Empyrean and Kuva Lich Demo (TennoCon 2019)

During TennoLive 2019, a gameplay demonstration was shown to the audience, largely guided by Steve Sinclair. This demo was a scripted, unique event that was played through live, showcasing elements of the Empyrean (Railjack) and Kuva Lich systems, both of which would release (substantially altered) later that year. This followed 2018's demo of Railjack, and was a notable iteration upon the version shown then.

Part One: Empyrean

The demo began with Rebecca Ford, playing as Excalibur, on board her Orbiter, showing off the redesigned interior, with the clear ceiling and Railjack ship visible above it. Then Rebecca went to the Navigation console and travelled to her Dojo, which consisted only of a Clan Hall and a Dry Dock. As Rebecca entered the Dry Dock, the hangar bay was empty. When Rebecca interacted with the console in the centre of the room, her personal Railjack ship appeared in the distance with a flash of blue Void energy and a thunderclap. It proceeded to fly inside and dock in the hangar bay. Rebecca went around to the Railjack configuration console and brought up the settings menu for the Railjack ship. 

On the Equipment screen, four items were installed on the ship: the Apoc Autocannon for the pilot turrets, the Viga Pulsar for the side turrets, the Tycho Seeker Missile for the Ordnance, and the Bahul Decoy for support. The Equipment screen also displayed stats like speed, health, and damage for the ship or for any selected item.

On the Customisation screen, Rebecca recoloured parts of the ship, both exterior and interior colours, added a glyph onto the side of the ship, and renamed it the "SS JOJO".

On the Systems screen, several equipped items and avionics were shown. As explained, these items would be selected and installed on the ship during dry dock, and would then be enabled during missions for use in the appropriate situation. The abovementioned Apoc Autocannon, Viga Pulsar, Tycho Seeker Missile, and Bahul Decoy were all installed under "Weaponry", alongside the Tunguska Cannon for Forward Artillery. Tether, Blackout Pulse, and Particle Ram were installed under "Battle". Enhanced Restoration, Shadow Field, Tactical Shock, and Resource Scanner were installed under "Tactical". Auroxium Plating, Polarised Hull, Overthruster, and Shield Inductor were installed under "Systems", alongside modules for Shields and Engines. Each item, avionic, or module also listed, in addition to their names and functions, the energy cost they would draw when active, with a diagram of the ship displaying that there was a total of 100 energy that could be allocated at any one time. During a mission, these modules would have to be enabled or disabled as required, as not all could be active at the same time.

On the Reinforcement screen, five main components or systems of the ship were shown: shields, engines, hull, weapons, and stealth. Each one could be reinforced by spending Titanium, which would provide stat bonuses for a certain number of missions. This system was intended to be a replacement for maintaining a persistent damage state of the ship, but was mostly glossed over.

At this point, Rebecca was joined by Megan Everett, playing as Wisp, and Danielle Sokolowski, playing as Wukong Prime. The three of them went down the boarding ramp and entered the Railjack ship, where they were greeted with a transmission from a new character.

Cephalon Cy: "Crew: Welcome aboard. I am Cephalon Cy. You will refer to me as such. Aboard this Railjack, we work before we play."

The three Tenno explored the Railjack interior. Many Tenno-aligned NPCs were present on board, performing maintenance or checks on the ship. Some of them were Solaris, including one that was described by Steve as an engineer for the ship. The Reliquary Drive was also seen during the tour. Eventually, the three Tenno entered the Railjack's bridge.

(upon entering bridge) Cephalon Cy: "Engines: online."

Rebecca went to the Navigation console and activated it. The Empyrean Starchart had 7 regions: Heliosphere, Jupiter, Earth, Venus, Drydock, Pluto, and Neptune. Steve explained that the Solaris engineer had a lead on some lost technology in the Heliosphere, and Rebecca selected that region.

(upon selecting the Heliosphere region) Cephalon Cy: "Heliosphere."

