TennoCon 2018: Deep-diving Warframe’s Fortuna and Railjack

Many fans, including me, are talking about still riding high after Warframe’s amazing TennoCon 2018 announcements this past weekend. That was some pretty epic stuff (I have to admit I  wonder how on earth they will manage to top themselves next year!). I was excited to share the news about Fortuna and Railjack with you as fast as I could; the only downside of that was it was too brief to add in many of the deeper details. I couldn’t include the insights and commentary that Game Director Steve Sinclair and Live Operations and Community Producer Rebecca Ford offered when I chatted with them. If only there were a way to impart that extra goodness to you and add in my own impressions. Oh wait!

While there’s certainly more to learn about the upcoming expansion/updates, here’s a bit more information about the underground all that cool stuff we can’t wait to experience for ourselves.

Venus: Bigger, better, colder

Back when I spoke with Sinclair at TennoCon 2017, he’d told me that while Eidolon wasn’t quite an open world, it is a first step in that direction. And Digital Extremes definitely took another step or two here. And huge steps at that. I still can’t get over Sinclair’s comment that the whole of Eidolon would fit in just that first base that players capture in Fortuna. The first one, Of many! And there is lots of room in between the bases to traverse. This expands the open space quite significantly. Here is where the phrasing “open world” comes to play for Warframe: It may not be the common industry idea of open world, but it opens this world. Even if it is an instance, it isn’t a small, confined space with only the specific objectives of a mission like the initial parts of the game. Instead, you can go in and participate in a variety of activities, such as more spear fishing of the crazy terraformed creatures or exploring the caverns hidden underneath. That there is the meaning of open: an open, explorable frozen frontier. In order to achieve this, Sinclair said the code had to be massively rewritten in order to support such an enormous landscape.

Some folks were surprised by the snowy landscape of The Orb Vallis. True, the Venus we know is a hot, people-melting mess. However, in this far distance future, life is — as you might expect — different. Ancient (yeah, it’s that far ahead in the future) terraformers were on Venus to make it inhabitable. For Warframe’s present day, at least one of those has been brought back to life, spewing its coolant into the air and making the surface survivable. Of course, the goal will be to make it so that the Corpus there don’t survive.

Back in the subject of bases, Sinclair said that they will scale as you go along, clearing them of the Corpus. That first base you capture is the easiest. But as you push against the Corpus and go further on, the surface it gets decidedly harder. And be forewarned that the massive Orb Layers, those mountain-sized spider-crab creatures we got a peek at in the distance dwarf the Eidolons in size and difficulty. Those mammoth all-terrain beasties, although programmed to protect the bases, are a serious end-game battle. (Fun fact: Sinclair noted that this creature’s ability to traverse all the angles of the terrain was a serious challenge to code.)

During the press reveal, Sinclair noted that he thought the feature the crowd would most appreciate is the fact that in Fortuna, players will no longer need to travel back to the hub in order to get bounties and continue their adventures on the surface. (He was off a bit, as hoverboards got the louder howls of approval.) This is pretty significant, meaning players can have a more seamless experience. Also, it is necessary to avoid having to redo the same content over and over because the surface instance will reset each time you come back to it; all captured bases will need to be recaptured. That makes sense, since Nef will constantly be fighting back to reclaim his losses due to the Solaris United resistance force.

We work in a land down under

Before you even get to the surface, you wander the Colony of Fortuna, a really cool (pun almost intended), industrial looking area filled with workers — that just so happens to be an internment colony. Ford shared with me that her favorite aspect of Fortuna is that the world is so different than Plains of Eidolon. She said,

“The world we built is so opposite of Plains of Eidolon. It’s sci-fi. It’s weird, dystopian, cyberpunk in some ways. And the flavor that gives me for Warframe is just so fresh because we’ve kind of gone more military gritty with Plains of Eidolon, and now I get to immerse myself in something completely unique. And I’ve never had the chance to do that at this level in Warframe. “

The new environment gives rise to the next culture, the Solaris (who happen to be hiding a secret that players might be able to earn enough trust to find out what it is). The inhabitants of Colony of Fortuna are not completely human anymore but unique cyborg hybrids who live in constant fear of their overlord, Nef Anyo. They are basically enslaved to utilize the planet’s resources and create the livable space. The Solaris are not technically slaves but are indebted to Nef — for their lives. These cyborg beings are so far in debt to the Corpus that they work there to pay off their debts; foreclosure means death as they have to give up their bodies.

