To the moon, Tenno! A Mars moon, to be exact. If that was your guess for Warframe’s Heart of Deimos expansion, you got it. But did you guess “rideable infested dragonflies”? Giant sun and moon worms locked in eternal battle on the surface? K-drive combat? Playable mechs? The ability to take skills from one Warframe and put them on another? Neither did we. But now thanks to the big TennoCon 2020 reveal, we’ve seen it! Heart of Deimos will take players on an open-world adventure through a pustule-filled infested landscape full of new creatures, new features, new takes on older features, and new story that reveals more about both the infested and the void.
Along with the big TennoLive reveal, I had the opportunity to speak with Live Operations and Community Director Rebecca Ford and Producer Dave Kudirka ahead of the show to learn more about this update. There’s quite a bit on store for players when Heart of Deimos launches on August 25th simultaneously on all platforms. So prepare to dive in to prevent imminent intra-dimensional catastrophe! (and check out the new player experience while you are at it!)
Deimos, moon of madness
The smaller of Mars’ two moons, Deimos — meaning dread — was named after the Greek god who was literally the personification of terror. Instead of being a being, Deimos is the representation of the terror that is brought upon humans (or in this case, Orokin) by war. And the setting of the Infested-infested landscape instills that dreadful creepiness quite successfully while also touching on the “horrors of war” theme. Adventuring on Deimos means working your way through a series of procedurally generated networked tunnels and vertical spaces underground (thankfully with a little help from archwings and a unique fast travel system). As Ford describes it, its a “world of grottos of infested goo.” Walls are dripping with tendrils and mush, poppable pustules scar the terrain, and grotesque new creatures slither about. Warning: If you are squeamish about centipedes and other creepy crawlies, this environment might be harder to handle. One new mob can hurl other enemies at you while also spinning a lovely web; another has teeny hands but smashes you with its dangling butt. There are head huggers that attach to your frame and infested pods that drop even more monsters on you. And beware Bitey-Scratchikins!
Not everything on Deimos wants to kill you, however. As in other open world areas, there are fish to catch (some just happen to fly here) and critters to conserve (or even ride). Wait, ride a mob? Yes: There’s a super cool dragonfly-looking creature called a velocipod that players can jump on and ride much like a K-drive. Unlike a K-drive, however, this bug can move sideways. On the other hand, the K-drive doesn’t wander off and abandon you once you jump off like the velocipod does — so don’t expect a quick getaway! Kudirka did tell me that the time they hang around may be lengthened a bit to account for the new bond you form with it. Speaking of K-drives and dragonflies, there’s one other teeny tiny tidbit of information players might be excited to hear: mounted combat! Yes, on both the K-drive and the infested velocipod, folks will be able to use their secondary weapon in combat while riding.
Another unique feature of this moon is the two key denizens that control the day/night cycle: the moon and sun monsters. These giant worms are locked in an eternal battle, defeating each other then coming back again. What does this mean for warframes? During the “day” that the sun monster brings, all infested get a buff making them even stronger and more difficult to dispatch.
Tying infestation to the void
Some players have speculated that the reason Digital Extremes has focused on infested was that COVID-19 redirected plans. Kudirka, however, told me that the pandemic and working from home was a driving force behind something the team wanted to do anyway – that Digital Extremes has been aching to tell the story of the infested. As he explained, it was really important to the studio to tell this story as it is the next step in the lore; to get where players are dying to go, they have to pass through here. Without giving many spoilers, both he and Ford noted that the infested story is tied to the void. So before getting more of the void, Tenno need to hear this. In Heart of Deimos, players will get to learn about the origin of the void. In fact, Ford showed me a glimpse of a special room in the Necrolisk where players will get to delve into that history and the infested connection.
OK, how about another tidbit? One connection to the void is Deimos itself: Hidden down in the moon is a special vault where the Orokin would decompress and prove their sanity after excursions into the void. Tenno will travel here to uncover what is happening as they work to protect The Heart.
Keep the Heart beating
During the reveal, we learned that the Heart of Deimos is crucial to the warframes, and it is in danger of destruction. So the Tenno have been called upon to come rescue it. Upon reaching the moon, players will be greeted by a unique cephalon called a Necraloid, which happens to have an amusing dual personality. Liod (the serious one, as opposed to Otak, who is a goofball) informs players that they need to meet with the Mother to save The Heart and prevent that imminent intra-dimensional catastrophe I mentioned earlier. The Mother turns out to be part of a family of Orokin, the Entrati, who created and maintained the Heart, which is the source of the warframes’ power and life. That definitely sounds important.
After earning access from the Necraloid, Tenno will enter the Necralisk, the void research facility, to speak with The Mother. Like everything on the moon, the Entrati have been infected with the infested. The combination of Orokin and infested is quite the sight!
I won’t be divulging any more about the storyline, but I will say that players can work with two new syndicates on Deimos and that the reward for the Deimos quest involves the new Broken warframe.
Splicing warframes: Helminth’s new customization
Remember that ooey-gooey Helminth room on your orbiter? Well, it is becoming much more useful now. One of the biggest changes Heart of Deimos is bringing to Warframe is the ability to customize your ‘frames abilities! This is a whole new level of customization, folks.
Ford explained that the Helminth room is a living, breathing organism, and players can feed it base warframes (not Primes) in order to harvest abilities that can then be infused into another frame to replace one of its original abilities. Note: It will never be a frame’s signature ability or any ultimate. The Helminth Chrysalis system also offers some powers innate to it that players can select. Before you can install the new skill, however, you will have to satisfy the hunger of the Helminth and increase its secretions by feeding it various resources to satiate stats like biotics, oxides, and bile.
Ford explained that all frames will only have one ability that can be harvested. Conversely, each warframe can only have one ability swapped at a time. However, you can save multiple configurations of that frame in order to have saved loadouts with different skills. Important note: The warframe that you feed to the Helminth to harvest its skill is destroyed; you can no longer use it as a frame, but you will gain its slot back. You also cannot use Prime ‘frames to feed into the Helminth. Once the skill is stored in the Helmith, it is available to be used as many times as you want, on as many different ‘frames as you want. Kudirka explained that the plan right now is to have a small library available on the Helmith so players can select from various skills they have harvested.
Ditch your frame for a mech
The game is called Warframe, not Warmech, so we understand if you didn’t anticipate playable mechs as a new incoming feature. Yet here we are! On Deimos players will discover a remnant of the Entrati family’s past: giant warmachines called necramechs. During their adventures, players will not only fight these combat mechs who stand as sentries guarding the secrets of the Orokin vault but get to pilot one themselves. Those who want to battle the more powerful creatures (like those that emerge during the day cycle) will depend on having their own necramech. Like warframes, the necramechs will have their own progression, arsenal, and so forth. Kudirka described them as older versions of warframes and noted that players will be able to mod and customize them.
Heart of Deimos is located early in the Star Chart progression, making it accessible for new players. However, Ford told me that to fully use and appreciate the necramechs, players will need to have completed The Sacrifice. Once you have a mech, you can use it in any open-world map.
Launching this month!
If hearing that Heart of Deimos is launching this month surprised you, we can’t blame you. After a couple of years of announced content coming out many months after the con (or the next year) or even not at all, Digital Extremes wanted to get back to the days of a quick turn-around. As Douglass Perry, director of public relations, put it: “We don’t want to talk about all these brand-new things that we are not going to get to for two years; we want to announce something that we’re then going to deliver on.” And that is what DE is doing. So buckle up, Tenno. There’s a new adventure on the gory, grotesque, oozing horizon. See you there!