If one trend has, for better or worse, come to define video game development in recent years then it must be the spread of the ‘open world’. When exactly this fascination with dropping players into ‘sandboxes’ often filled with collectibles and side-quests started is difficult to pinpoint; a wise man might point to the success of PC titles such as Minecraft or Day-Z as possible origins, but wherever it began its claws can be felt across the industry. The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear, and Arkham series have all seen open-world design pushed into prominence recently. Now, the third-person sci-fi shooter Warframe seems like it’ll be joining them.
The expansion, Plains of Eidolon, was announced by developer Digital Extremes on the 8th July at their ‘Tennocon’ event. The footage shown there was soon released to Youtube, offering a seventeen-minute look at the new gameplay. While ‘open world’ was the term used to describe the expansion, ‘MMO-like’ seems more apt; Plains certainly cribs a lot from the genre, retaining Warframe’s core third-person shooter elements while adding a more structured environment familiar (in concept, at least) to titles such as Destiny.
The main features added along with the open world, or ‘landscape’, itself are all those one would expect. The central player hub will support fifty concurrent users in each instance, with groups of 1-4 heading out on quests. Digital Extremes’ footage also shows a day-night cycle will feature, and aside from being visually impressive it seems the time of day will have a direct impact on gameplay and the enemies that feature. NPCs will offer services and content within the major hub, doubling-down on the MMO feel Digital Extremes is apparently chasing.
Fan reception thus far has been largely positive; at the time of writing the gameplay video stands at nearly 20’000 likes to only 260 dislikes. Reactions on Warframe’s forums have been equally pleased for the majority; some, however, have expressed concern over how the game will run on consoles or lower-end PCs. Some have also expressed dissatisfaction at a major expansion being worked on while previous patches or gameplay complaints have seemingly been left by the wayside. It is possible that the upcoming release will also be a chance to revisit and refine this content – though that is by no means guaranteed.
Eidolon’s gameplay teaser ends with a date of 2017 promised, but nothing more specific. Players can assume the expansion will drop either late this year or early 2018, however. With Destiny 2 supposedly arriving in September of this year, just how many new players Eidolon can hope to attract remains to be seen. But Warframe does have the advantage of being free, and with the less-than-stellar (Get it? Because space?) reaction the first Destiny received from some quarters it may have a chance to sneak in and make its mark.
<p>At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics – when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the ‘good old days’, that is.</p>