Digital Extremes’ Megan Everett discusses the upcoming massive update.
Digital Extremes’ Warframe is on a roll but then, the free to play third person action looter has been rolling for a while. After the substantial story updates like The Second Dream and The War Within, not to mention the new Frames, weapons and activities added afterwards, Digital Extremes is prepping for Warframe’s biggest content drop yet. Revealed at Tennocon 2017, Plains of Eidolon is the first open world environment to hit Warframe and it will promise, among other things, a new end-game activity, meaty side-quests, a huge world to explore and much more.
GamingBolt spoke to Digital Extremes senior community coordinator Megan Everett to learn more about Plains of Eidolon, how the developer is packing it full of activity and much more.
"The town aspect is loud and bustling, and it’s where you can customize your weapons, tailoring them with new Resources to craft totally new weapons."
Plains of Eidolon was met with uproarious praise following Tennocon. How long has it been in development and how difficult was it to put together?
Haha, thanks for that! We were truly ecstatic with the responses we received. We started thinking about the game in Q1 of 2017. We started doing heavy background research and formulating ideas. Those then led to more questions and more ideas, which we iterated and polished and fixed all the way through until the day of TennoCon on July 8! Many times we said “okay team, pencils down!” and then we ended up making changes hours before the Plains of Eidolon demo reveal happened!
Though it brings open world gameplay to Warframe for the first time, what exactly can players expect? Aside from hunting, raiding enemy camps and fighting the large Sentients, what other mission types can players experience?
Players can expect to play the Warframe you know and love – which, as you know, is full of action, intense combat, collecting, customizing until it’s truly yours, powering up your Warframe until it’s stunningly powerful, and then going out with your friends and crushing your enemies. But now, you’re in a colony with people who have lived and died based on your heroics, and who look up to you. In the makeshift basecamp of Cetus, you’ll meet interesting characters who have reasons why they want you to go out on a mission, which may help the town, or it may just help them.
The town aspect is loud and bustling, and it’s where you can customize your weapons, tailoring them with new Resources to craft totally new weapons. In the day, you’ll get different missions than when you play at night. You’ll get to fish for different kinds of fish in the day then in the night, and you’ll have to pair up with different other players at night, because that’s when you’ll face up against the Sentients you referred to, which we call Eidolons.
They are massive stories-tall creatures that take a full squad with high level rankings to mount a successful attack. There is more, but I cannot reveal all of them, as we’re still building and testing them. Each day the team brainstorms exciting ideas for Plains of Eidolon that are both big and small.
Furthermore, how will you be avoiding some of the pitfalls that the open world genre typically experiences?
I am not sure of the exact pitfalls you’re alluding to, but one of the issues we decided to nip in the bud is size. We have a 3X3 Sq Kilometer space, which packs in a lot of activity and exploration, and so we expect that you won’t be traveling for long distances with nothing to do or getting bored because the landscape is vast and empty. It’s not a small space, mind you, but we don’t want players to just have space for the sake of space. We want that space to be fun and intriguing to explore, view, traverse, and on which to fight enemies.
"Without getting into too many trenchy details, we’re always assessing improving, balancing, and finding ways to do these things as efficiently as possible."
When can we expect Plains of Eidolon to release? Will it arrive in the next few months?
We are aiming for 2017. We would love to give you a more specific date, but if you know what developers are like, well, we like to add, polish, create, whittle things down, change things up, and experiment until things look and feel good. We want Plains of Eidolon to look, feel, and play well, and so it will be done when it’s right!
Warframe has seen a number of different changes, not the least of which includes a revamped Earth. What other planets are currently on the menu for graphical revamps?
Earth was the first planet to receive a substantial graphic overhaul – while other areas like Ceres have gotten revisits, Earth had so much more to work with. We expect to look at each planet and determine what makes the most sense, and we definitely expect to implement lighting passes.
Though players have been enthusiastic about Warframe for all these years, many are critical of Digital Extremes for rushing new content and not polishing it while moving straight to its next goal. What are your thoughts on this and how has workflow evolved to correct this sentiment?
