War-Named Non-War-Game: Digital Extremes’ Warframe

No matter how hilariously obsolete they become, swords will never stop being cool.

War. What – some of the greatest scholars of our time have asked – is it good for? “Absolutely nothing” is the traditionally arrived upon conclusion after miles of mind-boggling chalkboard math, but the gaming industry begs to differ. “Naming things,” it posits, resulting in an immediate surge of shocked whispers and “harumphs” all around the lecture hall. “Modern Warfare, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Warface, Gears of War, God of War, World of Warcraft, World of Warplanes. And that’s just the beginning.” Which is technically correct, because now there’s also Warframe, an F2P “fast-action PvE shooter set in an evolving sci-fi world” from Digital Extremes – they of BioShock 2’s multiplayer, The Darkness 2, and, er, something called Warpath. So then, what exactly is a Warframe, anyway?

Turns out, a Warframe’s, well, er, uh. It’s shockingly complicated, is what it is. And also kind of incredibly silly sounding. So here’s your explanation, complete with backstory that’s even better when read out loud and in a deep, gravily movie announcer voice.

“Set in the far reaches of outer space during a new Dark Age, WARFRAME introduces the Tenno, a race on the brink of extinction after being enslaved by the Grineer for centuries. Players enter WARFRAME on the cusp of the Grineer’s victory over the Tenno until they begin to arm themselves with WARFRAMES – an ancient exo-skeletal technology only they can operate. Hidden within the Orokin Derelicts of a lost civilization, new WARFRAMES lie dormant and undiscovered. These artifacts are the Tenno’s only hope for survival.”


Ahem. So, how does it play? Well, based on the description, a whole lot like a sci-fi Left 4 Dead. Warframe sees four players battle through locations whipped up by an “Automatic Mission Generator” – though Digital Extremes hasn’t elaborated on how much it will procedurally generate. Left 4 Dead’s AI Director is a diabolical stroke of genius, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how dynamic (and perhaps even extreme – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) Digital Extremes plans on making this one.

The term “MMO lite” was also spotted mingling among the wordcrowds that make up Warframe’s announcement, followed shortly by emphasis on players’ ability to “continually increase the power and abilities of their WARFRAME and weapons.” Unfortunately, Digital Extremes hasn’t explained how or even if that’ll tie into its F2P business model – though my F2P Magic Eight Ball says signs point to “yes.” Then it asks for a dollar.

So, right then. Silly story, potentially interesting game. To my knowledge, though, Warframe is the first game of this sort to charge guns-a-blazing into the F2P arena. So it’s probably one to watch, if for no other reason than that. And watch it you shall, as I conveniently happen to have this trailer for you.

The full launch is currently set for winter, with a closed beta slated for fall. You can even reserve an alias right now. I’m going to name myself Warrington Warslaughter McWarravager – just as videogames have taught me.


  1. TsunamiWombat says:


  2. Kaira- says:



  3. N says:

    Dark Sector recycled art?

    • KenTWOu says:

      Yeah, it definitely reminds about old Dark Sector trailer. Also they worked with the same composer – Yakudo.

    • Lekker Pain says:

      Yes. It’s the first build of Dark Sector with new spinoff and updated graphics.

      I’ll never forgive them for what they did with DS.

    • Felixader says:

      Aber TOTALLY! :-P

      I mean seriously these are the models of what Dark Sector once promised to be. What the Heck?

  4. thepaleking says:

    Couldn’t they have gotten past copy-rights by naming it DarkseKtor? Or Sekdartker? Why would they go out of their way to give it a name that is so similar to these f2p shooters.

    PS: Darksector is actually a very solid third person shooter, with a cool blade-disc that you can pilot into peoples mid-sections, thus making two half-people. It goes from solid to fantastic in the last hour or so, because you pretty much become The Guyver.

    • Henke says:

      Really? I played it all the way through and then gave up on the final bossfight. I probably could’ve beaten it if I’d really hunkered down and gotten into it, buuut… meh. I’d gotten a bit bored of the whole thing by then. Not a bad game tho. Not a great one either of course. :/

  5. noom says:

    I’m a sucker for this kinda stylish sci-fi bumf. Here’s hoping they make a decent game with it.

