Warframe gets a hoverboard.
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.