Warframe is almost impressively obtuse. The free-to-play loot shooter layers systems upon systems upon systems, all of which have an impressive amount of depth to them. Unfortunately, the game is almost aggressively uninterested in making sure you understand any of it.
There’s Warframes to mod, guns and swords and crossbows to craft in the Foundry, Dojo rooms to build, Endo and Mutagen Samples and Argon Crystals and, well, a whole bunch of other stuff. Like, a lot of other stuff. Be ready to grind.
To help you on your journey into one of the biggest — and best! — free-to-play loot games out there, we’ve got a bunch of tips and tricks for making your Tenno the best Tenno that it can be.
You can read for general advice, or hop over to one of the following pages if you’re looking for more specific advice.
Warframe: How to acquire warframes and equip mods
Warframe: Damage types, how they work and when to use them
Warframe prime relics: how to get the best gear
Warframe: Farm credits via the Index mission
Plains of Eidolon expansion: Bounties, Fishing, Mining, and Eidolon Hunting
General tips and help
Like any good loot game, Warframe is all about doing the same thing over and over again in order to get better and better stats. But unlike a game like Diablo III or Path of Exile, it’s not a linear progression. Rather than simply farm out the same item over and over again with the hopes of getting better and better stat rolls, Warframe is all about getting new gear and using mods to upgrade them.
Just in case you were wondering, the titular Warframes are effectively suits of armor that each has its own set of abilities (both active and passive), and stats. Whenever you change your Frame, you’re basically playing a new character class.
When you’re first starting out, don’t stress too much. Just get a feel for the movement, figure out what kinds of weapons you like, and generally just learn how the game operates. You won’t understand a lot about what’s going on, but thankfully Warframe is just a really good shooter in its own right. You don’t have to understand all the systems going on underneath the hood.
So how do you get all of those Frames? Let’s go over some of it.
The Star Chart
All of Warframe’s missions are organized into a huge galaxy map called the Star Chart. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more and more missions. Unlocking everything is key for having all the options necessary to get all the stuff you want. So, do that first. Unlock everything.
Remember to take a look at the Alerts in the top-right portion of the Star Chart. You’ll want to do a lot of those when you’re starting out, and later on for specific types of resources. Do all the Nitain Extract Alerts. Just trust me on that one.
Getting new gear
When you first load up Warframe, you’ll be given a choice between three Warframes (Volt, Excalibur, and Mag), two melee weapons (a bo staff and a sword), two primary weapons (an automatic rifle and a bow), and two secondary weapons (a pistol and some kunai). It doesn’t matter which you choose, as you’ll be replacing most of them pretty quickly, so just pick up whatever you think is the coolest. The only note is that Volt is harder to farm up in the late game.
There’s a ton of ways to get new gear. First and foremost, you can buy certain weapons from the in-game Market. I’d recommend picking up a Braton for your primary weapon slot and the dual pistols Aklato for your secondaries relatively quickly, as they offer significant upgrades over your starter gear.
As you play through your first few hours of Warframe, you’ll find tons of resources and gear components. Typically, you’ll be able to use those resources with Market-purchased Blueprints to craft new gear in the Foundry. Crafting new gear usually takes somewhere between 12 (for guns and Warframe parts) to 72 hours (for full Warframes). Or, you can rush the building process by paying Platinum, the real-world money option — this is a free-to-play game, after all.
To craft Warframes, you’ll need to grab four components: Neuroptics, Systems, Chassis, and Blueprints. You’ll get those components a few ways, but most of your early Frames will come from farming bosses on specific planets. Mars boss Lieutenant Lech Kril, for example, drops the parts for Excalibur, so murdering him repeatedly will get you the ability to craft that Frame.
Other Warframes will come from a variety of other sources, including quest rewards, reputation bonuses, research in a Clan Dojo (we’ll get to Dojos later), and random drops off normal enemies (Oberon parts drop off of Eximus enemies, as an example).
Primary, secondary, and melee weapons operate similarly. Many weapon Blueprints can be purchased from the Market, but others have to be farmed or researched. Just make sure you head over to the wiki to figure all that out.
Finally, there’s Archwing gear.
There’s also Prime gear, which we’ll cover in our Relics guide.
Each and every piece of gear you use on your mass-murdering loot journey has its own level rank. As you play with them, they’ll level up, improving their stats and giving them more slots for installing mods (which we’ll get to in a second).
Every level you gain improves your Mastery Rank score, which is your overall account level. Raising your account level offers a bunch of benefits, not the least of which unlocking new gear. But it also gives all of your weapons a minimum amount of mod slots corresponding to your level, the ability to farm more reputation on a single day, the ability to hold more Void Traces (which you use for Relics, which we’ll get to), among a couple other things.
Mastery Rank is important, but it’s not the end-all be-all. You’ll typically get it pretty passively if you’re just playing Warframe enough.
Once you’ve reached a new level, you’ll be asked to take a Mastery Rank Test, which you have to complete to advance. You’ll get one attempt every 24 hours at the test, so look up what you’re getting into beforehand. Most of them aren’t terribly hard, and you’ll continue gaining Mastery Rank points even if you don’t complete them, but you won’t fully rank up without finishing your exams. Kind of like school!
