Everything You Need To Know About Warframe In 2021
Warframe is an ever-evolving game, changing major gameplay systems every couple of months. It can be disorienting to jump back into the game after a break because of this. Thanks to the game’s brilliant combat and deep lore, it makes this re-acclimation somewhat easier.
For players that didn’t play Warframe in 2020, not much has changed. The core DNA of Warframe—shooting and looting—has seen virtually no changes. New Warframes were added, a new open world was introduced, yet the core gameplay loop is the same as before. For many Warframe fans, this is great news. Burnt-out veterans will disagree. No matter your stance, here is how Warframe is doing as of the start of 2021.
Updated April 3rd, 2021 by Charles Burgar: The first quarter of 2021 saw a radical overhaul of Railjack for Warframe, released in the Corpus Proxima update. Call of the Tempestarii didn’t make its March release date, being pushed back to April instead. If you’re interested in which updates have released thus far in 2021, we’ve added a section to this article discussing major additions and updates Digital Extremes have made throughout 2021.
The Current State Of The Game
Digital Extremes, the creators of Warframe, have focused much more on releasing fewer, higher-quality updates ever since the Empyrean update in late 2019. This has resulted in fewer content updates than one would expect, but each update has been much more polished and enjoyable than what Railjack offered. Most fans agree that 2020 was a better year for Warframe overall than 2019, but it was far from eventful. The first half of the year was dedicated to fixing Railjack, although the second half of 2020 focused more on traditional Warframe content drops.
Here’s a quick synopsis of what happened in 2020 if you missed it:
- Kuva Lich Changes: Kuva Larvlings show the weapon they’ll gain when they become a Lich, making target-farming Lich guns much easier. New weapons and quality of life additions were also added.
- Warframe Revised: This was a massive quality of life patch that added many community-requested features. Shield gating was added, armor scaling was overhauled, Railjack saw some changes, and Arcanes were rebalanced. Many agree that this was one of Warframe’s best updates in 2020.
- Nightwave Series Three: Named Glassmaker, this Nightwave series focused on a murder mystery involving an Orokin Executor. Most players agreed that this series was too ambitious for its own good. Series three lasted from May 12th, 2020 to January 24th, 2021, making it the longest Nightwave series in Warframe’s history.
- Operation: Scarlet Spear: Arguably the worst event in Warframe history, players were tasked with defending beacons against waves of Sentients. Alternatively, players could use their Railjack to play an alternate take on this mission. Many critiqued Scarlet Spear for its repetitiveness and horrendous bugs when it released on PC.
- Deadlock Protocol (U28): The Corpus ship tileset was remastered, Protea was introduced as a new Warframe, and Primary Kitguns were added.
- Steel Path: Effectively New Game Plus for the Star Chart, Steel Path lets players carve through the solar system once more against level 100+ enemies for Steel Essence—a new resource used to purchase new cosmetics and valuable resources such as Kuva.
- Derelict Shift: The Orokin Derelict was removed from Warframe, placed in the upcoming Deimos tileset. Derelict content is still available on Deimos.
- Heart of Deimos: Warframe’s third open world, the Heart of Deimos update went back to basics. One new Warframe, Xaku, was added alongside an Infested open world tileset that is much smaller than the Orb Vallis and Plains of Eidolon, replacing overall world space for an intricate cave system. Instead of Orb fights and Eidolon hunts, Tenno delve into ancient Isolation Vaults to scavenge parts for a Necramech—an Operator-controlled mech suit. This update also introduced the Helminth system, allowing players to transfer certain Warframe powers onto any Warframe they wish.
- Deimos Arcana: An expansion to Heart of Deimos, this update added a new type of bounty to coincide with Isolation Vaults. New gear was added alongside a plethora of quality of life changes.
- Operation: Orphix Venom: This event is an endless Hive mission with a twist: players can only use their Necramech. Destroy the tumor nodes near a Sentient Orphix, then destroy the Orphix with your Necramech. The reward for this event was Lavos, an alchemy-themed Warframe.
If 2020 didn’t sound too eventful, that’s because it wasn’t. Besides the Helminth system introduced in the Heart of Deimos update, Warframe has stayed virtually the same. Players still grind out Syndicate reputation for open world planets, farm Prime gear by completing Fissure missions, or try their luck at obtaining a top-tier Riven Mod.
Same Farm, Different Planet
Deimos, Warframe’s latest open world, is identical to the Plains of Eidolon and the Orb Vallis. Players complete bounties to earn reputation for that planet’s Syndicate faction. Once you earn enough reputation, you can rank up with that Syndicate to receive new rewards.
