Earlier this week, in the ungodly hours of the morning (for me, at least), I joined press representatives from across the globe to watch a Virtual Demo of Fortuna, presented by Rebecca Ford from Digital Extremes. Unfortunately for me, I got my times crossed, and I missed the first section of the demo, but let’s face it – I’ve seen so much of Fortuna by now that I pretty much know what was shown off. So let’s get into it, shall we? I’ve decided not to go through a step-by-step walkthrough of what was demonstrated, but rather to make specific reference to the primary points of interest, including a few choice tidbits that weren’t covered directly in the walkthrough (but have been shown off in previous Devstreams).
Fortuna itself is the city hub of the open-world area on Venus. It essentially houses the local working faction, Solaris United, providing them with respite and protection from the elements. There are a couple of Factions within – namely the Solaris United themselves and the Vent Kids – along with a few enterprising sales operations that players can make use of. Note that Fortuna is actually a debt-internment facility, run by Nef Anyo and the Corpus.
Solaris United represent the workers themselves – mostly body-augmented humans working to repay their debt to the Corpus. However, Solaris United is also a kind of rebellious faction, working to undermine Nef Anyo and take back Fortuna and the Orb Vallis. It is primarily with the Solaris United that players will need to build reputation towards in order to access the harder to acquire equipment within Fortuna…
Within Fortuna, there is a modest shop run by “Ruud Zuud”, who allows players to craft their own Kitguns. These are a new modular weapon type, whereby players purchase blueprints to the modular components using reputation, and use these to build Kitguns to their specific preference. At present, this extends only to Secondary weapons within the game, but Digital Extremes did not exclude potentially extending this to Primary weapons in the future (although nothing has been announced at this time).
In a different area within Fortuna exists yet another shop, this time run by a robotic fellow named Legs. Here, however, players can build their own robotic companion, called Moas, in much the same modular manner as employed with regards to Kitguns. While Moa companions are cute and have a personality all of their own, they also pack a powerful punch – not only can they be equipped with existing Sentinel weapons, but they also come with their own unique abilities, including a tether grenade, for example, which can help players in their pursuits across the Origin System. But let me reiterate – these little guys are adorable, crouching alongside players when they need to be stealthy, and waving and dancing in response to player actions. Did I mention I’m looking forward to these new friends?
The Vent Kids are another new faction releasing with Fortuna, this time representing a new mode of travel – K-Drives (basically a hoverboard). For one, players can build themselves a K-Drive in much the same modular fashion as in Kitguns and Moas, but players can then use those K-Drives to build reputation with the Vent Kids while out in The Orb Vallis – either by taking part in races strewn about the map, or by simply lashing out with sick tricks and radical grinds. Think Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but in Warframe. This comes with a number of new pieces of neon 90s-inspired artwork to adorn both your K-Drive and your Orbiter, so I’m also looking forward to taking part in a bit of K-Drive action as well.
New warframe: Codenamed “Garuda”
While showing off all of this (and, of course, into the Orb Vallis itself) Rebecca was using a new warframe, currently under the tentative codename “Garuda”. Garuda is a new gore-themed warframe, expected to release within the Fortuna release window. When queried on this window, Rebecca advised that DE is planning to release Garuda with the Fortuna expansion, but if this is the case, she may not have a playable quest in order to acquire her components. If they decide to release her with a quest, then she may be delayed beyond the initial Fortuna release. All of that said, Garuda herself looks to be some kind of vampiric blood demon, with many of her attacks focused on gore, mutilation, and utilising blood (both of her enemies and herself) in order to gain the advantage on the battlefield.
The Orb Vallis
The Orb Vallis is the name of the new open-world area that will release with Fortuna, and it is extremely large – up to 4 times as large as The Plains of Eidolon. For this reason, players WILL be able to equip their Archwings in order to traverse the environment (Archwings are a piece of equipment that players can attach to their warframe in order to allow them 360 degrees of movement and, therefore, flight). It is the same reason DE decided to come up with K-Drives, to provide a new way to quickly cover a lot of ground. Across The Orb Vallis will be a number of Corpus Facilities, which players can look to engage in combat, along with forests or giant mushrooms, caves, oceans of coolant, and many other things besides.
While The Orb Vallis is set on Venus, it is not a harsh, extremely hot environment, as one would expect. During the Orokin era, the Orokin had terraformed Venus using giant cooling machines to control the environment. The Corpus has put these cooling towers back into commission, creating a large frozen area within Venus (The Orb Vallis itself). Further, given Venus has a lengthy day-night cycle, the Corpus has also implemented a large mirror system to replicate the passing of time. However, it won’t only be the Corpus overseeing the area…
The Orbs are essentially giant spiders who act as this new environments “bosses” – much like the Eidolon roaming the Plains of Eidolon at night. Not much is known beyond this, however, except that there will be a new sub-species of enemy to fight, with a whole range of spider-like creatures to battle across The Orb Vallis. Rebecca did mention that although the Orbs will be located at various places across the map on release, they will not initially be active – players will not be able to engage them until a certain amount of time after the initial release, which was advised to be at least 2 weeks. It’s expected that this is to draw out engagement in the new environment.
