First Soulframe Gameplay Showcased During Warframe 10th Anniversary Livestream
There's two paths that live service games tend to take. Sometimes, they are overloaded with microtransactions, burdened with bugs, or just plain bad, and in that case, they tend to die out rather quickly. Other times, a company hits an underserved market, navigates the troubled free-to-play waters, or just makes a great game, and those titles can live on for years and years.
Warframe is a perfect example of the latter. The game is a real rags-to-riches story, as struggling developer Digital Extremes ("DE") launched the self-published title with just a handful of staff in 2012 after failing to find a publisher for the unique idea: cooperative online space ninja action. Now, in 2023, Warframe is one of the most popular online games around, with millions of players and a decade of content to explore, with still more to come—the game's Planes of Duviri update is scheduled to release next month.
So what's next for DE? Back in July of last year, the company announced its next game, known as Soulframe. We don't know a whole lot about the title yet, but it appears to be another live-service third-person action title building on the technology and lessons learned from Warframe. During its Warframe 10th Anniversary livestream, DE showed a very brief surprise snippet of live Soulframe gameplay.
As DE's Chief Creative Officer Steve Sinclair said in the stream, the game is in a very early state—probably too early to show, really. Sinclair specifically says that this is "not the time to show the game" and that a publisher would be bewildered by the decision. He describes what was shown as an internal combat prototype, and the group elected to show it now to give players an idea of the speed and pacing of combat in Soulframe as compared to Warframe.
For those unfamiliar, Warframe has evolved to become a lightning-quick horde survival game, where players can freely weave gunplay, melee combat, and magic-like powers into a devastating combat style that sees the titular Warframes taking down dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of enemies in a single mission, not completely unlike the classic "Warriors" series from Koei-Tecmo.
Soulframe, by contrast, seems to be a much smaller-scale and slower-paced game. Over the course of the demo, we see Lead Game Designer Scott McGregor play a slender-looking character wielding a sword defeat around a dozen enemies in a much more deliberate and measured combat style that calls to mind The Witcher 3 and Elden Ring. There's a discrete lock-on mechanic, where Warframe has no such thing, and McGregor parries several attacks.
At one point, the player seems to use a magical ability to steal a fire elemental effect from an enemy's weapon and apply it to his own. The overall visual style of the demo is fairly fantastic, and in fact specifically resembles something we would expect to see in a recent Final Fantasy game, especially the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI.
The demo was very short and simplistic, but it served its purpose of giving players a glimpse of what Soulframe gameplay might entail. It's not clear if there will be ranged weapons in the game, nor to what degree players will be able to customize their avatars, both visually and mechanically. Still, if Warframe is anything to go by, we expect a high degree of customization to be par for the course.
Unfortunately, Soulframe has no release date yet, but Digital Extremes isn't resting on its laurels; as we mentioned earlier, there's a huge update coming to Warframe in the coming weeks, and the company has already announced the date for the next TennoCon convention: Saturday, August 26th.
Check out the Warframe 10th Anniversary site, too.
This year's TennoCon will be the first one in years to be a live, in-person event, and it'll be taking place in the company's hometown, London, Ontario, in Canada. Tickets go on sale April 5th at the TennoCon website, and they go fast, so make sure you camp the site at 2PM EST if you plan to attend.