Hopefully, you’ve read my Warframe primer, which I wrote when I was still a bit of a beginner myself at around 20 or so hours into the game. When I wrote this article (the one you’re reading now), I had reached about 160 hours in game and had essentially reached the “end game” as a result. Buuuut I spent months sitting on the article, primarily for reasons of procrastination. Anyway… let’s pretend I wrote this today.
So! When I wrote this I was an end-game noob, but I figured it gave me a good opportunity to summarise the mid-to-late game, as Warframe has a second hurdle to navigate once you understand the basics – if you don’t know how to use your time (and mods!) effectively, you’ll start to feel like you’re treading water…
I won’t really go over the essentials again, but I will need to touch on them from time to time. If you are completely new to the game, I recommend you read my previous article linked above. Otherwise, read on (be warned: this is a long one)!
After the initial 20 or so hours, new players should have a grasp of the core concepts – grind through planetary mission nodes, complete junction prerequisites to unlock access to new planets, and start new quest lines once their prerequisites are achieved (often these require specific junctions to be unlocked). However, you may or may not have a second warframe, and you may or may not have new weapons beyond what is awarded in early missions. As the enemy level starts to increase (and in my experience, once it hits around level 20), you’ll start to find that your weapons aren’t as effective as they were previously, and mission types you were smashing through are now either a struggle or seemingly impossible to complete. In this article, I want to help you understand the more complex systems within the game, as well as to provide a basic framework for what players should essentially be chasing at this stage.
If you’re a few planets into the Star Chart (players that have gotten to Uranus or beyond can probably ignore this section and the next), and you’ve managed to come across a few blueprints, you’ve probably come to understand that certain items are not really available to players that haven’t played through much of the game. This is primarily because the resources required to build them are only available on planets deeper into the Star Chart. For this reason, your primary goal from the start of the game needs to be to unlock planets. The first thing you should do when you unlock a planet is to look at the shortest path to unlocking the junction node, then what the junction prerequisites are, and work towards them. You don’t want to be hamstrung by resources, so working your way through should be a priority. Of course, you can always make some high-level friends and get them to taxi you around the map…
The second issue you’ll come across is that certain items are Mastery locked – that is, you can’t even craft the item until you’ve reached a certain mastery. In reality, this isn’t hugely restrictive, as most warframes don’t have this restriction, and there are so many weapons available that the few locked behind mastery can wait. But definitely keep this in mind.
When you are ready to start branching out and trying new things, the first place to look is the marketplace. When you first enter, notice there is a button that can be pressed to show “blueprints only”.
Press that button.
Then enter the marketplace and have a browse. The info available in the market will show you a few things – initial stats, which will start to mean something as you progress, but most importantly, it will show resources required to build, and any mastery lock that is required. Find some easy to build weapons using the resources available to you, and build those. I’d recommend the Boltor to start (I think you actually get the blueprint from an early Junction), but there are so many good weapons and all feel different to play – it really depends on your playstyle. Try a bit of everything (but make sure you level everything all the way to 30, even if you don’t like a particular weapon – mastery is important).
Keep a close eye on blueprints you have, particularly those that you don’t have resources for. Your foundry will start to fill up very quickly, and things will get lost, so you need to keep your targets in mind, as the game won’t do it for you.
Lastly, when you are finally flush with credits, consider building an extractor, which can be bought from the marketplace. They are crazy expensive to both buy and build, but once you do, you can deploy them to a planet to extract resources for you over time. Very useful. Note that you can only deploy extractors on planets on which all nodes have been unlocked, and there is a limit to the number of extractors that can be deployed (which is based on Mastery level).
You’ll need to bring something extra into battle with you for support, and there are a number of options here. Much like weapons, they all cater to different playstyles but note that sentinels (basically flying drones) offer different functionality as compared with companions (Kubrows and Kavats). Of course, pretty much every companion that is available has a set of mods that apply to it, so regardless of what you take with you, you can build it into whatever you want it to be, in true Warframe fashion.
You will receive a blueprint for a Taxon sentinel very early in the game (from the first Junction in fact) – this is very useful, and I’d recommend building it ASAP. Note that levelling them does go towards Mastery, so once fully levelled, it would pay to look at how you can acquire an alternative, even if you’re happy with what you’ve got.
