Digital Extremes has offered an impressive first look at some of the big new features coming to its free-to-play space shooter Warframe this year and beyond - including a massive new open-world area in the form of Venus, and a first glimpse at some breathtaking ship-to-ship combat.
All this comes via Warframe's third-annual TennoCon, which took place in Ontario, Canada this weekend - and you can see Digital Extremes' full 30-minute gameplay reveal from the show, offering a small taste of Warframe's major new content updates, in the video below.
First up is expansion Fortuna, planned for release in 2018, which unfolds across a brand-new open-world area - the second after last year's Plains of Eidolon. Here, players are initially able to explore the neon underworld of Fortuna itself, the underground home of the Solaris United. This essentially acts as the hub area for the planet above, where you're free to build new kitguns out of connectible parts, collect missions, stock up on tranquillisers, and more.
Once players are suitably prepared, a handy elevator will carry them up to the surface of Venus - now a vast, snowy expanse, thanks to the terraforming efforts of Solaris United. Warframe's new explorable area is called Orb Vallis and is a stunning piece of design - much, much larger than the Plains of Eidolon, and featuring all manner of new enemies and activities.
There are extraction Bounties, in which you're tasked with mimicking the calls of the local endangered wildlife in order to lure them close and tranquillise them, huge (and hostile) Corpus spiders roaming the land, and, for those moments where fast traversal is preferred, the new K-Drive - basically a delightful looking hoverboard, which can even do flips and tricks.
Some time after the Fortuna update arrives, Digital Extremes will introduce another new addition, called Codename: Railjack. Here, you're able to fully customise your own spacecraft, then fly it into battle with crews of up to four - dogfighting, and even boarding enemy ships.
Digital Extremes' gameplay reveal of Railjack is pure, exhilarating chaos, with three crew members piloting a ship from the surface of Venus up to space ruins high above the planet. Once the enemy is spotted and battle begins, it's utter mayhem, with crews needing to carefully divvy up tasks - including manoeuvring, manning the guns, fending off enemy boarders, even tactical power management and hull repairs - all of which is delightfully reminiscent of FTL.
And that's all while attempting to orchestrate a boarding party of their own, in order to infiltrate the enemy ship's core and destroy it from within. It's thrilling stuff, as you can see in the video above - and yet more evidence of Digital Extremes gleefully continuing to expand the notion of what free-to-play games can and should be.
All this - and a new chapter in Warframe's cinematic quests, known as The New War - will be coming to Warframe on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 this year and beyond - and, as Digital Extremes also announced, Switch owners can join in the fun in the hopefully not-too-distant future too.