TennoCon 2022 was certainly filled with surprises this year. While The Duviri Paradox took centre stage as the much anticipated update we walked in knowing a bit about, we were surprised with news of Veilbreaker, a long-awaited wolf Warframe making it into the game, and the return of The New War’s Archons.
As such, we had a quick chat with creative director Rebecca Ford to touch on all the added updates coming to Warframe in the wake of TennoCon, including returning characters previously thought dead like Kahl and Erra, how the new Archon fights will work, the fate of Frame Fighter, and more.
Kahl is alive! Were they always going to make it past The New War or was it a reaction to the community's’ love for the character?
Rebecca Ford: That motivated us to prioritize it because we knew playable Kahl really resonated. We knew Veso did not survive the New War quest, but with Kahl we left it ambiguous on purpose because we wanted to make sure that before we committed to a full Kahl update that it did resonate. And sure enough, it did. Now we're ready for a veil breaking experience, which is our very much strictly post New War content,
That plays into what you said a few months ago about The New War being sort of like a positive bottleneck. Are we going to see all future updates be like Veil Breaker, where you have to finish New War first, or are we going to get some updates like the Duviri Paradox where you can jump in beforehand?
The rest of this year is broken up between post New War and oddly placed content. I think we have to see how Duviri goes with people's access levels, and then get started right away on where we go from there. I really want to make sure that anytime we release anything, the new player experience gets at least 5% of attention to cut down boundaries and old things that just prevent people from getting to the latest content, but we must be very careful.
Was that Erra in the Veilbreaker trailer? I thought they died!
Rebecca Ford: Yeah - but what was on his head? Erra invented the Archons, which are sentient animals that are fused and grafted on Warframes. And for Erra, the creator of the Archons, for his resurgence to be in an Archon form is the only way that any part of him made it through The New War, because he did effectively die. Yeah, but Pragasa (one of the major settings on The New War) was basically sentient HQ. Picture Frankenstein's monster latching onto his body.
Will the archons be their own individual missions on planets?
Rebecca Ford: We're actually doing another tier of Sorties. What we're going to do is bring the archons back for a weekly content type of Sorties. Week one will be Amar, Nira would be the next week and you'll have all week to take them down in their weekly Sortie which will be in their designated area. In addition, you're only going to be matched with other players that are in that difficulty tier to actually engage with the Archon content.
We're not sure how hard we're going to go with it because there's so many ways in Warframe to make it a very easy game. So, we're still figuring out those fights at a four player Warframe level because what you saw in The New War was the first two Archons were slow Drifter combat, and people just kind of steamrolled the third one. When we bring four Warframes into a fight with an archon, we have a lot of rebalancing and work to do, but we're making it a multiplayer, closer to end game system with Archons.
Are these new Archon fights going to be tied into acquiring blueprints / components for Styanax - the 50th Warframe coming to the game soon?
Rebecca Ford: They're not right now. I don't think so. We're going to be doing something special with the first couple weeks that the 50th Warframe is available. And after that, I think we're actually putting it on playable Kahl things, but we're still deciding. To be honest, unless there's a good reason to tie it with content. We usually make that decision a bit later in the game. Like obviously, quest Warframes have to come with the quest, but I think we're just a little unsure if people are going to want to play Kahl missions to get a Warframe. But, right now, that's currently what we're thinking.
If not the new Warframe parts, what can players expect to get in terms of rewards from these Archon fights?
Rebecca Ford: Oh, we have a whole new system coming. Let's just say, those Archon crystals that fuse the head, are the source of power for many things including you. We have something very fun coming for that.
How long has the Werewolf Warframe been in the works? I know it’s been somewhat of a running joke in the community for a while!
Rebecca Ford: It has been on and off since the community mentioned it. Whenever the community says something that seems like a passionate point, it's hard to rule it out. So, for me, it's been a while. We wondered how we could actually do it in a Warframe-serving way. For months, we've been saying: ‘well, we can't do this because we have Sevagoth. We can't do that because we have Valkyr. But what can we do?’ Luckily, the answer is we can try something really weird, and no matter what, it's going to be distinctly Warframe!”
Can you speak to how it will be distinctly Warframe?
Rebecca Ford: Well, I think some really interesting points start with the question: how are we going to do a wolf theme without fur? Because we really want to make sure our body armour remains tech-based, and we don't want to have one out of 50 Warframes be fur. There's just so much wrong with that in terms of the character direction, so we had to make it feel more monstrous. And I think, to be honest, the best reference point within the Warframe universe is Nidus, because Nidus has their default state, and then they have their mutation stacks. If you can kind of imagine a lycanthropy slash monster form of that - it's very much part of that style, where you'll have a mutation form within the body itself- although not infestation-based I should clarify.
Do you think having content being explicitly post New War makes it easier for you to develop genuinely challenging content?
Yeah, we'd like to hit our players with soft progression walls. We have Mastery Rank checks for some content, which means you've collected a lot, but it's not necessarily a sign of your mod level, and gear. Studies will show if we go too hard or too easy, but we think that the New War is a good indicator of someone's actual core competencies as a Warframe player.
Can we expect any Frame Fighter updates?
Rebecca Ford: This is probably sad. You can probably see in the mirror we have our Frame Fighter arcade cabinets. We're not really doing anything with it right now, though. Sorry.
How often do people actually play that Frame Fighter cabinet?
Rebecca Ford: That cabinet? Yeah, it probably hasn't been touched for three years because of the pandemic so? I'm in a weird room where no one comes in.
That wraps up our feature on Veilbreaker and other big features coming to Warframe in the near future! If you're keen on learning more on The Duviri Paradox, we've got a dedicated interview feature on the new Roguelike open world here! Alternatively, you may have heard that Digital Extremes is working on a new game: Soulframe! Check out our report on that announcement here.