Sinclair expounded a bit on the theme of the colony, calling it a social commentary on finances and debt. The reason the update as first envisioned wasn’t out by spring is because the team wanted to go deeper into cultural ideas. He described Warframe as Left for Dead in space mixed with a little Metal Gear, then explained how he was surprised by how much people wanted more lore. Now Digital Extremes is always trying to bring something real, grounded, maybe a little uncomfortable in the setting. The studio looks to put human a element in every race.

Shoot the poop

“You get to shoot poop in Warframe, isn’t that a dream every player has had?” — Steve Sinclair
Warframe, Sinclair said, is all about taking risks. The team wants the game to be about more than just guns. “It’s not enough just to have a giant landscape: You need interesting things to do and interesting new ways to traverse it,” Sinclair stated. That’s were shooting poop comes in. No, really. Another new feature coming that I greatly appreciate is one that does not rely on eradicating enemies. In fact, this diversion game mechanic is a new system designed to save creatures from getting killed. Sinclair called it Deer Hunter meets conservation. Players have the opportunity to help the Solaris in their conservation efforts of the local wildlife. And it is more than just going out and shooting the critter. You have to track it, hide downwind so as to not be discovered, mimic its call by moving the pitch on an echo-lure (a kazoo-like instrument you can use anywhere) to bring it our of hiding, and then tranquilize it before it runs away. Then pop a beacon on and it is home free. The creatures can be of varying rarity, which offer different rewards. If you spook it and fail, however, you have lost your chance there and need to hunt a new creature.

Hang ten with hoverboards

Hover boards! Need I say more? In a game that focuses on the fun of movement, how could you not appreciate the inclusion of a hoverboard? DE really hit it out of the park with this one, making it not just easier to traverse the vast new landscape but incredibly fun. And that is just from watching; I haven’t even ridden one yet and I already know it will be a blast! We watched flips and tricks in the demo, and I am certainly looking forward to doing just that. I also plan on running at least a few races with folks. And I might  have unofficially heard that there is a possibility of flags on a course to run.

Speaking of movement, the planet surface also has giant flowers you can jump on to propel yourself high into the air to reach higher elevations.

Build a better companion

Ford calls it fashion frame, and there is no denying that many players really get into customizing everything they can. Orbitors and dojos can be decorated — even the frames themselves can be decorated with regalia and syandanas. Toss in the weapons and all the skins and you can choose your own color combinations for it all. But more customization is always a good thing, right?

We already know that the kubro is getting its first cosmetic skin. But did you know that you can build your own robotic companion in Fortuna? A new modular companion system that lets you mix and match all sorts of pieces to create a unique looking Moa. And, of course, you can add things like bow ties for an added flair.

And since we are on the subject of kits, yes there are new kitguns in Fortuna that you can assemble from various parts.

Railjack and more to come

Of course, there will be even more to Fortuna in the future. Douglass Perry, PR Director, pointed out that even after this update launches, the team will continue to go back in and add more. “Every time we put out something new, you know that we are going to go back and add more to it. So whatever you see in it now, try to imagine what else [will be added],” he said.

And don’t forget Railjack! I don’t even know where to begin on that one, except holy space cows! WE will get to fly into space, repel boarders, board the enemy, and blow this ship. More than that, it will be a communal space journey with friends, something I have been looking forward to for a long, long time. I really need to finally get my archwing. And the past zones won’t be forgotten either, as Sinclair said more Eidolons are to come. Warframe just keeps getting better and better. If you haven’t tried it yet, now may be a really great time to get in. Click the link and get going — adventure awaits!

