Warframe’s newest expansion, Empyrean, takes the game’s quick-paced mecha ninja combat and adds a spaceship. A fully customizable spaceship. Welcome to mine, the Sweetheart, where all that matters is that it’s entirely pink, even down to the lasers.
Was this a productive use of my time? Absolutely not. But I’m invested, and now all of my friends are locked in with me.
We all have our own Railjacks, and we’ve customized our ships to suit our unique personalities. But mine is the best and by God, we aren’t leaving the station unless it’s in my beautiful pink perfect spaceship.
Unlocking the Railjack
It takes quite a long time to unlock the hangar for a spaceship, build it, farm materials, and construct several Railjack pieces. I did this first, and so I had to do the most agonizing parts of the grind, going down to open world zones to tirelessly mine veins and hope for rare materials. Meanwhile, my friends hoot and holler at the end of Empyrean missions as they are showered with thousands of the same material that I dug out of the earth in single-digit amounts.
You would think that this sacrifice would make my friends realizing how deserving I am. Instead, they’re trying to propose a mutiny.
“The ship is fine,” my friend Matt tells me one round. “It’s not a bad ship! But we all want to use our ships!”
I eventually buckle, but my friends listen to me sing The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” off-key next round. I have Discord admin privileges on the Warframe server, so they have to listen to me. A fitting punishment.
Oh yes, the aesthetics
When I look at my ship, the Sweetheart, I think “Yes! More of this, please!” When I have to ride aboard another person’s Railjack — decked out in colors that are not pink and teal — I weep and wail before I gnash my teeth and rend my garments.
Because I play the most of my friends, my Railjack is the best in class for our particular group. I have high level weapons and shields equipped. A great engine means my ship goes fast, and good shields mean that we don’t instantly get torn apart.
I run all around the Sweetheart, patching up tears in the hull, while my husband whirls by me, fighting a squadron of alien marines who have boarded the ship. If my friends need to find a gunner station or exit door, it’ll be easy for them, thanks for the neon pink lighting.
I’ve also unlocked some good guns and a fast engine. I do not care about any of these advantages, but they provide me with a useful argument: of course we’re going to take the Sweetheart! Why would we not take the ship with the best gear? I couch my concerns as being purely about gameplay efficiency, but honestly, I’m reverting to a feral state of mind.
Perhaps it’s part of growing up the youngest of four, always resigned to controller two (or standing in the hallway and whining that mom says we need to pick a game with three players). I have become defensive, hunching over my Railjack and growling at my friends like a kitten who has successively snatched human food.
“Cass, you know we can’t play with your Railjack forever, right?” Matt asks in a reasonable manner, and in return I unhinge my jaws and hiss like a snake.
The joy of spacecraft
Part of me knows that at some point, we’ll want to switch between different Railjacks and allow different players to take the helm. But the truth is that I’ve become attached to the Sweetheart in a way I didn’t quite expect. Part of it is the customization, sure. It just feels like my ship.
Part of it is also because if you spend time upgrading something and slowly building it up, it makes sense that you’ll earn an attachment to your work. It’s more than just a color scheme. There’s something tangible I can point towards. I can go back to low levels and smile smugly as dozens of low-powered alien weapons bounce off my hull.
The Empyrean expansion is meant to be the greatest cooperative challenge in Warframe yet, and it’s certainly provided a really fun four-player co-op game for me and my gang.
But there’s one thing I won’t budge on: We’re all going on my spaceship. It’s pink, and it’s pretty, and that’s final. I’ll get fighty about it, so don’t try to convince me.