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Warframe dev's free-to-play fantasy MMORPG Soulframe gets a 30-minute gameplay reveal

As part of this year's TennoCon fan convention.

A screenshot of Soulframe showing the player character engaged in a sword fight with an enemy - who wears medieval armour and a stag skull helmet - in a beautiful, sun-dappled forest.
Image credit: Digital Extremes

Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of July 2022 (PowerWash Simulator came out, it was fab) and you might recall developer Digital Extremes unveiling its first new property since Warframe's release back in 2013: a free-to-play fantasy action-MMORPG going by the name Soulframe. One and a bit years later, and the studio is finally ready to give it a proper showing, airing 30 minutes of gameplay during its TennoCon 2023 fan convention this weekend.

Soulframe's development is being lead by former Warframe creative director Geoff Crookes (Rebecca Ford has taken over the role on Warframe, driving the sci-fi shooter in a wonderfully bonkers new direction over the last few years) and takes players to a world that, as was explained during its initial reveal, is "a little angry about what's been done to it". This causes the earth to shift throughout the day, giving Digital Extremes the lore excuse it needs to introduce some of its beloved procedural dungeons, here found deep underground.

These dungeons do eventually put in an appearance during Soulframe's 30-minute gameplay reveal, but first we get a more thorough glimpse of how Soulframe's action plays out. The title has been described as a "mirror universe" to Warframe, meaning that while some element will be familiar to fans of the free-to-play sci-fi shooter - those procedural dungeons, for instance - a lot is very different, with slow-paced melee combat in a fantasy setting being the vibe here.

Soulframe's 30-minute gameplay reveal.Watch on YouTube

For the first few years of its life at least, Soulframe will take place on a single, large open-world area known as Midrath Island - and Digital Extreme's gameplay reveal gives us a first proper look at its dreamy ambience, guiding players through a gorgeous, sun-dappled forest, hazy streaks of sunlight and gentle mists enlivening the lush surroundings.

After a bit of a wander, taking in the sights and chatting to a character who'll serve as a sort of long-dead ancestral guide - we get a taste of the melee combat at the heart of Soulframe's action, complete with boomerang-style sword-lobbing, along with a small tease of its magic system, which here manifests as a sort of nature-imbued freezing spell, literally rooting enemies to the spot ready for a final shattering sword blow.

With the surrounding camp clear, players are free to liberate a nearby bug-like NPC named Avakot, who has a few words to share about a potential quest. But first, there's a quick glimpse at another element analogous to Warframe: a personal hub area separate from the main world. Here, players can - in a similar fashion to Warframe's Orbiter - mess around with their inventory and load out, with the area initially taking the form of a lone tent lost amid the oppressive fog of the Silvered Sea. Over time, however, it'll apparently become a bustling village full of useful ancestor souls as players progress and unlock the history of the world.

A screenshot of Soulframe showing the player character approaching a large tent invitingly lit from within while fog swirls in the surrounding void.
Yer fancy tent. | Image credit: Digital Extremes

For the time being, though, the tent offfers a quick glimpse of the "simplified three-stat" RPG system driving Soulframe, built around three Virtues known as Spirit, Grace, and Courage, which provide players with a way to customise their Envoy's playstyle. These are intertwined with Pacts, which function something like classes that can be switched between on-the-fly (instead of, say, needing to change your Warframe each time), and Souls, essentially skills gained as more ancestors are acquired.

All this gets put into action as the demo continues, delving into one of Soulframe's aforementioned procedural dungeons for some co-op play. Transporting back to Midrath, the player bids farewell to Avokat and leaps down a nearby well - taking them to a lush green passageway beneath the earth, shafts of light illuminating its flora-covered surroundings, before winding downward into an underground city of connected stone buildings and passages, where players can battle, stealth, or deploy environmental hazards against enemies.

Notably, all dungeons contain wandering souls which function as something like temporary ability modifiers for the challenge ahead - here taking the form of a blazing fire sword that makes light work of foes as the underground path continues on to reveal, unexpectedly, a vast forest where a mysterious stag is said to reside in a secret glade. The journey continues on the back of a huge direwolf, which bursts from the tress to savage an enemy, eventually revealing a village stretching out lazily beneath the crest of a hill.

A little further beyond, a very Warfarme-like metallic face awaits between the trees, spewing oil-like goo into the ground, and the player whips out a small musical instrument, tooting along to on-screen prompts in order to reassemble a stone statue nearby. That done, the world suddenly shifts to autumnal colours and a young girl can be seen working on the bank of a stream, a faun appearing from undergrowth ahead.

There's still around 13 minutes of gameplay to go after that point, mostly focusing on combat and culminating in a fight to free the now-grown stag, and it's all promising stuff, well worth a watch if you're curious to delve a little deeper. There's no release date for Soulframe yet, but hopefully it won't be too long before Digital Extremes is ready to show more.

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