Differences between Deimos and the last two planets are slim. Instead of gaining reputation directly, players obtain tokens that can be redeemed for reputation. While this sounds unnecessary, this allows players to farm more than their daily cap of reputation whenever they wish.
Sadly, the rewards tied to Deimos are somewhat lacking. There are no modular weapons on this planet. Taking that spot is the introduction of Necramechs, Operator-controlled mech suits. They’re fun to play and pack a serious punch, but players sacrifice the break-neck pace of Warframe to do so. For some, that gameplay loop shift doesn’t warrant weeks of grinding Deimos bounties.
By far the largest change tied to this update was the introduction of the Helminth system. In essence, every Warframe has a pre-determined ability that can be transferred to any Warframe of your choosing. While it can’t be any ability, what’s available to be transferred is worth the grind.
Ultimately, the current state of Warframe is the same as it was before. Digital Extremes have once again shifted their attention away from Warframe’s core gameplay loop to develop a content island that focuses on yet another gameplay mechanic. For veterans that are sick of farming multi-hour Survival runs, they might appreciate the variety on offer. However, a very vocal portion of the community are tired of the experimentation and just want the developers to focus on Warframe’s core content and quality of life changes. Digital Extremes have shown that they are more than capable of doing so, looking at the Deadlock Protocol and Warframe Revised updates as examples, yet they refuse to do so for major fall content updates.
2021 So Far
Quarter One: Corpus Proxima And Star Days
As of writing this, Digital Extremes have released one major content update during the first quarter of 2021. Named the Corpus Proxima, this update was the first content addition Railjack has seen since the Scarlet Spear event. More than that, Railjack saw yet another overhaul, this time focusing on streamlining Railjack as much as possible.
Here are the highlights of that update:
- Railjack’s damage system was reverted to the damage types fans are familiar with (Slash, Corrosive, et cetera).
- Intrinsics were removed, replaced with a modding interface named the Plexus. Whoever pilots the ship gets to use their Plexus Mods to enhance the Railjack. Mods use Endo, replacing Dirac.
- Three new zones were added: Venus, Neptune, and Pluto now have a respective Proxima region.
- Orphix is now a game type you can start on certain Proxima nodes.
- Core Warframe types (Exterminate and Defense) are now tied to certain Railjack missions.
- Zephyr saw a small rework. She’s much more intuitive to play now and has seen buffs across the board.
Additionally, Digital Extremes rebalanced Railjack abilities to make other options more viable. Most players agree that this update has drastically streamlined Railjack and made it much more enjoyable to play, although the rewards tied to Railjack are lackluster at best.
Digital Extremes also created a new event for Valentine’s Day this year. Named Star Days, players were able to purchase certain Valentine-themed cosmetics from Ticker in Fortuna. This also debuted wings as a type of Ephemera.
It’s also worth noting that the Prime items introduced in quarter one are Octavia Prime, Tenora Prime, and Pandero Prime. Octavia saw no buffs, nerfs, or any changes with the release of her prime.
The Future Of Warframe
2021 will have a much larger emphasis on smaller, more substantive updates. The first of these updates is named Call of the Tempestarii. Set to release in April, this update plans to meld elements of Railjack into the core Warframe experience. While Corpus Proxima incorporated some core mission types into Railjack objectives, this update will blend Fissure missions with Railjack through the introduction of Void Storms. As with most Warframe updates, fans can expect new lore and gear as well.
Plans for the 2021 fall content update are still unknown, although many fans speculate that the long-awaited New War update will be Digital Extremes’ target for this year. The Duviri Paradox is still a mystery to the player base, and some fans are skeptical of how the New War update will turn out.
Nightwave: Series Four was also confirmed to be significantly less ambitious after criticism surrounding the Glassmaker series.
It might not have the same flair as Railjack had when it was announced, but this shift in focus towards making Warframe a cohesive experience will only benefit the game over time. Warframe has had serious issues with content islands ever since the Plains of Eidolon update. Time will tell if Call of the Tempestarii and future updates live up to their goals, but a focus on unifying Warframe’s content islands can only be a good thing. As long as Digital Extremes focuses on these core issues throughout this year, Warframe’s future looks promising.
Next: 7 Ways Warframe Is Better Than Destiny 2 (& 7 Why Destiny 2 Is Better)
Charles Burgar is an expert on all things tech and gaming. Graduating from Pikes Peak Community College in 2018 with an Associate of Science, Charles has spent his time dissecting popular video games, movies, and technology. With an understanding of games for as long as he can remember, Charles has a large interest in understanding what makes things fun. He is currently a Freelance writer for TheGamer and Game Rant.
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