Chasing other weapons is one thing, of course, but if you’ve played for 25 hours with only one warframe, then you’re probably ITCHING to get your hands on a second. The good news is, this is relatively easy! The bad news? It involves a lot of grinding. This shouldn’t be a problem, because it’s likely you’ve realised by now that Warframe is a lot of doing the same thing over and over again – and just basically getting better at doing it.
Many blueprints for warframes drop from planetary bosses. Rhino parts drop from the Jackal at Fossa on Venus. Rhino is a fairly essential frame with quite standard utility, so I would make him a priority, at least initially (he is a solid tank that can provide good DPS and can easily sail you through to endgame), but you can farm a new frame from the boss on each planet, so there are plenty of options. Excalibur is now available from War on Mars, for example.
The probability of each part dropping is essentially 33% (it’s not specifically 33%, but I’m not going to go into detail on this – become friends with the wiki), so farming for Rhino, for example, simply means replaying Fossa over and over again until you have all three pieces (Systems, Chassis, and Neuroptics). you can then buy the main blueprint from the marketplace – for credits, of course.
Not all warframes can be farmed in this way – some are quest rewards. Some are random drops from specific modes (and farming these is THE WORST). Others drop from bosses that require keys that can only be crafted using resources that themselves are random drops with low probability. What this means is – some frames are easily come by. Others, not so much. Pick your battles.
Once you have a few warframe blueprints, though, you might start to notice some resources that you may not have yet. Argon Crystals, for example, or Nitain Extract – even Neural Sensors and Oxium. All of these are rare resources, and all will (at times) need to be farmed themselves. While Argon Crystals can only be found in the Void, they are randomly dispersed, and rarely come by (you might only find 2 per mission) – not to mention the fact they “decay” at a rate of half your inventory per day. Nitain Extract, to my knowledge, can generally only be obtained through Alerts.
For this reason, it is important to, once again, become friends with the Wiki. When you need to know where to farm for something, the Wiki can tell you. It doesn’t make it any easier, but at least you know what you need to do. From there, you need to do two things – repeatedly farm for those resources until you have the amount you need, and secondly, keep an eye on Alerts. Often you can grab Nitain or Oxium, etc., as a reward for completing an Alert, so it’s best to check on them between missions and keep an eye on notifications.
The grind is life. Not only will you need to grind for warframe blueprints and resources, as described above, but you’ll also need to grind for mods, and for affinity. I’ll go into mods a little later, but suffice it to say that many mods can only drop from specific enemies or mission types, and the good ones have a low probability of dropping, so once you know what you need, you’ll have to actively go after it. I’ll say it again – if you don’t like grinding, Warframe is not for you.
Probably the most grinding you will do, though, will be to level weapons and warframes, which you will do for various reasons. One – you need to get them to max level in order to have access to maximum mod capacity, naturally. Until they hit max level, they aren’t as powerful as they could be. Secondly, you may simply want the XP for your Mastery level – you might be chasing a weapon that is locked to MR8, for example, or you might just hate the weapon itself and want to free up the slot for something else (and, because you’re clever, you know to level it up fully before selling it off). A third reason is due to forma, which is something I’ve not yet introduced.
Forma is a resource that needs to be crafted, and it’s not so easily come by. Essentially what it does is it allows you to change (or add) a polarity for a mod slot on a specific device. You would do this in order to reduce the cost of a certain mod by half. Clearly, this is a huge benefit, as it allows you to use more mods, but it comes at a cost – using a forma on a mod slot will reset the item to level 0, and you will need to level it again. If you wanted to, you could use forma on all 8 slots, which means you’d need to level the item 8 times (9 if you include the first time you level it). Oh – it’s important to note that the XP is only applied to Mastery once, so applying forma is all in the name of power. At the end of all this levelling, though, your weapon will be a powerhouse.
Most players will have a favourite mission that they will play over and over again, and usually these will be an “endless” mission type, such as Survival, Defence, or Extraction. Once you start to reach higher power levels, you may come across random players grinding for as long as possible – sometimes hours in just the one mission. Keep in mind that certain mission types (Survival and Extraction, for example) do not currently allow players to extract individually, so it’s best to do these in private groups or solo if you don’t want to be trapped in a long mission (many players are sympathetic, but there are some meanies out there). Defence can be played in public groups, as you can extract when you choose. The good thing about this is – depending on the location – you can grind for affinity, resources, and mods, all at the same time.
