Launch Preview: Warframe: The Duviri Paradox

26 Apr 2023

10 Years of the Tenno

The game Warframe has a rags-to-riches story. After Dark Sector was released, developer Digital Extremes wanted to use the ideas that publishers had removed from Dark Sector and craft a game that was truly theirs. Unfortunately, at the time, science fiction wasn’t considered trendy, so after every publisher turned them down, they had to fund the project themselves.

Fast Forward to 2019 and Warframe had become the fourth most profitable game on Steam, bringing in over $150 million in revenue. It’s also the year that we see our first glimpse of The Duviri Paradox— the expansion that is finally releasing in time for the tenth anniversary of Warframe hitting the internet.

While it was announced four years ago, production only truly began in earnest relatively recently. Digital Extremes has gone through some large organizational changes with Steve Sinclair handing the reins of Warframe over to Rebecca Ford so that he and the old guard can focus on Soulframe. In short— Duviri Paradox is the first content drop designed and shipped entirely by the new team.

A New Way to Play

Duviri Paradox is, at its heart, a new gameplay experience within Warframe, which appears to have taken a lot of the feedback the community gave on previous in-game activities to heart in its design. It is very accessible to new players, offering a random pool of gear from both weapons and Warframes you own, as well as ones you don’t, for when you head out into the world. Additionally, it allows you to use example builds, meaning that if you’re not entirely sure what Mods to aim for, now you have an in-game reference for a functional build.

Not only that, but anybody can play Duviri at any time. And I mean, any time – upon starting up Warframe for the first time, new players are given the choice to play the ‘original’ opening or start their adventure off with the one-to-two hour long cinematic quest which unlocks Duviri.

Given its clear roguelike roots, Duviri also has a familiar meta-progression system in the form of Intrinsics. This system debuted with the Railjack update, the ship-to-ship combat mode, and is being put to good effect here. Much like Railjack, you have a number of upgrade paths which you progress down by spending Intrinsics that you earn from completing objectives within Duviri, which in turn give you some small boosts to your power at the start of each run.

So to recap— Randomly selected frames and weapons. Roguelike progression system. Open to all players, even those who have just pressed play for the first time. Our stage has been set, it’s time to lift the curtains and look at what the player gets to experience in Duviri.


The Warframe team loves to keep a layer of humanity in their storylines (even if they are so wonderfully robot-laden), and Duviri is no exception! From the rich colors bleeding into gray, to the personified emotions littered across the landscape, it’s hard to not notice the heart-heavy themes in Duviri

As opposed to previous Warframe content updates where we play as the Operator, this particular story belongs to the Drifter, and where we first find them is rock bottom. Their story is about being trapped in a figurative (and literal!) emotional spiral and their quests serve to make the Drifter play out these feelings that are locking them in place. Each quest will make them learn how to deal with and accept their emotions, as well as show the player what can happen if one fails to accept them.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to lay on a couch and talk about your feelings to play this one. You can still just beat things up!

The Duviri Experience

This would probably be the ‘default’ way to play through Duviri after you’ve finished the main quest. You start off as your Drifter with some basic weapons and have to complete a series of objectives in sequence, leading up to a two-stage boss fight with an Orowyrm. The Orowyrm is influenced by the ‘mood’ in Duviri, which is the weather system for this open world, and is set by Dominus Thrax’s current emotion. Each Orowyrm will have a different personality, as well as elemental damage type based on the current mood. The fight itself looks bombastic and cinematic, and is quite the technical step up from previous boss fights we’ve seen before.

To help you along your way, you gain access to Decrees after completing each objective. Decrees are randomly selected upgrades that you use to empower your build for this run— a concept familiar to fans of the roguelike genre. 

The Drifter in Duviri is a different beast to the one we met in The New War. Namely they have access to melee attacks to weave in with their ranged weapon. A pair of blades called Sun and Moon are now yours to command, and may even be familiar to veteran players as belonging to Teshin— a character who helps you along on your journey. Though if you don’t like them, the drifter will also have access to a single sword, two-handed sword, a hammer, and a spear.

