Warframe's 2019 roadmap is massive, here's what you need to know

Warframe developer Digital Extremes is kicking off the new year with a bang. Earlier today, during its semi-regular developer livestream on Twitch, community director Rebecca Ford, creative director Steve Sinclair, and other key developers laid out an entire roadmap for 2019. There's a lot of exciting stuff in the works including three new warframes (two of which were revealed), a massive overhaul of the alerts and challenges system, and a new enemy faction.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, so here's a quick rundown of every major update that was mentioned on stream sorted by its expected arrival, including some handy Twitch videos so you don't have to watch the stream in its entirety.

What to expect spring 2019 

TennoCon 2019 dates announced
The annual Warframe fan convention, TennoCon, is returning in 2019 and will take place on July 6, 2019 at Digital Extremes' hometown of London, Ontario, Canada. Tickets aren't on sale yet, but we'll let you know when they are.

Wisp on the left and Hylden on the right.

3 Warframes being developed (two revealed)
Last year, Digital Extremes released four new warframes and five variants of pre-existing warframes. That gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect this year, but already Sinclair was able to reveal that three new warframes are in the works and two were ready to be revealed on stream.

The first new frame is Hyldren, who, somewhat like Overwatch's Zarya, wields very heavy weapons in combat. Hyldren doesn't use energy like normal warframes but instead uses her own shield to cast her abilities which include some team buffs and damaging attacks.

The second warframe is Wisp. There's no concrete information on what her abilities are but Ford said they would talk about her on a later devstream.

A new Orb Vallis "expansion"
Fortuna, Warframe's excellent open-world expansion, has already received its first major update that let's players hunt down and fight the giant robot spiders that prowl the snowy wastes of Orb Vallis. Early in 2019, players can expect another "expansion" for Fortuna called Deck 12 - Exploiter. Details on this are scarce, but Sinclair said "This is an event, and a boss, and a lore bomb all together."

Our best guess is this update will add another chapter to the story of Fortuna, which is pretty weird. Unfortunately, Sinclair said the team has nothing more to show at this time.

Gas City revamp
The Gas City is the tileset and theme of maps that players encounter on Jupiter, and it's going to be completely updated this spring. This isn't just an aesthetic facelift but a rework of the associated missions. "The remaster is absolutely beautiful, but our goal is that there is a new game mode," Sinclair said. "There are gameplay wrinkles, there are new reward structures and enemy types. There are things that are attacking [from] the outside. It's not just a fresh coat of paint on the Gas City. There's a lot of really exciting things to do there, to earn there, and to learn there about the story."

Wolf of Saturn Six - A complete overhaul of Alerts and Challenges
One of the more exciting changes coming this spring is the Wolf of Saturn event, which heralds "a complete overhaul" of Warframe's daily Alert and Challenge missions. This new system is a set of daily and weekly challenges tied into an evolving story told through in-game animated comics that also introduce an entirely new character. "It's taking a bunch of systems that we've created over the years and pulling them all together," explains design director Scott McGregor.

"There's a bit of worldbuilding in the Wolf of Saturn," says Sinclair. "It's primarily focused on cosmetic rewards. You'll get to see the lineup and what you're working towards as well as, paced in there, some high-end power rewards."

The New War concept art.

The New War
This is one we've known about since TennoCon 2018: the next chapter in Warframe's cinematic story quests (the closest thing Warframe has to a linear story). The New War picks up where the last quest, The Sacrifice, left off—but we won't spoil any of that here since it's worth playing through yourself.

Sinclair didn't have much to say about this quest beyond what players have already speculated, but the team did show off a new piece of concept art that shows a very large Sentient construct which appears to be destroying (or consuming?) a bunch of other vessels. Sinclair hints at the identity of this object when he calls it the Lotus' "mamma"—so, make of that what you will.

What to expect in summer 2019 

Warframe Empyrean - Railjack
Revealed at TennoCon 2018, Railjack was a surprise demo that showed a team of three Tenno seamlessly board a ship on Venus and fly into low orbit where they battled a Corpus capital ship. It was a mindblowing reveal that dramatically increased the scope of Warframe. The idea seemed reminiscent of indie hit FTL: Faster Than Light, with players having to coordinate piloting a ship and manning various stations while repelling invaders. Once you were close enough to the enemy capital ship, you could send one of your team to infiltrate and destroy it from the inside, with other members using hacking consoles to run interference, open doors, and take over automated turrets. It all looked hyper ambitious and cool. The official name for this update, it seems, is Empyrean.

"It's not just a quest that's above Venus," Sinclair says. "Our ambitions for it are [to include] every location in the solar map that you have now and beyond—possibly connected to the image that you just saw [of The New War cinematic quest]."

Empyrean is, as Sinclair explains, Digital Extremes' attempt to unify Warframe's disparate systems like space combat, Archwing combat, and on-foot missions into one type of game mode.

What to expect in fall 2019 

The new faction coming to Warframe in the fall.

Planes of Duviri
With Empyrean looking like the major update of 2019, the fall will be a bit smaller in scope of updates and releases but still has some stuff to be excited about. Biggest of all will be the introduction of a new enemy faction called Planes of Duviri—whatever that means. While the developers did show off a bit of concept art for this new race, we know nothing about who they are or where they come from. "All of this is connected to the larger story of Warframe in ways that will be obvious when it comes out," Sinclair said.

Ongoing reworks and upgrades throughout 2019 

Technical improvements
At some point in 2019, Warframe will be dropping support for Directx 9 and its 32-bit operating systems.

Melee 3.0
This has been one of the most anticipated features in Warframe, but it's not going to be arriving all at once. The idea is to completely overhaul Warframe's melee weapons and make them a more natural option while running, jumping, and shooting. The update will also streamline the combo system and redo associated melee modifications, making both a more intuitive part of any player's kit. 

"We're doing it piece by piece," says Ford. "Instead of doing a full systemic change where there's no turning back, we'll do it per weapon school per time, so your feedback loop is a little more smooth instead of 'Here's everything at once!' It's a lot more difficult to manage that."

A single frame from what is assumed to be the new Warframe intro cutscene.

New player experience rework
One of the biggest criticisms for Warframe is how impossibly complicated it is. New players are given a few missions as a tutorial and then dropped into the world without much direction or information on what they should be doing. It makes getting into Warframe extremely tough. Fortunately, Sinclair said a small team is working on redoing the entire new player experience, which also includes what appears to be a new CG intro. Sinclair showed a single frame from the video (pictured above) and it looks awesome. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.