Digital Extremes on Warframe’s Plains of Eidolon and Beyond
Digital Extremes surprised literally everyone, including their own fans, when they announced earlier this month that Warframe would soon receive the game's first open world zone (or Landscape, as they are calling it).
We reached out to the studio to learn more about Plains of Eidolon and the additional plans the folks at Digital Extremes have for Warframe, one of the biggest and most acclaimed free-to-play games released in the last few years.
You can find our chat with Senior Community Coordinator Megan Everett below.
First of all, I have to say that Plains of Eidolon might very well be one of the most sweeping
additions to an online game yet. Is this something that you have been thinking about for a long time inside Digital Extremes?
Megan: Aha, good question. Yes, we have been thinking about this as a team since around December 2016. The initial team thoughts were to create an open landscape, but as we researched it and burrowed down into exactly what it meant to create an interactive village with NPCs, we really had to take a step back and create a culture. You know, what they did every day, who they were as a people, and what the village of Cetus looked and felt like. Once we settled into the idea, we were then able to build it out.
You have stated that Plains of Eidolon will cater to new players during the day and veteran players during the night. How long will the day and night respectively be, then, in real time?
Megan: Our goal is to simulate a somewhat real-world day and night cycle, versus the always lit days we have in the current build; that is the plan. We are still working on the exact balance, so hopefully they’ll feel similar to a day and night cycle on our very own Earth.
We know that big, challenging monsters will come out at night in the Plains of Eidolon. Do you
intend to gradually add more monsters over time to provide more variety?
Megan: It’s a touch too early to answer that 100%, but yes, we expect to deliver this first Eidolon battle and then, as we build out, listen to our players and iterate based on their feedback and what we think works best.
It’s very possible there will be more than one Eidolon that surfaces from the water at a time. We have considered it!
During the gameplay demonstration, we have seen characters hovering over lakes and rivers. Is
underwater exploration a possible future addition to Warframe?
Megan: Good question. We are aware that Anthem has the capability of transitioning from air to water, and it’s really cool in their game. Right now, we’re focusing on expanding the ideas we set forth in that demo. It’s always a possibility!
You have also already opened up to adding more Landscapes if the players like the new open world feel. I have a couple technical questions to that end: do you believe the engine could support
much larger environments than the Plains of Eidolon's 3 square kilometers? Also, let's say you would add other Landscapes to the same planet (for instance, Earth), is there any chance those could be "stitched" to create a larger, seamless zone?
Megan: This first Landscape is, well, our first one. What is important for us is to create an open space and still maintain the level of graphic intensity and fidelity that we have delivered in previous builds. Could we create a larger space? Sure. But do we want to? Not certain we do. The size of the space is not our goal. We have seen a lot of big open world games expanded out but with very little to do in those areas. It’s what happens in those spaces that matters.
One of the upcoming additions is fishing. Do you expect this to be a worthwhile alternative to farming credits?
Megan: It will definitely be worthwhile, haha! But making a fishing simulator game is not our intention. There will be a variety of fish that appear in the day, and different ones that appear at night to keep people exploring and experimenting with their friends. We hope our players will find it to be fun. This function will definitely have an overall purpose, but it’s more of a fun mechanic to add to the newer landscape vibe than a standalone game.
Do you estimate the 'grind' for crafting weapons and trading with NPCs to be roughly the same (in
terms of required playtime) compared to existing activities in the game?
Megan: Hmmm... good question! Our continued goal is to balance the time needed to craft new items with the gameplay associated with them. Considering the new scope of Landscapes, this will definitely be looked at!
Will the cinematic quest The Sacrifice be launched alongside the expansion or at a later time?
Megan: Currently the plan is to launch The Sacrifice at a later time after Plains of Eidolon.
Lots of PvE content just got announced. What about PvP, though? Can PvP fans expect to get
something substantial in the coming months?
Megan: The Conclave team are working on some bigger Conclave initiatives as well as smaller upcoming Variants. Nothing I want to spoil yet though!
I launched the game the other day on PC and was a bit surprised to notice that there still isn't full controller support, despite the fact that you already had to make a console UI for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Is that something you might add in the future? More than a few PC gamers these days use controllers.
Megan: Yes! We’re definitely aware that some PC players play Warframe on a controller, and we’ve been making fixes and changes to better that experience for them. To be continued!
The Earth Remastered update looks stunning. Did it take long to update all those assets and
lighting? Do you have any plans at Digital Extremes have plans to remaster other locations in Warframe?
Megan: Earth Remastered was not a short and simple process. The team really came together and put their sweat and passion into making Earth not only look amazing but also run amazing. It’s taken many, many months to get this done. I think it’s safe to say that having every tile get remastered would be incredible, but they would each come individually and when the time is right.
Speaking of graphics, some fans are a little concerned with the performance in the new open world zone on older PCs. Can you assuage their fears?
Megan: With beauty comes pain! Which is why we have a team running the Plains of Eidolon on “toasters” and lower end graphic cards to really grasp what the end result will be for some people. Without a doubt we want everyone to experience Plains of Eidolon in its best form.
Will proper PS4 Pro support be available later this year and if so, which enhancements will
Megan: We actually made Warframe Pro compatible prior to the PS4 Pro launching. The hardware power of the PS4 Pro alone allows Warframe to run a bit better, which is to be expected from a Pro machine!
The Xbox One X is due to launch in November. Did you already have the chance to get your
hands on a devkit? What do you think of the console's specs - could it run Warframe at
4K@60FPS, perhaps through checkerboard rendering?
Megan: The Xbox team has an Xbox One X in the studio and are working on making magic happen. Too early to comment on the specs for Warframe right now!
Looking at the game's minimum requirements on PC, it seems like Warframe could run
on the Nintendo Switch. Have you given any thought inside Digital Extremes towards a possible port on the platform? There's nothing quite like Warframe on the Switch right now and the console seems to be Nintendo's most online-focused platform ever.
Megan: I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon, but who knows what the future holds!
Thank you for your time.