Last updated June 12th, 2017 for update 20. Something out of date? Check wiki.
What is Warframe?
Warframe is a free-to-play player-vs-environment non-competitive science-fiction loot finding third person shooter game. You run missions to find equipment blueprints + crafting materials (loot), and power up your characters (warframes) to run harder missions. There is no base cost to the game, and no re-occurring subscription.
It can be played solo, or co-op with 2-4 players. It is light on story, and is more of a laid back fast paced runner. Load it up, run through a few missions, then queue up some crafting to make new equipment overnight (or in a few days) and log out.
Multiple Accounts: You may make multiple accounts if you wish, however you can be banned if you trade between your accounts, if you put your accounts in the same clan, or otherwise use one account to benefit another, especially when it comes to promotional events, login rewards or clan benefits.
How is it monetized?
Always a controversial question, and most people considering playing appreciate a sceptic rather than rosy view of the system. Here’s my take so far, I’ve ordered this list to have the most penalising aspects first.
Important Trading Note: You can trade some loot you find in the game to other players for real-money currency (platinum). Many players use this as their sole source of platinum in the game, and don’t contribute a dime to the developers.
Savvy Buying Note: Platinum goes on 75% sale through daily login rewards. Don’t buy the steam starter packs, and resist buying platinum when first starting out. If you want, buy some platinum when it goes on sale for you later to support the developers.
- Limited Slots: You have limited warframes (2 character slots), weapons (8 weapon stash space) and companions (4 non-player). Those equipped count towards your max. More are only available by paying platinum (real currency). Prioritise your free 50 starting platinum here, and only once you’ve played for a week or more first.
- Finish Timers: All equipment crafting takes rather long timers (most things take 12 hours to a few days), and you can pay to finish the craft instantly.
This should raise alarm bells for most cellphone f2p players, however since running missions for crafting materials is the main gameplay, you rarely feel that you must pay to keep playing. Treat crafting timers like daily rewards instead, they aren’t worth using platinum on.
- Buy Loot: You can pay real money to instantly acquire almost any loot in the game. In that way you can choose to pay to win (against the environment). Since finding loot is the point of the game and it’s non-competitive, some people call this pay-not-to-play instead. This is the most controversial part of the game.
- Buy Cosmetics: Some cosmetics can only be purchased with real-money. This includes alternative-art versions of warframes, but not warframe types themselves. There are still some cosmetics you can get by playing.
Your First Mission: A Tutorial
The first tutorial mission starts automatically and can only be played solo. It is rather short and goes through the absolute basics. Once you’re on your ship it’s done and you can group up.
Pick your first warframe. Every warframe (think of these like heroes) has 4 abilities, this is what makes them cool and different from each other. Since the game incentives trying everything eventually, Excalibur is the cheapest choice as it is the hardest to obtain of the three. Its 4th ability also does great damage. Volt is another good choice for speedrunning but is more easily farmable. Mag is currently a bit weak in the meta, but will get you to your 2nd warframe just fine. You can just pick the warframe that has the abilities that sound the coolest to you, it’s not a wrong way to play.
Pick your starter melee weapon, secondary weapon, primary weapon. The MK1-Bo staff has a short stun, the MK1-Kunai knives are silent for spy missions (the Lato pistol shoots marshmallows) and the MK1-Braton has nice fire rate (the bow is silent but slower). You replace these after the first few days, so ultimately pick what you think you’ll have the most fun with.
Small configuration tweaks can be worth making during this time to set up the game how you like, but I wouldn’t worry about most of the options. Hit ESC and pick options.
- Choose the right resolution for your computer and increase the Field of View (to max 78) under Display.
- Optionally set the mouse sensitivity you like (or leave default) under Controls.
- Turn on Toggle Sprint under Controls to save your pinky, though annoyingly tons of stuff sprint cancels so you’ll be having to re-enable it often, so some prefer not using this option.
- Consider turning on teammate hp/shields with Show Player List under Interface > HUD.
- If only playing with friends, consider turning off Region, Recruiting and Trade Chat under Chat.
- If ever you are prompted in the future to bind your account to the Steam Economy, I recommend saying No, don’t bug me anymore. Doing so will mean you can’t purchase currency with paypal in the future, only steam wallet funds.
Once you’re on your ship the first tutorial mission is over, and you can group up if you so choose.
Its more than ok to play solo, and you can enjoy almost all the content in the game this way.
At this point you choose to group up with up to 3 other players (max group size 4) while running almost all missions. Later in the game there are a few raid-style missions that allow 8 players.
Set your matchmaking policy hitting ESC and choosing it at the top left of the menu to what you prefer. Friends can be added under Communication menu.
Solo-only missions: As you play, a few mini-missions will only be available solo. Ranking up your account as a whole (Mastery tests) and unlocking a new planet of missions. These are usually short and your group can re-form after completing them.
Portrait / Avatar: Hit ESC, Profile, Glyph, change Sort By to “Owned” and choose the one you want.