The Heliosphere region had 13 nodes: Ogal Cluster, H-2 Field, Rya, R-9 Cloud, Korms Belt, Nsu Grid, Posit Cluster, Gian Point, Flexa, Lin Tower Ruins, Ruse War Field, Ganalen's Grave, and Dead Station. Rebecca selected Lin Tower Ruins. Upon doing so, a short cutscene played, showing the Railjack stowing its turrets and preparing for launch. The docking clamps released, and the ship slowly backed out of the hangar, turned around, reconfigured for Void travel, and then warped away.

(as the Railjack begins to depart) Cephalon Cy: "Translating in 3… 2… 1… grab something."

During Void transit, Rebecca entered the pilot seat. The Railjack arrived at an asteroid field strewn with Grineer space debris, against a red and stormy backdrop. A banner across the screen announced "Heliosphere, Lin Tower Ruins, Sector: Dark".

(upon arriving) Cephalon Cy: "Void translation complete."

Rebecca began manoeuvring forward into the debris field. A yellow waypoint far in the distance marked a derelict Orokin orbital shield node.

Cephalon Cy: "Debris contains mineral traces. Crew: do we have a need?"

Rebecca opened the Tactical Menu and enabled the Apoc Autocannon, Viga Pulsar, and Tycho Seeker Missile. The engines were already enabled by default.

Cephalon Cy: "Helm: Debris warning. Manoeuvre accordingly."

Megan entered the port side turret. Danielle, on the bridge, opened the Tactical Menu and activated Resource Scanner, which caused all loose minerals floating in space to glow brightly, including a clump of resources that Rebecca steered into, collecting them as Cubics. Rebecca flew in the general direction of the yellow waypoint, collecting resources scattered around the area as she did so.

Cephalon Cy: "Proximity charges detected."

Eventually the ship drew near to the Orokin derelict.

Cephalon Cy: "Scanning derelict… archives are mostly intact. Investigation is your prerogative."

Danielle, in the aft of the ship, was interacting with the resource forges, performing what Steve referred to as "resource compaction". Megan left her turret and exited the ship via the midships airlock, and Danielle quickly ran forward and followed her. The two flew through space via Archwing and entered the Orokin derelict.

(upon entering Tower) Cephalon Cy: "Archives marked."

The Tower was overgrown with Infested tissue, but no enemies were present. A waypoint at the end of the map marked a console. The two Tenno traversed the Tower, and Megan stabbed the console with her Parazon to hack it.

(upon hacking panel) Cephalon Cy: "Decrypting archives… Crew, you might find this interesting."

The crew received a Shadow Field avionic as a reward. Immediately, a loud Infested screech was heard echoing throughout the structure.

Cephalon Cy: "Infested. Watch your back."

Megan and Danielle made their way back through the Tower, now fighting off hordes of Infested. Rebecca, still piloting the Railjack, entered the Tactical Menu and enabled Tactical Shock. This brought up a real-time minimap of the derelict, with the allied Tenno and Infested enemies marked. Rebecca deployed the Tactical Shock on a large group of enemies, causing them to be suspended in the air by blue energy (and possibly dealing damage to them as well). In this way the Railjack team and the away team were able to work together to defeat the large amount of Infested.

(upon deploying Tactical Shock) Cephalon Cy: "Team. Stand by for offensive support."

Rebecca deployed Tactical Shock a couple more times as Megan and Danielle fought to the exit. When they got to the exit, a large Leaping Thrasher was blocking their way. The two of them used their warframe abilities to kill it, then exited the derelict and Archwinged back to the Railjack, entering via the side airlocks.

(upon boarding Railjack) Cephalon Cy: "Tenno, on deck."

When they returned to the ship, a mission complete screen appeared, showing the Railjack floating in space, with Megan highlighted as having the most kills, Rebecca having collected the most loot, and Danielle as having the most melee kills.

Part Two: Kuva Lich, Squad Link, and more Empyrean

Megan and Danielle returned to the bridge, and Megan went to the Navigation console and opened the Starchart. Steve explained that Rebecca had been hounded by a personal Kuva Lich nemesis, who had now grown so powerful he controlled his own capital ship, and that they were going to try to find him at Earth.

The Earth region had 10 nodes: Galleon Orgo, Phangoul Satellites, Minhast Station, Obelisk Sanction, Sover Strait, Iota Temple, Galleon Termak, Jex Lanes, Kor Augur, and Galleon Daw. Megan selected Galleon Orgo, the name of the Lich's ship. As they travelled along the Rail, a large Orowyrm was seen traversing the Void space.

