Revealed during Digital Extreme’s TennoCon 2020 livestream, Warframe’s Heart of Deimos expansion introduces a dark storyline set in the game’s next open world on Mars’ moon. In this large-scale update to the online action-RPG, you’ll face off against new hordes of the Infested who have taken control of the moon Deimos, wresting control from the lost Entrati family. While exploring the moon, you’ll acquire new armaments of power, including a customizable mech suit, and even unlock the means to enhance your suite of characters further–but at a steep cost.
Before its debut at TennoCon, GameSpot had the opportunity to check out an early look at the Heart of Deimos expansion. The new content will be open to all players who have unlocked Mars on the star map, allowing newcomers and veterans to jump into the new story focusing on the Infested control of Mars’ moon. Encompassing the surface as well as a large, procedurally generated network of underground caverns, you’ll explore a section of Deimos known as the Cambion Drift to aid the remnants of the Entrati family, while also unlocking the true power of the Helminth, which has been tucked away on your ship.
In addition to a new open world, the expansion will add another layer to the game’s extensive customization systems. One of the more surprising new additions to the update is the means to expand your Frame’s powers by granting it abilities from different characters. For instance, if you want to give Volt’s shock ability to Mag, you can do so by feeding Volt to the Helminth located on your ship. Doing so will permanently sacrifice your current Volt, and the only way to get Volt back would be to craft a new one. It’s a tough choice, especially for long-time players who have an extensive stable of Frames to pick from. Still, it presents an interesting opportunity to heighten your favorite Frame’s attributes.
This new way to upgrade Frames also speaks to the way Heart of Deimos continues with the tradition of massive expansions that shake things up in the online game. Speaking with Digital Extremes chief operator officer Sheldon Carter before TennoCon 2020, he went into detail about what’s to come with the expansion that not only introduces a new open world but re-examines many of the game’s existing systems and Frames.
“What we wanted to do with [Heart of Deimos] was to have a blend of the new and the old,” said Carter. “Because we’re going to do an open world again, we wanted to make sure that we’re tightly packing that experience. We want it to have something for players that would feel like a really tightly packed open world with different traversal options with your K-Drive, but also focus on the core Warframe experience of procedural content you go through the tunnels underneath. At the same time, there will be new ways to play the game with the Helminth system, so you’re going to be mixing and matching Warframe powers, which is new and different. So it’s one expansion where we felt it worked well for the stories that we want to tell within the game, focusing on the Entrati family and the Infested. It also really worked well for the way we were organizing our team as we’ve moved through this interesting time with the pandemic. So yeah, working on Heart of Deimos was an interesting opportunity.”
In the open world, you can expect to find a variety of story missions, side-activities, and even some secrets to find that explain what happened to the world before you arrived. Once you arrive on the planet, you’ll be treated to a starting cutscene that sets the stage for the conflict, all explained by a new AI machine named LOID. In addition to facing off against new forms of Infested on Deimos, it will also become apparent they have significant control of the state of things on the moon. On the surface, two giant glowing Infested, known as Wyrms, are effectively the guiding lights of Deimos–one representing the moon and the other the sun. In perpetual conflict, one monster will eventually defeat the other, and when that happens, the smaller Infested will change to fit the current ruler of Deimos. While we only got to see this reflected in the regular enemies, the developers have stated their conflict happens in cycles, and that they have larger plans for the moon and sun Wyrms in the future.
The next expansion will introduce many quality-of-life updates as well. Firstly, the K-Drive–Warframe’s take on the hoverboard–will see some new upgrades, which include new Velacipod rideable beasts. Along with improved control, you’ll now be able to use your secondary weapons while using the K-Drive. Also, the Operator will now have more of a role to play in combat and the open world. When in Operator mode, you’ll be able to jump into Entrati mechs scattered around the world to let loose against the Infested. Throughout your campaign on Deimos, you’ll also interact with members of the Entrati family who have retreated underground. One of these characters you’ll interact with is the Mother, the matriarch of the Entrati family who has ties to the void technology and constructs shown throughout the game. Taking on missions for the Mother will take you on incursions into the underground, which resemble dungeon-crawling events.
In the last few years, Warframe has seen many changes to the state of the online game. In 2017, the Plains of Eidolon introduced the first open-world map, which featured dynamic quests and a new storyline. The year after saw the Fortuna expansion, which brought players to the open world of Venus, they fought against the Corpus to free indebted workers. In 2019, Warframe also introduced large-scale ship combat with the Railjack, allowing teams of players to work together to pilot a ship against enemies. According to Carter, Heart of Deimos is the next way for Digital Extremes to make a big shift for Warframe.
“Our attempts to shake things up is what keeps Warframe fresh and interesting after all these years,” said Carter. “What’s fresh to the players is fresh to us. It’s not that we don’t want to just focus on the shooting and parkour, that stuff’s amazing, but it’s like what we can give you that’s going to give you a new twist on those experiences? What’s the story that we can tell that you haven’t seen in any other game? What’s the game where you get to sacrifice your Frame to get another power and to see this crazy mouth inside your ship? I think it allows us to stretch creatively, and that’s one of the best parts about Warframe from a developer standpoint. You’re always getting to stretch your creative muscles and coming up with weird new ways that still fit within the core of what Warframe is.”
Releasing simultaneously on August 25 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, Heart of Deimos looks to be another massive game-changer for Warframe. The hellish landscape of Deimos has some similar vibes to Dead Space, which should make it incredibly eerie and unnerving to explore. In addition to this new expansion, Digital Extremes also revealed the next Frame coming to the game, Xaku, which will arrive with the new expansion.
For more on Warframe’s new wave of content, be sure to stick with GameSpot as more details are released.
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