Excalibur Umbra is a unique Warframe, a variant of normal Excalibur, that players wanted for years. We finally got access to Excalibur Umbra, often just called Umbra for short, in the Sacrifice, a quest that looked at Ballas’s betrayal of the Orokin and gave us some more defined answers as to how the Warframes were built. But Umbra shows something that all other Warframes lack in large amounts – sentience.
The creation of most Warframes was tricky at first. These were people infested with a particular strain of Infestation that turned their skin into steel and transformed them into, well, monsters. Really powerful monsters that would tear apart anything in front of them, blinded by their own agony. These beasts did have some sort of sentience, but it was more instinct than anything else. Nothing the Orokin did allowed them to control the early Warframes, which were no more than ‘infested golems’, but they threw them at the Sentients anyway.
It wasn’t until the realization that the the children of the Zariman 10-0, i.e. the Tenno, could at least calm the Warframes down enough for them to be controlled. These people-turned-monsters had experienced horrific events that had driven them insane and the Tenno brought them peace. How? I’m not sure, but I assume it’s to do with sharing or even absorbing these traumatic events.
Excalibur Umbra was the exception. He never got a Tenno to come and calm him down. He had to wait hundreds, if not thousands of years for that to happen, and even then, he had to get blown up by Ballas and the Lotus first. He had to live with the traumatic event of murdering his own son for all that time.
Of course, it’s possible there are more Umbral Warframes out there. We just haven’t found them yet. Or they are so long dead that there’s little way of recovering them. But one of the potential rewards we were going to get in the recent Saint of Altra update was the ability to make non-Excalibur Umbra Warframes act like Umbra. This idea was actually put on hold for a later update, but mostly because the Umbraficator was a one-day only thing, it would last 24 hours on one Warframe and most people considered that a mediocre reward.
But the whole idea of making another Warframe like Excalibur Umbra worries me, because, aside from our starter Warframes, all the Warframes we have are ones we build or found. You suddenly give said Warframes the ability to remember an almost certainly torturous history and we’d all most likely end up being skewered. I mean, we put our Warframes through a LOT of shit and they have no choice in the matter. A Warframe given Umbra-like sentience could easily turn on us and go on a murderous rampage, but would probably be harder to calm down as well since the Tenno are the reason newer Warframes are committing war crimes on a regular basis, we’re the ones forcing them to kill and letting them get shot at.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, we shouldn’t make our existing Warframes relive those torturous early memories, just so they can follow us around while we’re out and about as our Operators. Discovering old, Umbra-like Warframes is one thing, those have old memories we can heal, but making a new Warframe have bad memories just so it can walk around on its own is asking for trouble.
New Umbral Mods though? That’s a whole different story. New Umbral Mods would be interesting, and honestly somewhat easy to balance due to how rare Umbral Formas are.