Digital Extremes, the Canadian studio behind titles such as The Darkness II and BioShock 2's multiplayer, has offered a first look at its upcoming free-to-play first-person-shooter. Expected to go live this winter, Warframe will provide fast-paced PvE (player versus environment) co-op action, allowing you and up to three buddies band together to advance your characters through randomly generated combat missions.

It's said that you'll endlessly improve the abilities of your Warframe, an ancient exo-skeletal technology, as well as other weapons while raiding new areas of space seeking exotic Warframe augmentations and other gear. Because the game randomly configures raids, it should offer tons of replay value. While it's not a true massively multiplayer online game, the developer referred to it as an MMO-lite experience.

The fiction revolves around a nearly-extinct alien race called the Tenno who have been long enslaved by another alien species, the Grineer. Upon discovering the power of Warframes -- and the fact that they're the only ones who can use them -- the Tenno have an opportunity to escape the shackles of oppression. The press release and accompanying video suggest that Warframes provide high-tech ninja-like abilities.

Although we've only just heard about the title, Steve Sinclair of Digital Extremes says it's a new name for an old concept the developer shelved but kept revisiting. The company feels comfortable pursuing the project now because of the increasingly popular free-to-play model. "Free to play lets us take risks," Sinclair said. You'll be able to play for free, but "enhancements" will be sold in the game's marketplace.

"We've heard for years now that PC gaming is dead. It isn't dead; it just went underground for a few years and is now re- emerging with this massively growing free-to-play market that has matured to the point where the quality of games we're seeing rivals many AAA retail games," said Digital Extremes CEO James Schmalz. "In many ways, we're going back to our PC action-based roots," he continued.

Although the game isn't expected to be available until the end of this year, you can currently register and reserve your in-game alias. Doing so will grant you access to an exclusive weapon when the beta begins sometime this fall. You can secure an earlier beta invite if you're willing to recruit three or more friends. Digital Extremes also plans share more details about a closed beta this summer.