Beginner Goals for first few weeks of play (in rough order)
- Finish the tutorial quest line “Vor’s Prize” co-op or solo. Each mission will typically have you retrieve a ship component, then back on the ship install and use a new station. If stuck look around the ship for a station to install the component in. There’s a mandatory craft during the quest line as well.
- Keep running and unlocking more missions until the whole map is available. This is more important than leveling up your equipment, but if you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to do that too. Having a high level stranger run a mission to unlock it for you is called Taxi’ng, especially to participate in time limited events (don’t worry about these yet).
- Level up your starting equipment by playing missions and/or repeating them, install mods you find and upgrade the mods too! You can store unlimited mods, but start with 8 weapon slots.
- Get your first companion/sentinel. Taxon is the recommended starter Sentinel, rewarded for completing an early planet Junction. A long term goal would be to grab Carrier blueprint for 100,000 in-game-credits after Saturn. You start with 8 companion/sentinel slots, though most sentinels use two slots each, like the Carrier. Ignore the dog quest line as sentinels provide benefits over regular companions, not just looks.
- Choose your second warframe, see the Second warframe section of this guide.
- Learn how to trade for platinum (real-money-currency).
Getting the most out of missions
Remember to set your matchmaking policy, after hitting ESC at the top of the menu.
In the beginning you will want to be unlocking missions more than leveling up your gear. You may find the first enemies trivial to dispatch, in fact to finish they often can be completely ignored! If you haven’t realised yet, you can button mash crouch (CTRL) then jump (SPACE) to move extremely fast, and can do it again in mid-air to move in any direction (even straight over buildings).
If you’re stuck or prefer a more relaxed pace, want to collect more crafting materials or level up your gear, consider slowing down. Dispatch more enemies and open crates along the way to the objective. It is almost never worth “full clearing” or fully exploring a mission map however, still try to move towards the objective then straight to extraction.
Public party matchmaking: You can invite strangers to your missions or join public parties running missions, however because some crafting materials drop more abundantly in low-level missions, you may find high level players coming in and blasting away your fun. If that’s the case try chat to recruit same-level players, join a clan with lots of other beginners, ask a friend to play, or solo it up.
Alerts, events, relics and keys: For players who have been playing longer, there are ways to run more difficult versions of missions, or run limited more difficult missions altogether. Don’t worry about these when first starting out, but make a mental note to check them out later!
Oh, and move your landing craft during loading screens, it helps pass the time. You can even paint it for free. Explore the menus.
Equip your Arsenal
After the tutorial you will have the Arsenal station unlocked which allows you to change (equip) what warframe, weapons, companion/sentinel and misc gear (like scanners). You can also upgrade these by equipping mods you find during missions.
Selecting upgrades. The level of the piece of gear (max 30) determines how much capacity is has for mods. By default a level 30 equipment has a capacity of 30. Gear has limited slots for mods but these are generally really generous, especially for the beginning of the game. If a mod slot has a symbol, then upgrading it with a corresponding matching symbol mod will use half the capacity, or more capacity if they don’t match. Slots with no symbol use their stated capacity. Later in the game you can use a one-time upgrade to double the capacity to a max of 60, as well as add symbols of your choosing to slots. These upgrades are very rare so save them until you’re no longer a beginner to use them!
Warframe upgrades: You want better Shields (redirection), and more Health (Vitality). They drop a lot and after the tutorial quest line you’ll likely have these two. Don’t worry about aura mods for now but explore if you’re lucky and find one.
Primary weapon: You want more damage. Serration is a flat dmg mod you’ll usually find after a day or two of playing, as well as any elemental dmg mods you find.
Secondary weapon: You want more damage. Hornet strike is the flat dmg mod here. Elemental dmg mods also help.
Melee weapon: You want more damage, and attack speed. Pressure Point is flat dmg, Fury is attack speed. Equip any elemental dmg mods you find. Don’t worry about stance mods for now but explore if you’re lucky and find one.
Note on elemental dmg and missions: Make a mental note that each mission contains certain enemy types, and each enemy type is immune to certain types of elemental damage. You won’t need to worry about this until much later when you’re no longer a beginner, but most players use the optional configuration loadouts B and C to have different elements for different missions. You might even pick a different warframe with different abilities!
Each mod that can be equipped into your gear (upgraded into it) can also have its rank increased using the Fusion option of the Mods menu.
Broken Mods: Know that you should never fuse a broken mod, which is just a shittier version of a regular mod. Instead use it as-is and replace it as soon as you can.
Confusing in-game terminology asside, Mods can be fused using a resource called Endo, which can be obtained by running missions, or dissolving mods you no longer need. Any mods that are currently equipped in gear will have a little medal displayed bellow their name. The maximum level and current level (lit up dots) of a mod is displayed as little dots bellow the name (and medal) of the mod.
As you rank up a mod, it will cost more capacity to equip, so be careful or you may find you can no longer equip it!
Mod 2.0 revamp: When consulting online resources, be aware the mod system used to function differently, where you’d combine multiple copies of mods to upgrade them. This is no longer the case!
