It's been a while since we've seen an original title from Digital Extremes - the Canadian developer put its own dreams on hold after Dark Sector and concentrated instead on elements of BioShock and its sequel, Homefront, The Darkness II and the upcoming Star Trek movie tie-in.
But the studio - which co-created the Unreal franchise back in the late 90s alongside Epic Games - is back, with a fast-paced co-op free-to-play shooter designed to hit the PC market a little later this year.
"Warframe is a new name for an old game," says chief director Steve Sinclair.
It was a shelved concept we kept coming back to. High-tech machine-gun Ninjas set in a far-future, over-hyphenated, Manga-Dune mash-up. Free-to-play lets us take risks. It allows us to build WARFRAME with our players.
A little elaboration on the hyphenation, here: Warframe is set in the far reaches of outer space, as it moves through a new Dark Age. The Grineer have enslaved the Tenno for centuries, and now the Tenno are on the brink of extinction.
...but - on the very cusp of the Grineer's victory over the Tenno, the slaves start to arm themselves with ancient exo-skeletal technology which only they can operate. These Warframes are the Tenno's only hope for survival!
What does that all mean? Warframe has been described as "MMO-Lite", as teams of four players group up for a little PvE. Advance your charaters, explore the evolving sci-fi world, and duke it out against the Grineer.
Thanks to an automatic mission generator, you'll never play the same Warframe twice: Each level is procedurally configured for a unique experience every time it's loaded.
James Schmalz, CEO of Digital Extremes elaborates:
We've heard for years now that PC gaming is dead. It isn't dead; it just went underground for a few years and is now re-emerging with this massively growing free-to-play market that has matured to the point where the quality of games we're seeing rivals many AAA retail games.
In many ways, we're going back to our PC action-based roots. Free-to-play is like shareware 2.0! Once again, we're connected directly to our end-user. They decide whether or not to pay for their experience and we listen to their feedback and continually improve the experience to make it worth paying for. Game development as it should be.
So! Want in? Hop over and sign up for a free account at playwarframe.com. You'll get a quick free download, and then be able to play to your heart's content. (If your heart desires a little more than what's on offer, the Warframe marketplace will feature "various enhancements" for a nominal fee.)
Get in quick and you'll snag a free pre-launch only weapon, added to your account just for signing up.
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Jimmy the Geek