8 Things You Need to Know About the Warframe: Empyrean Update

Learn how the ship combat update incorporates your Kuva Lich, the open world, and more!

Empyrean is a huge, new, free expansion for Warframe — the third-person action game about space ninjas duking it out across the far future. Empyrean specifically pledges to blend all forms of Warframe gameplay into one seamless system. Players will be able to blitz across one of the game’s open-world zones, fly into space inside starships called Railjacks, engage in ship-to-ship combat, and hijack enemy vessels via Archwing jetpacks… eventually.

While Empyrean is impressive all on its own, the expansion’s launch is a tiny bit murky. And it’s not entirely clear what is coming to the update at launch, versus what is planned for even further updates down the line. That’s why we’ve put together this list of eight things you need to know about Warframe: Empyrean — including what will and what won’t be available at launch.

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It Won’t Tie Into the Kuva Lich System – Warframe: Empyrean

Kuva Liches are an extremely cool, very recent Warframe feature. They’re heavily borrowed from the Nemesis System in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Foes with random traits can now spawn into your game, calling you out and developing new abilities as you kill them (or they kill you). You can either put them down permanently for new gear, or turn them to your side for a time.

Developer Digital Extremes first showed off this feature tying into Empyrean. A Kuva Lich, the studio promised, might take command of its own starship and harass you out in space. At that point, you could board the vessel and engage in a boss fight to kill them. Sadly, while that kind of connectivity is still in the works, it won’t be in Empyrean at launch. Digital Extremes estimates that Kuva Liches will tie into Raijack combat sometime in “the second or third” update to this new expansion.

It Is Available to New Players – Warframe: Empyrean

Empyrean begins on Earth, then carries you outwards towards Saturn. That means it’s available pretty early on in the overall progression of Warframe. New players will be able to interact with the system almost as soon as everyone else! Although there are some limitations…

It Won’t Let You Travel Between Planets – Warframe: Empyrean

This is another major feature once promised for Empyrean, but pushed back from the initial release. The first full TennoCon demo for Empyrean (then just called Railjack) showed players boarding their ship directly from the Plains of Eidolon: one of the Warframe open-world zones. The premise was that you could start in the Plains, fly through space, and eventually land on the Orb Vallis (a frozen open-world zone on Venus). Perhaps this would even work with the in-development third open-world in the Duviri Paradox update. However, that will not be the case at launch. Digital Extremes is still working on the expanded feature! You’ll just have to be patient.

Warframe Empyrean

It Will Be Extremely Hard – Warframe: Empyrean

Let’s circle back to those limitations that new players might encounter. Enemies in Empyrean start out very difficult and only get worse — beginning at Level 60 or so. Boarding enemy ships and defending your own from invaders will probably be too much for the average newcomer. Not only that, but you likely won’t have access to an Archwing at the start. These jetpack-like items come from a unique questline a number of hours into the Warframe experience. No Archwing means that you likely can’t fly off on your own, complementing the Railjack from outside.

However, you can still do things like operate side guns and patch up hull breaches. Empyrean is meant to be a very cooperative experience. The developer even likened it to raids, in terms of how multiple players need to fill different roles and cooperate. And every little bit is sure to help!

You Don’t Need Your Own Dojo or Clan – Warframe: Empyrean

Every Railjack must be built from an in-game Dojo. These are the headquarters structures owned and operated by Clans (the Warframe equivalent of an MMO guild). Building the Dry Dock, completing a Railjack, and researching the shipboard A.I. that runs the whole thing takes time and resources that an entire Clan can contribute towards. However, you don’t actually need to have any of these things to play! Empyrean will feature matchmaking — just like every other Warframe activity — allowing solo players to join other crews. The catch is that you will only have access to upgrades made by the host player.

It’s the First Update With Linear Progression – Warframe: Empyrean

Warframe hasn’t really featured traditional progression up to this point. You do level up Warframes and weapons, but doing so only unlocks more room to slot in mods. Other upgrade systems have followed similar rules. You earn resources to dump into skills, or upgrade gear, but you don’t accrue experience and unlock new abilities in the style of most role-playing games.

Empyrean will be the first expansion to change that. The update features four different skill levels — each tied to a different role you can perform on a Railjack. These “intrinsics” open up new Piloting, Gunnery, Engineering, and Tactical abilities. And while they level up independently, you can eventually maximize all four skill trees.

Warframe Empyrean

The Missions Aren Not Scripted – Warframe: Empyrean

Traditional Warframe missions are procedurally generated. That is to say, they randomly cobble together objectives, tilesets, and enemies into somewhat unique quests every single time you set out. There are a few story missions here and there, but those are the exception that proves the rule. Empyrean continues that tradition. Each mission will feature random objectives every time. You might need to assassinate an enemy fleet commander, for instance, or destroy a Death Star-like super weapon. It all depends on the luck of the draw!

You Should Expect Some Surprises… – Warframe: Empyrean

Before its release, we were given a short, guided demo of Empyrean by Digital Extremes. During that time, one viewer asked if players would be able to fly farther than Warframe has ever allowed before — outside the Origin System where the game takes place.

Community Director Rebecca Ford explained that, for now, players are stuck to the same planets and moons they’re used to. Yet she also teased that new things might start to appear from outside the solar system. Specifically, she hinted that something from an expansion the team teased “years ago” might finally come into play. The game’s lore implies that the Sentients — an artificial raced based out of the fictionalized Tau System — would be the interlopers in question. But we’ll just have to wait and see! No doubt the community will tease out any secrets Empyrean is hiding in short order.


And there you have it! This is just a taste of what you should know about Warframe: Empyrean at launch. But it should give you a sense of the broad strokes. Have fun flying, Tenno!

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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