Is A Warframe Alive and Conscious?

With the Heart of Deimos update, we’ll be getting a new Helminth and a new infested room on our ship. Inside that room, we’ll be able to do some horrible things, like feeding a massive mouth on the wall and injecting our Warframes with new powers. We’ll also be able to murder Warframes. More precisely, we can feed them to the Helminth. And doing so will give us a Warframe ability we can put onto other Warframes.

So yeah. We’re killing Warframes.

But is this morally correct?

Okay, that’s a bit of an unfair question. Warframe is dripping with immorality. We’re child soldiers piloting death machines, murdering millions of Grineer and Corpus daily. No one cares about murdering Infested because they’re horrible hive mind monsters. But we are walking genocides.

So why am I caring so much about these walking genocides? Surely they’re as immoral as everything else? That’s the thing. I’m not sure. Because we don’t even know if Warframes are even alive and conscious.

If Warframes are just infested meat puppets, mindless mounds of steel and muscle, then sacrificing one is fine. There’s no mind, no spirit to kill. But if Warframes are alive… are we really sure we want to be killing them?

What evidence do we have that they’re just puppets?

The most obvious evidence is that Warframes just A-Pose when you transfer out of them. Warframes do nothing on their own. They are always stationary without us controlling them. On top of that, everyone just calls them infested meat puppets. Well, the people who know about the Tenno properly. The Grineer queens know the Warframes are just suits. Alad V knows they’re not really alive and make no sense. The Quills know more than we do, perhaps.

However, the average person doesn’t know the difference between Tenno and Warframe. Most people do see the Tenno as nothing more than ancient, mute mercenaries with godlike powers.

What evidence do we have that they’re alive?

Here, things get a little bit cloudy and ill-defined. The most often cited example is during the Second Dream. When you first wake up from your pod and realise you’re a little kid, you control your Warframe by physical touch. But the Warframe picks you up and protects you like the child you are. When Stalker stabs your Warframe, it looks like it’s all over for you. But your Warframe saves you, by breaking the Sentient sword that’s stabbing it.

Now, no one’s sure whether it’s the Tenno subconsciously doing this, the Warframe intentionally breaking the War blade, or someone else interfering. Maybe the Warframe was saving itself? Who knows?

But there is one more clue. And this clue comes from the New Strange. In the New Strange, you run into a ‘wild’ Chroma. The Chroma is running around, intentionally breaking things and the Lotus can’t work out who is controlling it. This isn’t like the Infested Mutalist Mesa we encounter, controlled by Alad V. Everyone could tell Alad V was controlling it. Yet we never solve the Chroma mystery.

And then there’s Umbra…

Umbra is 100% alive and conscious. I mean, when you’re not controlling him, he runs around screaming and murdering things. In fact, the whole damn point of the Sacrifice is to show how Warframes are made. By taking people and infecting them with the Helminth strain of Infestation. Then taming them by using the Tenno.

Umbra never got tamed though. He was permanently scarred by a traumatic memory, then let loose on the universe. The Tenno calmed him down, sure, but only long enough to use him.

But are Warframes still even made like this?

Sure, originally, all the Warframes we used were people. But is that still true today? Is that 6th Volt I just made actually made from a human being? Or did something happen to change how Warframes are made? Sure, the Orokin empire was HUGE. But surely you start to run out of warriors to turn into Warframes?

Maybe the Warframes we have today, even the Primes, are just, well, lifeless husks. After all, we do build them in three parts, then put the pieces together. There’s another thing to note here: you won’t be able to feed Primes to Helminth. Only normal Warframes. So maybe it IS okay to feed Warframes to Helminth. Maybe they ARE just meat puppets.

I don’t know. Either way, it still feels kinda wrong. That’s why I’m making new, fresh Warframes to feed to Helminth. At least then they won’t have ever experienced anything at all…


Medic, also known as Phovos (or occasionally Dr Retvik Von Scribblesalot), writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF since she doesn't have anything better to do. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Phovos has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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