'Warframe' expansion will build 50-person hub worlds for MMO-lite gameplay

Free-to-play multiplayer shooter Warframe is still alive and kicking after nearly half a decade of operation, and now the developers are looking to expand it more than ever before. With the next expansion, Plains of Eidolon, the game will move from randomized four-player combat scenarios into one with a more centralized theme. It will feature similar gameplay elements, but will bring up to 50 players together into instanced hub worlds.

Warframe is a fast-paced, third-person melee/shooter with some interesting combat elements that have allowed it to maintain its own niche in the competitive genre over the past few years. Its developer, Digital Extremes, has always maintained it as an MMO-lite experience, but this next expansion is looking to double down on that element of its gameplay by making the fight feel much more impactful.

Players will base themselves out of the town of Cestus, which will act like a hub where up to 50 players congregate in each instance (thanks, Bit-Tech). There you’ll be able to find missions, meet a new people known as the Ostrons and acquire near gear and equipment to utilize as they explore beyond the safe bounds of the city.

Beyond those walls are the titular Plains of Eidolon, where players will find a larger landscape than any they have experienced in Warframe before. They’ll be able to explore it at their leisure, with no forced direction about what to do or where to go, though there will be specific locations like rivers and streams that contain resources.

Those will be hotly contested, however, by the traditional Grineer enemies and a new, old threat. The plains have their own day-and-night cycle and when darkness reigns, dangers from the “Old War” come to life and threaten players in entirely new ways.

Beyond the open world areas, Digital Extremes will introduce new, hand-crafted missions to Warframe. While that may remove some of the random elements that players enjoyed from traditional Warframe gameplay, as the developers move it towards a more coordinated effort among players, we may see more of that curated content moving forward.

Other smaller introductions in this update include a new Lotus warframe, as well as new weapons and in the physical world, a new “Convention Edition” Warframe comic.

All of this was announced at Digital Extreme’s own Tennocon event, which did not give us more than a “2017” date for the expansion’s launch. It did, however, gift us with a 17-minute gameplay demo.