Digital Extremes talks The Duviri Paradox – Warframe’s weirdest expansion yet

Digital Extremes talks The Duviri Paradox - Warframe's weirdest expansion yet

The Duviri Paradox, Warframe’s latest expansion, is weird unlike anything the free-to-play shooter has attempted before. It ditches the game’s usually overt sci-fi trappings in favor of something more akin to a fantasy western: it’s black and white (accept when it’s not); it’s a roguelike; it’s both a sequel and a prequel (paradoxes, huh?), and it’s all happening in the spirit of its new Big Bad. Oh, and while it’s drastically different, it’s also the game’s new opening. Like I said, The Duviri Paradox is weird.

So what’s going on here, you might ask? “It’s kind of the reality when…you’ve been making the same game for 10 years,” Warframe creative director Rebecca Ford told me in a recent chat, “that if you keep accumulating things at the end of the experience you leave a lot of people behind… And we also realize that the people who have been with us for 10 years, if we keep giving them exactly what they expect, they will eventually by losing interest.”

“So we’ve tried to converge the immense weight of veteran expectations with the grim reality of running a game as a service and people think it’s too impenetrable,” Ford continues. “And we tried to force gravity to bend to our will and create this new beginning. Will it work? You tell us!

And here’s the opening cutscene you’ll get at the start of your journey through The Duviri Paradox.

So once The Duviri Paradox arrives later today, players who don’t even know what a Warframe is will be able to dive straight into the expansion’s weird and wonderful western fantasy world, embarking on an experience that , at first glance, might seem like worlds outside of Warframe’s tougher core sci-fi. Here, trapped in the mind of Mad King Dominus Thrax, they’ll take on the role of a Drifter, desperately trying to escape an endless cycle of death and rebirth. And this is where The Duviri Paradox’s hats off to the roguelike genre begins to become apparent, prompting the immediate question of why such a drastic genre shift for the game?

“Because I love roguelites,” laughs Ford, “and because Warframe is so big, so thorough in the risks it took, we thought we could do an update that [was both a] real Warframe update [and] a radical recontextualization of Warframe gameplay… The Duviri Paradox tries to take the things we love about rogue-lites and Warframe and throw them into a pot to see if we can make a soup. It’s the smoothest update ever!” The result, as Ford says, is “probably the most aggressive we’ve done in terms of theme and gameplay. [and] arguably the most unique Warframe experience you can play.”

Given its prominent place at the very start of the Warframe experience as an optional new intro to the game (existing players can also access it through the system map), The Duviri Paradox’s opening quest serves as something of a Revitalized tutorial and more accessible entry point. for the notoriously impenetrable live service game. Not only does it ambitiously navigate introductions to new and existing mechanics, but it also has the task of juggling its two worlds, one entirely epic baroque sci-fi and the other an ever-fluctuating depiction of moods. constantly changing from its host.

Duviri’s mood swings are truly striking. Here is the sadness, with envy at the top of this page.

“I think for us, when we were deciding where to put it,” Ford says of The Duviri’s Paradox’s unconventional placement in the game, “the reality is that if you’re playing through the existing new player experience and all of a sudden you’re playing the Duviri Paradox again and getting a different set of moves, different gameplay…it could be weird…so why not just make the change as drastic as possible? players choose from the start, make it transparent so they can come and go once they’ve completed the story – they’re never stuck understanding a mechanic because it’s always there.

“And for me, it was if we were going to grow, to go radically, not to force a path that could have been a natural choice that a player would have wanted to make… And the way we presented that choice we just have the feel like it’s a very intentional part of the narrative now, which I think sets Warframe apart from a lot of other games, because the narrative now leans into a very mechanic-heavy choice that’s actually the truest flavor we’ve ever given. So I’m very, very happy with the way it’s presented.”

Most of The Duviri Paradox’s tutorials take place in its six-chapter opening quest, a 90-minute cinematic experience that Ford quips as a story about “managing emotions and owning an apartment”, being given its thematic touchstones. It’s an adventure that will take players through the gripping open world of Duviri – where they can deploy their new Drifter melee abilities or ride their wondrous new mechanical steed – and out to the murky Undercroft, using Warframes to compete in more traditional missions that reward the likes of the decrees. These temporary, session-specific ability buffs are one of two new ways Drifters can improve their skills throughout the Duviri Paradox, the other being the Drifter’s permanent Intrinsics, unlocking melee stances and buffs. fighting and riding.

And yes, you can use your horse – officially called Kaithe – in other areas of the open world.

So yes, it’s all very different from the “classic” Warframe experience, and as Ford explains, there’s a careful balancing act going on to ensure that The Duviri Paradox still exists comfortably within the main Warframe world. “I think the key element of what makes it Warframe is how we punctuate the story of every Duviri Paradox encounter with the most important choice: which Warframe are you going to play? So you can imagine that the Duviri’s full story is: you’re making your Warframe choice, you enter the world as a Drifter, the world is black and white, and you need to earn enough currency for the Warframe to arrive [from the other side]…and then at the end of the day, the Drifter made peace with the [world’s current emotion] and the Warframe says, “See ya.””

And, of course, once the intro quest is complete, players can use their new Drifter skills and abilities to explore the open world of Duviri. At this point, new players have the option to stay and move forward using loaner Warframes or jump to the other side of the game and begin that basic journey of acquiring their own. Either way, the complete, fully co-op Duviri experience features over 50 side-activities – including the familiar likes of fishing and resource gathering – all at the mercy of the five “mood spirals”. of Dominus Thrax – Fear, Envy, Anger, Sorrow and Joy.

Each of them, changing every two hours, drastically alters Duviri’s atmosphere, visuals, and enemies, including her mood-specific “large-scale” bosses known as Orowyrms – considered as one of Warframe’s most ambitious clashes to date. Luciana, the Sorrow Zone boss, for example, attacks in two phases, the first a ground battle and the second taking place in the Undercroft, where she entwines a huge arena, launching ice attacks. Grinding these bosses for rewards forms a part of Duviri’s repeatable gameplay, and there’s also a new “endless” mode known as The Circuit, challenging Tenno to battle through an ever-changing mix of familiar mission types to unlock decrees and push just that little bit further each time.

So that’s a lot – and it doesn’t even touch on things like new cosmetic options, including a dazzling array of beard options for Drifters, I’m told – and I can’t help but wonder. ask if developing The Duviri Paradox has been an encouraging experience for the team in how they view what Warframe can be? “It is, but not in the way you think,” Ford tells me cryptically. “And I would recommend you watch TennoCon this year; we actually have a new destination we’re going to and that will surely shock and surprise everyone… the next step for us in terms of genre crossover.” And does the extremely odd Duviri Paradox indicate the kind of greater risks we can expect from Warframe in the future? “Oh yeah,” smiled Ford.

Warframe’s The Duviri Paradox expansion launches today on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC.

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