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Warframe: Empyrean gets a surprise launch and it's like Sea of Thieves in space

Warframe: Empyrean just went live on PC, and it's the most ambitious update for the nearly 7-year-old game yet. Empyrean lets players take their own massive spaceships out on four-player co-op missions that are a bit like Sea of Thieves if you were a gun-toting cyborg ninja: players need to divide their attention between piloting the ship, operating its turrets, repairing the ship, stockpiling resources, and even boarding enemy vessels to hijack them.

Digital Extremes made the Empyrean launch announcement on-stage at The Game Awards 2019, after first revealing its plans for the expansion back at Tennocon 2018 (then called Codename: Railjack). The Rising Tide update just went live for PS4 and Xbox One players as well, which means they can start building their Railjacks as they wait for the full Empyrean experience to arrive. Construction isn't quite ready to begin on Switch yet.

Warframe is a huge game with many layers, which means it can take some work to get to the newest, coolest stuff. While you will need to be part of a clan with plenty of resources to make a Railjack of your own, Digital Extremes still wants it to be easy for new players to jump into Empyrean. There's a button right on the map screen that lets you queue up for Railjack missions hosted by others, and even players fresh out of the tutorial can contribute.

(Image credit: Digital Extremes)

"If they stay on the Railjack, they can help out in every possible way," Digital Extremes community manager Rebecca Ford explained in a media Q&A session earlier this week. "Nothing is stopping them from using the side guns, doing repairs, building resources in the back of the ship, that's something that every entry-level player will be able to do no problem."

Outside of the Railjack, it's a different story. Empyrean will bring the most challenging enemies yet to the game, and later stages will require endgame power if you want to survive while away from the relative safety of your ship. And still, this is just the start for Empyrean. Digital Extremes plans to eventually use the new spaceships to connect otherwise disparate parts of its far-future solar system, as it first teased back in 2018.

"That was the surprise entry showing the full extent of what we're wanting to do with this," Ford said. "It won't be there for launch, it's probably one of the more technically complicated things that we're gonna have to do, but the goal is to connect the open worlds and the Railjack experience, absolutely. It just will be down the road."

Want to start playing on a shiny new system? Check out our guide to the best gaming PCs.

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.