While there isn’t going to be a lot of crossover between The Plains of Eidolon and Fortuna initially, something that IS returning will be the ability to fish within The Orb Vallis! Players will be able to use the spears that they purchased from Cetus, but they will not be very effective – this time around, the “fish” are far more technological in nature, and thus new spears are available (again from a new vendor in Fortuna) that can give the fish a quick EMP blast that will make short work of them.
K-Drives & Racing
Of course, one of the most exciting things coming with Fortuna will be K-Drives – the ability to ride a jet-powered hoverboard across the environment, pulling off jumps, tricks, and grinds appeals to me greatly. It was confirmed in the past that you will be able to “decorate” your K-Drive with artwork unlocked by using them, and they will come with their own set of mods, which will allow players to build them towards their own playstyle, although what this means exactly is unsure at this point in time,
In addition to simply moving about the new open-world (note that K-Drives can also be equipped on The Plains of Eidolon), there will be races set across The Orb Vallis that players can take part in. Simply find the Vent Kid out within the environment to kick off the time trial – this plays out as a timed event in which players need to pass through glowing gates.
Races will, of course, play out across the overworld, but they will also occasionally play out across the new caves. These are much larger and much more functional than those in The Plains of Eidolon – DE mentioned in a previous Devstream that they could be used as shortcuts across The Orb Vallis, although given how difficult it was for Rebecca and team to find them during the Virtual Demo, this capability may take some time to learn – Rebecca did mention that it was a design choice to make the caves so difficult to find.
Within the caves, though, is an 80s retro sci-fi world of wonder. Not only do they look amazing, but they will be home to a number of unique plants and creatures (fish and critters) that can only be found within caves. In addition, there will be water systems and unique gameplay mechanics that will set them apart from the rest of The Orb Vallis. As a result, there will be much more to do within them than on The Plains of Eidolon, where most of the time they were a distraction or simply got in the way.
Conservation – Tracking
Fortuna is going to be a big expansion – not only will players be getting Kitguns, Moas, K-Drives, a whole new environment to explore, new reputation grinds, and so on, but DE is also adding a whole new distraction… Tracking. Given the destruction that the Corpus are forcing upon the environment, the local critters are at risk. Thus, there is a new small faction to impress, which tasks the player with using echo-lures and tranquiliser guns to track and capture local wildlife for conservation purposes (I believe the reputation for this goes towards Solaris United reputation, but this is to be confirmed).
During the demo, Rebecca mentioned that Fortuna will be shipping with four critter types, each of which will require their own specific echo lure (which players will use to mimic the sound that the animal makes in order to lure it within range of their tranq gun). It looks as if the tracking mechanic has been simplified since previous Devstreams, however, they were unable to show this off on the Demo as they did not have the required lure (and were running short on time).
Lastly, we had the chance to ask a few questions before our time with the devs ran out. During this time, it was noted that enemy levels within The Orb Vallis will be dynamic, and will adjust based on the bounty that players have chosen – the level will be set based on what was chosen prior to entering, and will change each time a player chooses a new bounty (as bounties can now be added from within the environment itself). Players that enter The Orb Vallis without a bounty (free roam) will enter with an enemy level set low, but this will again scale with bounties.
This last point raised further questions of concern in regards to complaints levied against The Plains of Eidolon – namely, that the Plains and Cetus required a somewhat unfair requirement for player time and effort to progress through the level grind, and that The Plains themselves were somewhat dull when early tasks had been completed. This proved somewhat tricky for DE to respond to, as it is impossible to please every player. That said, they acknowledged that there was an imbalance to the grind in Cetus/PoE and that this would not be repeated in Fortuna. Fingers crossed, as I know I still am yet to reach max rank with The Ostron faction.
When players enter Fortuna for the first time, there will be a short quest that introduces them to the Solaris United faction, but from there, interaction will proceed at the player’s choice, much like in Cetus and The Plains of Eidolon. In addition to all of the above, there will be a whole bunch of new mods being added with the expansion – this is expected to be much more than just the new mods coming for K-Drives, although DE did not expand on this idea. Lastly, as Fortuna will be set on Venus, new players will encounter the environment early, much like they did with The Plains of Eidolon, but they can choose to move past it and continue with the main story quest and planetary grind. Whether or not this will confuse new players (as it did with The Plains of Eidolon, and I can only assume continues to do so), remains to be seen.
We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this virtual demo, and thank the team at Digital Extremes. I know I’m looking forward to the release of Fortuna – per our previous advice, it is currently scheduled for release on PC in November, and consoles sometime thereafter. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more information to share.