Check out the rest of our TennoCon 2018 coverage!

Disclosure: In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that Digital Extremes paid for our writer’s travel to and accommodation at this event. The studio has neither requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event. MJ’s bus even had internet, y’all!
Massively Overpowered is on the ground in London, Canada, for TennoCon 2018, bringing you expert coverage on Warframe and Digital Extremes’ other games!
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xpsync
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xpsync

Great read as usual.

No one could argue this statement.
“Warframe just keeps getting better and better.”

I’m back playing after 3 years’ish, and it’s a whole new game and with what’s coming, i know what I’ll be playing for quite awhile.

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sophiskiai

Even if they’d just given us a Plains of Eidolon reskin with hoverboards and the bounty agents so we didn’t need to keep travelling back and forth to the hub I’d have been satisfied – everything else on top makes it so much better! And that unofficial mention of a course of flags to run through makes me happy :)

Kubrows kind of have a cosmetic skin already in the game, as one of the Cetus vendors sells a Drahk skin to make them look like the evil spacepups used against us by the Grineer. But this is definitely the first kubrow cosmetic skin that makes them look properly cool and impressive.
I’m curious to see what unique abilities the new Solaris United Sentinel will have… maybe something to help us fight against the giant Orb Layer spider bosses?

I saw Steve Sinclair mention in one recent interview that they were slightly surprised last year when they not only got a spike in new players after Plains of Eidolon launched, but also after it was announced. From the comments I’ve been seeing, looks like this year’s announcement has had the same effect.

MJ, does the “Play Warframe!” button on the article count as a referral link and give players who use it to create an account the 7 day double-xp boost? If not, might be worth setting it up to do so? Assuming there aren’t legal issues I’m unaware of that’d complicate things:
https://www.warframe.com/referral

xpsync
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xpsync

Keep the Warframe news a flowing.

Hopefully more time tomorrow to soak it in, so freaking busy, i think how Mexico, Greece, Costa Rica ect… has Siesta time we working stiffs need Massively time.

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

I would love to take along a kubrow or kavat on missions, but I refuse to give up the vacuum ability of my sentinel. I ended up sending my first kubrow to live on a space farm.

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Alex Willis

Yeah, the only reason to take non-Sentinels is for fun/flavor. But Vacuum > All Other Companion Abilities.

I have 5 Kubrow and 1 Kavat. I like every single one of them. And I only use the Helminth Charger, because Infested Puppy.

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Rein Axefury

As i said to another reply, Kavats are more than flavor, specially when one has a chance for a drop booster and the other for a raw 60% crit chance buff. Kubrows sure are there just for fun and flavor, to that i agree as there is no real benefit on using them, but at least i know for sure there is a benefit on a resource booster while farming kuva/fishing/mining.

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Alex Willis

Thankfully my Kavat is a Smeeta. Honestly I only recently started doing resource gathering on the PoE (for my Zaw), so maybe I should drag her out of storage!

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Brother Maynard

Yeah, the convenience of vacuum is sorely missed. It’s exactly for that reason that I only took my kubrow, kavat and helminth to a few missions to level them up and that’s it. I know the little beasts have lots of utility (especially the kavat), but the fuss with picking up the loot myself is just too much for me (not to mention the incredibly useful abilities of Helios or Carrier – and even Wyrm sometimes).

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Alex Willis

Helios Prime + Vacuum should be the default choice of any Tenno. Ammo supply is rarely a thing for me, so Carrier is always a third choice after Djinn, because I am a fan of its synergy with the Gazal Machete.

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Brother Maynard

Oh, Carrier Prime is extremely useful on a sortie Lephantis! That thing is a bullet sponge no matter how efficient the weapon you use is.

But even with some other weapons, Carrier helps a lot, especially if you use a +fire rate mod. Not to mention now that we have the new Looter mod it is a very convenient thing to have. Plus, once you have all the scans, the usefulness of Helios is a bit questionable.