Once you’ve got your gear loaded, it’s time to power them up. Most of your power will come from the mods that you insert into your gear. Mods look like little cards that you can slot into your Warframes or weapons on the — you guessed it — mod screen. They do everything from giving you more shields or health, adding damage to your weapons or abilities, affecting your movement speed, or even some changes that only affect a very specific piece of gear. There are hundreds of mods in Warframe, and the mod screen can seem intimidating at first, but don’t stress too much.
Every mod has Capacity Drain, which tells you how much power it uses when installed into a piece of gear. Typically, the more powerful a mod is, the more capacity it drains. When you start off, your gear’s mod Capacity will be its item level. But there are ways to give you more capacity, including installing Orokin Reactors or Orokin Catalysts in Warframes and weapons, respectively, to double up your Capacity. Aura mods in Warframes and Stances Mods in melee weapons also give more Capacity.
See those little symbols on some of your mod slots? Those are Polarity symbols. Mods have them too. If you put a mod with a symbol into its a mod slot, the Capacity Drain of that mod will drop in half. Polarity management is a huge part of min-maxing your gear, so pay attention! Just don’t put the wrong Polarity in, that will double the Drain.
Mods themselves can be leveled up using Endo, one of the many, many resources in Warframe. Of course, each level increases a mod’s Capacity Drain. You can get Endo by doing the weekly Maroo’s Bazaar quest and selling your Ayatan Treasure reward back to Maroo herself — but only after you put Ayatan Stars into it. That sounds complicated, but it’s pretty simple. You find Ayatan Stars out in the world, and they can be installed into Ayatan Treasures as an option on the mod screen.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to do with a particular piece of gear, customize it! Toy around with mods and see what you like. Or, head over to Warframe Builder to see what people have been doing with their gear.
See something you don’t have yet? Well, there’s probably a good reason for that. Some mods only drop off of certain enemies. Some are rewards for doing more difficult missions. Some of the most powerful ones are purchased from Baro Ki’Teer, a wandering merchant that pops up every so often a la Destiny’s Xur. Many of them are picked up purely by grinding out certain missions over and over again. Or, you know, you can buy them from the player-run market.
Once you get deep, deep into Warframe, Formas will become your best friend and biggest annoyance.
Mostly, you’ll be using Formas to slap additional Polarities on your gear. Once you hit level 30 on a weapon or Warframe, you can hit it with a Forma to give one of its slots a new Polarity symbol, opening up even more Capacity. But once you do that, the weapon will lose all of its levels, making you level it up a second time to fully utilize your new Polarity slot. It’s a lot of work to properly Forma up your gear, so be sure you’re ready for the commitment if you’re going to go through the process.
Be careful, though. Formas are also used to craft certain pieces of gear, raise up in reputation ranks, or used to create rooms in Dojos. So don’t go spending them willy nilly.
How do you get a Forma? Well, a lot of ways. You’ll get Blueprints for them as rewards for certain missions (Alerts, Invasions, Orokin Derelicts, and some Orokin Voids, for example) or from Relics (which we cover more in-depth here). From there, just like the vast majority of things in Warframe, you’ll have to craft them.
Okay, so. You need the materials to craft something. You need some Neurodes. You need like 400 Plastids (it’s always those damn Plastids). You might even be low on Ferrite, god forbid. That means it’s time to farm.
The best way to go about that is to go to whatever planet happens to have the resources you need. Thankfully, the Warframe wiki has a handy sheet for figuring out where you should head to nab specific resources. All resources except for Nitain Extract can be found while running missions. For Extracts, you’ll have to do Alerts that reward you with them.
One thing to note: If you need Argon Crystals, make sure you’re ready to use them quickly after you pick them up. They will start to decay 24 hours after you pick them up. You’ll lose half of however many Crystals you’ve held onto for more than 24 hours at midnight GMT. If you run out, it’s back to the Void for you! Farming, ahoy!
Just like any good RPG, Clans are a big part of Warframe.
Joining up for a Clan has a lot of benefits, but mostly it gets you the opportunity to research gear that can’t be attained anywhere else. First, you’ve got to build the various Lab rooms that unlock the ability to research new gear. Then, you’ve got to put in the resources to research gear. That takes 72 hours per piece of gear. Then, you’ll buy the blueprints to actually build the things you want. It takes a while and costs a lot of resources, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
For most solo players, upkeeping a Dojo and researching everything on your own can get quite expensive. But if you have a group around you (or find one while playing), anyone can contribute to the research costs. That way, you can split up the cost.
Sorties are as close to MMORPG-style raids as Warframe gets. Unlocked after completing The War Within quest, Sorties offer up three missions per day that must be completed in order. All three are more difficult versions of normal missions, culminating in a much more difficult version of a boss fight from the main game.
Each mission will have specific conditions that make them more difficult. Some will erase your shields, others require you to only use a shotgun or melee weapon, while still others will reduce your movement speed.
To pull off Sorties successfully, you’ll likely want to pull together a strong squad of four players with strong gear and good mix of DPS, crowd control, and tank Frames. A defensive or healer support Frame can help, too. In public matchmaking, consider running a Frame with strong crowd control like Vauban, just to make sure your team has the support needed to complete it.
Assuming you complete the Sortie, the rewards are strong. Most often, you’ll get an Ayatan Sculpture, but you can also pick up a powerful Riven mod or even a Legendary Core, which can be used to max out any mod you have for no cost. Make sure you hold onto that for something really important.