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Warframe early game tips and tricks guide

Early lore, weapons, and upgrades for Mercury, Venus, and Earth

Warframe - Rhino, a large Warframe, holds a hammer. Digital Extremes
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

In this Warframe guide, we’ll talk about what early progression looks like, as well as giving you a glossary of the first important terms you need to know.

Our Warframe beginner’s guide covers the absolute basics. This guide will dive into what early progression looks like, from enemies, to missions, to the timelines you can expect.

Table of contents

The Warframe lore you absolutely need to know

Warframe takes place in the Tau system at some point in the far, far future, when Earth is caught in a space war. The Tau system does not have advanced travel, and humanity is nearly extinct. There was a civilization called the Orokin, who had highly advanced technology and some very lovely white and gold aesthetics. The Orokin empire fell in something called the Old War.

You don’t know what the Old War is, and that’s totally OK. It’ll come up later.

After completing the tutorial and doing some missions, a character called the Lotus starts to direct the rest of the game. The Lotus is mysterious, but that’s by design. You are a member of the Tenno, an Orokin warrior caste. You’ve reclaimed your ship and AI from the era of the Old War, and now the Lotus is trying to control the galaxy by sending you on precision strikes.

The Void is an extradimensional, cosmic horror force that shows up throughout Warframe. It’ll be explained later, so just keep the basic premise in mind.

Once all of that is set up, you’ll meet the three factions.

Warframe factions

You can’t have a shooter without enemies to shoot. Warframe has three major enemy factions, and it can be confusing to keep track of who they are and why you’re in their territory. Not only do these factions have different lore backgrounds, but they have unique level layouts, enemy design, hacking minigames, and more.

The Grineer were augmented with Orokin technology and were part of the empire, but they were not the ruling class. They are ruled by the “Twin Queens”, and are augmented with Orokin tech. That tech is breaking down, and so the Grineer rely on quick fixes, technological augments, and cloning.

Grineer levels have lots of tanky enemies with big guns. Their security tends to be lighter and less sophisticated, but the enemies are meat walls. Their hacking minigame is a rhythm and reflex puzzle, where players need to hit the prompt as a cursor moves over each node.

Warframe - a shot of the Grineer hacking minigame
A Grineer hacking minigame
Image: Digital Extremes via Polygon

The Corpus claim to be descended from the Orokin and are a corporate, high-tech faction. They are ultra-capitalist and seek Orokin tech for profit, using sophisticated technology and powerful machines of war are to fuel an empire of war. When Warframe begins, they are on the back foot in their war against the Grineer, but they are still a major antagonist.

The Corpus have enemies that are individually weaker than the Grineer, but they have more tools at their disposal. Make sure you destroy Corpus drones, which often follow foot soldiers around, and watch for traps triggered by cameras and sensors in Corpus levels.

The Corpus’s hacking minigame is a pathing logic puzzle. Once all of the lines connect, the hack is complete.

Warframe - a shot of the Corpus hacking minigame.
A Corpus hacking minigame
Image: Digital Extremes via Polygon

The Infestation is the third faction. In the lore, these guys are essentially like the Zerg from StarCraft. They’re a mindless mass of monsters. There’s more lore to them, but it’s explicitly spelled out in the story farther down the line, so for now, don’t worry about it. Infested enemies can be modified Corpus or Grineer, in addition to their own gallery of units. Infested units drain energy and swarm the player, so you’ll want to focus big targets and run and gun the smaller creatures. They’re also vulnerable to fire.

Lore wise, this is all you need to know. It’s good to know the basics of who you’re fighting and why, but remember that your character is new to politics around here, so it’s OK that you only have the big picture view of these factions. The rest will either show up in your Codex or be told through quests later on. Just focus on playing.

OK, but there’s a lot of playing …

Warframe is super overwhelming!

In our Warframe beginner’s guide, we discussed your top priorities: completing blue diamond missions on your world map, working through paths to the junctions that connect planets, and keeping an eye on your quest log.

All of these steps will help you with your greater progression. But what goals should you be aiming for? And what does that even look like? Let’s go over some of the basics of what Warframe progress looks like.

The Operator is you, the player. Your individual Warframes are the suits that you use on missions. Warframes are somewhere in between a MOBA champion you pick for one round, and a MMORPG character that is a massive investment.

Warframe isn’t a loot shooter like Borderlands 3 or Destiny 2. Instead, you slowly unlock Blueprints and necessary resources over time. A Blueprint will allow you to create the chassis for a new Warframe, a new weapon, or a robot companion to help in combat. Building these items can take days at your Foundry. Do not spend Platinum on faster unlocks. Just apply a little patience.

While some upgrades and resources come quickly, others are a bit of a grind. Getting everything you need for a new Warframe or weapon might take a day or two of playing naturally or a few hours of grinding. Then, it’ll take a long time — 12 hours to three days or so — to build.

This isn’t a game about instant gratification. Just focus on individual missions first.

OK, so what do I look for?

You’ve started with one of three Warframes: Mag, Volt, and Excalibur. You also have a melee weapon, secondary weapon, and primary weapon. One of the primary ways to spend time in Warframe is unlocking and equipping new items.

Each Warframe has a unique set of one passive and four active abilities. These abilities unlock as you level up your Warframe. Make sure you’re using them regularly. You can check your Warframe’s specific abilities from the in-game menu or the Armory for more information about how they work. If you’re not enjoying your Warframe’s abilities, that’s OK. You’ll be able to switch soon. For now, just run and gun.

Each weapon is different as well, with various statistics and properties. Some of them will be locked behind Mastery Rank, which is your account-wide progress bar based on completed content and leveled items. Others will require a Dojo (a social and crafting hub for by a group of players), or materials you don’t recognize. Don’t worry — there’s lots of early stuff for you to focus on before you dig into these initially confusing things.

Go to your Armory, and then to the weapon slot you want to upgrade. Hit Equip, and it will bring you to a list of every weapon in the game. You can buy a few with credits outright if you like, but others cost Platinum. You can still get them for in-game credits! Click the weapon twice, which will take you to a new screen where you can purchase the Blueprint.

Warframe - a shot of the item details screen Image: Digital Extremes via Polygon

Once you have the Blueprint, it will be stored at your Foundry. Here, we went to the primary weapon category. Oh! Hey, we have everything we need for a new Gorgon!

Digital Extremes via Polygon
Digital Extremes via Polygon

If you don’t know where to find a specific resource, the best place to search is the Warframe wiki, which will tell you where to go. If you can’t get there yet, just continue hitting those blue diamonds and unlocking junctions.

As for Warframes, a few early bosses will drop the pieces you need to build them. A good first Warframe to build is Rhino, which drops from the Assassination mission to kill Jackal on Fossa, Venus. Everything you need for Rhino comes from this one boss fight, so it’s the perfect way to build your first new Warframe.

This information should help keep you on the early progression path. As you work your way through Mercury, Earth, and Venus, just keep an eye on what drops and your available Blueprints. Your starting gear will hold up just fine, though, so don’t be afraid to prioritize just completing missions and setting smaller goals.

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