November 13, 2017 by Daniel John Johnsson

Rebecca Ford

New direction opens up Digital Extremes "Warframe" in entirely new ways. We got to ask Live Ops and Community Producer Rebecca Ford what the future has in store for the sci-fi opera.

Since “Warframe” first launched in 2013 a lot has happened. What do you think of that journey, looking back?
The short story here is that our development team wanted to return to games it really liked, rather than create a game for an external publisher. Our creative director Steve Sinclair researched ideas from "Dark Sector" and read up on the free to play market and figured it was the only chance we had. The team liked some of the early Dark Sector concepts and decided to flesh those out. We met with a number of the biggest free to play publishers at the time to pitch the game and get feedback. The response was mixed at best...

We were told, essentially, sci-fi was dead, the game was pretty, but Western developers like us might be able to make a beautiful game, but would never be able to iterate fast enough, and in general, it won’t work. Was the collective feedback a challenge? One could certainly look back on it and say yes.

Because the team put together the early stages of Warframe, a game that started out as a kind of cooperative "Left for Dead in Space" in early Beta in March 2013 on PC, over the four and half years, we succeeded in growing in ways we still can't believe.

What's been some of the biggest challenges working on a game of this size?
– The challenge of knowing everything can be improved but still having to make a fun game are often at odds. We have the rare opportunity to work on an IP that is uniquely ours. We have strong ideas of where we want to take the world, and the players within it share our ambition and have high expectations of where we go. From redoing movement and melee systems to trying to systematically expand the game, it's a constant challenge of prioritizing the fun while maintaining function!

Are there a lot of substantial story and lore to catch up to for new players at this point?
– The answer to this question relies directly on when you started and then stopped. Did you start about four years ago and then stop? If so, you’re in for a big surprise and a lot of changes! We're kind of like an anime series at this point. If you are new to Warframe, then yes, there is four and a half years worth of story to dig into, but it’s all do-able and all free, and the intro and subsequent game does a great job of introducing the key story and systems.

If you dropped off right before The Second Dream and The War Within, those are two of our biggest, most substantial story-packed updates, and they’re well worth returning for! Last, if you want to jump into our newest, biggest update, Plains of Eidolon, then the bare minimum requirements to play there is to have essentially beaten Vor’s Prize, the first boss level. You may find it hard to engage with all of the update, but familiarizing yourself with our Mod system will help you progress!

“Plains of Eidolon” introduces an open-world to Warframe. What was your ambition behind that?
– The intention behind Plains of Eidolon was to challenge ourselves and our understanding of Warframe, and to dream up something new and different within the universe that made us. We love Warframe, but we wanted to refresh and renew our experience with it with the hope that our players would feel the same way.

When did you start thinking about adding this to the game?
– We started working on Plains of Eidolon around March of 2017.

How big is this world?
– The Plains of Eidolon is approximately 2.5x 2.5 square kilometers in size. Players are starting to name their own parts of the map as they grow to get comfortable in what the Plains offers!

What will the day and night cycle mean for the experience?
– Good question. We have created Plains of Eidolon with the idea that it’s for everyone, new and veteran players alike. This is our thinking with all expansions, but here the difference is really felt during the day and night. Any player can enter the Plains at either time, but the night time presents greater challenges.

In the day, missions are tough enough for veterans to enjoy ... grineer combat post attacks, rescue missions, and more, but at night the missions grow in difficulty and the Eidolon begins its march. Players will have to have obtained the Operator class, picked up during the Second Dream cinematic quest, to work in tandem with other Warframes to defeat an Eidolon.

There are different Eidolons, but also those that seem more like boss fights?
– The battle against the Teralyst Eidolon is definitely one of the tougher challenges in the Plains. The Teralyst only appears at night. It’s not actually looking to fight anybody, but if you attack it, it will fight back. And hard. Players will have to have obtained the Operator class, picked up during the Second Dream cinematic quest, to work in tandem with other Warframes to defeat an Eidolon.

What does this fight look like? It looks like four skilled players, preferably a few of them which have Operator status ... as it’s the Operators who are best equipped to identify defeating an Eidolon and a whole lot of firepower to defeat it.

