Once you have your platinum, it’s time to spend it. Whether you trade it with other players or directly with Digital Extremes, Platinum can be used either to obtain the few things that can’t be obtained in the course of normal play, or to bypass the time-consuming grind needed to obtain many items. Either way, it’s not always immediately clear what is worth the money or not.
First and foremost, Platinum can be traded with other players for mods, Prime equipment components, blueprints, and “arcane” cosmetic helmets with game stats attached (unlike all current cosmetic helmets, which have no in-game effect). You can use Platinum to skip the grind to get the last piece you need for a build, or turn excess Prime components, duplicate mods, or helmets into some extra spending money. To trade, one person (who must be in a clan with a trading terminal) invites the the other to their clan dojo. Trades are limited: players can’t trade until mastery rank 2, players can make only one trade per day per mastery rank, and players must pay a token tax in credits based on what items they’re receiving in the trade.
The player market in Warframe is very informal. It’s carried out almost entirely in the in-game Trading channel, personal chats, and on forums. Because the dealmaking is ad hoc and the market is shallow, it’s very inefficient. This offers opportunities for profit: a new, hot item that isn’t actually all that hard to get may sell for 80pt or more during the busiest hours, and 20pt during the off hours. It also means that actually finding what you want for a non-extortionate price will often be an exercise in frustration. WFTrading is a useful resource to get an idea of baseline costs for items, but prices on very new, discontinued, or special event items are never consistent.
The informality and anonymity makes it the wild west for scamming. While Digital Extremes does not condone scamming and will likely crack down on frequently-reported offenders, players are reminded every time they open trade chat that any trade that is not in the trade window will not be enforced. Always make sure that everything you want is in the trade window before accepting, always be suspicious of offers that involve four or more items at a time, and never trade anything in return for promises.
While you can make or spend Platinum dealing with other players, the main use for it is for buying game features from Digital Extremes. The options are fairly typical to free-to-play games. There are two kinds of things you can only buy with Platinum: cosmetic items and inventory slots. Everything else is a way to bypass grinding or daily limits, either by simply selling items you’d normally need to grind for, raising or refreshing limited uses, or speeding up resource earning rates.
First, let’s talk about what doesn’t cost Platinum. The in-game market freely mixes items sold for in-game credits and items sold for Platinum. In general, blueprints to make an item in the Foundry item-crafting screen and other consumables cost credits, while completed items cost Platinum. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it should help you find what you’re looking for.
Most cosmetic items are only available for real-money purchase. This includes color palettes, alternate weapon camouflage schemes, cosmetic armor attachments for your warframe, alternate models or attachments for your floating sentinel pet, Clan emblems for your warframe or sentinel, and trailing attachments for your weapons or warframes (called “sugatras” or “syndanas”, respectively). Almost all of them can be used every warframe and weapon. (Weapon camo is specific to a particular weapon, and some sentinels and warframes have special cosmetics specific to that particular piece of equipment.) None of these have any in-game effect. and all can only be obtained by buying them directly from the in-game store for platinum. You can also skip the in-game store and simply equip them in the Arsenal screen; if you try to equip any cosmetic items you don’t already own, you’ll be prompted to buy them immediately.
Cosmetic helmets are a special case. They’re fairly expensive (75pt, same as a color palette), and they can only be used on the warframe you buy them for (or the prime version, if one exists). There are two ways to get them in-game, but neither is very reliable. Blueprints to make them can appear as rewards in randomly-appearing “Alert” missions. However, Alert missions pop up approximately every half hour or so all throughout the day, and have completely random rewards. Veteran Warframe players will slowly accrue untradeable random helmet blueprints if they do alerts as they pop up, but if you want a specific helmet, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it any time soon. “Arcane” helmets, which were discontinued in the PC version of Warframe in a recent patch, have minor stat modifiers, are tradeable, and can be converted to non-Arcane helmets with no stat modifiers for a token cost in credits. Most of these arcane helmets go for less than 75pt, assuming you can find a willing seller. That said, discontinuing Arcane helmets was a long time coming, so many newer warframes, like Valkyr, Hydroid, and Zephyr, never had tradeable arcane helmets to begin with.
If you’re in the market for cosmetics, make sure you look in the “Bundles” section of the in-game store. This is the only place to buy user icons, even if you’re only buying one at a time. It’s also the only place to buy bundles of matched cosmetic pieces, such as the cosmetic armor pieces for warframes or the cosmetic attachments for sentinels. These bundles are a good deal compared to buying the items individually, and if you want one item from the set, you are likely to be interested in the others. The other cosmetic bundles, on the other hand, are mostly a bad idea. The sugatra, color palette, and multiple warframe bundles only make sense if you are planning to buy every single included item; one single unwanted item makes them worse than an à la carte purchase.
If you’re not concerned with cosmetics, the main in-game purchase you can only make with Platinum is inventory slots. Inventory slots aren’t sold in the market; rather, you can buy them in your inventory screen on the Arsenal interface, or simply buy them when automatically prompted when you try to take out a piece of equipment you don’t have room for from the Foundry. Warframe inventory slots cost 20pt, weapon inventory slots cost 12pt for two slots, and sentinel inventory slots cost 12pt. While the eight sentinel slots you start with are likely to be sufficient for anyone but the most devoted collector, the 10 weapon slots and two warframe slots will fill up fast. There’s no reliable way to get additional slots without paying, either. (You can technically get an additional slot whenever you earn a special item from a limited-time event, but you would need to sell the special, irreplaceable item to free up the slot in order to use it.) More slots is one of the best ways to spend your free initial platinum.