Thought that was all the farming you’d need to do? Well, you thought wrong! Void Fissures and Void Relics are a thing, and they are something you’d best keep in mind. Void Relics drop randomly from various missions and rewards, and contain blueprints for prime parts. These can be prime weapons or warframes, or forma. Each relic contains 6 possible blueprints – 3 of which are common drops, 2 are uncommon, and 1 of which is rare. Players can use their Void Relic refinery console towards the back of their ship in order to refine relics using Void Traces (which are awarded on opening a relic, and from certain alerts). Refining a relic increases the drop chance of uncommon and rare blueprints. Relics themselves come in four types – Lith, Meso, Neo, and Axi – and these essentially refer to difficulty, Lith being easiest (Tier 1) and Axi being most difficult (Tier 4).
So basically, there are a whole bunch of parts that can be farmed from Void Relics, but they all come from different places, and there are different difficulties in terms of the missions required to open them. This means there are quite a lot of things to juggle, but realistically, early on you won’t have enough relics to make any concerted effort towards farming a specific item, so just play with what you’ve got. Parts for Paris Prime and Lex Prime are fairly easily come by early on (your mileage may vary), so chasing them would be my initial recommendation (and Lex Prime is arguably one of the best secondary weapons in the game, if it’s modded right). Then again, Lex Prime is now locked to Mastery Rank 8, so again, check the wiki.
Eventually you’ll have amassed a number of relics – at this point you can aim to collect all the pieces by farming specific relics. Playing with others is a must, though, as it increases your chances of getting a rare drop. At the end of each mission (or round within a mission), the rewards for all relics opened are available to all players that entered with a relic – but you can only choose one.
Don’t be dismayed if you get a lot of the same pieces over and over – you can never have too many forma blueprints, for example – and don’t sell them for credits. Keep in mind two things: one, prime pieces can be sold at any relay for Ducats – this is a prime currency that can only be used with a trader called Baro Ki’Teer. He’s only active for 48 hours every two weeks, but his gear is among the best in the game. Keep a lot of pieces just for this purpose, as his stuff is also EXPENSIVE.
On the other hand, prime parts can also be traded with other players. While you can trade prime parts for other prime parts (or mods, or what-not), most players trade for Platinum, the premium currency in Warframe, which can be used to purchase virtually anything outright, but primarily for cosmetic items, which generally aren’t available in any other way. Less rare items (like Paris Prime) don’t sell for much, but rare items can go for a pretty penny, so it’s important to keep sets of everything. The rarest primes are those that are no longer on the loot table (which is referred to in game as being “vaulted”), so if you hold onto something for long enough, and it is removed from the loot table, you’ll be able to score yourself a good amount of platinum. Keep an eye on warframe.market for an idea of the current going rate for everything, as you won’t sell it if you overcharge, or you might not make as much as you could otherwise. On the other hand, you also don’t want to pay too much when you DO have platinum to spend!
At first, modding weapons and warframes seems easy – and for the most part, it is. Eventually, though, you’ll be drowning in mods, and a weapon you thought might become a beast is starting to feel a little underpowered. Given the mod system in place, this shouldn’t really happen – there really are very few weapons in game that can’t be made effective with the right mods (although only a select few are top tier, of course).
There are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you need to max the rank of your mods via the Fusion process at the Mods console on your Orbiter. Yes, this will increase the drain on capacity, but it’s absolutely necessary if you are chasing power. Initially, you should aim to max important mods like Serration, Vitality, Redirection, Elemental mods, and so on, but eventually, you’ll want all mods you use to be maxed. Keep one copy of each mod unranked, and another (if you’re lucky enough to have three – some mods are rare) with only a couple of ranks. This will allow you to still use the same mods on partially levelled gear. Of course, maxing out certain mods is expensive, and I’m still yet to fully max several of the mods I’ve mentioned, but just keep it in mind!
