At their core, Warframes aren’t terribly complex. They all move basically the same way and have four unique abilities. The 40+ Frames are basically character classes, but you can swap between them at any point — assuming you’ve unlocked them first.
So how do you go about getting them? Well, Warframes require a lot of work to unlock (assuming you don’t just outright buy them). Which makes sense, considering it’s basically like getting a brand new character every time you pick one up.
During your early hours in Warframe, you’ll be mostly be getting new Frames by way of bosses. Each planet has its own Assassination boss (some have more than one), and most of those bosses have a chance to drop one of the three Warframe components: Neuroptics, Chassis, and Systems. Typically, the chance of those three dropping are in descending order. So, Neuroptics have a higher chance than Systems to drop. Once you’ve got all three parts, you can (usually) buy the Blueprints to put them all together in the Market. Then, it’s time to build!
Other Warframe components and Blueprints can be picked up by way of certain Quests (Sands of Inaros rewards you with everything you need to build Inaros, for example) or through Clan Dojo research (which we covered in our main Warframe guide).
Once you’ve got a Warframe under your belt, it’s time to start leveling it up. All new Frames start at level 1, going all the way up to level 30. As you rank up your Frames, you’ll be able to put more and more Mods into them.
And that’s where things start to get complicated. Warframe Mods can do a whole lot of stuff, like increasing their tankiness, their speed, the strength and duration of their powers, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Most of the time, you’re going to want to be improving on the things that Frames already do well.
Let’s take Rhino for example — one of the oldest Warframes and one you’ll likely get early in your play time. Naturally, Rhino is one of the tankiest Frames in the game. So, you’ll want to make him even tankier. He’s one of the few Warframes with enough natural Armor to take advantage of the Steel Fiber Mod, which increases your Armor by a percentage based on the Mod level. You’ll be wanting to use his second ability Iron Skin a lot, gives him a massive damage buffer based on how much Armor he has — another reason why Steel Fiber is good. (Check our introductory guide to Warframe damage types.) But to cast it regularly, you’ll want to have Streamline (which reduces his abilities’ costs) and Intensify (which makes all of his abilities stronger). From there, you can toy around with other min-maxing opportunities.
Or let’s look at Ember, another early Frame and popular low-level DPS option. Most of Ember’s damage comes from her fourth ability World on Fire, which does damage over time to enemies within range. Of course, you’re going to want to slot in mods that increase that damage as much as possible (Intensify and Transient Fortitude are popular), increase its range (Stretch and Augur Reach), reduce its cost so it can stay on near permanently (Streamline), and give her as much Energy as possible to keep it on (Flow). Mods that let her get around the map as quickly as possible are always welcome, but not necessary.
Of course, to make sure you can fit all those Mods into a single Frame, you’re going to have to do some work. Installing an Orokin Reactor doubles the Capacity so you can slide Mods in, while Aura Mods refund some of your Capacity. What’s more, putting a Mod into a slot with its corresponding Polarity will halve the Capacity cost of said Mod. The tricks of the Warframe trade are taking advantage of every last bit of possible Capacity to get your Frames to their strongest state.
Formas help to do that, as well. Once a Frame reaches level 30, you can spend a Forma in order to change the Polarity of a slot, even giving slots Polarity that didn’t have it before. You can do this as many times as you want. However, every time comes at the cost of dropping the Warframe all the way back to level 1. If you want to add Polarity multiple times to a Frame, be ready to level it over and over again. It’s a process, and a long one.
If you’re baffled as to how to Mod your Frames, head over to the Warframe Builder page, where players can show off their builds, the most popular of which rise to the top. It’s an invaluable resource for learning how to build out your favorite Frames.
Head back over to our main Warframe guide for everything else you need to know about Digital Extreme’s loot shooter.