After months of teasers and updates about a new open world area on Venus, Digital Extremes has unveiled Fortuna, the next expansion of its free-to-play powerhouse Warframe.
Fortuna builds on the mechanics introduced in the Plains of Eidolon expansion, offering new missions in the form of bounties, the ability to craft sidearms from components, and a hunting minigame.
The Plains of Eidolon was a massive success for Digital Extremes when it released last year, bringing an influx of new players and returning veterans to Warframe.
In addition to introducing a significant amount of new content to the game, Digital Extremes backed the launch of its 2017 expansion with a concerted marketing push. This included giving out loot and other rewards to players for watching other people play through Plains of Eidolon content on Twitch.
While the resemblance between Fortuna and the Plains was clear, Digital Extremes demonstrated several tweaks during TennoLive this morning which made it feel more like Borderlands than a rehashed version of Warframe's previous expansion.
That is a compliment, not a criticism. Borderlands was an excellent series which expanded the genre of action RPG loot-em-ups. It interwove compelling gameplay and a story told with hilarious dark humour, which resulted in tremendous games that are still being played almost nine years later (six years, for the Borderlands 2 fans).
Meet the Solaris
The following section contains some mild lore spoilers for Warframe. If you are concerned about having any small detail about the Warframe lore spoiled, please skip this section.
Fortuna will introduce a new race of people called the Solaris, who are indentured to the Corpus at a debt-internment colony on Venus called—you gussed it—Fortuna.
The Solaris augment their bodies with mechanical parts to better withstand the the severe work conditions the Corpus subject them to, which also helps them in the harsh environmental conditions of Venus.
Corpus high-up Nef Anyo runs Fortuna. He returned to Venus to reactivate the ancient Orokin terraforming machines on the surface of the planet.
Veterans might recognise Nef Anyo as the proprietor of The Index on Neptune, where you may "invest" money and fight "brokers" in an endurance arena for the pleasure and profit of other "investors".
Unbeknownst to Nef Anyo, his loyal floor boss Eudico is also the voice of Solaris United, a rebel group working towards the liberation of the Solaris on Fortuna.
The area of the surface of Venus where the Fortuna expansion takes place is known as the Orb Vallis which, according to Eudico, was a firestorm when they arrived on the planet.
Our present-day Venus has a surface temperature of 462°C. Nef Anyo used the labour of the Solaris to reactivate a device called the Borius Weeping Post. It brings up coolant stored below the surface of the planet to cause a winter storm that chills an area of the planet to liveable conditions. Orb Vallis is in the eye of that storm.
(Note that the spelling of Borius Weeping Post above may not be correct, as it was transcribed from the live voice-over provided by Digital Extremes creative director Steven Sinclair for the TennoLive demo.)
"The Solaris bled, toiled, sweated and died for an age to make this place a reality," Eudico says in the demo.
Plains of Eidolon introduced customisable melee weapons called Zaws, with the aim of allowing players to build items with the balance of attributes and statistics they wanted.
Fortuna will have the Kitgun, customisable sidearms which you put together out of three parts: chamber, grip, and loader. They will be available from the vendor Rude Zuud on Fortuna.
Taking the concept of modular gear a step further, a vendor in Fortuna called Boon will let you configure your own Mobile Offensive Armature (MOA) companion.
MOAs are robotic Corpus walkers which you generally encounter as enemies on the battlefield..
Like Zaws and Kitguns, MOA companions will require three components to craft: model, core, and gear.
Venus wildlife conservation
A new non-combat activity introduced for Venus is capturing and tagging local fauna before the Corpus can drive them to extinction.
You are commissioned for this quest by a vendor who goes by "The Business." Borderlands fans will be happy to hear that he speaks with the same kind of posh British accent as Sir Hammerlock.
After being directed to acquire a device called an Echo Lure, along with a tranquiliser rifle, the ability to track and tag animals for extraction to the great conservancy in the sky becomes available.
The hunt begins by looking for tracks and dung on the planet's surface and following them. When you are near, you must mimic the animal's mating call with the Echo Lure and hide.
When the creature shows itself, you can shoot it with your Tranq Gun, then quickly dash up and tag it, upon which The Business will rescue the beast.
It looks as though the hunting minigame plays a bit like a combination of fishing on the Plains of Eidolon and Cephalon Simaris' daily Synthesis missions, but using an audio puzzle to lure the target out rather than energy traps to lock it down.
Much like in the Plains of Eidolon, the leader of the Fortuna community will have several bounties on offer that will grant you rewards from a specific pool should you complete them.
However, one big difference is that Digital Extremes is planning a bounty which allows you to establish a base on the planet's surface, allowing you to take on more bounties without first having to go back to town.
While the 2018 TennoLive demo was already filled to the brim with fan service, Digital Extremes made certain our cups ran over before its gameplay demo even reached the half-way mark.
You will be able to summon a boosted hoverboard to get around the Orb Vallis with speed.
Listed as the "Bondi K-Drive" in the gear menu, the hoverboard's description states that it may be used during free roam missions.
Much like the large Eidolon bosses which roam the Plains on Earth,, Fortuna will have the Orbs — giant creatures which protect Corpus interests in the Orb Vallis on Venus.
While Digital Extremes did showcase battles with smaller variants of these beings, it stopped short of fighting one of the lair mothers.
"We're not going to show you how to beat that yet," Sinclair said.
"You guys are going to have to figure that out for yourselves."
Digital Extremes has confirmed that Fortuna is set to release in 2018.
Explore an expansive open Landscape on Venus with new vehicles, exotic wildlife and arachnid robots.— WARFRAME (@PlayWarframe) July 7, 2018
Fortuna awaits, Tenno. Coming 2018. pic.twitter.com/OKNYieHlQg
Warframe | Fortuna musical intro and trailer
If for nothing else, you should watch the opening of Fortuna for the amazing chain-gang work song "We All Lift Together" at the beginning.