Fusing mods to increase their rank costs credits and endo. Credits you can come across by doing missions – look for missions that used to be called Dark Sectors (there should be one mission on each planet that awards more credits than usual), or if you are further in the game, give The Index a shot (this is essentially a PvP mode against AI bots, played for credits and rare mods). Endo is harder come by – make sure you pick up every Ayatan Star you see (these are random drops from crates and lockers) and keep an eye out for Ayatan Sculptures. These are essentially trophies into which you affix Ayatan Stars. You can then sell these to Maroo (at Maroo’s Bazaar) for endo.
Eventually you are going to run out of mod capacity. At this point you need to make a decision – do I like this weapon/warframe? How MUCH do I like it? If you don’t like it, look for something else, but when you do find something you like, you have two options, both of which will be necessary to increase mod capacity. The first is in the form of Orokin Reactors/Catalysts (reactors for weapons, catalysts for warframes). You can only apply one to each item, but it will double the overall max capacity from 30 to 60. The issue is that these are very hard come by – there’s usually one alert per week, but of course this may happen while you’re asleep. You could, of course, buy them with Platinum, but that could become expensive (they are 20P a pop). You might be lucky enough to get one as a daily reward, but that will be few and far between. This is why you need to think about how much you like the weapon in question – if you don’t think you’ll still be using it at the end game, then maybe hold off for now… The other option we’ve discussed before – forma. Applying forma is totally necessary in the long term, but will be a timesink, as you’ll need to re-level the item. It’s worth it in the long run, but painful nonetheless. At the end of all this, you’ll be able to put (almost) whatever you want and turn the item into something unique.
At this point, the issue you will have will be in regards to the mods themselves. Common and uncommon mods are fine, but late game, they won’t be much help. You’ll need to find rare dual- and three-perk mods by grinding (this means a mod could have both increased damage and increased status effect, for example). Nightmare missions (which appear on a planet once you’ve unlocked all nodes) award dual-perk mods. Or you could go on a vault run on the derelict, and search for Corrupted mods – these mods are highly sought after, and essentially give a huge boost to one stat at the expense of another (huge increase to power strength at the expense of power efficiency, for example – so your abilities will be stronger, but cost more to use). Lastly, you’ll want to search for Riven mods. Riven mods are random awards from Sorties (more on that later) and from The War Within questline. These mods are specific to a weapon, and contain completely random stats. This could result in a supremely overpowered mod, or something somewhat useless. Riven mods come in different “dispositions” which essentially refers to the potential power level of a mod – weapons that are more popular have low disposition, so Riven mods are only moderately powerful, while less popular weapons have a higher disposition and can thus have a more powerful Riven. The issue with Rivens is that when they drop the stats are “veiled” – in order to unveil the Riven mod, you need to perform a specific task (such as stealth kill a certain number of enemies without setting off alarms, for example). Some of these are insanely difficult, some are easy – it’s entirely randomised. Note also that Riven mods are often Mastery locked – some of them can be locked up to MR18, so they are definitely leaning towards endgame.
Once you have a good set of mods and a few Riven mods, you should be fairly set with some weapons and frames that can get you through all of what the endgame has to offer.
I went into Mastery in some detail in my last post, and I’ve touched on it in a few places here already, but I guess the reason I added this section is to touch on the opinion that Mastery is not something you necessarily need to worry about after about MR5. No quests or locations are mastery locked. By MR5, you have unlocked Syndicates, Clans, and pretty much everything else of importance, so MR doesn’t need to be a focus. But it should.
Increasing MR increases the amount of Void traces you can hold on to – essentially allowing you to refine more relics. It also increases the number of resource extractors you can deploy, as well as the amount of Syndicate reputation you can earn per day. Every few levels, you unlock another loadout slot, enabling you to quickly change between preset Warframe/weapon loadouts (eventually you will have a few go to’s). Most importantly, it increases the starting mod capacity of a new weapon (this will essentially equal your MR – so at MR10, I now start every new weapon with 10 mod capacity).
Lastly, as you play the game more, there will be weapons that you will just WANT, but you won’t be able to use them until you hit a certain MR. Many players want the elusive Tirgris Prime, only to discover that it is Mastery locked at MR13 (and has recently been vaulted)!
