Last year was a pivotal year for Warframe. While Digital Extremes kept the game going with a slew of mini-updates, it also launched its second open-world zone, Fortuna. Learning lessons from the previous open-world zone, Fortuna is one of the coolest and most exciting expansions ever made to Warframe. And that's just the beginning.
As we look to the year ahead, Warframe is going to get even bigger. Of course that means lots of new warframes to unlock and pilot, but Digital Extremes has already teased some mighty ambitious projects including a complete overhaul of its melee system. Here's what to look forward to in Warframe in 2019.
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The Railjack reveal floored viewers at TennoCon 2018. After an extended demo of the new open-world zone of Fortuna, Digital Extremes pulled a double-feature that saw a team of three piloting a ship, blasting fighters, and assaulting a Corpus battleship. The mode seamlessly blended on-board ship combat, ship-to-ship space fights, archwing piloting, and tactical systems that let you manage your vessel's power reserves. The demo even showed a player hacking into the Corpus systems to unlock doors and turn turrets against their masters.
As the two open world zones did previously, this demo opened up my expectations for what Warframe could become five or ten years down the line. Warframe is already a different animal from its early iterations in 2013, but few would have expected this level of spectacle and complex co-operation across multiple systems. It's almost unthinkable that Railjack will actually come out this year, but that's the plan. If it works (and let’s be honest, it might take a few patches to get it stable), Railjack could raise the bar for the sort of team activities we can look forward to in future updates.
Multiple new warframes
One thing players can reliably expect from 2019 is that Digital Extremes will roll out several new warframes over the course of the year—we just have no idea what they might be. In 2018, Digital Extremes released five entirely new warframes and four Prime variants of existing warframes (which have upgraded stats but are most easily obtainable through microtransactions). That gives us a pretty reliable estimate of how many new warframes should be arriving this year.
What those warframes will be is another question entirely, though. While Digital Extremes loves to tease new warframes well in advance, the latest addition to the roster, Baruuk, was just released on December 18. It's probably a little too early to expect any sneak peeks at what's next. That said, near the end of Devstream #115, art director Geoff Crookes let slip that an upcoming frame was called Wisp and had "an amazing design." Unfortunately, Crookes didn't say anything more specific.
In that same stream, design director Scott McGregor also said there were two other unannounced warframes in the works—making for a total of three confirmed warframes that should arrive for 2019. While we have no idea what they'll be, my guess is that at least one of them will evoke the themes of Fortuna in some way. The two most recent frames, Revenant and Baruuk, really captured the feeling of the Plains of Eidolon expansion, so it makes sense that new frames might do the same for the frozen wastes of Fortuna's Orb Vallis.
The New War cinematic quest
Warning: Story spoilers ahead. Jump to the next section to avoid these.
Aside from Railjack and some new warframes to play with, one update players can absolutely count on in 2019 is the next chapter of Warframe's story, called The New War. First teased at TennoCon 2018, The New War picks up directly where the last story quest, The Sacrifice, ended. The Lotus, who has been allied with the player since the beginning, revealed her true form to be the Sentient Natah and is returning home to her "Mother." The teaser shown at TennoCon shows Natah alongside an army of Sentients and implies that a new Sentient invasion of the solar system is about to begin, with Natah and her mother leading the charge.
That's about all we know without speculating and digging into Warframe's incredibly dense lore. But even if you're not a Warframe scholar, The New War is exciting if only because Warframe's cinematics are always super stylish and fun to watch. The Sacrifice also introduced Umbra Excalibur, a new type of warframe that players have been dying to own for years now. Hopefully The New War expands on that Umbra variant or comes with its own set of goodies for those who complete it.
Can a Warframe player have too many animal plushies in their Orbiter? Some members of the Warframe community asked themselves that question last year, and found the answer to be ‘no’. The floof phenomenon is surely not over, but will Digital Extremes make the leap to creating real life versions of the most popular toys? The urge to collect them all has been infecting internet forums since the conservation activity was added in Fortuna, so surely it’s a matter of time before they start filling homes in meatspace. In the meantime, the least we can hope for is that Fortuna will continue getting updates that add even more species of critters to collect plushie versions of.
The long-awaited melee overhaul is still in development, but we’ve seen it motion in a couple of developer streams in 2018. The new system aims to make melee weapons that much more accessible and fun. With melee 3.0 , you can switch between guns and melee weapons almost instantly, letting you bullet jump, take a few pistol headshots, then draw a blade and ground-slam in one smooth motion—something that just can't be done with the current system. A heavy attack command replaces channeling, and combos will be standardized across different weapons so you don't have memorize dozens of different combos between all your go-to melee weapons.
Players originally thought melee 3.0 would arrive in 2018, but it’s apparently a big project that still needs an undetermined amount of time. Melee mods and stances have to be reworked and rebalanced across the board. If the new system works as intended combat should feel faster and more fluid, and allow for more spectacular space ninja acrobatics.