I like a good 69 joke as much as the next person, but for nearly four months Warframe's community has been keeping their own dumb 69 joke going and now it's taken on a magical life of its own that even Warframe's developers have had to acknowledge. Welcome to Fortuna 69, the hottest—and weirdest—night club in all of Warframe.
When Warframe's massive Fortuna expansion first launched on November 8, 2018, players flooded into the titular underground city to meet new characters and take on new quests before heading out into the frozen stretch of Venus wasteland called Orb Vallis. Though Warframe shares a lot of DNA with traditional MMOs like World of Warcraft, everything is on a much smaller scale. When thousands of players flock to social hubs like Fortuna, they're first required to choose a numbered instance of it to help spread everyone out. These instances have a maximum cap of 50 players and organically grow and collapse as foot traffic to these zones fluctuates. During Fortuna's launch it was common to see instances of the underground city reach as high as Fortuna 180.
But long after the buzz around Fortuna died and players migrated to other areas, one instance of Fortuna stayed open: Fortuna 69. Players refused to log out of it, and as long as one player stuck around to keep the lights on, others could select Fortuna 69 from the list of instances and join that social hub. But, since November, that's never really been the case because Fortuna 69 is the liveliest, funniest place to chill out in all of Warframe.
Even now, at 2PM on a Monday, Fortuna 69 is labelled "Busy" in the server select window. Aside from Fortuna 69, there are nine other Fortuna servers available—half of which are labelled "Calm" and could be populated by as little as one player.
Logging in, I find a small smattering of players running about their business taking on quests or buying items from the NPC vendors scattered around the subterranean neon streets of Fortuna. But near the main quest giver is a small stage packed with players sporting neon pink outfits and cosmetic butterfly wings that are sold through Warframe's cool TennoGen program for a hefty sum of $5. It's the unspoken dress code of Fortuna 69, so naturally I buy myself some to fit in.
I think I look awesome.
Today Fortuna 69 is a little quiet, but come here during prime time hours on a weekend and it's a different story. Players tend to get up to all sorts of coordinated shenanigans, using text chat to coordinate. They'll often all hop into the same warframe exosuit and form conga-lines or impromptu break dance circles.
There's also no shortage of cliques that exist within Fortuna 69. "[There's] the Crane Kids, who [...] stand/dance on top of the crane, the Korner Kids who found a difficult bullet jump route up the back left wall to get on the beam near the ceiling, and then the Sign Sitters who just jump on top of the neon signs and sit," redditor SmerksCannotCarry explained to me. "Although the past few days the dedicated 69ers have been equipping neon pink and turquoise Titania warframes with the butterfly syndana [Warframe parlance for capes] and dancing in the back right corner."
For the most part, Fortuna 69 is kept alive by people who leave the game running when they're not at their computer. These AFKers, I'm told, are the real heroes who ensure the instance stays alive as traffic naturally waxes and wanes throughout the day.
The biggest threat to Fortuna 69's fate is mandatory updates and hotfixes that require players to log out and download a patch. To help keep Fortuna 69 alive, developer Digital Extremes made sure to give instructions on how players could coordinate to keep the instance going. Essentially, some players will log out and download the update while others stay in Fortuna 69. Once the first batch has updated, they'll log back into Fortuna 69 to allow the second batch to update.
In the four months since its creation, the community has coordinated this handoff through dozens of hotfixes and updates, but there's no central organization that manages it all and Digital Extremes has said they won't intervene to save it should everyone leave Fortuna 69 at once. That's not likely to happen though, as so many players have made it their home when they're not actively out doing missions.
Several months ago, I interviewed Digital Extremes' community director, Rebecca Ford, about the new expansion and couldn't resist asking about Fortuna 69. "I think everyone should fight for what they believe in, and if that means keeping Fortuna 69 open for as long as Warframe is alive, then we salute you," she said.
I asked if it was weird that the community had gone to such great lengths to preserve a joke about a sex position. "You can't make this stuff up," Ford laughed. "I know it's lewd, but it's so wholesome to me that this is what people are doing. I treasure these moments. I treasure them."
Of course, someone like Ford is probably used to it by now. Warframe has a bizarre reputation for finding ways to make things sexy that shouldn't be sexy. There's a whole subreddit devoted to fawning over the asses of Warframe's various exosuits and even Ford and other devs have played along with the communities' obsession with Warframe feet.
Like a lot of the insular memes one finds in various gaming communities, it's mostly in good fun and absurd just for the sake of being absurd. But I love that Fortuna 69 has become its own institution—a fun place to kick back after a long night spent grinding where players are just dancing and chatting all while wearing blindingly pink butterfly wings just because they can.