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Warframe's TennoCon 2021 Recap

Aaron Couture Updated: Posted:
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While this year’s TennoCon was not “exciting” in the way of adding new worlds to Warframe, was exciting to see the lore expanded upon. Since Plains of Eidolon was announced at TennoCon in 2017, Digital Extremes has announced a new open-world area or new mode like Railjack every year. At TennoCon in 2018, The New War was announced, but no footage was shown. In 2019, we saw our first The New War trailer with a release date of Christmas 2019. TennoCon 2020 forgot about The New War and focused on the new open-world, Deimos. Fans of the game would have to wait longer to see if Space Mom was really betraying the Tenno as Natah, or is she playing double agent to help the Tenno in the end?

The New War Coming 2021?

Unlike the trailer in 2019, the recent The New War trailer did not pinpoint a specific time in 2021 for release. Announcements at Digital Extremes seem to have shifted to more obtainable yearly goal instead of grand ideas that could take several years to develop. While Plains of Eidolon and Fortuna were delivered in the same year they were announced, other announcements at TennoCon were just concepts that could take years to develop. Concepts like Railjack, The New War, The Duviri Paradox, and Squad Play were announced at TennoCons but were not released within a year of their announcements. Last year at TennoCon, there was a change in the way Digital Extremes handled their big reveals. They switched to a more obtainable yearly goal for announcements and kept the distant concepts out of the limelight.

Going over what Digital Extremes announced at TennoCon 2020, we can see that they have delivered on everything they showed that year. Not only did they give us The Heart of Deimos in the same month as TennoCon, but they also released every warframe that they showed during the art panel, even the ones that were just concept art. So, is The New War coming in 2021? Defiantly! What can we expect to see with The New War, and why is it bigger than any other cinematic quest Digital Extremes has done before?

Kahl-Veso-Teshin…Oh my!

The 30-minute demo of The New War starts the cinematic quest with the Grineer Soldier, Kahl-175. Kahl crash lands on Eidolon and is ordered by Councilor Vay Hek to kill the sentients. In another segment, Corpus Engineer Veso is in space scared out of his mind while Alad V orders Veso to override his ship and kill the sentients. Then after switching back to Kahl, we get to see Teshin in action. Teshin is on a sentient ship trying to takedown the sentients on their own turf.

Each one of these characters is going to be playable during the cinematic questline. This is the first time players will be playing iconic characters in the game world and not just what is in their arsenal. Each character comes with its own unique playstyle and abilities. This addition to the game takes Warframe out of the normal grindfest and adds more relatable depth and story to the game.

If you watched the art panel this year, you would’ve noticed the actual theme of TennoCon, history. From the start of Digital Extremes taking a chance on cinematic storytelling with The Second Dream, players can finally see how rich the lore is in Warframe and The New War. From a new player or “casual” Warframe player’s viewpoint, The New War might not be an exciting reveal for TennoCon, and it might not bring them back to the game like a fancy new open-world would. The New War is not meant to rally fresh players to Warframe; it is meant to build a stronger foundation for Warframe players who love the game and enjoy the lore. That foundation includes giving players an easier way to enjoy Warframe from anywhere on any platform.

Cross-Play, Cross-Save, and Mobile

As a player that has played Warframe since its launch in 2013, I have played Warframe on every platform. While PC has my most hours, my PlayStation account has some things I don’t have on my PC game. Then there are my Xbox and Switch accounts that I casually mess around on when I don’t feel the need to get out of bed. Ever since Fortnite led the charge in 2018, it has been a hot topic for Warframe to do the same with cross-play. I remember asking the developers about this feature at TennoCon 2018 when they announced that Warframe was coming to the Nintendo Switch. At that time, they were thinking about adding it but needed to figure out the logistics. I guess they figured it out. Personally, I am still wondering how I will get the stuff I bought on every platform to meld into one account. I have prime warframes and deluxe skins on PlayStation that I do not have on PC. I have quests completed on Xbox that I never did on PlayStation or PC. The cross-play and cross-save feature might not seem that big of a deal, but it is a massive change to the way people are going to play the game.

The cross-save and cross-play feature is going to be a considerable boost to console players finding groups. With my time on all platforms, I noticed how each community was different. Playing on the PC and finding groups through matchmaking to do anything in the game is quick. On PlayStation, it is not as reliable. Most of the time I can get in groups, or a group would form while I was in a mission. Xbox and Switch, on the other hand, are hit or miss. A new player on the Xbox could be hard-pressed doing the story missions past Jupiter on the star map. I spent a good amount of my time soloing complex missions like interception to unlock the next node on the map just to progress with the story. Having PC players invade the other platforms will help the life of the game tremendously.  While not as glorious as a new open-world area, cross-play and cross-save will be the best feature for the health of the game.

There are real gamers, and then there are mobile gamers…

Mobile gaming is not for everyone, but seeing how most phones are better than the Nintendo Switch when it comes to hardware, why not bring Warframe to mobile gaming? With Warframe adding cross-play and cross-save, it is only logical to bring the game to the mobile gaming market. If Digital Extremes just made a mobile version of Warframe without the other features, I doubt I would play it on my phone. But being able to have all my stuff on my phone and seamlessly switch back to my PC or consoles, I am all for a mobile version of Warframe.

There is no expected release window for cross-save, cross-play, and mobile, but looking at TennoCon 2020 as an indicator, I think we can safely say that we will see these features before TennoCon 2022. TennoCon 2021 did not seem as flashy as the past TennoCons have been on the surface. I was not sitting on the edge of my chair, blown away by what was said during TennoCon Live, but thinking about it now, and I know this is the most exciting time to play Warframe.

By the end of this year, players are going to discover why Space Mom abandoned them. In a year, players will be able to play the game from their high-priced gaming chair, worn-out fake leather couch with chips stuck between cushions, the bathtub surrounded by candles, or in bed annoying their significant other while they franticly get their space ninja on. This is going to be a fantastic year for Warframe. After The Heart of Deimos was released last year, I stopped playing Warframe for most of the year. What was announced at TennoCon 2021, has gotten me back in the game and ready for the next chapter in the story. This is what I’ve been waiting for since 2018!


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Aaron Couture