They arrived in orbit of Earth, with the planet visible underneath them. A dense field of asteroids held a collection of Grineer mining equipment and other facilities, and the ruins of a large Orokin Tower were visible floating in the distance. Grineer fighters, waypointed in white, patrolled the area. A banner across the screen announced "Earth, Galleon Orgo, Sector 3.55". Some Grineer comms were intercepted and showed up as transmissions.

Grineer Helm: "Escorts, check in, verify readings."

Grineer Huntress: "Void needle at FHUV. Tenno sign?"

[Other] Grineer Huntress: "Uh… negative. Sensors naked – but storm's rolling in. Command, we have your SHOOKS."

Grineer Helm: "Hmm. Don't like it. Tighten up formation. Pattern Grak. Run a search protocol… for the Queens."

Grineer Huntress: "Queens? Didn't one—"

Grineer Helm: "Cut the chatter, girls. Eyes high."

Rebecca steered the Railjack away from the asteroid field, out to open space, where a large arc of bright light, spilling cyan Void energy, could be seen slowly moving across the expanse, growing ever closer to Earth. Steve explained that this was a Void storm, and when it arrived, it would cause complications that were best avoided. Rebecca steered back to the Grineer and flew into a tunnel within a large asteroid, hiding in the recesses as they observed a Gokstad Crewship pass by with two Flak fighters. Rebecca opened up the Tactical Menu and enabled the Blackout Pulse battle avionic. 

(upon enabling Blackout Pulse) Cephalon Cy: "Blackout pulse: online."

Then, as the Grineer ships passed by, Rebecca emerged from the asteroid tunnel and fired the Blackout Pulse at the Crewship, also hitting the fighters and disabling all three Grineer ships. Danielle entered the Archwing slingshot and aimed at the Crewship.

(upon entering Archwing slingshot) Cephalon Cy: "Archwing slingshot: loaded. Tenno in the barrel."

Danielle fired herself into the Crewship via the Archwing slingshot and began fighting the Grineer crew. Megan entered the Archwing slingshot and prepared to follow her. Rebecca opened the Tactical Menu and enabled Shield Inductor, then disabled Blackout Pulse, before enabling the battle avionics Tether and Particle Ram.

(upon enabling Shield Inductor) Cephalon Cy: "Shields: online."

(upon enabling Tether) Cephalon Cy: "Tether: online."

(upon enabling Particle Ram) Cephalon Cy: "Particle Ram: online."

The Blackout Pulse expired, and the Crewship began moving again. Rebecca opened the Tactical Menu to enable Blackout Pulse, but the Railjack's energy pool was at capacity and the battle avionic was not enabled. Rebecca activated Tether on the Crewship, which tangled the surrounding Flak fighters and left them tied to the Gokstad, but didn't impede the Crewship at all. Rebecca opened the Tactical Menu again, disabled Tether, then used the free energy capacity to enable Blackout Pulse, which she promptly activated to disable the Crewship. Megan used the Archwing slingshot to fire herself into the Crewship, and went directly to the cockpit to hijack the helm from the Gokstad Pilot, using her Parazon.

(upon hijacking Crewship) Cephalon Cy: "Grineer Crewship has a Tenno at the helm. Watch your fire."

Rebecca disabled Blackout Pulse and re-enabled Tether, shooting it to entangle a group of Grineer fighters, which were quickly destroyed using the Railjack's pilot autocannons. Danielle, having killed all the Grineer crew on board, entered one of the Crewship's turrets. With Rebecca in the Railjack and Megan and Danielle in the Gokstad Crewship, the two ships began eliminating the smaller Grineer fighter craft in the area. Rebecca made liberal use of both the Tether and Particle Ram battle avionics. Some of the destroyed fighters dropped resources, which were collected as Carbides and Gallos. As the skies cleared, the Tenno turned their ships towards the large Grineer Galleon, which was floating in between the Orokin Tower ruins and a Grineer Turbine Generator installation.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "Remember the first time? They spiked me with kuva, said kill Tenno skoom. Or die by their magic. Mm. Good times."