You can also sell mods for in-game-currency credits, or combine 4 unranked (unfused) mods for a chance at a rare mod. Neither of these are worth doing when you’re a beginner.
It’s often better to have ranked up mods in your equipment than more mods. you may also want to keep a low rank mod around to equip in new unleveled equipment later.
Prime mods: These are mods you can trade to other players for platinum (real-world currency). The rarer the mod, the more valuable it likely is! See the Trading section. Hold on to these if you find any until you know what they are worth or if you’ll want to use them yourself.
How Mastery Ranks works
Mastery ranks are account-wide ranks that can limit what equipment all your warframes can use, as well as some other miscellaneous benefits. It is a rough estimate of how much of the game’s progress you have experienced. To increase it, simply level up a piece of equipment for the first time. After the first time you level any piece of equipment in the game to the maximum level of 30, it will no longer contribute to your mastery rank. Once you are eligible for a new mastery rank, you will be notified and can take a short solo-only test to rank up. You may only take one of these tests per day.
If you sell or equip another piece of a equipment before it reaches level 30 for the first time, you may find that you need to re-purchase or re-craft and relevel that equipment up to 30 later to increase your mastery rank. For that reason it is recommended to always level equipment to 30 before selling or changing it.
Choosing your first weapon replacements
Your starter weapons all have better versions you can craft, so once they are level 30 it’s time to upgrade by crafting replacements from blueprints. Once your new weapon is ready to claim, you can sell your current one to make room for its replacement! Try to only use up extra weapon slots for different types of weapons, a rifle vs a shotgun, instead of say 2 different shotguns.
You can choose whatever replacement you prefer.
Consider separating your starter 8 weapon slots into (source):
- Long and short range primary weapons (say rifle and a shotgun)
- Short range and long range secondary (to compliment your primary choice, say a shotgun/rifle and a high dmg pistol)
- Fast Melee and high dmg melee
- Two misc slots for something like a dagger or bolt type weapon
Choosing your second Warframe
Sometimes it is easier to run specific content with a specific warframe. Their abilities or base stats (like health and shields) can make them a better fit for a specific mission. Diversity is the key here.
Rhino is a great choice as a second warframe because the missions to farm its components are unlocked early, and it is a good mid-game tank. The warframe may suffer in the end-game but it will get you far. The warframe blueprint can be purchased on the marketplace and the rest farmed. Hit up the wiki to get started in figuring out where to go.
Remember that you need to craft several pieces to then craft a warframe, so it does no good to just craft say, the helmet, if you’re also not planning on crafting the rest.
Alerts are special rewards to run a specific mission at a specific time. As you play the game will notify you when alerts happen and what the reward is. This is one of the reasons why it can be important to have unlocked most missions ahead of time, you never know where the alert will be!
If you’re interested in tracking alerts and willing to login when they happen, there are websites that track them and can notify when a specific alert you’re interested in pops up. See http://deathsnacks.com/wf/
This can be really useful for reactor or catalyst alerts.
Learning to Trade
You can only trade while inside the Bazaar trade hub, or in your clan’s Trading Dojo, and only if you are at least Mastery Rank 2. You can trade any prime blueprint or prime mod to another player for either another item, or platinum (real-world-currency).
All trades have a in-game-currency tax cost, which the receiver must pay (to the system, not the seller) to trade any items. It goes up the more valuable the items traded are. The number of trades you can do per day is equal to your mastery rank. Each time you can trade up to five pieces of equipment.
This guide won’t go into huge details on how to set up and complete trades, however many players use trading to earn platinum for all their purchases, and never spend real-money on platinum.
Using a marketplace website like https://warframe.market/ is essential to setting good prices for your goods and finding buyers. Feel free to explore it and make your first trade!
Spending your first Platinum (source)
If you’ve maxed out your weapon slots with every type, and maxed out your two warframes, it may be time to consider using your 50 starting platinum.
Spending your first 20 platinum on 2 extra warframe slots would go a long way to make you start to get a feel for other warframes, and if those first two are really the ones you want to invest most of your time in. Even if they are, it can really be useful to have different warframes for different situations. You don’t need slots for every warframe in the game (after all, you can sell warframes you don’t like) but you should consider eventually having at least 6 warframe slots.
Then you’ll likely want to purchase 2 weapon slots for 12 platinum to give you some breathing room to try out some new options above without completely ditching your favourite. That least 18 platinum.
I wouldn’t use it until you’ve made your first trade, and earn at least 2 platinum so that you can spend another 20 platinum for 2 extra warframe slots again. An alternative would be if you’ve been really unlucky in finding the ultra-rare reactors or catalysts you can buy them to one-time powerup your favourite warframe or weapon. You’re better off waiting it out and getting them on alerts or daily logins, or with trading surplus however.
This would leave you with -2 platinum (you need to make 1 trade), and you’d have a total of 6 warframe slots and 10 weapon slots.
From this point on, you can keep progressing through the missions of the game and upgrading your gear to match, you should be good to keep going and explore the rest of the game!