Despite being one of the best free-to-play games on PC, Warframe is not easy to get into. But during its annual Tennocon convention developer Digital Extremes announced that Warframe is eventually getting an entirely reworked new player experience which includes a brand new intro video by 10 Cloverfield Lane and Uncharted (the movie adaptation of the Playstation exclusive) director Dan Trachtenberg. This new video represents a narrative restructuring that will better introduce new players to the world of Warframe and help them choose their first suit of armor. It's also extremely badass.
The new introduction video is embedded above, and its existence heralds a complete rework of Warframe's intro, which hasn't really changed much since the game first launched back in 2013. Though game director Steve Sinclair didn't say when these changes would actually arrive in the game (it sounds like they're still a long way off), the idea is that Digital Extremes will eventually add new quests that better communicate what Warframe is today versus what it was six years ago.
Trachtenberg's intro is a key part of that. Instead of giving a brief introduction to the evil Grineer faction and then asking players to blindly choose which warframe they want to play as, this new intro does a much better job of establishing the universe, teasing each of the three starter warframes' abilities. It's also loaded with winks and nods for veterans to pore over.
"Because so much of Warframe is just [doing missions], grabbing resources, and crafting, you're not really focusing on the story," Dan Trachtenberg tells me. He's not just a director but also a passionate Warframe fan with a few hundred hours under his belt and a Mastery Rank 17 character. He tells me he first started playing when a friend recommended Warframe while Trachtenberg was filming 10 Cloverfield Lane, and it's been an obsession of his ever since.
As a veteran player, Trachtenberg understands exactly what areas of Warframe's intro needed improvement. "You're so focused on the gameplay," he says. "I really love the idea of creating a context for how you're going to fight and why you're fighting. Those were the primary ideas that I don't know are perfectly expressed [in the current introduction]."
Though it's anyone's guess what shape Warframe's reworked tutorial will take, Trachtenberg's new prologue is as good an introduction to the mysticism and violence that makes Warframe so much fun. In the current tutorial, players are forced to choose their starting weapons and warframe without any clue how each handles itself in combat—just a written overview of their abilities. Trachtenberg's new intro shows each of the frames in action, slaughtering hordes of Grineer using their various abilities.
Keen Warframe players will notice some key differences, though. For example Mag doesn't have an ability to gather bullets fired at her and unleash them back at her enemies—not yet, anyway. I'm told it's one of the new abilities coming in a Mag rework at a later date.
The tone of the intro is also much moodier and more representative of Warframe's universe as it is today. During a special early screening, Sinclair explained that Warframe has grown and changed so much since that initial tutorial, adding more lore, cultures, and characters that aren't explored at all in the current intro. Remember that when Warframe was first released, it didn't have much a story—it was largely just you and three friends bullet-sliding through procedurally generated corridors. This new intro not only teases the major plot twist revealed much later in Warframe's story quests, but it also introduces players to cultures like the Ostram who live on the remains of Earth.
It's cool to see Trachtenberg join forces with Digital Extremes to create something that captures the essence of what Warframe is all about. This isn't the first time Trachtenberg has adapted videogames to short film, though. In 2011, Trachtenberg directed the fan film Portal: No Escape, which is also pretty cool. He's also directing the upcoming Uncharted movie, based on the hit Naughty Dog series.
You can watch Trachtenberg's Warframe short film above. Digital Extremes won't actually add it to Warframe until late this year or early next year—the studio is always loosey-goosey with deadlines. But it will likely accompany some of the revamped player experience Digital Extremes is planning.
I'm here at Tennocon 2019. It's an exciting show and well worth tuning in, which you can do here.