As part of its big TennoCon 2023 fan convention news blowout, developer Digital Extremes has pulled back the veil on Warframe’s next big expansion, Whisper in the Walls, as well as detailing the free-to-play sci-fi shooter’s mid-term future as its celebrates the big one-oh – including perhaps its wildest expansion yet in next year’s Warframe: 1999.

Whisper in the Walls, though – which was revealed with the huge 20-minute chunk of gameplay you can see below – is certainly no slouch on the wild front, continuing Warframe’s wonderfully weird streak by folding in mysterious multi-storey men, instantaneous dimensional shifts, and even brief glimpses of extremely out-of-place retro Earth tech – 80s mobile phones and beige PCs with CRTs to name a few – in its arresting unveiling.

As explained by Warframe creative director Rebecca Ford in a press event prior to TennoCon, Whisper in the Walls – which introduces new missions types, NPCs, bosses, and factions, alongside a new hub and procedural tile set – is all about going back to the familiar and re-contextualising everything players have seen so far in their ten-year Warframe journey.

Whispers in the Wall and Warframe: 1999 – 27-minute gameplay demo.

It’s a whisking back of the lore curtain that begins with players returning to Deimos’ Necralisk for a conversation with delightful floaty head-thing Loid, who says he’s been hearing the name Kalymos in his dreams. After a bit of walk-and-talk, the opening eventually leads the pair down into the bowels of the Necralisk, where it transpires strange machinery has started some unstoppable process. Here, the preamble reaches its climax, and the walls of the room slide open revealing previously uncharted fathoms beyond.

From this expanded hub, players can venture forth to Whisper in the Walls’ new procedural dungeons in a quest that’ll see them attempting to awaken a mysterious “Sleeper”. It’s a journey that’ll take them down into the long-abandoned laboratory of Albrecht Entrati, fashioned from a striking gold and purple tile set (lit with new global illumination tech Digital Extremes says will eventually expand beyond the new zone and Necralisk) that’s part faded splendour and part ‘mad scientist’, with its crackling lightning punctuating the gloom. There are tight confines and huge sweeping vistas to navigate, the latter spreading out into impossible spaces beneath the skin of Deimos, and here players will fight a much-expanded Necramech faction – using a strange new grimoire weapon that flings pages of Void at enemies, naturally – in an experience aimed toward higher-level players.

Its gameplay reveal is a deliciously atmospheric thing, but it’s around the 13-minute mark that things start to get really bizarre. Suddenly, as the player explores a shadowy underground chamber where an unknown character stands frozen to the spot, the walls wrench outward, shifting the scene improbably to a desert wasteland where a boss fight soon unfolds, introducing the expansion’s second new faction, the Murmur. That, though, certainly isn’t where things ends; instead, our Tenno pushes onward, passed shifting sands and ancient stone walls, and another door opens, placing them in vast, opulent chamber where a tannoy suddenly crackles to life with the unexpected sound of a subway annoucement. If that wasn’t incongruous enough amid Warframe’s baroque science fiction, an actual subway train bursts forth from a device ahead, screaming across the chamber before disappearing into the opposite wall.

An intriguing cutscene follows, but it’s when the demo appears to reach its conclusion, with the Tenno being whisked away by an “ancient” bit of PC tech, that the real fun begins. Skip to the 21-minute mark in the demo and all of a sudden a new character, Arthur – bearing a remarkable similarity to Warframe Excalibur, albeit without the helmet – awakens inside a subway train in sequence that soon sees him battling marauding creatures to the sounds of Nine Inch Nails. What follows is a rush of unexpectedly retro imagery as Arthur scours an abandoned subway station – the remnants of New Year festivities all around him – in search of a certain “Dr. Entrati”.

Warframe: 1999 song and gameplay reveal.

The full reveal is, to reiterate, wild, and well worth a watch, with Digital Extremes confirming the demo’s latter segment is part of a second major expansion, titled Warframe: 1999, that’s coming next year. Whisper in the Walls arrives first, though, sometime before the end of 2023, but there’s even more happening before then.

As part of Digital Extremes’ TennoCon celebrations, for instance, players can pick up a free Dex operator skin in-game right now, and it’ll be available until the end of the year. Then, this October, comes Warframe’s Abyss of Dagath update, which is described as a Halloween-y, major quality-of-life-focused release that’ll introduce spooky new Warframe Dagath, the game’s first Halloween-themed dojo room (housing Dagath’s soul), plus a selection of other seasonally appropriate treats. Additionally, it features a comprehensive companion overhaul, a rework for the Hydroid Warframe, and lays some database unification groundwork for the game’s long-awaited cross-save functionality – which is now confirmed for arrival before the end of this year.

Moving into 2024, Warframe: 1999 will hopefully bring at least a few answers to the many questions raised in its TennoCon reveal, and there’s also the release of Warframe on mobile to look forward to, with pre-registration now open. And away from Warframe, Digital Extremes also spent some time during TennoCon showing off its upcoming free-to-play fantasy game Soulframe, which is already looking like a fascinating addition to the studio’s roster and well worth checking out elsewhere on this site.

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