TennoCon 2023: Warframe 1999’s trailer goes back to the future


As with every TennoCon, Digital Extremes likes to tease players with a little blast of what will be featured at the next con. Of course, TennoCon 2023 ended with said requisite teasing trailer. I could have just made it a footnote at the end of the content reveals as I did at the first couple of conventions, but no: This juicy stuff needs needs its own space!

Those few minutes of Warframe 1999 cinematic offered much more than an exciting fight and rousing music; instead of leaving viewers with only questions, it offered some of hints of answers. In a nutshell, the trailer shows the protagonist slashing his way though various violent robots while apparently searching for his target. But it really says so much more than that!

Blast from the past

While you don’t get the title Warframe 1999 until the end moments, you already get a sense of the time from the very first seconds. With the subway and subway station, you can immediately feel that the trailer takes place in a familiar era, albeit one that is obviously experiencing an apocalypse. Add in the old CRT computer monitors with floppy disks and the environment is more definitively dated. Top that with the background music — a licensed track from Nine Inch Nails — and you can’t help but feel modern vibes. In fact, it could be something you’ve experienced in the past (unless you are a young whippersnapper, in which case you’d just experience vicariously through movies and such!).

So when the 1999 appears, it just fits. My very first thoughts? Yeah, that’s one way to party like it’s 1999.

Origins of the cast

In the storyline, the protagonist, Arthur, keeps being besieged by malevolent machines as he searches for his target, Dr Entrati. We know how Entrati ends up, but we don’t know the process of getting there. It appears we will learn more here. From the vocal cues of Arthur’s companion AOI, I wondered if finding the doc would be good or bad — for Arthur and the world. In the end, Arthur falls (I’m pretty sure that’s bad news!), and the master we discovered in Whispers in the Walls approaches him with a very sinister smile, declaring, “You are late.” Not ominous at all. But we do finally see the face of that character, which was hidden throughout the Whispers in the Wall cinematic. I really want to see where this leads!

Speaking of faces, Arthur’s certainly won’t be ringing any bells. But take a closer look at him. If the armor doesn’t quite pique your senses, seeing the sword should start ramping up the familiarity. Then watching the performance of that signature sword move in the floor should hit you that you may be watching the origin story of one very famous ‘Frame. (And while we’re at it, let’s take a moment to appreciate the protagonist’s name here.)

Click to reveal the 'Frame spoiler
Yep, it’s Excalibur!

I don’t know about you, but the idea of seeing origin stories super excites me! In fact, when I asked Creative Director Rebecca Ford if we might get to see the origins of the original trio of starter ‘Frames, she just hummed at me. So how did the Warframes come to be? And how does it relate to our world? I really look forward to learning more next year. That said, I think some things in the trailer hint at some answers, so we can speculate.

Alternate reality?

The trailer is set in the past, but whose past is it? Obviously, it is the Warframes’ past. Right? Yet throughout the trailer, the setting and music weave an eerily familiar feeling of our own past. It’s just that something happened to bring on this apocalypse of murderous machinery taking the future path in a different direction than where we are. So who says it can’t be both? Perhaps it is an alternate reality, a what could have been. (Or just maybe, we are their alternate reality!)

What — or who — created the divergence? We see balloons littering the floors as if there had been a celebration just before everything broke loose (I am reminded of how Kingsmouth in The Secret World was all decorated for Halloween). We also know that the chaos happening all around caused Arthur’s companion to be alone on New Year’s Eve, presumably because he is out hunting Entrati, and that she desires this year of full of troubles to end. And if that doesn’t clue you in, the date on the computer he checks in on should. Perhaps that is a more important clue than at first glance. Combine that date with the year, add in a calamity of epic proportions where computers and electronic systems go haywire, and what do you get? I think you know. And that might even tie into DE’s 2008 game.

(Edit: Having watched the trailer first before TennoLive, I didn’t register that the vocal count down to midnight was new; it appears Digital Extremes took the soundbite from the Sound Panel countdown from the audience and inserted it into the trailer. How cool is that? We’re in a game trailer!)

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in London, Ontario, Canada, for TennoCon 2023, bringing you expert coverage on Warframe, Soulframe, and everything else under the Digital Extremes umbrella! In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that DE paid for our writer’s travel to and accommodation at this event. DE has neither requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event.
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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