Warframe of Mind: A sneak peek preview of Warframe’s The Duviri Paradox

    
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After years of TennoCons, folks can see that Digital Extremes is no stranger to introducing new concepts to Warframe, from fishing to flying to what’s behind the frames. However, The Duviri Paradox surpasses all previous updates: It literally changes the way players can start and play the game. First off, it takes the warframes right on out of Warframe! (Only temporarily, of course.) But that’s just the start. The Duviri Paradox is also the first roguelike-inspired expansion for the shooter. Add to that some very colorful — and lacking color — characters, flying mounts, and prebuilt loadouts, and you have a new experience for both new and veteran players alike.

Before today’s launch, I had the opportunity to sit with Creative Director Rebecca Ford and Community Director Megan Everett for a live preview of the content and a discussion on the changes. As Everett put it, “The Duviri Paradox will be the most accessible update in Warframe.” These changes make this update a great time for new players to give the game a go and old players to return.

A new start

First teased back in 2019 then highlighted more at TennoCon 2022, the Duviri Paradox has been anticipated by fans for quite a while. But this update isn’t just for veteran space ninjas. Unlike Warframe’s previous expansions, this one ensures new players who are interested in the content will have access to it immediately upon logging in.

One of the things making The Duviri Paradox so accessible is that fresh installs of the game will be able to choose which starting path they want to pursue, either the old-school Warframe beginning or the new Paradox intro. That’s not to say that veteran players are left out and have to make a new account (though I am tempted to!). Previous account holders can also access Duviri right away without worrying about completing specific tasks first; just like the new players, the only prerequisite to starting the new content is logging in.

Ford and Everett point out that no matter which path players choose, they will inevitably connect. Ford stated that players “are never going to be deprived of one experience, they will converge no matter what.” And she emphasized that that time is not tens of hours in the future: “It’s not like they’re locked in the Paradox path for 25 hours.” The cinematic-heavy Duviri quest itself that introduces players to the characters involved and the story is about 90 minutes.

Of course, like other missions and open world areas throughout Warframe, players can continue to play in the Paradox after the story is completed. Once finished with the questline, new players who have chosen the Paradox path will also be able to choose to awaken on the warframe side and then work through all the questlines and stories there.

During the Duviri content, since players don’t have an orbiter as their home base, a new dorm zone is introduced. This is where players who are running the paradox content log into the game, and is a space of their own. Ford quipped, “Realistically, this update fulfills all the fantasies that players have these days, which is managing your emotions and owning an apartment.” She laughed, “At least that’s my fantasy!”

The roguelike experience

You may be wondering what exactly the roguelike elements are in The Duviri Paradox. For one, each play session is a microcosm until itself; when you start, you are starting a fresh¬† procedurally generated play session. Each session is colored – literally and thematically – by one of five specific emotions. Called spirals, these sessions will have the player reset their instance-based mods named decrees (40 will be available at launch and future updates will add more) and restart play from the beginning. Each mood spiral lasts for two hours before cycling to another, through Ford noted that to play through all six chapters of each spiral’s content and the final boss fight would take anywhere between 25 and 35 minutes.

During play on the surface, Drifters will choose between three decrees at different times to build up their power and skills. Note: These decrees are available only to the Drifter in the Paradox, and not the one that is present in other parts of the game. However, the intrinsics that players pick for their Drifter and the perks they can select are permanent and not reset.

Another roguelike element is the way players pick their gear. The tutorial aspect at the beginning will let players pick the gear that they will use both as Drifters and as warframes in this area. Everything is basically on loan for each play session. The warframes will also have preset loadouts instead of the ability to mod individual pieces of equipment to help streamline play. This will help new players get familiar with the frames without having to learn the ins and outs of the whole modding system in the main game straight away. Ford explained,

“We’ve really narrowed the scope of gear in this update because we wanted [it] to stand more on its gameplay and decree side, so all of the things you would use in gear have kind of been kind of pushed into the decree and intrinsics line of mechanics.”

Speaking of gear, it is exciting that the Drifter in Duviri Paradox will now have melee weapons as well, so players can get in the face of the enemies and smash/slice them up instead of only fighting from afar.

