Warframe is an intimidating game. Sure, it’s a wildly popular and ridiculously fun free-to-play third-person shooter on Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but its accessibility and popularity doesn’t mean it’s easy to get into.
New players can feel overwhelmed after four years of continuous updates, an absolutely ridiculous amount of gear and an absurd amount of missions to play around in.
You might be jumping in because your buddy told you how good Warframe has gotten since its heavily panned release in 2014. Or maybe you’re curious because it’s always hovering near the top of the Steam charts. Or perhaps you’re just looking for something free to dig into.
If you find yourself overwhelmed at first — and you will — these are the things you need to know to make your first 10 hours of Warframe as smooth as possible.
DON’T STRESS OUT
Warframe’s tutorial is garbage. There is a ridiculous number of systems to learn at once, and the game fails to explain the vast majority of them. Feeling lost means you’re on the right track, and we all go through it.
Don’t worry about the stress too much in your first few hours. Get used to the basic movement and feel of the game, learn to bullet jump — that dope-as-hell diving move you see all your teammates doing — and just enjoy straight up destroying dozens of Grineer marines.
The beautiful thing about Warframe is that there’s not really a “wrong” way to play. Just about every weapon or titular Warframe -- both armor and classes in Warframe -- can be useful, provided the right play style and a few modifications. So don’t trip! You’re doing fine! And you’ll continue to do fine! This guide is just here to make your transition to a very unique game a bit easier.
Plus, you don’t have enough money or resources to truly screw anything up yet. You have nothing to lose.
Remember: One of the reasons for Warframe’s continued success is the fact that it’s just a blast to play. And you can bullet jump by running, pressing crouch, and jumping right away. Just FYI.
GET RID OF THOSE STARTING GUNS
You’re given a few “MK1” weapons for free when you begin the game for the first time, including a primary weapon, a pistol and a melee weapon. They’re ... kind of garbage. But what would you expect from free gear?
The three Warframes themselves you choose from are all solid, so just pick whatever sounds cool and appeals to you. It won’t be long until you can get whichever one you’d like. You don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about it, so please don’t. The goal is to get to the fun as soon as you can.
Whatever you choose, they’re fine to get you through the earliest missions of the game, but you’ll quickly realize that you’ll want something new. Luckily, the in-game shop has a few really solid options for upgrading your arsenal with minimal investment on your part.
Your first step will be to save up 25,000 Credits — you’ll get a few thousand Credits every mission — and grab yourself a Braton from the Market. Yes, you had the option to pick up a Mk1-Braton as your starter weapon, but the Braton you’ll buy is superior. Alternatively, if you’re more into shotguns, the Strun is a solid option. There are no bad choices this early in the game, but this is the path of least resistance and quickest progression.
As for secondary weapons, nab an Aklato for 15,000 Credits. Not only will you get a significant upgrade in power, you’ll also get to run around with some sick dual handguns, Max Payne-style.
You’ll have to wait a bit for a new melee weapon, but you have a chance to pick up a Blueprint for a Cronus once you kill the first boss in the game, so go ahead and get used to what you’ve bought for now to cut through anything in your path. The blueprint and craft system will be explained later.
If you want even more gear, it’s worth noting that every boss you run into in Warframe is guaranteed to drop a part of a Warframe Blueprint, so running them repeatedly will ultimately result in a full set of gear. We never said this couldn’t be a grind.
Other Blueprints can be purchased from the Market for Credits, but make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before picking any up. Some of them are quite expensive and you won’t have all the resources needed to build them right away, and some even require fully completed versions of other weapons purchased from earlier blueprints.
Before buying a new blueprint, make sure to take a look at the Market to ensure you’ve got all the materials you need to build it. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to check out in the Market itself. As you can see, I have everything needed to build a Soma rifle.
You’ll have to level up and a whole bunch of different weapons to advance in warframe as the game progresses, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new gear. Trying new things is part of the fun.
Warframe is a game about finding Blueprints for new gear and then collecting all the resources and Credits needed to craft them. That means you’re going to spend a lot of time looking for that one last Neurode (get used to looking for Neurodes), just waiting to fire up the Foundry so that it can pump out that shiny new Warframe.
Just remember that once you’ve rounded up all of the materials for your gear, it’ll take somewhere between 12 and 72 hours to craft it, depending on the gear. Some weapons take 12; others take 24. Warfames themselves take a full three days to put together. Of course, you can spend real money to speed that time up, but there’s just so much to do in Warframe that there’s no real reason to pay up if you’re not impatient.
There are two forms of currency in Warframe: Credits and Platinum. You get Credits for, well, doing just about anything. Platinum is the real-money currency (this is a free-to-play game, after all.) You’ll get a bit of Platinum just for logging on, but hold onto that for a bit. It’s best to know what you’re using it for before you go through it all.
Every other resource in the game can be collected by running missions. Each planet has its own set of resources (those pesky Neurodes, for example, are most easily found on Earth at early levels), so picking up whatever you need for your next late-game crafting project will see you grinding it out on whatever planet has the resources you need. For the most part, though, you’ll largely get what you need to make most early-game gear just by playing normally.
A lot of resources, and other things that can be important later, can be picked up by running Alerts, which are timed events that crop up regularly. When they do, you’ll see them in your Navigation screen in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll also get a notification whenever a new one pops up.
Their rewards are randomized, but you can find some seriously good stuff in there by checking them regularly. Because new Alerts area always popping up, go ahead and do whichever ones you’ve got available. There will always be more to do!
Finally, there’s Endo. Endo is used to level up mods. Let’s get into that whole thing.