Warframe has come a long way since its ‘single ship beginnings’ 2013. We have created a substantial amount of content over four-plus years and we are aware of the areas that need attention (most of the time) and, as consistently as we can, we address the areas that need work. It’s all about balance. It’s all about being as vigilant as possible to address each issue with a good understanding of what needs attention, how it affects other aspects of the game, and how, if at all, can we make that aspect better.
Without getting into too many trenchy details, we’re always assessing improving, balancing, and finding ways to do these things as efficiently as possible. Our Community is also a huge part of the polishing-after-release. We have a very constructive vocal crowd that wants the best for Warframe and Digital Extremes, and they drive us to always put our best work out there. They may get disappointed at times we don’t do it quickly enough, but humans need sleep.Conclave is still very much alive! We have a larger scope plan in motion that is aimed to go live this year, and some smaller things like Variants coming as well.
There’s recently been a huge controversy surrounding the drop rates for certain items being datamined. What is your take on it all and how do you feel about players wanting to know about specific drop rates for items?
It was a hot forum topic for a bit, to be sure! We have tried to address the issue of drop rates both on Reddit and in our own forums. In short, the team created a page where we update drop rates of the game for players interested in that type of thing. As far as we can determine, this is pretty generous and transparent. There are very few developers who reveal this kind of data. We know our players find value in drop rates, and we’re right there beside them trying to increase access to information.
With so many Warframes already available and new ones constantly being added, how do you polish and balance the older frames to keep them relevant?
There are 33 Warframes that we have created over more than four years. When we do revisit them, like with Hydroid, for example, we look at them from a mature, long-time player approach. We consider their power and balance and energy spend—how are they overpowered or underpowered, and how might they improve?
For Hydroid, the Tempest Barrage now can be charged for longer, it can be cast while in Undertow, but it sacrifices more energy for greater damage and explosions. With Undertow, you can now move while casting it, but at a greater cost of energy. It’s a more mobile attack and can be used more strategically, but it costs more energy. One of my favorites is Tentacle Swarm. You can attack enemies with more tentacles over a larger area by charging, and the tentacles are “smarter,” meaning they seek the closest enemies, rather than emerging and missing opponents (Also look out for the Kraken!).
He’s had some other treatments, too – his Shield raised from 345 to 375, and his Armor is now at 200 from its original 65. A lot of these changes come from constructive feedback from the community, and developer intentions to enhance older Warframes to have more ability synergy.
Though PvE is getting a major update with Plains of Eidolon, what are your plans for PvP? Will there be some kind of new mode and such in the coming months (or year)?
Conclave is still very much alive! We have a larger scope plan in motion that is aimed to go live this year, and some smaller things like Variants coming as well.
"Warframe already offers base PS4 Pro support. With the PS4 Pro’s meatier hardware, Warframe naturally runs better currently without our team doing any additional work!"
Several games like Destiny and The Division (as well as the upcoming Destiny 2) have come under fire for balancing weapons for PvP, thus making them feel underpowered in PvE. Having prioritized PvE content over PvP, what are your thoughts on the debate behind PvE vs. PvP balancing?
All our weapon and Warframe stats in Conclave do not cross over to PvE. Our Updates and Hotfixes almost always contain Conclave fixes and changes. With every weapon overhaul, new additions, and just general feedback, we rigorously test and balance the weapons AND Warframes currently available for Conclave, but it doesn’t affect PvE at all.
Can you tell us what frame rate and resolution will the PS4 Pro version run on? What kind of enhancements will it include?
Warframe already offers base PS4 Pro support. With the PS4 Pro’s meatier hardware, Warframe naturally runs better currently without our team doing any additional work!
I am sure you must have heard about the Xbox One X’s announcement and how powerful it’s. It has a powerful GPU and a ton of memory, I am sure Warframe will run at native 4K/60fps on this machine, right?
Yes, we have heard of this mysterious Xbox One X. 🙂 Microsoft’s new system is indeed extremely powerful and we’re looking forward to what it can do!
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers before we let you go?
Yes! Thanks to our community, and media, and friends and everyone else who saw and responded to our Warframe Plains of Eidolon debut at TennoCon. The response has been beyond surprising and we working hard on ensuring that when it’s ready, you’ll experience Warframe like you never have before.