It is widely agreed that poor planning leads to poor performance. Warframe is no exception to this rule. How your mission unfolds is determined largely before you even launch it. Picking the right frame and weapons is the first step on your path to dominating the Warframe Universe.
First and foremost, you need to understand the leveling mechanics within Warframe. There are two separate leveling styles that concern you: your item / frame level, and your mastery level. The former is tied to your items, whether they are weapons, frames, or sentinels, while the latter is your actual character level. The item level affects how many power points are available for mod cards to be installed, with items gaining one point per level. The mastery rank is used to determine what weapons and warframes are available to you. For example, Galatine requires a mastery level of three, while Scindo requires a mastery level of two. Mastery level also affects how many extractors you can place at once, as well as how many trades you are able to make per day.
Gaining affinity, Warframe’s version of XP, is simple. As you kill enemies with your weapons, complete mission objectives, and complete missions, you gain affinity. You can also pick up affinity orbs (the light blue globes that drop from enemies and crates), which add affinity to your currently equipped weapon and frame. As your weapons and frames gain affinity, they will level up, up to a maximum level of 30. Affinity is not shared across weapons; if you only use a shotgun for the entire mission, you will not gain affinity for your melee weapon.
There are two exceptions to this. The first is the completion bonus, which is awarded when you have successfully completed a mission and have made it to the extraction. If you are downed, and your team reaches the extraction without you, you will not receive the bonus affinity. The second is other players; when another player kills an enemy, you are awarded a percentage of affinity. 25% goes to your frame, and 75% is distributed evenly between all equipped weapons.
Gaining mastery ranks is slightly more complex. Rather than gaining mastery through direct actions, you gain mastery through leveling up weapons and frames, as well as completing a mission for the first time. What this means is that the more you diversify your frames and weapons, the faster you gain mastery ranks. You only gain mastery for leveling up items the first time you do it, so if you level your Galatine up to 30, then sell it and purchase a new one, you will not gain mastery for leveling it up again. This encompasses all levels; if you level a Galatine up to 17, sell it, then purchase a new one, you will not gain mastery until you level the new one up to level 18. What does this mean for you? It means that you should hang on to your weapons and frames so that you can gain mastery more efficiently. That Cronus that you are planning on replacing can still be put to good use; only sell it once it has reached level 30.
Once you have gained enough mastery points, you are eligible to perform a test. These are set tests for each level, and may be as simple as killing a few enemies with your primary weapon or as complex as platforming environments. Tests are always performed solo, and a failed test can be retaken after 24 hours.
Your weapon choices will dictate the tempo of your movement, as well as heavily affecting your playstyle. Loading up on weapons that specialize at long range engagements is a great way to increase your survivability, but will greatly hinder your forward movement and ability to deal with close range threats. This can be a benefit on missions that don’t have a time limit, such as a defense mission, but can be a massive burden during missions that require a high degree of flexibility, both in terms of movement and engagement distance. When playing as a team, however, it can be very beneficial to have one member that specializes in long range combat, both to pick weaker enemies off, and soften up tougher targets.
The point is that the situation dictates your loadout. The goal is to be able to analyze your upcoming mission and team and select a loadout that meshes well with your strengths while mitigating shortfalls to the best of your ability. On the other end of the spectrum, if you end up with a team of four Rhinos armed with shotguns and axes, you will have a tough time dealing with enemies that do AOE damage or that are resilient to melee damage.
Elemental effects are innate properties of a weapon and can also be added via mod cards. North Wind, for example, adds cold damage to a melee weapon. Multiple instances of the same damage type amplifies this damage. Furthermore, if you have more than one type of elemental damage, they can combine form a new damage type. Using North Wind (cold) in combination with Shocking Touch (electricity) will create the damage type of Magnetic.
Another thing to consider is what type of damage you do. The different types (slash, puncture, impact, etc) all have different damage modifiers based on their target. Elemental weapon damage is similarly affected. It is important to know what damage types are effective against your enemies and maximize your damage potential before a mission. For example, if you know you are fighting the Infested in a mission, you want to bring weapons that deal primarily slash damage, as well as frames or weapons that deal fire damage. However, that same weapon would be subpar when fighting Grineer.
The frame you select will have the greatest effect on your mission. Each frame is tailored to a specific playstyle, as is evident by the special abilities it gets. Rhino makes a poor sniper, as its Iron Skin and Roar (two amazing abilities) are rendered completely useless at long range. A good idea is to look at the list of available frames, and find one that suits your playstyle. Trinity, for example, makes a fantastic healer for a team, but can be difficult in solo play, while Rhino makes an excellent tank and does great on its own. As frames tend to level up quicker than weapons, you will find yourself maxing out your frame much faster than your weapons. If you end up sticking with the same frame, it is important to note that it will hinder your progression of mastery ranks, as you will not gain any mastery points for using a maxed frame.
As frames gain levels, they gain health, shield, and power. It is a good idea to keep a few maxed frames for more difficult missions, such as alerts and void missions. You can level your frames up quickly by using high-level weapons and doing missions of a medium difficulty, which will award more affinity than doing easy missions over and over again. Defense missions are great for this.
Frames can be crafted, or can be purchased with platinum. If you are not in a hurry to unlock a new frame, it can be well worth the wait to grind out the required blueprints and components needed to craft them. Four blueprints are required: helmet, chassis, subsystems, and a frame blueprint (bought on the market) that combines the three sub-assemblies into a working frame. The locations of the blueprints and the components required to craft them vary, but blueprints are almost always dropped by boss enemies; if you want to craft a frame, it’s a good idea to research which boss carries which blueprints.
Once you do have all of the components and blueprints, the time required to construct the frame is a minimum of 84 hours. Each of the sub-assemblies takes 12 hours (you can run all three at once, if you have the materials) to build, and the frame itself takes 72 hours.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Dkeh Weis.