Warframe is a wonderfully weird sci-fi epic that spins a tale of fallen empires, deadly transhuman warriors, far-future labor unions, and tragic betrayals. It’s also an incredibly dense game that takes dozens or hundreds of hours to fully unravel. Enter the game’s latest expansion: The Duviri Paradox, a parallel path that’s open immediately to new players. The Duviri Paradox is a quick, casual take on Warframe that is perfect for newcomers while also rewarding for veterans and their mighty collections.
The Duviri Paradox was originally announced at Warframe fan convention TennoCon in 2019 with a short and mysterious trailer. “The 2019 trailer was largely conceptual,” says Rebecca Ford, creative director on Warframe. “It was proof of ambition to tell a paradox story. Development for design, the open world, and the environment didn’t really start in earnest until last year. We had tons of concept art, we had one enemy, we had the horse, and we had a vision board. That was all we had, and then everything else came in the past year of development.”
Enter the villainous Dominus Thrax, a child king and master of his realm. The Drifter, a mysterious figure with some memory problems, has been trapped in Thrax’s Firmament. Thrax’s moods and whims change the realm around him, which provides the set dressing for runs through the Duviri Paradox. There’s a short campaign quest that leads players through the lore, introduces them to the cast, and establishes this very new setting. Once players complete that, the Duviri Paradox turns into more of a roguelike— and Thrax’s temper tantrums and melancholy change the conditions for each run. There’s also an option to chill in a wider open world, with more discovery and time to check out little corners of the world.
This isn’t Warframe’s first open world, but it is very different from its predecessors in the Sol system. “Instead of just combat all the time, it’s a bit more exploratory,” says Ford. The player will be incentivized to check side activities in the Paradox and complete them to get new rewards for their loadout. Players can either play through six chapters of a procedural narrative, or partake in the more open and less structured world. Most excitingly, players will get a horse inspired by other mighty video game steeds, like Elden Ring’s Torrent.
When a player opens Warframe for the first time, they’ll be able to hop into Warframe or jump straight into the Duviri Paradox. There is cross-progression and continuity between the two sides, and players can swap as needed. There are also brief windows of Warframe’s high-octane mecha ninja combat sprinkled throughout Duviri.
Ford compares the Duviri Paradox to League of Legends and its goof-around mode All Random All Mid, typically shortened to ARAM. ARAM gives players a random champion to try out in a low-stakes match that takes place on a map that is essentially a straight line. The Duviri Paradox is similarly approachable; veterans will have their loadouts on hand from Warframe, but new players will just get to try a sample platter of Warframes without any investment. “The trick is they won’t need any gear — it’s all loaner,” says Ford.
The Drifter controls as a standalone character. Whereas Warframe is all about masses of enemies and powerful abilities, the Drifter is fighting on a smaller scale; fights go from one against 20 to one against five. “We wanted to try and make a variety of stances and enemies that focused on counterplay, mixing your little quick-fire pistol with your blades, and balancing it in a way where the ratio of enemies is smaller,” Ford explains. As players upgrade their loadout and unlock more secrets of the Paradox, they’ll eventually be able to pull Warframes into the Firmament itself for some explosive power.
With The New War, Warframe essentially wrapped up its first major arc, and The Duviri Paradox sets the scene for the next one. Warframe has an intimidating amount of canon, but luckily, its timeline is now less of a line and more of a loop-de-loop. Paradoxes, time travel, and other science-fiction tropes have made Warframe less linear. Now, players can hop into a fresh sandbox, free of the collection cruft that live service games accumulate over the years.
It’s tough to dabble in Warframe, a phenomenal game that has been held back by its sheer density, size, and intensity. For veterans, this new update is just another layer on Warframe’s delicious content lasagna. But The Duviri Paradox’s most important purpose is providing a fresh onramp into the world for new players, complete with a new protagonist and a friendly spectral horse. The Duviri Paradox is a free update that goes live on April 26 on PC and consoles.