The LOL in the Warframe

Ford called Duviri Paradox a sort of mishmash of all the things that the devs love in games that they wanted to see in Warframe. Ford shared that this update was inspired by her play in League of Legends during covid, especially in relation to having the loaner builds. She stated that she really liked playing with the loaner champions in ARAMs. “I don’t need to own every champion to play League with my friends,” she said. “We can just do ARAMs and I can kind of dip my toes into different characters.” In Duviri, players will get a taste of different warframes even if they do not own them in the base game. Ford called The Duviri Paradox¬† Warframe’s version of ARAMs “because you get loaner gear, you can just play characters, and you can do this crazy co-op experience with this incredible open world and away you go.”

Personally, I think this is an amazing and much needed addition. For myself, I really became engaged with the game when I found a warframe that I loved to play. Until then, it was more meh. Once I was playing my Frost Prime, however, I just couldn’t put the game down even if I wasn’t skilled yet. I lucked out: New players have never had that chance to check the feel of frames, and if they didn’t like what they chose, it is easy to walk away thinking the game just wasn’t for them. Now, they can hit up Duviri and test all sorts of frames, possibly falling in love with some and continuing on.

With a side of warframes

Wait, did I just say warframes? Yes! While playing in the Duviri Paradox, players will be adventuring as a Drifter; however, that doesn’t mean that warframes are non-existent. While frames are not possible on the surface of the spiral, there is a special place called the Undercroft where players will be utilizing a warframe to travel and fight. This area will have the same modes of play that current players are familiar with, such as defense, survival, etc. Familiar faces will also be a part of the Undercroft: There is a mix of Grineer (new players will surely learn the warcry “Get Clem!”) and Corpus enemies along with the paradox’s Dax.

Of course, there are a few big differences. As noted earlier, these frames will have preset loadouts instead of the ability to mod individual pieces of equipment. The builds are all premade by devs and cannot be altered. The good news is that the mods that are on equipment are maxed! Also, a whole new warframe isintroduced in the Duviri Paradox. Called Stalker, this frame is only available during the Duviri content and cannot be accessed in the rest of Warframe.

One thing that will change during each play session is that the Drifter’s decrees will stack onto the warframe’s loadout while playing through the Undercroft. This will undoubtably come in handy during the epic boss fights with the various Orowyrms at the end of each spiral (each emotion spiral has a different Orowyrm).

Deeper meaning

But the update isn’t just about random fun or pixel killing sprees (as fun as they are). The Duviri Paradox has a deeper meaning to it. Ford explained,

“We really wanted to tell a story about giving up as a person, as an adult, as someone [who] feels that they have been living in someone else’s world and don’t really have their own agency. So fundamentally, our story kickoff is about working through emotions — working through feeling helpless, hopeless, and then getting to a point where the world sort of becomes something else because you have decided to either accept help or change in different ways.”

During the story, players will only experience three of the five available emotion spirals as an ambiguous narrator walks them through. To play the others, players will have to continue to play through the paradox; the five emotion spirals will cycle daily, changing every two hours.

Additional tidbits

Just because The Duviri Paradox is fighting through the emotions of the big despot doesn’t mean that combat is all that’s available. Like the other open world areas, Duviri also has resource gathering as well as maw fishing and even the chance to play music. Everett also talked about how gardening will be introduced.

On other news, this update was jokingly dubbed the hair update during the preview. Besides having new hair shaders in the game, beards have also been introduced. (Not for the warframes though, sorry.) Drifters can also add facial tattoos. Warframe versions of the Drifter melee weapons will also be available on the frame side of the game.

With the launch of The Duviri Paradox, Warframe looks more enticing. Whether you’ve played before or not, this expansion seems to be a good opportunity to jump in. It’s the perfect time for me to introduce friends to the game who were unsure initially. And I look forward to playing it alongside them.

Pick a ‘Frame, any ‘Frame! The Warframe galaxy is in danger, Tenno, and Space Mom needs help to combat it. Are you in the right Warframe of Mind to join in? MJ Guthrie has enlisted; she suits up in her favorite ‘Frames biweekly to fight the good fight, blasting the Grineer and Infected into smithereens.
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