Free-to-play multiplayer sci-fi shoot-and-slash-'em-up Warframe is to get its biggest update yet, offering a hand-crafted open world envionrment with town instances supporting up to 50 players who can venture out in groups of up to four.

Announced back in 2012 by developer Digital Extremes, best known for its work on demonic first-person shooter The Darkness II and the multiplayer side of BioShock 2, Warframe is set in a new dark age in which a race known as the Tenno is fighting back against slavers the Grineer for the future of their race. This David-versus-Goliath battle is aided by the titular Warframes, ancient exoskeletal battle machines only the Tenno can operate.

Digital Extremes has long positioned Warframe, which is free to play with revenue generated from players choosing to ditch the hefty grind to level up in favour of buying upgrades with real-world money, as a player-versus-environment (PvE) MMO-lite in which four-player squads are pitted against computer-controlled Grineer in randomised, procedurally generated environments.

Now, though, the company appears to be moving Warframe into the real of true massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming with an update adding hand-crafted environments and 50-player instances of a central town dubbed Cetus. Unlike the existing random content, Cetus and the missions run from its central hub are hand-built and includes a day-night cycle and non-player characters, scavengers known as Ostrons, with which the players can interact. The missions themselves see players attacking the usual Grineer in daytime raids and new, gigantic Eidolons at night. Players will also be able to hunt resources within the new environment, known as the Plains of Eidolon, for the true MMORPG experience.

More information on the update is available from the company's official website, while a gameplay video is reproduced below.


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