Syndicates are essentially in-game factions that you can align yourself with for various rewards. Who you choose will be aligned with certain other factions (and thus increase your standing with them) and opposed to others (decreasing standing with them). As such, you can’t possibly be in good standing with all Syndicates. Those you are in bad standing with will occasionally send a hit squad out to attack you in missions. This is more of an annoyance than anything else, although initially they will prove a challenge.
At first blush, Syndicates seem more trouble than they are worth – pledging to one just gives you a new list of daily missions that you can choose to do for standing, and increasing your level within a Syndicate costs credits. In fact, each level costs more and more – painfully so. But it’s important to take a look at what each Syndicate is offering, as that’s where the value lies…
Each Syndicate has a set of mods that are (mostly) exclusive to them. These are all specific to a weapon or warframe, and they generally provide huge bonuses or augments to warframe abilities. Without a doubt, there will be items at each Syndicate that you will want to chase, so my advice is to not make your decision lightly, and don’t make it based on the narrative “policy” of the Syndicate. Be selfish – read the offerings, and choose a Syndicate based on a target mod or weapon. Everyone’s playstyle is different, so I won’t mention what I chose (although the image above makes it fairly clear) – take your time and choose what feels like a good match for you. That said, most players will work towards either the three on the left of the Syndicate screen, or the three on the right, as these have some synergy and can all be levelled together – at the expense of the other three.
Coming from Destiny, I never felt clans were of any importance. Sure, it was good to be part of a group of like-minded friends, and to have access to who was online etc., but there didn’t seem to be a great deal of benefit from being in a clan.
Warframe is different. Sure, you’re with a bunch of like-minded folk, and you can see who is online (and have access to a Clan-only chat, to send the odd message here and there), but here, clans have access to their own Dojo, which is basically a Clan-only social space. A lot of it is wasted space, but importantly, there is a spot for trading, and there are research labs. Trading is straight-forward – you can trade whatever in your own Dojo, with credit taxes going back into the clan, but research is the important part.
In a similar vein to Syndicates, research labs contain certain items that are specific to that research lab. This includes weapons, archwings, and even warframes. Some of these items are highly sought after, so the clan needs to work together to come up with the resources required to complete the research. Once this is done, any clan member can purchase whatever blueprint they want using credits. Many clantech weapons are amazingly fun to use, so I’d recommend joining a clan that has done a lot (if not all) research that is available to them. On the other hand, it’s also fun and rewarding to help supply the resources towards completing research.
Lastly, as clans level up, all members can be awarded bonuses – recently, my clan increased in level and we were all awarded 8000 endo each. Definitely nothing to complain about.
As you progress through the quests, you’ll gain access to certain mission types. Unlocking all nodes on a planet, for example, will unlock Dark sectors and Nightmare Mode missions. Completing The War Within quest unlocks access to a number of different mission types – Sorties, Kuva Fortress, and Trials (RIP).
Sorties represent your daily endgame content. Every day, there is a series of missions of increasing difficulty, which must be completed in a certain order, and with specific conditions. Generally, the first contains enemies of enemy level 50-60, the second at enemy level 60-80, and the third at enemy level 80-100. Conditions could be weapon restrictions (such as Sniper Rifle or Melee only), enemy augments (increased armour or resistance to status effects), or environmental effects (dense fog). Completing all three will award players with one potentially great reward (Riven mod or Legendary Core), or a lesser, but still equally rare item (Orokin Catalyst/Reactor, 4000 endo, 6000 Kuva, 3-day booster, etc.). These can occasionally be soloed but are best played in groups, and they are also susceptible to bugs, sometimes rendering them almost impossible to complete for that day…
The Kuva Fortress is a high-level location that moves around the Star Chart. It has an effect on nearby planets, turning certain missions into Kuva Siphon (or Kuva Flood) missions – essentially there is an additional objective added, which, if completed, will award the player with Kuva. What is Kuva? Glad you asked! It’s another endgame resource, usually restricted to blueprints for high-level gear, but it is also used to re-roll Riven mods awarded from Sorties. You’ll basically farm these missions whenever you want Kuva, but in my opinion, they add a fun new twist to the existing mission structure. In addition, DE recently added a Kuva Survival mode – this is mostly the same as the Survival endless mission type, but with Kuva as an added reward. This makes Kuva Survivals (or “Kuvivals” as I like to call them) the preferred method for affitnity grinding – unless you also require a specific resource.
