Soulframe is an upcoming free-to-play MMORPG, currently being developed by Digital Extremes. The game was officially announced on TennoCon 2022, with the developers stating it will be, “heavily influenced by themes of nature, restoration, and exploration”.
The game is currently in early development, with no release window set. Digital Extremes has stated that the development process would be transparent and that players can sign up on the official website for updates.
Digital Extremes is a Canadian game development studio based in London, Ontario. Initially founded by James Schmalz, the studio is most well-known for its work on Warframe, a free-to-play third-person multiplayer action game initially released on March 2013 for Microsoft Windows.
Warframe is now considered one of the most successful free-to-play games in modern history, with nearly 50 million active players as of 2019.
Digital Extremes has emphasized that the game is still in the early stages of its development, with the project lead Steve Sinclair stating, “Soulframe development has officially just begun”, in a Twitter post to the official Warframe page in July 2022.
Soulframe’s reveal trailer is purely cinematic, with no actual gameplay being revealed. However, the trailer did reveal enough aspects on which the game would differentiate itself from its older sibling, Warframe.
First off, instead of a futuristic, sci-fi setting, the world of Soulframe depicts a more somber, naturalistic setting. Digital Extremes themselves stated that Soulframe should be viewed as a mirror version of Warframe. As stated earlier, Digital Extremes describes the game as being “heavily influenced by themes of nature, restoration, and exploration”.
Influences of fantasy and magic can be seen throughout the trailer, similar to other recent games such as FromSoftware’s Elden Ring. In fact, many initial reactions believe that Soulframe’s development is a direct result of the popularity of such games from FromSoftware.
Secondly, while Warframe relies heavily upon fast, frenetic action as the basis of its gameplay, Soulframe will be a slower, more methodical experience. Creative Director Geoff Crookes stated in an interview that “Soulframe will be a bit more slow and heavy with an emphasis on melee combat and swordplay”.
The game will also be open-world, with Sinclair mentioning that he aims for a “short session but high immersion” experience where players would be able to stay in the open world at all times. This is in contrast with Warframe’s structure, where the player is transported back to their spaceship between each mission.
One thing that will stay the same between the two games is the free-to-play structure. Crookes stated that Warframe has given them a solid reputation for the free-to-play model and wanted to live up to players’ expectations. Crookes further added by saying that the development team was so used to working with a free-to-play model, that it will be easier for them to lean into the strengths of such a model.
The game will also focus on the same cooperative gameplay experience as Warframe. Players will have to work together in environment-based combat coupled with procedurally generated environments. As stated earlier, the main difference would be slower, more methodical pacing of the combat. Essentially, a mirrored version of its older sibling.
Despite both sharing ‘frame’ in their respective titles, Digital Extremes have emphasized both titles are not in the same universe, though easter eggs are being worked on for those who are interested in the deep lore of either game.
The reveal trailer also seems to infer that players can befriend animals and have them accompany the player in battle. This further emphasizes Soulframe’s theme of nature and restoration. This may also suggest the overall story arc of the game, with the main protagonist being tasked with restoring the world from some sort of environmental destruction.
Soulframe Release Date
Considering we are still nearing the end of 2022, it can safely be said that the full release of Soulframe will be a long way off.
Still, Sinclair has mentioned the possibility of a playable alpha build being released next year, stating that he hopes the studio could “do some closed alpha stuff next year.”
Soulframe has garnered much buzz after its official reveal in TennoCon 2022, and for good reason. Thanks to the success of Warframe, it is safe to say that expectations are pretty high across the board.
Merely a decade earlier, the term ‘free-to-play’ struck fear into many gamers due to its association with poor quality. It is games such as Warframe that helped negate this stigma and helped other developers in finding their niche within the free-to-play video game market.
Comparisons to Warframe aside, Soulframe is sure to make an impact once it is officially released. If there is any developer on the planet that can be trusted in putting a unique fantasy-driven spin on a free-to-play MMORPG, it is Digital Extremes.