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Tobasco da Gama

You’re far from the only person to feel this way. DE really just needs to give every Warframe an inherent Vacuum ability so we can focus on the actual gameplay rather than having to tediously walk over all the drops or else get locked into only using Sentinel companions.

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sophiskiai

This was something that came up and got discussed on one of the devstreams soon after Plains of Eidolon came out. One of the devs was adamant that they wanted to keep the Vacuum mod as a unique selling point of Sentinels, even though basically all the players say the same as you just did and have been saying it for years at this point. Their compromise was increasing the innate pickup range of Warframes by something like a measly 1.5m, which is barely noticeable and still far, far inferior to Sentinels.

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Tobasco da Gama

I mean, sure, I can use a Sentinel that requires zero maintenance and hoovers up mods for me, or I can use a Kubrow that requires regular injections off the market to have a usable HP and also just leaves shit lying around as if fetching stuff isn’t like 90% of what dogs are even for. 🤷🏻‍♂️

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Brother Maynard

as a unique selling point of Sentinels

Which is strange, as each sentinel actually has its own selling points: auto scans, extra ammo, shield recharge, etc. And now with the new sentinel mods, their special roles are strengthened even more.

So I honestly see no reason not to give a vacuum-style ability to all companions. And yes, for the kubrow and the helminth it should be via a mod called ‘Fetch’, as TdG suggests below.

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Rein Axefury

I use my smeeta kavat when im farming Kuva/PoE resources, if you are lucky enough, you can even get drop booster twice and it stacks. I’ve got 1600 kuva from 1 node on kuva survival, 24 cetus wisp in 2 minutes, 8 Glappids from one cach, and so on. About Adarza, i use it when i care more about damage than loot, its fun. Kubrows on the other hand need some love.

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rafael12104

Thanks for your hard work MJ!

In no small part because of your coverage, I will be jumping into Warframe this week.

The wealth of information you have provided make it a must try.

I’m so glad MOP sent staff to TennoCon. Well worth the info and perspective provided.

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Alex Willis

Have fun! The game is crazy. Whenever you’re confused, run screaming at a platoon of Grineer marines with the trigger pulled, and when you wake up 5 minutes later covered in their gore, you’ll understand.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

As an avid Corinth user, this is my reality. :p

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Alex Willis

Man, I LOVE the satisfying sound of a Corinth Air Burst grenade.

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

And just when you think the game has shown you everything it has to offer, it will introduce new features that you didn’t even know existed.

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Brother Maynard

I wonder how on earth they will manage to top themselves next year!

They’ll open up an entire planet for the Tenno!

spewing its coolant into the ear

I’m not sure that’s how you terraform a planet…

Oh, and btw (I think it might have been already linked in one of the previous comments sections), the Orb Layers compared to the Eidolon Teralyst look like this:

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Denice J. Cook

So…have they stopped banning anyone who unknowingly buys illegal plat in-game or not? That, coupled with the fact that you supposedly can’t get by in the game without buying plat in-game (and yet you have no way of knowing if said plat is actually legit or not, until your account gets banned because it’s not) keeps me away from Warframe.

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Alex Willis

you supposedly can’t get by in the game without buying plat in-game

This is not true.

Warframe is a lootgrinder. 95% of the content is achievable by grinding. Buying plat from DE speeds this up, as it does in other F2P games.

The question “but how MUCH do I have to grind” is usually the followup, and to that, I would honestly say “play the game before you ask the question”, because the game IS grinding, and you should not be turned off by the “how much” question. There is a continual, surprising, imaginative, and engaging series of things you can grind for. It’s almost impossible to be fixated on just one thing, because the game just throws alternative paths at you like they’re going out of style.

To give you an example: Prime Frames and Weapons. These are generally regarded as among the best items in the game. Every single one of them that is “available” (i.e. not vaulted) can be achieved by unlocking relics in various modes. These give you item parts which you use to assemble the Prime items in your ship’s foundry.

