War­frame gets a hov­er­board.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Steven Mess­ner

War­frame is con­stantly try­ing to rein­vent it­self

It’s a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence to spend hun­dreds of hours con­fined to War­frame’s pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated cor­ri­dors only to step out into the mas­sive, frozen waste­land of Orb Val­lis. It’s a win­ter won­der­land of new en­e­mies to kill, re­sources to har­vest and cute mon­sters to cap­ture as part of

War­frame’s For­tuna ex­pan­sion. Re­leased in No­vem­ber, For­tuna is a trans­for­ma­tive up­date that once again sees War­frame boldly step into a new di­rec­tion from the claus­tro­pho­bic free-to-play loot shooter it started as back in 2013.

It’s a di­rec­tion I hope to see Dig­i­tal Ex­tremes stick to, be­cause For­tuna is one of the best up­dates War­frame has ever re­ceived. This isn’t the first time War­frame has dipped its cy­ber­netic ap­pendages into the open world coolant, but For­tuna sig­nif­i­cantly im­proves on just about ev­ery core fea­ture of the pre­vi­ous Plains of Ei­dolon zone. It’s less grindy, adds more var­ied ac­tiv­i­ties, and is a great deal less buggy too.

Be­fore you can go romp­ing around Orb Val­lis, though, you need to win the trust of the So­laris who live there. These cy­borg slaves are for­ever in­debted to Nef Anyo, a hy­per­cap­i­tal­ist over­lord that is us­ing them to work the ter­raform­ing ma­chines that turn this slice of scorched Venus into a shim­mer­ing tun­dra. But Nef Anyo isn’t a benev­o­lent leader. The So­laris are trapped in a cy­cle of debt and are in­terned in a colony called For­tuna where they live in fear of hav­ing their ro­botic im­plants force­fully re­pos­sessed. Nat­u­rally, it’s up to space nin­jas like us to doll out some much needed jus­tice for these folk.

Out on the town

De­spite the bleak setup, For­tuna is a lively place, and one that I’m happy to re­turn to be­tween mis­sions. The new char­ac­ters are quirky, and the chain gang song they sing has been stuck in my head for weeks.

For­tuna acts as a hub where play­ers can so­cialise and un­lock the new fea­tures that make ex­plor­ing Orb Val­lis so fun. Eas­ily the coolest of these are the K-Drive hov­er­boards, which com­bine War­frame with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. While you can still use your fly­ing Arch­wing to get around, it’s more fun to ride these hov­er­boards that turn ev­ery rock for­ma­tion into the Me­gaRamp from the X Games. There’s just some­thing so cool about grind­ing a coolant pipe as an ex­o­suit-wear­ing cy­bern­inja.

For­tuna’s other fea­tures are just as fun. Play­ers can find bits of an­i­mal tracks that they can fol­low that lead you to the stomp­ing grounds of Orb Val­lis’ fauna. Us­ing lures, you then play a game of call-and-re­sponse with the crit­ter to lure it out where you can tran­quil­lise it and trans­port it to a sanc­tu­ary. Do­ing this is fun on its own, but the real treat is that cap­tur­ing enough of a spe­cific breed re­wards you with in-game plushies.

Ac­tiv­i­ties like min­ing, fish­ing and an­i­mal con­ser­va­tion all re­ward rep points with the So­laris that can be spent on un­lock­ing bet­ter gear and blue­prints. This time around, play­ers can not only cus­tomise their own se­condary weapon from var­i­ous parts, but they can also build a dog-like ‘Moa’ com­pan­ion that ac­com­pa­nies them on mis­sions.

And that’s just the be­gin­ning. Be­fore the end of the year, For­tuna will re­ceive a se­cond up­date that un­locks more of the story and a new endgame boss bat­tle against the giant robot spi­ders that pro­tect Nef Anyo’s trea­sures. That next chap­ter will see the So­laris rise up to bat­tle their op­pres­sors, but the cli­max of that bat­tle won’t hap­pen un­til much later. First teased at War­frame’s an­nual fan gath­er­ing this sum­mer, Dig­i­tal Ex­tremes an­nounced the Rail­jack up­date would even­tu­ally let play­ers seam­lessly fly to low or­bit above Venus in their very own space­ship. Like War­frame’s take on FTL, play­ers will have to work to­gether to man var­i­ous sta­tions aboard their craft while re­pelling in­vaders and even send­ing one of their own to in­fil­trate Nef Anyo’s cap­i­tal ship. Like For­tuna, Rail­jack prom­ises to be a trans­for­ma­tive ex­pan­sion that once again re­de­fines what War­frame is.

Dig­i­tal Ex­tremes hasn’t been con­tent to just give play­ers more of the same. War­frame is con­stantly try­ing to rein­vent it­self while also it­er­at­ing on that core of shoot­ing and loot­ing that makes it so much fun. For­tuna is a great up­date in its own right, but it also feels like a good omen of bet­ter things to come.

Craft­ing the new Garuda War­frame re­quires some ex­pen­sive ma­te­ri­als.

Take a break from mur­der­ing to spear some robo-fish.

These giant spi­ders serve as endgame bosses.

For­tuna sure is colour­ful for such a bleak city.

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