Warframe: The Duviri Paradox Review

The Duviri Paradox update is Warframe‘s latest attempt at reworking its new player experience, something that it has always been criticized for. The update offers players a unique and self-contained quest that explores some of the plot that they’ll see in the future.

The story starts off with the Drifter being stuck on a loop right at the moment of their execution, getting impaled through the chest multiple times, and only managing to break out with the help of Teshin and a disembodied hand that attaches itself to their arm.

Dominus Thrax, a mysterious figure sitting on a throne, is in control of this loop and has decided to punish the Drifter for trying to escape it. The Duviri Paradox takes place in the Spire, a place that is governed by Thrax’s mood and can change on a whim.

Warframe: The Duviri Paradox
Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: Digital Extremes
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: April 26th, 2023
Players: 1-4
Price: Free-To-Play

This quest serves as a new starting experience for the game and features some gameplay unique to the drifter. Combat consists of dodging, parrying, and attacking with dual swords, as well as shooting enemies to interrupt their attacks. It mostly plays like a watered-down version of Bloodborne, but animation locks are too long and the controls don’t really work that well.

The update was framed as both an updated tutorial aimed at new players as well as a roguelike mode for veterans, but unfortunately, it fails at doing both of those things. We’ll explore the roguelike mode in a second, but let’s examine it as a new player experience first.

The problem with Warframe‘s beginner experience wasn’t the tutorial; that part was actually serviceable; the problem was what happened afterwards, where players were dropped into the game with no clue on what to do, which still happens.

The update is also an ugly early look into the game; while the art direction is beautiful, the quest itself is full of broken triggers, and I had to restart it roughly four times to get things working. It really fits the theme of being stuck on Groundhog Day, but I don’t think that was Digital Extremes’ intent.

The intent of The Duviri Paradox was to set up multiple plot threads for players to pick up on when they got to the New War quest. The problem is that those plot threads could be hundreds of hours away depending on how fast the player moves through the game; by the time they actually get to them, they will most likely have forgotten the update’s winks and nods at the established lore.

Warframe is a long and grindy game where the player can easily waste their time doing something that won’t progress the story. I have roughly 2 thousand hours in the game, and that’s considered nothing in the community; I might as well be a casual.

The update treats Warframe like an 8-hour single-player game that could actually afford to pull something like this off, but it simply can’t. It’s a fun, self-contained adventure for players who already know what’s happening, but I can’t see a new player enjoying the story beyond a superficial level.

The fact that someone is controlling the Warframes at all is already a massive spoiler for what the community considers to be the game’s best quest, so it’s weird to see Digital Extremes throw it out there for no good reason whatsoever.

Transference mode was called spoiler mode by players for the longest time, and quite a lot of Warframe veterans made sure not to use it in front of newcomers so they didn’t ruin future story threads. I know that the secret can’t be held for that long without players finding out, as someone will eventually slip up, but the solution isn’t for the game itself to spoil the story.

The community has been expecting this update since 2019, but also collectively chose to ignore the giant asterisk that stated it was just a new tutorial for the game. I don’t think the community is completely at fault, though, since it’s also framed as new content for veteran players.

I’ve seen a lot of people recommend specific Call of Duty games because of their zombie mode, a mode so good that it justifies purchasing the game even if you don’t care about anything else. Warframe is free, and I still couldn’t recommend it to someone based on this roguelike mode.

Not only because it’s unimpressive but also because it’s a disjointed experience for a new player and a rehashing of every single star chart mission veteran players have already completed. It brings nothing new to the table aside from a randomized loadout. A new player would be overwhelmed, and an old player would be unimpressed.

This system could have been introduced at any other point in the game and worked out just fine; the sanctuary onslaught mode would have probably benefited a lot from it, thinking back, so anyone who expects an actual roguelike or roguelite is bound to be disappointed.

The roguelike portion of the Drifter content is even worse, with upgrades that don’t feel like they matter at all. I also fully believe the Drifter content should have been entirely separate from the warframe part of the update.

Not only do the warframe sections spoil future quest content, but they also immediately break the gameplay established by the drifter. Every enemy mechanic can be safely ignored as soon as we hop into the warframe. It’s not even a matter of wanting to do it; they quite literally can’t engage with the enemies in the same way the drifter would.

The interesting enemies that would require you to lock-on, dodge, parry, and interrupt can now be safely dispatched by just shooting at them mindlessly, like you would with any other enemy in the game.

The Duviri Paradox‘s working title was Plains of Duviri, a reference to Warframe‘s first open world map, Plains of Eidolon, and the more I progressed through the quest, the more I realized that the Spiral is a stripped-down version of that map.

The Spiral is another one of Digital Extremes’ large open worlds that recycles the same star chart missions that players are tired of. I’d say that this time it was unique because it was happening outside, but every other open world map was exactly that—the missions you’ve already done a million times, but outside.

I could go on about so many other things, like the fact that the character shown in almost all of the promotional material, Bombastine, shows up for about five minutes, or about how bad and confusing the Orowyrm fights are, but there’s no need to rag this much on a free game, regardless of how disappointed I am.

I just don’t get why a company as big as Digital Extremes decides to release things in a state that could almost be considered mid-development; their next game, Soulframe, already suffers from that by having very early development footage shown, which only hurts the image that players have of it.

I understand wanting to be transparent, but not to the point of kneecapping yourself. The Duviri Paradox came out clearly half-baked and will probably get plenty of fixes by the time this review gets posted, but I can’t see it turning into a complete experience for anyone anytime soon.

The Duviri Paradox has some stellar art direction, much like the rest of Warframe‘s content, and works to familiarize a new player with Warframe‘s many game modes. The issue is that it ignores the actual problem with the new player experience and fixes what wasn’t broken, while also being underwhelming for veterans of the game.

Keep in mind the score below is for the update, not for Warframe itself. Warframe is ever-changing and I’m still debating on how to approach actually reviewing it, it’s a game with 10 years of content and I want to respect that when approaching a full review.

Warframe is available on Microsoft Windows (Through Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.


The Verdict: 6.5

The Good

  • The story is somewhat self-contained and doesn't overstay its welcome.
  • Most of the spire's inhabitants are interesting characters, feeling like they belong fairy tale with how they could all do great things but let their hubris get in the way.

The Bad

  • It doesn't fix the problems with the new player experience, in fact, it introduces more.
  • Giving up a major reveal at the beginning of the game for a slightly nicer introduction isn't worth it.
  • Most of the inhabitants of the spire don't get any significant screen time.
  • The Drifter's combat is clunky, and the rest of the game refuses to accommodate it.


Fan of skeletons, plays too many video games, MMO addict, soul-like and character action enthusiast.

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