But what if you want to get a Prime Frame or Weapon that is “vaulted” (i.e. taken out of circulation, temporarily)? Well, someone in the game MIGHT have collected those parts, which are still able to be assembled. In those cases, you can buy the vaulted Prime items from someone in game.

But you can also just wait until it is not vaulted. Things get brought out of the vault all the time. In the meantime, there are dozens and dozens of things for you to build.

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Brother Maynard

The thing about this practice of theirs of punishing unknowing victims of trading is that it has been going on for ages. Whether they’ve changed the practice or just investigate each case individually when they receive complaints is unknown to me.

But

you supposedly can’t get by in the game without buying plat in-game

is not correct. You can buy plat directly from DE. This is especially advisable when you get (randomly as a daily login reward) a discount coupon, which goes up to 75%. With that you can buy either loads of plat for a very reasonable price or buy a reasonable amount of plat very cheaply.

Trading with players is the only other source of plat (well, if you ignore the Twitch raffles organised during DE’s live streams – or during TennoCons, where this year there was a prize of 100,000 plat) and there you simply have to be careful. When a low-rank player is offering extremely rare and valuable items, it’s good to pay extra attention. But trading with high ranked players who invested hundreds and thousands of hours into the game is usually safe, as nobody that deep in the game will risk their epic accounts with shady transactions.

And technically, you could play the game with no plat at all, but you would be limited to 1-2 warframes and weapons, with this capacity increasing by one every two ranks you gain – you need plat to overcome this limit. But since gaining ranks is done through leveling stuff, you’d effectively be limited to a handful at most. If you manage to find the perfect frame and weapons for it, there’s technically no need for you to buy any plat whatsoever.

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Alex Willis

And it should be made clear that you can start trading (read: SELLING) at very low ranks, meaning your access to plat via a non-IRL$ channel happens reasonably quickly. I sold my first mod at MR5, made 15p on it.

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sophiskiai

since gaining ranks is done through leveling stuff, you’d effectively be limited to a handful at most

Even without buying new ‘frame and weapon slots, I can’t see anything to stop someone theoretically raising their MR to the cap just by cycling stuff through and trashing gear once they’ve levelled it. But it would be painful.

Maybe a bit less painful if also getting the Twitch Prime stuff and Twitch drops, since those always come with a free slot?

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Brother Maynard

Maybe it would be possible, but I don’t think it could be done all the way to the cap, even if you wanted to go through all this pain (which would be a seriously masochistic endeavour).

There are quite a few weapons that use other weapons as components – all kinds of ‘dual’ weapons and other special ones. Those would block your progress if you decided to really go the zero plat way.

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sophiskiai

Oh yeah, good point, I’d forgotten about weapons as components for other weapons.

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Rein Axefury

Remember there’s some weapon giveaways every year, the DEX weapons every warframe aniversary, even if you have them, you get a copy of each with a free slot included, so in theory is possible to reach max rank without spending plat but it will take a long time.

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Tobasco da Gama

There’s a lot of FUD about these bans. In the vast majority of cases, DE bans the person who introduced the fraudulent Plat and leaves the other parties alone. The only case where you can be banned for trading with someone who obtained their Plat fraudulently is if you conduct a trade that DE considers to be disproportionately lopsided in value. Like, if you sell an Orthos Prime Blade for 500 Plat instead of 5, that’s a sign that you’re knowingly engaging in third party RMT rather than innocently trading with someone doing a chargeback scam.

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Armsbend

Besides the switch – what was the big news?

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Alex Willis

Fortuna? Venus? Hoverboards? Railjack? 2 new Frames? Lemon-flavored Pop Tarts?

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Brother Maynard

…and The New War.

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Armsbend

Thanks! I havent played WF in two years but after watching MJs stream last night I could feel an itch.

I really need to get it looked at. It’s not in a place I can discuss in good company.

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Alex Willis

Please consult a doctor.

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sophiskiai

Have you been spending time around any Nidus ‘frames? You might need to go through the infested door to have an infection dealt with…