Fans of Warframe were surprised when its developer, Digital Extremes, had an announcement at The Game Awards show. Turns out, the Railjack update titled Empyrean just released and was playable on PC.

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Those who installed this large update immediately noticed how fun it was to blast Grineer in space with a massive battle barge. That excitement was immediately quelled with host migrations, long load times, and a variety of balance and economy problems. Few Warframe updates have released smoothly, but this one is so mixed that it's hard to talk about one thing without mentioning something else. Here are 5 reasons why Empyrean is a fun expansion and 5 reasons why it could be a lot better.

10 Good: Focus on Co-op

Warframe is listed as a co-op shooter on any digital storefront yet it is almost entirely built around solo play. The only time the game required cooperation with other players was raiding, but those have been retired altogether.

Railjack is the first true co-op focused game mode Warframe has created since raids or Eidolon hunts. You can play this content solo if you wish, but you can tell from the first mission that this type of content is intended for a team of players working together. Plenty of laughs and shouting are to be had while playing Railjack missions, and that is exactly what Warframe has needed for a long time.


9 Bad: Content Islands

For those who don't know, content islands is a concept where updates to a game are in their own ecosystem and separated from the rest of the game. This can mean separate progression systems or entire economies are different compared to the main game.

Empyrean, just like nearly every content drop in the past few years, is a content island in Warframe. Railjack missions provide plenty of new materials to farm, items to earn, and enemies to slay. The issue is it's all tied to Railjack, so players who do not engage in the content get nothing out of this update except a few cosmetics. This lack of interconnectedness is partly why the game and its updates can be so confusing to new players.

8 Good: Customization

One of Warframes core pillars is its extensive customization. Players can change the look and feel of their Warframes and guns down to their energy colors.

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Your Railjack is no different, allowing for special insignias, titles, and various colors to be displayed on the massive vessel. Guns and modules are swappable on the ship as well, preserving the deep modding system seen in the rest of the game. The sheer amount of options players have in customizing their character puts to shame most AAA video games out today.

7 Bad: Huge Grind

Weapons and parts for your Railjack don't come cheap, however. Not only do players have to farm for items they wish, but they also must upkeep them with constant repair costs.

These costs start small but get exponentially larger the better gear you have. Large amounts of resources need to be invested to keep your gear in tip-top shape, discouraging plentiful farming for gear. Worse yet, ammunition for certain Railjack weapons needs to be crafted mid-mission, taking time and resources out of your run. You can bypass the crafting portion with repair drones for Platinum, but it feels pretty scummy that you're better off farming Prime sets to sell on the market to repair your ship than actually playing Railjack missions.

6 Good: Stealing Ships

If you are someone who doesn't own a Railjack, you can join a team of other players to do own a ship. The best part about this is you can focus on shooting guns or using Archwing instead of piloting the ship.

Part of using guns is stealing enemy ships. This involves entering an Archwing Slingshot launcher and shooting yourself into a vulnerable cruiser. Once inside, you can destroy the core and detonate the ship or take out the pilot to control the ship. Having multiple ships under a team's control is immensely satisfying and something rarely seen in space games today.

5 Bad: RNG

While most items in Warframe have a low drop chance of 3% or sometimes lower, almost every item in the game is fixed in the stats it provides.

Not for Railjack parts, however. Every Railjack component provides a randomized statistical buff. This can range massively, sometimes being weaker than the last tier part you were using. To add insult to injury, the stingy drop rates present in every mission make finding great gear incredibly time-consuming and luck-based. You will spend more time hoping RNG strikes in your favor than getting meaningful progress on your spaceship.

4 Good: Sentient Tileset

The new tileset that Digital Extremes are teasing in Empyrean is so good that spoiling it would be a large shame in the work involved. The screenshot above is a small taste of it.

It combines the alien and lifeless aesthetic Sentients are known for with some heavy-metal -esque overdramatic lines and accents on everything. Nearly every room is tinted red, platforms dynamically form when you shoot floating orbs, and the floors and walls have sporadic perpendicular lines that show this was made by machines. It is one of the coolest areas in the entire game.

3 Bad: Bad Balancing

Getting to the Veil Proxima region takes tens of hours, requiring good Railjack gear and high levels in controlling and utilizing the ship.

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Once you get there, you'll notice that nearly every enemy has a massive health bar unless you have min-maxed ship parts and modules. If you don't, prepare to spend upwards of ten seconds killing a simple fighter. Even if you fully max out your ship you still might not be able to kill enemy fighters quickly unless you use Rhino's Roar power to buff your damage, something that's obviously unintended. Brozime, a popular YouTuber that covers Warframe, has a long video discussing this particular problem in great detail. It needs to be one of the first things Digital Extremes fixes before this expansion can move forward.

2 Good: Hidden Quest

If you can stomach the poor balancing and plentiful bugs in Empyrean, there is a phenomenal quest you can find in the Veil that teases the next major update for Warframe aptly titled The New War.

To start this quest, you must have the Paracesis sword equipped and explore the Veil Proxima until a certain ship spawns. Once that, you'll find a crystal to break in order to start the quest. It is fantastic and sets the tone for the content upcoming in 2020 perfectly. Hopefully, The New War can live up to the hype this quest presents.

1 Bad: Bugs

Bugframe is a common meme within the Warframe community, making a light-hearted jab at how unstable and inconsistent the game can be at times.

Empyrean takes this to a whole new level. Entering enemy ships can cause you to be permanently stuck in them, requiring you to leave the mission and forgo all of your loot to continue playing. Guns sometimes won't register damage. Railjacks can be in transit indefinitely, requiring a complete restart of the mission. Worst of all, host migrations can cause players to lose all of their loot, wasting half an hour or more of the team's time. This update was simply not ready to be released in 2019. Hopefully, bug fixes and balance tweaks can salvage this update and make it more enjoyable to play.

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