First off, let me just say this: U15 is probably a long way off, and there really hasn't been much information about it. People are still raging pretty hard about 14.0 and 14.2, and most players are focusing their energy and attention on that particular focal point. That being said, there was a fantastic surprise for those of you who watched the Gamescom footage, and for those who examined it, it offers a wealth of information about a possible lead-in to U15, and quite a bit of information about a new game mode.I am of course talking about Archwing. For those of you have not seen it yet, or for those who wish to have visual cues to the points I'm about to make, here is an embedded version.
So, here are my speculations, right upfront:
- Every single Warframe will have a unique Archwing
- Each Archwing will have a unique ability to complement its usage in battle
- Specific weapons will be developed for Archwing mode
- Archwing mode will have a standard free-roaming component at some point during the mission
- The Fomorians will be attacking the Corpus either during U15 or during the lead-in to U15
Let's kick it off with what is arguably the most controversial piece.
Given the pictured Archwing's resemblance in color scheme and design (1:20) to Excalibur, it's fairly safe to assume it is intended specifically for Excalibur. In addition to copying literally every color on Excalibur's default template, the Archwing has numerous places where it takes design elements directly from the host Frame. The hooks on the edge of the wings stylistically resemble Excalibur's "horn", the running lights along the outside edge of the wing have the same color scheme and layout as those on his torso, and red tracery apparent in various places on Excalibur is also visible on the wings.
I doubt they're going to hand us an Archwing that duplicates every single element in Excalibur's theme and force us to use it on every single Frame, especially not in a game that prides itself on customization. I am fairly certain that there will be an Archwing to stylisitcally match every character in game, and I can see it happening one of two ways.
Theory 1: Multiple Wings
As it stands, this seems to be the most likely (and most dreaded) outcome, with people expressing concern about farming parts and mods that can only be used with Archwing on the forums, on youtube, and pretty much everywhere else. This is not without reason; the idea that a series of parts must be collected and built for every single Warframe you own before it can be used in Archwing seems a bit exhaustive. However, DE's previous exploits have involved a heavy emphasis on collection and creation, and it is entirely possible that it will reassert itself here.
Theory 2: Adaptive Wings
The other idea is that a single set of wings will be available, which is then somehow able to be adapted different Warframes. Whether this would be inherently possible or not is anyone's guess, but this would probably make things much more accessible to players who have not played long enough to build an accumulation of resources and credits. While farming specific mods in order to use a piece of equipment effectively can be quite a hassle, any Void hunter will tell you that repeatedly running through a specific mode to try and get a specific drop part is just as (if not substantially more) frustrating.
There is only one instance that leads me to believe this will happen, however it is fairly compelling. In the video, the Archwing is depicted launching a barrage of missiles (0:59) that then seek out targets and destroy them. They resemble Excalibur's 4th or "Ultimate" Ability (Radial Javelin) to a degree in both mechanics (numerous projectiles that launch out and seek targets, inflicting damage) and visuals (glowing targeted projectiles with the Warframe's energy color), and appear to have mechanics that are unrelated to both the gun and sword's damage dealing capacities, as they emit from the wing itself. If the Archwing's manifestations are in fact linked in some manner to the Warframe that they are partnered with, then it seems reasonable to assume that the mostly anti-personnel ability designs of the Warframes will in some manner transfer over to the anti-structure/vehicle paradigm Archwing mode appears to possess.
The best close-ups we have with the weapons Excalibur utilizes in the trailer suggest no coorelation to any current weapon or weapon design. The scene in which the Primary is most visible (0:37-0:40) shows an arm-mounted cannon that does not seem to pull from any of the current weapon design motifs; The Corpus machinery, Infested biomass, or Grineer hybridization that appear in almost all of the other weaponry is noticeably absent, and the only reasonable conclusion that can be pulled from this is that it is brand-new Tenno weaponry. The manner in which it is wielded (mounted on one arm with the other manipulating its firing mechanism) is also unrecognizable among other weaponry. This further lends itself to the idea that the equipment utilized in Archwing will be completely new, and conjecture on weaponry that doesn't pull from any existing standards is ultimately pointless. The sword however, tells a slightly different story. The scene in which it is used (1:10-1:16) shows a Channeling-esque energy trail coming off the weapon, that may ultimately be purely visual. However, what does seem to be determinable here is that the loadouts are at least somewhat customizable. There is a scene in which the Primary and Melee weapon are both visible (1:05-1:10), and scenes in which only one of them is present, leading me to believe that there will be some degree of control regarding what you bring into battle. Whether this level of customizability trickles down to the weapons themselves is unclear, but ultimately it seems to be very likely that this is the case.
Archwing Dual-Mode Design
At the very beginning, we see Excalibur running through a Corpus ship that is under attack. Before Archwing is launched, we are also treated to a cutscene in which Excalibur launches itself into space from inside a Corpus tileset (0:14-0:24). The room in question appears to have similar dimensions to the hallway pictured earlier in terms of width, height, and shape and is from the same tileset. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that, after traversing the length of the corridor, Excalibur reached an impasse that prevented him from moving forward and was forced to launch Archwing; this is further supported by ORDIS' comment about extraction being unavailable (0:06-0:08). However, the inclusion of weapons in the preceding scene would appear to imply that at some point, Excalibur was in fact fighting personnel, as opposed to simply running through the level in order to get to the point at which he is able to launch Archwing. All of these facts seemingly imply that a portion of Archwing mode will follow a standard mission style, while the latter part will be in space.
Fomorian vs. Corpus Fleets
When viewing the video, one of the first things that veteran players noticed was that the ships that were being assaulted by Excalibur (0:50-1:03) had been seen once before, in the Sling Stone Event. They are, in fact, Fomorian-class ships, a superfleet developed by the Grineer in order to take down the Corpus fleet and punish them for their transgressions. While the initial part of the video takes place in a Corpus tileset, presumably against Corpus enemies, there are some factors that disrupt this theory. At less than two seconds in, the body of a Corpus enemy is visible in the bottom right hand corner while what appears to be the silhouette of a MOA runs across the corridor a fair distance ahead in order to target an as-yet-unseen threat. While it is possible that other Tenno are responsible for the death of the Corpus enemy and were subsequently being chased down by the Corpus, this is highly unlikely, as shortly before the launch cutscene, some manner of explosive destroys a bulkhead running the length of the room. This explosive appears to be launched from outside, something impossible for Tenno operatives. This initial assault, combined with the fact the Fomorian fleet is in fact present, leads to the logical conclusion that there is some manner of confrontation occurring between the Corpus and the Grineer.