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Interview: Warframe's Rebecca Ford on Angels of the Zariman's biggest features

Player housing, new mission types, and evolving weapons.

Angels of the Zariman, the latest major content update for Warframe is nearly here. It’s lined up to be a special one, taking place directly following the events of the climactic New War quest that shook the community, and introduces yet another hub for players to socialise in and explore. What secrets are hidden in the darkened corners of this long-lost ghost ship? I have no idea. No one would tell me. We’ll have to find out when it goes live later this week on April 27.

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To tide us over through this limbo period without new weapons to level and Warframes to farm, I sat down once again with Rebecca Ford, live operations and community director for Warframe, to talk me through some of the major new additions coming to this new player hub, alongside some of the more intriguing aspects of the Angels of the Zariman update.

VG247: What lessons have the team learned from previous hub areas, and how has that affected this latest addition?

Rebecca Ford: Well, I can say this is the most challenging one we've had to do. Because as far as we know, the Zariman is a ghost ship. So how do you populate a hub when there's no population? So we've had to lean into bringing life into it in other ways. After the quest, you'll see how there is somewhat of a population there.

Lessons wise, we needed to make sure that the roles the characters play are essential to the gameplay that they were about to be doing. So we really wanted to work on three major pillars for our hubs. The first is standing, we wanted to make it feel better, and learn how players like to engage with standing systems. The second is weapons - everyone loves our weapon offerings. And then bounties which is a major open world hub thing, but how do you do that on a not open world? So, on the Zariman there's a lot of new additions, and a lot of combinations of things that have worked from past hubs.

VG247: Tell me about the parts of the Zariman ship that aren’t in the safety of the hub? Where players will be going to complete missions and the like.

Rebecca Ford: The Zariman is a huge colony ship. What will happen is a player will truly walk into the elevator and they'll choose their desired floor this time. In the Orb Valis, you go in and head above ground, whereas here you can kind of pick and they all have a ton of world building a ton of flavour depending on what floor you pick.

You'll learn a lot about the ship as you travel around it too, and about how the Orokin would go about creating this colonising ship filled with essentially experimental guinea pigs! What did the ship have? What didn't it have? Who were the colonists? How were they selected? What luxuries were they given?

It’s also a bit tongue in cheek but this we're giving Lunaro a backstory, you know, I don't know if you follow our PvP attempts throughout the years. But yeah, there's some fun little Lunaro nods towards where it would have come from, so look out for that too!

VG247: What’s the deal with these new missions? It’s been a while since we’ve had a new type of mission to play around with.

A warframe standing in the ruined Zariman ship

Rebecca Ford: We need new gameplay. I love the game modes I've been playing, but we've been playing them for years. And when we took the opportunity to build the Zariman out, we knew we needed to provide new ways to actually engage with your moment to moment missions, we still have some of the classics there, like exterminate isn't going anywhere, it's a good way for players to pace themselves. But nonetheless we're adding three new game modes, which is more than we've added, possibly, in our past two years combined.

It has to happen, you need new ways to engage with the world. It is definitely necessary so we can bring new ways to play the game, because you can't just keep doing the same missions.

VG247: So since new missions are something the team has identified as a bit of an issue, can we expect the new ones added to the Zariman to be spread across the system to different planets? Or at least new twists on traditional missions in the future?

Rebecca Ford: I think so. But for this particular update, they're so heavily implicated in the state of the Zariman that it would be very difficult to take some of them away from this ship just because they're kind of narratively linked to it. I mean, if they do end up elsewhere that means very bad things have happened!

VG247: Let's talk about player housing! As someone who I know has an Orbiter filled with stuff, can you shine a light on whether similar-minded players will be able to transfer all their stuff to their new abodes?

A shot of a dormozone, with a tiny dinner table as well as shelving. Your home away from home!

Rebecca Ford: We made a very careful decision to ensure anything that can be decorated on your orbiter can also go here, so players will be able to pull from the same library, the same inventory, anything that you can put on your landing craft you can also put in your place.

VG247: Are there plans to expand this feature to different regions of the Warframe universe, so players can get additional pads for all their stuff?

Rebecca Ford: Right now it is very contextual and meant to be contained to the Zariman experience. It is part of the quest. It's all linked. I definitely have engaged in house hunting. I got a house the hard way on another game I won't name and I couldn't use my hand for about a day after because I had to click so much.

VG247: The last major addition coming to the Zariman ship is of course evolving weapons. How exactly does one evolve these weapons, and how challenging can we expect them to get?

A shot of an evolving melee weapon, which has its appearance change upon the completion of challenges.

Rebecca Ford: Yeah, it caters to that. In terms of intensity, if this was a hot sauce metre, we're not super spicy. We're in the jalapeno at most. We don't really want you to fail, but we do want you to get you to know how to use the weapons. It's nothing as simple as you know, get 100 XP with this weapon because that's passive. They do require an active participation but they're not Carolina Reapers.

VG247: Are there any challenging grinds in the plans for systems like the evolving weapons, perhaps one that you can only unlock at max reputation with the syndicate in the Zariman? Something for players who want a long-term grind for special rewards?

Rebecca Ford: One thing that we have been looking into is a way for a player to sort of demonstrate a level of either commitment or skill. We have flavours of it, but there's nothing other than some emotes for steel path.

But merit based gear or gear that's locked behind these types of things, we haven't really perfected yet. There are some options we're exploring on how a player can feel that they've earned something that puts them in a, you know, not a bracket because we're not a competitive game, but we just want people to be able to express themselves through other things they've accomplished in the game a little bit more. So, there will be more in that direction.

If you want a full rundown on everything coming with the Angels of the Zariman update, check out our recap of Warframe Devstream 161, which went over everything coming in the update this week.

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