Lastly, but sadly no longer available, is Trials. Trials were basically Warframe’s raids. Much like Sorties, they were split across multiple missions (so you don’t need to finish the whole thing in one sitting – at least that’s my understanding), but unlike sorties, you needed to craft a key in your Foundry in order to access them. Trials were recently removed from Warframe, as Digital Extremes was not satisfied with both player engagement, and with the systems involved. I understand they aim to rework and redevelop Trials, so I hope to see them come back, as it is content I was looking forward to completing.
The Plains of Eidolon update was released in October 2017 to PC, and November 2017 to consoles. The Plains are accessible very early in the game; however, much of the content is best played at a higher level. For example, due to the size of the map (it’s essentially an open-world map), players can best travel about using an Archwing, or a flying Warframe such as Titania or Zephyr (note: although the Fortuna update will bring K-Drives, which are essentially hoverboards). Newer players are unlikely to have access to these (and the ability to use Archwing in the Plains requires a device that can only be purchased from Clan research). Further, many of the new additions (weapon crafting, eidolon hunting) are skewed towards late game. Certainly, though, you should spend some time in the Plains once you reach mid game, because there’s a lot of fun to be had, and there are certain items that can only be obtained from the Plains – namely, the Gara warframe, and Zaws.
Zaws are modular melee weapons – component blueprints are awarded by doing Plains bounties, and players can mix and match components to build a weapon skewed towards their preference – like polearms, but want it to be slow and crit-based? Sounds crazy, but give it a shot! This adds quite a lot of additional content to the game, as well as a whole bunch of things to grind for, but all in the name of fun.
In addition, you can now waste time mining and fishing! This doesn’t really do much initially apart from providing resources, but admittedly, it’s more fun than it should be. Realistically, there is a hell of a lot of content available on the Plains. Once you can handle enemy level 20 and above, get out there and explore. I should note that mining and fishing is the only way to grind significant reputation on the Plains, and grinding Plains reputation is important for the late game, but for mid game, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a focus.
On top of this there are the Quills. The Quills are essentially another faction that is restricted to the Plains (for now). They will have you out trying to take down the hulking eidolons that roam the Plains at night, and you will be rewarded with things that will augment your late-game play. If it seems like I’m hiding things, well… that’s because I am. There are certain secrets in Warframe that should remain secrets. Play the Quests.
On that last note, there are some things you will learn about the Tenno while you play the main questline – particularly in The Second Dream and The War Within. I would advise you pay close attention to these quests and learn the new abilities taught, but I won’t spoil them in this article. Suffice it to say that these abilities are better suited to late game, which is why I alluded to them when I mentioned the Eidolons (although you WILL need to use abilities learnt in The War Within when attempting Kuva missions).
Much of what I’ve covered in the preceding wall of text outlines what your primary goals should be (apart from one thing, which I’ll finish the article out with). However, I’ve covered so much here that I thought I’d summarise quickly.
Last, but by no means least, there’s FashionFrame. not only can you apply colours to every frame and weapon in the game, but there are multiple skins available for anything and everything. At the late game, it’s not very cool to be traipsing about in your factory-standard Warframe. At this point, you’ve collected everything you want to collect, and applied all your favourite mods to make you somewhat overpowered – it’s now time to look good.
The issue here is that there are so many options, and they almost always cost Platinum. Once you get to this point, you need to think about whether or not you want to spend real-world dollars to make yourself look like a BOSS, or if you want to try your hand at trading. Given the amount of Platinum that can be made by selling common prime gear, it will probably take a lot of trading to make enough Platinum to make a difference, but I guess now you’re a serious farmer, you have all the time in the world…
This may have been a long article, but it’s far from definitive. I’m sure there were things I overlooked, and even some things I got wrong. In fact, I’m sure there will be some long-term players who may read this article that may think I’ve gone about things the wrong way, but so be it – like my beginner’s article, this is a mid-to-late game guide written by someone who has just gotten through that stage, so it’s all based on my experience.
There’s a lot of grinding to Warframe – I thought I hated grinding. I guess it all comes down to execution, and when it comes to Warframe, Digital Extremes seems to have implemented a pretty enjoyable system.