbra), and a spectral form of the Tenno themselves enters the battlefield, channeling one of five Focus Abilities, depending on which of the five Focus Schools the player chose during the quest’s events.
Since release, Digital Extremes has supported Warframe with patches and expanded the game through major updates. These updates have included major gameplay overhauls, such as its “Melee 2.0” combat system to give players a wider array of combat moves, additional planets and missions, story elements, limited-time and seasonal events, and new gameplay modes, alongside regular addition of new Warframes, weapons, and other equipment to procure.
Digital Extremes started the Warframe closed beta for Microsoft Windows on October 24, 2012. Since then it has had several versions and hotfix releases, and open beta was launched on March 25, 2013. A PlayStation 4 version was also developed, and was released at the console’s launch in November 2013, while the Xbox One version of the game launched on September 2, 2014. The PS4 version was ported to Japan on February 22, 2014, followed by the Xbox One version on September 2, 2014. A Nintendo Switch version was announced in July 2018 and was ported by Panic Button, and was released on November 20, 2018. The various versions of Warframe do not support cross-platform play, as Digital Extremes said they currently lacked the capability to keep all platforms updated simultaneously. However, with each console release, Digital Extremes provides a temporary window to allow players on Windows to copy and transfer their accounts to the console version; these become separate accounts that progress separately on Windows and on the console.
The origins of Warframe came out of Canadian studio Digital Extremes’ original vision for their previous game Dark Sector. Prior to that point, Digital Extremes was known as a work-for-hire studio, working alongside other studios to help complete development; this included working with Epic Games for Unreal Tournament (1999) and its sequels Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament 2004. Epic had looked to bring Digital Extremes into their studio, but found there would be issues with the Canadian government that interfered with the merger, and the studios agreed to go their separate ways.