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The 7 weirdest things coming in Warframe's grotesque new open world

(Image credit: Digital Extremes)

Warframe is a weird game. It's got a village full of indebted, once-human robots who store their human heads inside of their chest cavity. It's got an infectious pimple that you can spread to other players or pop, using its juice to grow a pet monster, and it takes almost 50 hours before you reach the character creation screen. But Heart of Deimos, the new expansion which launches on August 25 and includes a new open world zone to explore, might just be one of Warframe's weirdest updates yet.

Announced during Warframe's TennoCon 2020 fan convention, Heart of Deimos explores the origins and mysteries of the Infested faction. On the surface, they might remind you a bit of The Flood from Halo, but the Infested are a lot weirder than gross zombies. The demo Digital Extremes showed packed in a lot of information—and a lot of weird stuff, too. I was constantly grossed out by what I was seeing, so I've gone ahead and rounded up some of the strangest (and coolest) things coming in Heart of Deimos. 

So what is Heart of Deimos? 

Before we get into the weird, let's quickly recap just what Heart of Deimos is. As a whole, it's an expansion that includes a new moon to explore, Deimos, that repurposes some old Warframe missions called Derelict Key missions and adds one big new open world called Cambion Drift. Like Warframe's previous open world areas, you'll complete bounties, gather resources, and chip away at an overarching story quest.

Heart of Deimos also refers to something inside the moon of Deimos that is deeply connected with the Void and the magical powers that warframes possess. It's not exactly clear what this construct is, but the Infested have taken over the moon and are worming their way into the Heart, causing it to die. If the Heart stops beating, it's strongly implied bad things will happen to the players and their warframes, which is the hook that brings players to Deimos. 

Feed your unused warframes to a giant fleshmouth 

Heart of Deimos lets players power up their warframes by replacing one of its abilities with a new one. Traditionally, every warframe comes with four main abilities, but this new system will create tons of potential to mix and match abilities from different warframes.

It all happens on your ship in the Helminth Infirmary. For years, this room was a big mystery because it supposedly housed an infected being called the Helminth that didn't appear to have a real body but would sometimes talk to you. But in Heart of Deimos, this room is getting a big upgrade: In the back is now a giant fleshmouth monster—the actual Helminth itself. It's very hungry.

To help the Helminth, you can feed it your unwanted resources. It's surprisingly repulsive to hear it chomping away, but if you endure that subtle terror, the Helminth rewards you by letting you swap out one of your main abilities for something new. "You can just straight up feed Helminth if you want," live ops and community director Rebecca Ford explains. "The more food you give him, the higher he ranks and he'll give you his own abilities. So you could replace Mag's pull with Helminth Strength, which if you press it it will allow you to make your next ability have double the strength."

Players can also choose to sacrifice one of their warframes to transplant its ability onto another warframe. Each warframe only has one ability that can be transplanted and it's never their signature ability, but it does let you make some interesting combinations. You could, for example, take Volt's shock ability, or Mag's pull and put it on as many warframes as you want. "But if you have a Warframe being munched by Helminth and truly getting absorbed into the Helminth system, that single Warframe is gone," Ford warns. "So, if you had a Mag that you did this with, that Mag is gone. You can, of course, farm another Mag in the Solar Chart, buy another Mag on the market, and use [your new] Mag to your heart's content. But that unique Mag you fed is gone."

Don't worry, though. You can't feed any Prime-variant warframes (which are stronger but much harder to obtain) to the Helminth.

The day/night cycle is actually two giant worms fighting each other 

On Deimos, day and night aren't dictated by the setting or rising of the sun but a never-ending battle between two giant worms. During the live demo, the "moon" worm, Vome, towered over the open world, bathing it in a chilly blue light. Then, suddenly, a second colossal worm appeared and fired a bolt of energy at its nemesis, obliterating it and signifying a change in the day/night cycle. "Locked in an eternal battle, both of these massive worms war over Deimos every day," Ford explains. "The death of one signifies the rise of the other, a war destined to repeat forever. The glaring orange sun signifies a rise in Infested power that players had better hope they're ready for."

"The intent is having the infested react to who is in charge, so whether it's the blue or the orange, they'll react differently in terms of their difficulty, as well as we're hoping to have the environment respond as well."

It's a clever twist on a feature seen in Warframe's first open world zone, the Plains of Eidolon. At night, enemies increase in strength and new monsters appear, forcing low-level players into hiding while also opening up new opportunities for veterans. This appears to be something similar—but I gotta give Digital Extremes extra points for creativity here. Ford also explained that Digital Extremes is hoping to let players participate in this battle in a future update too.

Explore the tunnels those worms make, but they constantly change 

Heart of Deimos cleverly combines the static open world of previous areas with Warframe's familiar procedurally-generated levels. While the surface of Deimos will mostly stay the same—except for giant worm fights, obviously—players will receive missions that send them into the worm tunnels beneath the surface. These tunnels are procedurally generated and will change as the worms fight one another and the cycle changes.

"Once you dig into the Heart, as it were, that lets you have a new play experience when you're going through each time," Digital Extremes chief operating officer Sheldon Carter tells me. "So that's definitely something that we didn't do in some of the other [open world zones] that is new. I wouldn't necessarily say that this is like a key defining thing, but I think it is something that lets even those smaller spaces be unique and replayable as well."

Build yourself a mechsuit made of dead people 

Necramechs are a challenging new enemy that, in the live demo of Heart of Deimos, Ford couldn't even damage. They're agile, pack a punch, and are kind of creepy to look at. The torso of these monsters is a scaly, golden cocoon that houses the corpse of a dead person—presumably its operator. During the demo, Ford was able to jump out of her warframe and into an abandoned Necramech, letting her control it directly. Though they might look similar, different Necramechs will have their own weapons and abilities, like a powerful artillery mode that can obliterate hordes of Infested.

Like the Moa pets in Fortuna and the customizable weapons in Plains of Eidolon, players will also be able to build their own Necramechs and customize them. "You will have a Necramech to call your own," Ford says. "It won't be limited to the [Heart of Deimos], you will be truly able to wield one in your inventory and summon it at will [in Warframe's other open world zones].

There's an unsettling woman trapped in a flesh flower 

And her name is Mother—because of course it is. She appears to be the central character in Heart of Deimos' story, a member of the Entrati family who lived on Deimos and maintained the heart while also researching the Void. The Infested have taken over almost all of Deimos, including Mother, so now she's trapped in a creepy flesh flower where she spends all day sleeping. Mother's flesh flowers can also be found scattered around the open world, where she'll appear to give you bounties so you don't have to constantly backtrack. 

Ride dragonflies like hoverboards and fight on them 

Back in Fortuna, Warframe's previous open world area, Digital Extremes introduces K-Drive hoverboards that players could zip around on. It was cool, but not nearly as cool as walking up to a giant mutant dragonfly and riding that around. These dragonflies can be found all around the open world and it's your choice whether you want to ride one or hit with a tranquilizer and conserve it—another minigame introduced back in Fortuna that rewards you with cute stuffed-animal versions of the creatures you save.

What's great, though, is now you can shoot while riding your K-Drive or dragonfly. It was an obvious missing feature when it was first introduced, but with Heart of Deimos players can now fly around blasting enemies at the same time.

Some other weird shit we saw 

  • While flying around, monstrous flying headcrab monsters can latch onto you.
  • There's a fast-travel system while exploring the tunnels beneath Deimos, so you don't have to backtrack to get back to the surface. It's a squishy worm monster that latches onto you and drags you to the surface.
  • Fishing is making a return to the open world zone on Deimos, except the fish are flying now so they might be a little trickier to catch.
Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.