More fighters appeared from the vicinity of the Turbine Generator, and were shot down.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "Lock on! Launch torpedoes! Let the fun begin!"

The Galleon fired a salvo of orange torpedoes from the rows of torpedo tubes extending along the sides of the ship. Rebecca managed to shoot down some of them, but others impacted the Railjack's hull, dealing heavy damage.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "Seize that pretty little Railjack. Deploy Ramsleds!"

Two Ramsleds launched from a nearby asteroid. Rebecca destroyed one, but the other made contact with the ship, and alarms sounded out as the boarding party emerged.

Cephalon Cy: "Intruder alert. Full squad, small arms. I want those amateurs off my ship."

Danielle exited the Crewship's turret and activated Railjack Recall to teleport back to the Railjack. Rebecca left the ship's helm and the two of them went aft to kill the Grineer boarders, some of whom started laying explosive devices inside the ship.

(upon clearing the boarders) Cephalon Cy: "Boarding party eliminated. Ship secured. Back to work."

Rebecca returned to the helm of the Railjack, while Danielle equipped a Multitool from the Gear Wheel and began extinguishing fires on board the ship. Megan left the helm of her Crewship and fired Sol Gate at the ship's reactor until it started melting down, at which point Megan ran to the rear of the ship and exited into Archwing as the Crewship self-destructed. Megan flew back to the Railjack and boarded as Danielle finished repairing all the damage, and the Railjack began approaching the Galleon.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "It's time. Contact the surface and engage the Disruptor Field."

A pillar of green energy flowed up from the surface of the planet and enveloped the Galleon in a glowing cloud of green haze.

Cephalon Cy: "Disruptor Field. Abort approach. They have a generator dirtside. We cannot touch it from up here. Your move?"

A large banner appeared across the screen, saying "Squad Link available", with a button reading "Dispatch Signal". The screen faded to black, saying "Elsewhere in the System…" before fading in to Drew Pennycook playing as Grendel on the Plains of Eidolon, fishing in a small lake southeast of The Ribs and holding up a caught Yogwun. Two other players, playing as Gauss and Nova, were also fishing nearby. Drew deployed a Squad Link receiver from his Gear Wheel, which unfolded to form a radio tower.

Back in space, Rebecca clicked "Dispatch Signal".

Cephalon Cy: "Deploying emergency beacon to in-sector Tenno."

On Drew's screen, a signal popped up from Rebecca, showing her warframe in a transmission portrait, her in-game name, and relevant mission information:

  • Destroy the Grineer shield generator in the Plains to aid the Railjack party
  • Railjack team payoff: Shields lowered on Grineer Galleon Orgo
  • Ground team reward: 10x Isos

There were buttons to accept or decline the mission, and a 20-second countdown. Drew accepted the objective, and a banner across the screen said "Squad Link accepted, Ground Team in Position". A marker on the HUD said "In progress: Assisting [DE]Rebecca". When the mission was accepted, a yellow waypoint was added, indicating the Grineer fortress at Mount Nang, which was currently firing a green beam of energy up into space. When Drew looked up, the Grineer Galleon and Orokin Tower ruins in orbit could be seen distantly in the skybox. Drew summoned his K-drive, as did Nova, and they rode across the lake to the fortress, while Gauss merely activated Mach Rush and sprinted.

Back in space, the Railjack team were fighting more Grineer Flak ships, while two more Gokstad Crewships arrived. A marker on the HUD said "In progress: [DE]Drew assisting". Megan was on a side turret, while Danielle was putting out more fires and repairing the ship. Megan opened the Tactical Menu and enabled the Tunguska Cannon, disabled the Tycho Seeker Missile, then exited her turret and entered the Forward Artillery, using the Tunguska Cannon to destroy one of the Crewships.

On Earth, Drew and Gauss arrived at the Grineer installation and placed explosive charges on both sides of the generator core, while Nova fought enemies in the area. After a short delay, the charges detonated, and the green beam of energy being projected into space flickered, then stopped. A banner across the screen, for both the ground team and Railjack team, said "Ground assistance successful, Enemy Shields Lowered".