Do you plan to add more creatures later on?
– We do plan on expanding more content in the Plains, but those are highly regarded secrets for now. Keep your eyes on the PC version this week and next for more on that subject...

There already are some striking creatures roaming these plains ...
– Between the fish, the weird rodents, the birds, the Eidolon, and air Grineer units, we had an opportunity to expand in all the animal kingdoms ... even the pseudo-AI one of Sentients! Our inspiration is multi-sorced, nature is always the starting point, but our strong pop-culture appetites meant our Kaiju-inspired Eidolon was born of years of gaming influence too.

Are there any RPG elements?
– There are indeed! The definition of a role playing game varies, but a few constant elements of an RPG include enabling players to feel like they are playing a role in a story, that they have some level of customization, that they can level up, and that they can escape into another world. Players can explore Cetus and the Plains in any way they like, and we recommend starting with talking to Konzu for a guided tour of the Plains and to complete Bounties.

By fulfilling these and other missions from vendors like Konzu, you can gain sway, or “Standing” with the citizens of Cetus resulting in a variety of buffs. Players also can create and customize their own melee weapons by visiting master craftsman Hok's Anvil. The crafting system is rich with RPG elements including exploration.  You need to explore, mine and gather resources to create your “Zaw” and it offers many many options for tailoring your weapon with three different parts ... strike, grip and link.

Did I mention the high art of fishing? These are just a few!

What is the Ostron society?
– The Ostrons are a closely connected group of merchants, hucksters, and survivors. They live and work in Cetus, a settlement built around the bio-organic Orokin Tower that they harvest. The Ostrons are a syndicate of their own too. They have their own Standing that can be exchanged for various rewards from the town's NPCs.

They are a neutral Syndicate, and so gaining Standing with them will not affect your Standing with any other Syndicate. By chatting with them, you will discover how the ongoing war with the Grineer has shaped their lives for better or worse. Stick around and complete missions and bounties and the Ostrons will share their culture and knowledge while granting you access to their wares.

What new Warframes are coming our way?
– For starters, Gara, the deadly Warframe and the manipulator of glass, was introduced in Plains of Eidolon on PC, October 12. The console versions will come out in November, so console players will experience Gara for the first time this November.

If everything goes as planned, we have plans to introduce another new Warframe by the end of this year or the beginning of the next. Her name is Khora, and players can summon her own custom Kavat, even if you already have a Kavat equipped, you’re one step closer to full Kavat-lady status, and an exalted Whip. She will have the ability to change her damage output between slash, impact and puncture, and her appearance will change to reflect it.

What Warframe is your favorite?
– Nyx has always been my favourite. But it's really hard for me to pick beyond that, I really love them all.

So this expansion is already out on PC. When exactly will it be shipped for PS4 and Xbox One?
– We plan on bringing Plains of Eidolon to consoles this November, 14th!

This is an exciting time hardware wise. With the game already supporting PS4 Pro, will you also support Xbox One X?
– That's the plan ... stay tuned!

Any chance for a Nintendo Switch version later on?
– We are always looking at different systems, and a lot of us love the Nintendo Switch, but at this point, we don’t have any plans just yet.

While on the subject of Warframe's future at large and with this content being PvE oriented. What are the plans for PvP?
– As of now, we’re keeping quiet on exactly what the next update might be. Watch this week for something fun and then prepare for the console launch. We are always looking at possible ways to improve all areas of Warframe. Right now, we don’t have too much to give away on the PVP side of things, but we are always looking for new ideas and listening to our community.

One final question! Why do you think new and old players alike will enjoy Plains of Eidolon in Warframe?
– It’s a good question and one I feel like was kind of answered in the beginning. Plains of Eidolon is a brand new way of experiencing Warframe. It’s open, freeing, and continual. Once you are in the Plains, it is hard to leave.

There are so many things to do, so many ways to explore, and if you like just hanging out, or chilling with a fishing pole... well, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do that!


Rebecca Ford is the Live Ops and Community Producer for Warframe at Digital Extremes, a developer based in Ontario, Canada, also known for games such as "Unreal", "The Darkness II", "Pariah" and "Bioshock" multiplayer.


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