UPGRADE, UPGRADE, UPGRADE
You’ll begin to mod your gear once it’s crafted and ready to go. In Warframe, mods take the form of cards that you can attach to whatever weapon you want to upgrade. They can do anything from increase the shields and health of your Warframe to adding fire damage to your rifle to increasing the attack speed of your sword, and a million other things in between.
The Mod screen is confusing at first, but I promise, you’ll get used to it. Also, try and find that Split Chamber rifle mod as soon as possible.
The more you use any particular weapon, the higher its level becomes, giving it the increased capacity to use higher-powered mods. The power of each particular mod can be increased by spending Endo to upgrade them. The higher level of the mod, the more capacity it takes up. You can use a lot of low-levels mods or a few highly powered mods, but you only have a set amount of points to spend per weapon.
You can also double your capacity slots by using Orokin Reactors (for Warframes) or Orokin Catalysts (for weapons). If you happen to get your hand on either earlier than expected, don’t drop them into your gear until you’re absolutely sure that piece of gear is something you’re going to want to stick with for a while. Oh, and if you ever see someone referring to “gold/blue potatoes” in-game, these are what they’re referring to. They look like potatoes, you see.
Late-game Warframe is all about min-maxing your mods to match whatever gear you’re using, but for now you should just focus on leveling up one or two mods per weapon to rise in power along with the game’s difficulty curve.
For Warframe mods, start leveling up the Vitality and Redirection mods to increase your health and shields, respectively. You’ll need to be tank-y enough to survive as you progress. It makes everything easier, and you’ll be able to contribute more to your group without putting them in as much danger.
For Primary rifle weapons, start with the Serration mod to increase its damage, then start leveling up elemental damage mods like Hellfire (Heat damage), Stormbringer (Electricity), or Infected Clip (Toxin). If you’re lucky enough to find yourself a Split Chamber mod in the early game, that can be a massive spike in the power of your gear.
A note: Shotguns, bows and sniper rilfes have their own set of mods, but for your first few hours, focus on figuring out rifles.
For pistols, you’re looking for Hornet Strike for straight up damage, Convulsion, Pathogen Rounds, and Heated Charge for elemental damage.
For melee weapons, level up Pressure Point and Fury to start. Anything else - for now - is just gravy.
In case you were wondering, elemental damage add to each weapon’s damage output to all enemies, but certain enemies are more susceptible to certain types of damage. You can also combine elemental damage mods to create different types of damage. But that’s just a bunch of math that you don’t really have to worry about for now, so let’s move on.
If you’re missing any of the “basic” mods, you can throw a request for them into the game’s chat. Seriously: Warframe has a famously kind and giving community, and there will more than likely be someone willing to help a fellow Tenno out.
Don’t have enough Endo to level up all those mods right away? Again, don’t stress about it too much. You’ll get more Endo just going about your day-to-day life, along with some more options to grab more in mission-specific instances. Worst case scenario, you can sell off any duplicate mods you find for Endo.
Oh, one last thing: Attaching mods to a weapon doesn’t consume them. You can have the same mod in a bunch of different weapons. When I started playing, I hesitated to put mods in because I didn’t realize that’s how it worked. For real; don’t stress. You can always get them back. Modding a weapon is not a forever decision.
So you’ve got 50 Platinum from your first login. Cool! That’s great. Don’t go spending it (or buying more, unless you want to nab one of the introductory deals!) willy-nilly.
For starters, you’re going to want to invest in new weapon and Warfame slots. You start with the capability to hold just a few things in your armory, something you’ll very quickly outgrow as you begin to craft more and more gear. Whenever you cap out on your ability to hold more gear (and you will, constantly), dropping 12 Platinum is the way to go.
Note that you can still craft gear if you don’t have slots to actually pick it up. The gear will just have to hang out in the Foundry until you can nab it.
Things to not spend your Platinum on right away: speeding up crafting time (unless you’re super desperate to play around with your new Warframe), new color palettes for your gear (unless you want to look fabulous) or other cosmetic items (fashion Frame is the true endgame). All of these things are fun, but you shouldn’t be messing with them yet. The good news is that you have more than enough fun things on your plate already.
If you find yourself enjoying Warframe, dropping a few bucks on more Platinum may be something the comes into your radar. The most frugal way to grab some is to wait for the daily login reward to hand you a Platinum discount, so keep your eye out for that sweet, sweet 50 percent off coupon — or, if you’re super lucky, 75 percent off.
OK, look. That’s a lot of info. I get it. So let’s set some goals for your first 10 hours of play. If you manage to pull all of these off, you’ll be in good shape for what comes afterwards.
- Learn to get through a level quickly by way of bullet jumping.
- Get enough credits to buy Braton (rifle) and Aklato (dual pistols) from the market.
- Fill up your weapons’ mod slots with damage mods.
- Get some survivability mods leveled up for your Warframe.
- Learn where you get the resources you need for gear that looks cool to you and get crafting.
- Try out new stuff early and often. Find a style of play you like and get good at it. Then try something else.
That’s basically it! Everything else is just getting used to the systems and sheer amount of information that Warframe throws at you at any given moment.
One last thing: It’s okay to look stuff up. I’ve been playing for hundreds of hours and still constantly head over to the wikis to figure stuff out. If you’re stuck, the list of player-made resources over on the Warframe subreddit is great for both beginners and those looking to get deep, deep into its loot-filled world.
There’s a huge community of helpful, welcoming people that play Warframe, and they’ve compiled one of the most complete set of resources I’ve ever seen for a game. So don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something!
Or, you know, to create a bunch of spreadsheets to keep track of the stuff you’re looking to craft, just like some people writing this article. We never claimed being this into Warframe wasn’t a sickness, but at least it’s a fun one.