Cephalon Cy: "Support Squad reports generator destroyed. Disruptor field is down. The Galleon is exposed. Board now. Find your target."

The green shield surrounding the Galleon was gone; however, the rolling front of the Void storm was now much closer to the battlefield. Megan used the Forward Artillery to destroy another Crewship, then entered the Tactical Menu to disable the Tunguska Cannon and Viga Pulsar side turrets, then enable Tether and Shadow Field. Shadow Field was activated, cloaking the Railjack from enemy fire.

Cephalon Cy: "Shadow Field: online."

Megan used the Archwing slingshot to exit into space, while Rebecca and Danielle exited via the airlocks. The three of them Archwinged over to the Galleon and entered its main side airlock, boarding the ship.

Cephalon Cy: "Kuva Lich confirmed. Close in."

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "Your voltage ran through me. My organs fried. My mind shattered. You killed me. And I grew stronger. I built a small empire; you tore it down. Obliterated my fleet. Killed me over and over. And still I grew stronger."

The three Tenno fought their way through the Grineer marines on the ship as they went towards the bridge.

Cephalon Cy: "Crew: Void sinks manifesting in quantity. We need that target dead yesterday."

The Galleon was suddenly overtaken with Void energy, with ripples of blue mist flowing across the bulkheads, walls, and ceilings. A burst of light through the Galleon's windows staggered the Tenno briefly, but they swiftly made their way to the bridge, where the Kuva Lich was waiting with a short introductory cutscene.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "Friend! I've been so impatient to meet you again."

The Lich wielded a Kuva Ayanga and had a Volt helmet mounted on his left shoulder – a trophy of his progenitor. Two streams of blue, electric energy flowed from vents in the walls, coating him in a protective shield. Though the Tenno engaged the Lich directly, their weapons had no effect.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "This ship is the culmination of my effort. Its power surrounds me. I am untouchable."

Megan and Danielle recalled themselves to the Railjack, and Megan took the helm while Danielle entered a side turret. Megan piloted the ship near the Galleon, to a generator hub protruding from the starboard side of the ship, and used the pilot's autocannons to destroy the generator.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "Argh! Interceptors! I said protect the generators. Follow your orders!"

As Rebecca was fighting the Lich, one of the energy beams protecting him went out. Megan flew around to the other side of the Galleon and took out the generator on the port side.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: [growls] "Think you're smart, do you? Fight me and find out."

The Lich was no longer shielded by energy, but unleashed a blast of electricity, similar to Volt's Shock ability. Rebecca was able to deplete his health with her Tigris shotgun, and the Kuva Lich dropped to one knee. Rebecca approached him, and an interact prompt appeared, triggering a cutscene. Rebecca's Excalibur extended its Parazon as the Lich looked up at her.

Kuva Lich Agor Rok: "When will you learn? I'm immortal… just like you."

A table in the corner started listing the Lich's stats as Rebecca leapt into the air, plunged her Parazon into the Lich's kuva receptacle on his chest, and defeated him for good with a burst of red energy.

  • Kuva Lich
  • Age: 72d
  • Evolutions: 3
  • Birthplace: Sedna
  • Created By: [DE]Rebecca – Volt
  • Stolen Abilities: Shock
  • Specialisation: Tech
  • Immunities: Electrical, Toxin
  • Weaknesses: Slash, Heat
  • Followers Eliminated: 277
  • Encounters: 7

A banner across the screen announced: "Agor Rok, Grineer Tech Lich Commander, Assassinated".

Cephalon Cy: "Kill confirmed. Galleon decapitated. Return to Railjack. Now."

Rebecca attempted to use her Railjack Recall, but it did not work.

Cephalon Cy: "Alert: Void Storm has neutralised Railjack Recall. Crew member: You will have to get back here the old-fashioned way."

Cephalon Cy: "I see… tearing… across five dimensions. Reality is about to invert and grow teeth. We have waited too long. Return."