They also have a horse! Well not really a horse, the Kaithe is your mechanical companion and mount, which lets you fly to the assorted islands throughout Duviri. This long awaited feature can be boosted up along-side you via the aforementioned Intrinsics system even up to the point that you’ll be able to take your ride to the other open world zones Warframe has to offer.

Every open-world region in Warframe has a bounty system attached to it, and Duviri is no different. While out in the field you will complete a string of objectives that tie into one another, each one rewarding you with a Decree, some Intrinsics (the currency used to level up your Drifter), and some crafting resources. Decrees remain active for as long as you are in that Duviri Spiral, so you can get extremely powerful there.

Digital Extremes did say they want to break the Drifter gameplay up with Warframe gameplay, and that’s what the Undercroft is. When you’re tasked with entering the Undercroft you switch to the Warframe you selected at the start of your run and have to complete a traditional objective against a wild selection of enemies. Right now it looks like only ‘Endless’ mission types are appearing as objectives, but who knows if that will change as time goes on.

There are other side activities to complete, too. After all, is it really a Warframe open world if we can’t catch fish? But, since you can’t use any of the gear you would in Warframe, the Drifter catches fish by Maw Fishing, also known as possessing a big ol’ mechanical worm and using it to chomp on your trophies. 

Similarly, there are codex entries to fill out, but the lack of a codex scanner means you have to go about this in a different way. Lore tidbits are hidden around the open world for you to find, with some only appearing on islands that require particular mood cycles to appear.

The Circuit

So that’s great and all, but I want loot for my frame. You, too? Well, the good ol’ gear grind can be found here in The Circuit— a new endless mission mode that takes the Warframe segments from Duviri and puts them into a never ending gauntlet.

Completing objectives in The Circuit will provide you with the meta-currency to level up your Intrinsics, but it also lets you progress along predetermined ‘reward tracks’ which have a list of loot for you to get your biomechanical hands on. Each track contains a full Warframe in it as well as a number of mods and resources, providing some alternative ways to get older frames.

You can also set The Circuit to ‘Steel Path’ mode, which is how you get the much lauded Incarnon Adaptors. These new adaptors bring some of the earlier weapons you earn in the game up to a power level that makes them relevant at higher levels of play by turning them into Incarnon weapons like what we saw in Angels of the Zariman.

When an adaptor is attached to the weapon of its namesake, (A Lato adaptor attached to any variant of Lato pistol for example), it gains a series of objectives you have to complete. Each objective you tick off the list lets you unlock a perk which is applied to the weapon. This eventually lets you transform it into its Incarnon form which grants it powerful new abilities. As mentioned before, we’ve seen a few Incarnon weapons in the Angels of the Zariman update and have been told these adaptors will function much the same— only with around 30 new weapons, instead of five.

The Decrees from before function in this mode, although the loops do not. Rewards also seem to cycle in as if you’re doing a Bounty from one of the open world zones, so it feels very familiar, all in all. 

I can totally see this becoming a new go-to mode for a lot of players looking to increase their Tenno toolbox, as you don’t have to have the most broken build in the game to keep up with other players.

The Lone Story

There’s one more game play mode you can choose in The Duviri Paradox: The Lone Story. We don’t know much about it yet, other than it’s a solo narrative option for those who’d like to experience the story on their own. We will note we were told that you couldn’t replay the cinematic quest after completing it, which makes us wonder exactly what the Lone Story will encompass…

Wake Up, Tenno

Wake up, Tenno! It’s time to do some soul searching and unravel The Duviri Paradox for yourself! It will be live on April 26th on all platforms, and we’re sure going to be diving into it as soon as it drops. Hope to see you there, too!

We also had the privilege of speaking with Warframe’s Community Director, Megan Everett. Check out our interview here!

Co-written by: Anton van Beers & Michelle Folts. All images courtesy of Digital Extremes.