While larger loot shooters went through growing pains, Warframe confidently sailed through 2019. The game is often overlooked in the cultural zeitgeist, but there’s no denying its dedicated fanbase. One of the biggest barriers the game currently has is its overwhelming depth, in both gameplay and lore.
Developer Digital Extremes is aware of this, and they’re working on cleaning up the new player experience and make the world more accessible. The first step in this process is a cinematic, directed by 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg.
The cinematic shows the first three possible Warframes players can acquire in action, and has some hints as to the world for veteran Warframe fans. (Don’t worry, we won’t spoil anything.) It’s surprisingly well done, capturing a decently accurate look at what it’s like to play Warframe while still serving as an introduction to the world players will encounter.
“The first script I showed the team was very long, and packed to the brim with way more,” says Trachtenberg with a laugh. He had packed the cinematic with his favorite Warframe; he’s a fan himself, and asked Digital Extremes to work on the project with that in mind. “They very rightfully course corrected into introducing people to the three starting Frames. We decided to just use them, but still do the fun and cool action.”
Trachtenberg started playing Warframe while working on 10 Cloverfield Lane to keep up with friends, but he says he has continually returned to the game over the years. He, along with Digital Extremes, expect people to go through each freeze frame for nods to deep story details. Trachtenberg used the game’s Kurosawa influences in the cinematic as well, communicating intense and frantic action with slow, still interludes. Along with classic Japanese cinema, the team behind the cinematic pulled on Greek design and Star Wars to build the world.
The cinematic will reflect the new players starting experience. Right now, the game has a lonely start, with the Tenno working with the Lotus and their ship’s AI ... but no real human contact. It’s not until reaching Earth that a sense of a real, human society really comes to the forefront. The new player experience will correct that, opening up near that burning village, with in-game story stakes to match the mood of the cinematic.
The character in the cinematic is also meant to influence the diverse mix of influences that goes into Warframe, as well as the large portion of female fans that love the game. Trachtenberg also notes that he admires the alien, inhuman designs of the Warframe — both male and female — and how feminine Warframes are equally “out there” as their male counterparts. It provides a rare visual opportunity, and at no point did Trachtenberg or animation studio Digic Pictures consider toning down the world of Warframe. Instead, the team wanted to capture the extreme visuals and make them feel realistic.
When it comes to pulling that feat off, Trachtenberg credits Hungarian studio Digic Pictures for their work and attention to detail. “We motion-capped everything. There’s almost nothing that wasn’t mo-capped. All of the movement felt like it could be done, because it really was being done, legitimately acting all the flips and slides and spins and weapon movements out in mo-cap. And our actress gave an incredible performance that we were only able to use a snippet of in the actual cinematic, but it was terrific and really grounded things.”
There will be more announcements to come regarding Warframe’s new player experience, as well as announcements relating to the future of Warframe. Today’s convention, Tennocon 2019, is due to deliver a set of surprises regarding end game content and progression.