    • Keymonk says:

      Me too. Trailer looks sweet, this kind of panorama thing is cool, but it shows absolutely zero about the gameplay. Eye-candy, but useless.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        unless the gameplay is walking between people frozen in time, and occasionally one speeds up… I’d kinda like to play that.

  6. Spectre-7 says:

    There’s an interview at IGN that covers a lot more detail than the PR. Here’s a choice quote about the randomization:

    IGN: How are missions generated? Are enemy positions within missions randomized to a degree? How often could players expect new mission content?

    Steve Sinclair: This is probably the coolest part of the game right now. We’re calling it our Automatic Mission Generator. It’s never the same. The convoys and cargo ships you raid are procedurally constructed from a set of rules. So the flow and placement is different every time, more than ten-thousand permutations right now with just the basic set. What we wanted to avoid is seasoned players stagnating themselves. They get so damn awesome that they ‘solve’ levels – they play to a pattern without having to think. They get super pissed off when team members break the pattern and then kick them. What the hell? We want to surprise ourselves, and those seasoned players – we want them to keep thinking and not play repetitive solutions.

    Certainly you will see the constituent parts of the themes – we want it to look awesome not random and chaotic. So we have another set of conditions that can layer on top – is the ship near a Dead Field that screws up technology? Has the ship already been sabotaged and now environmental hazards are more of a threat than the enemies left on board? These possibilities are like [Unreal Tournament] Mutators that force players to switch it up while breathing new visual interest into areas you’ve come to recognize.

  7. Godwhacker says:

    You see the guy at 0:30 – 0:37 who looks like he’s a player character? You see they way he’s blocking in one direction and firing in another?

    I bet you won’t be able to do that in the actual game.

  8. kaoswielder says:

    Another Firefall in making where co-op is a major focus ? Not saying that Firefall is bad. I liked the beta

  9. etusa says:

    Goddamnit, now I’ll be singing Edwin Starr in my head all day long, featuring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.

  10. Tunips says:

    So the shoulder-padded chunkmarines and the bad guys to be slaughtered in the thousands by players wearing sleek distinctively alien combatshapes? Don’t know about the game, but I’m down for those aesthetics.

    • DXN says:

      Agreed! I wish games would take the hint from, say, Wall-E, that audiences are quite capable of empathizing with non-human-form characters. I’m sick of playing Gruff Videogame Hero Guy… In Space!

  11. Daedalus29 says:

    They are using the sames models and background than the old dark sector concept video back in 2003, before the game completely changed.

    link to digitalextremes.com

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      I’m pretty sure they’re not using the exact same models. Design – yes, polycount – no.

      • rb2610 says:

        Apparently it’s the same Character Artist, so just a similar style I guess.

  12. MajorManiac says:

    I don’t know… it seems kinda slow…

  13. kikito says:


  14. Gap Gen says:

    Resolving conflicts of interest between nations? Maintaining the balance of power in your nation’s favour? Stimulating technological development and providing a way of reducing mass unemployment through conscription?

    • takfar says:

      Acquiring resources otherwise belonging to other nations? Enriching the weapons industry that helps finance your political campaign?

  15. Shadowcat says:

    I was about to offer one million dollars to anyone who could figure out what was happening in the middle of the screenshot. Then I realised that it was only one guy, and it all turned out to be disappointingly mundane. I guess I’ll keep the million.

  16. takfar says:

    war tea. wartea. wartear. warty ear?


  17. vodka and cookies says:

    At least it’s not another military themed shooter so thats one thing going for it.

  18. ColOfNature says:

    In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only WARFRAME.

  19. irongamer says:


    “free-to-play online third-person shooter Warframe, which will deliver procedurally generated challenges meant to be played co-operatively. It also has space ninjas with machine guns, which certainly doesn’t hurt.”

    Meant to played co-operatively with procedurally generated challenges. This sounds awesome and perfect for the group I game with. I hope they have something like (or evolution of) the director from Left4Dead.

  20. MadMatty says:


    has built in coffee brewer, airconditioning and a small house on your back, for y´know, your cat.

  21. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    This could be pretty good. Epic may get all the credit, but DE pretty much made UT and UT2003, and Warpath was rather fun, albeit not very deep.