I've been watching the evolution of free-to-play space-ninja shooter Warframe on and off for thirteen years now. Back at E3, 2005, it first saw the light of day as Dark Sector, a high-concept sci-fi action RPG years before its time. Rejected by publishers, Digital Extremes settled on reworking it into a Gears of War clone while they kept the dream alive.
When the concept later resurfaced as Warframe, many wrote it off. Admittedly, it was threadbare in those early days, with limited depth and only a single environment to play in, but it grew. Oh my, how it grew. Five years from its original Steam debut, it's celebrating by showering players with goodies, including a complete set of mid-tier weaponry, with a themed character skin to match.
Those logging in over the next two weeks will find themselves immediately gifted the Dex skin and helmet (named after the now-forgotten pilot character in the Dark Sector concept trailer) for the Excalibur Warframe. Also available via the Alert mission system will be four more rewards, including a Dex-motif syandana scarf/cloak, and a trio of similarly styled weapons: Dual short-swords, akimbo SMG pistols and a lever-action rifle that fires two bullets with every pull of the trigger.
To sweeten the deal even further, the Dex weapons come pre-equipped with Orokin Catalysts (doubling their effective mod capacity), and if you've managed to pick up the set in previous anniversary events, it's still worth earning them again as each one comes with a free permanent weapon slot, something that can normally only be acquired with premium currency. If you're new to Warframe, then these weapons will comfortably see you through a great many encounters, almost up to endgame-level difficulty.
Alongside the festivities, a new update for the game rolled out just recently, adding a little more content to the Plains of Eidolon open-world expansion. At nighttime, high-level players can now hunt two more kinds of Eidolon (giant biomechanical mechs) with friends, and during daylight hours you'll have the option of hijacking Grineer hover-platforms for a cheap, heavily armed joyride through the skies, assuming you can get to them before their pilot does. Digital Extremes have also confirmed that the second open-world planet is going to be the Corpus-held territory of Venus.
In addition to celebrating its 5th anniversary, this July will see fans of space-ninjas assemble at Tennocon in Ontario, the game's own community convention. I tip my hat to Digital Extremes; it may have taken them 13 years to get here, but they made it big when the world (or at least the holders of industry purse-strings) told them that nobody would care. Here's to five years, and hopefully another five to come.
Warframe is free-to-play, and you can grab it direct from its official site here, or via Steam here. You can also check out the official anniversary celebration page here, which features some impressive animated graphs, charting the growth of the game and its player-base.