Rebecca made her way to a Ramsled launch tube and exited via Archwing. Void energy had almost completely taken over the area. As she Archwinged back to the ship, the Galleon could be seen plummeting to Earth, with explosions breaking out across the hull, the metal groaning with the strain of collapse. Rebecca entered the Railjack, triggering another mission complete screen, with Rebecca highlighted as having the most ships destroyed, Megan having stolen the most ships, and Danielle as having the furthest distance travelled.

Cephalon Cy: "Tenno, on deck."

Rebecca took the helm while Megan opened up the Navigation console and selected a new destination. The Railjack entered the Void and began travelling along the Rail, but bursts of Void energy hit the bridge directly, forcing Rebecca's Operator out of the warframe, as if blown in a harsh wind. The Operator pulled himself back into the warframe, but another burst of energy thrust him out again, before a third burst pushed him back entirely, throwing him away from the warframe and back towards the Navigation console, where he landed on his hands and knees. The Excalibur warframe, now without impulse, slumped in the pilot's seat. The Operator got to his feet as gray energy began emanating from his hands. He looked down at himself with confusion as the screen turned to black.

Part Three: The Duviri Paradox

A man, dressed in a Zariman Operator suit, stands in a grassy field. This is the strange land of DUVIRI. The ground, where not covered in grass, can be seen to have an unusual, spiralling shape, forming odd-looking hills and valleys. Small monuments of roughly shaped stone or ornate, Orokin-style construction mark the top of each hill. The sky is awash in mists of Void-like energy. Everything is in grayscale; there is no colour in this world. The man wears a silver theatre mask with a neutral expression.

The first thing the man sees is a massive Orowyrm, emerging from the mists in the sky, flying directly at him. It passes by overhead with mere metres to spare, and he ducks to avoid being hit by its tail. As it departs, he looks around to examine his surroundings. In the distant sky, the Zariman 10-0 ship can be seen, embedded in a chunk of floating earth. Void energy streams therefrom, and it is rendered in bright, shifting colour – the only thing not in grayscale. It bleeds colour into the monochromatic world.

As the man gazes at the Zariman, a figure on horseback rides along the ridge behind him. The man hears this and turns around. The figure resembles a skeletal, metalwork version of an Orokin-era Dax soldier, and his mount, in similar fashion, resembles an automaton rather than a living being. The Duviri Dax looks at the man and stops, then turns his horse to face the man before charging down the ridge, directly at him. The man, taken aback, holds out his hand aggressively, as if trying to fire a Void Beam. Nothing happens. He thrusts out his hand a few more times, to no avail, and looks at his hand in confusion. As he tries to use Void Beam again, the horse collides with him and he is thrown roughly aside. His mask is knocked from his face, and it can be seen that the man is a fully adult version of Rebecca's Operator, with matching Void scarring and somatics.

He props himself up on one arm and looks on as a vision of his younger Operator self appears as if out of the mist, holding a Tigris shotgun. The Operator, highlighted in colour, does not seem to see the man or the Duviri Dax, but looks around cautiously, then kneels down and stows the shotgun in one of the many holes dotting the landscape. A stream of energy particles emerges from the hole as he pushes the weapon inside. Then the Operator looks at the man and holds eye contact for a couple seconds before something, unseen, startles him. The Operator stands up quickly in surprise, looking away, and dissolves in a cloud of shadows.

The man looks on and ponders this quizzically as the Duviri Dax, behind him, positions his horse for another charge. Once situated, he reaches over and unsheathes his nikana in a swift motion, which the man does not notice. Only when the horse rears up and neighs does the man react, turning and seeing the Dax ready to attack. The man immediately begins crawling away, towards the hole. The Dax begins his charge. The man reaches the hole, looks inside, then thrusts his hand within. Slowly, with effort, he pulls out a Tigris shotgun, worn and corroded with age. The Dax leans forward and prepares his blade to strike. The man turns around just as the rider reaches him, and fires once.

The screen goes blank for several seconds, before fading in on the man again, now riding the Dax's skeletal horse and holding the Tigris in his right hand. The horse walks at a steady pace towards the Zariman on the horizon. The man twirls the shotgun and holsters it on his back, then leans forward to pat the horse on its neck. The horse raises its head and neighs, as if in response to the ghostly ship ahead of it in the distance. The two continue riding toward the horizon as the screen transitions to the title card.

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