Almost as essential are “potatoes”, or Orokin reactors and catalysts, so called because of their resemblance to a foil-wrapped potato. For 20pt each, these are one-use consumable items that permanently double the mod capacity of a weapon (catalysts) or warframe/sentinel (reactors). Since mod capacity can be turned directly into survivability and damage, they’re a straightforward pay-to-win advantage. While you can get potatoes through the course of playing the game, the primary to get them is through alert missions. They appear irregularly as random rewards through the alert mission system, just like cosmetic helmets. Digital Extremes also posts a special, day-long alert mission with a reactor or catalyst reward every time they post a Devstream video, about every two weeks. Outside of these alert missions, you will have to pay to win or live without.
Beyond these, you’re no longer buying looks or power, but instead convenience. All of the other options in the store either allow you to bypass farming the various dungeons, or speed up that process. They’re all obtainable through normal gameplay.
You can buy slots and potatoes indirectly. Any time you buy equipment with real money, you get a free slot for the item and a free potato upgrade for that item included with your purchase. In the case of sentinels, both the slots and upgrades for the sentinel and the sentinel’s weapon are included. (This applies to all equipment bought with real money, including Prime packages, the previous Humble E3 Bundle, etc.) This means that you’re getting a free 40pt value included with warframes, a 52pt value included with sentinels, and a 26pt value included with weapons. Both equipment from bundles sold outside of the game, such as Prime Access and the recent Humble E3 Ticket Bundle, and equipment sold for Platinum in the in-game store receive the free slot/upgrade.
Equipment bought through the in-game store is a mixed bag. Weapon pricing has no discernable pattern whatsoever. The one consistent quality of weapon pricing is that weapons are exceedingly expensive for what you get. Most weapons in Warframe have little to distinguish them from any other, and almost all of the guns you can buy with Platinum are easily obtained by buying their blueprints for credits and farming for materials. It’s hard to justify spending up to $10, especially when all you’re getting is an assault rifle, pistol, or sword.
The only weapons worth even considering buying are the ones normally only available through clan lab research, like the Amprex, Phage, Marelok, or Jat Kittag. The value proposition is better in this case, but still quite poor. These have more demanding crafting requirements, and can only be crafted if you’re a member of a clan who has completed the necessary research in the appropriate lab in their dojo. Even so, none of them are so difficult to obtain as to warrant their price tags.
Warframe pricing is just as arbitrary, but they’re a more reasonable value proposition. While most weapons aren’t worth using except to raise your mastery rank, each warframe has its own unique playstyle, and none are unarguably outclassed. On the other hand, most frames are relatively easy to obtain in normal play, and aren’t worth the 225 to 375pt they cost to buy outright. The exceptions fall into one of two different categories: starter warframes, and difficult-to-unlock frames. Two of the starter warframes, Excalibur and Loki, and a former starter warframe, Volt, each cost only 75pt. This is only 35pt on top of the cost of the included inventory slot and Orokin reactor. It’s a very cheap way to expand your stable. The other warframes worth buying aren’t as cheap, but involve a lengthy grind or wait in order to construct them. Hydroid, Vauban, Zephyr, Nekros, and Oberon all require some hassle to build.
The best value of the buyable equipment are sentinels. Sentinels are floating combat pets, and, while they aren’t difficult to obtain, building them comes with a hefty pricetag of in-game credits. Buying them outright with Platinum only costs 75pt each, and they come with 40pt worth of potatoes (one each for the sentinel and the sentinel’s included weapon) and 12pt worth of sentinel inventory slots. While the sentinel inventory slots aren’t terribly important, a few dozen Platinum is a small cost to get your first sentinel early on when credits are tight. Even veteran players may want to buy a Helios sentinel outright to avoid the Oxium farming grind to build it.
Speaking of Oxium, you can also buy raw materials for crafting directly. This isn’t a very good deal, since it’s a small amount of effort to farm most raw materials easily. The main exception is Oxium, which is difficult for new, undergeared players to gather, and a time-consuming farm in any case. Players building a Helios sentinel, Zephyr warframe, or Nikana sword may just want to skip the grind and buy Oxium directly: 30pt for a bundle of 300. Any other raw material is more easily gathered by purchasing a resource booster and farming the areas where it drops.
Boosters cost 40pt, last three days, and increase one of four different categories. You can buy boosters for equipment affinity/XP, credit earnings, resource pickups, and resource drops. The three-day timer starts ticking as soon as you buy them, so try to buy them before an extended play period, like a weekend off. The two resource boosters stack, and for most purposes are functionally identical. The only difference is that the resource drop chance booster works for your entire party, while the resource booster only affects you but works on non-random resource drops (particularly Oxium).
You can also buy Formas directly with Platinum. Formas are similar to potatoes, but to a lesser degree. They’re are used to adjust the mod slot polarities of your equipment, increasing their mod capacity in an indirect way. Doing this resets the item back to rank zero, similar to “prestige” level reset options in games like Payday 2 or Marvel Heroes. Formas are also used as crafting materials to make certain weapons. While you can earn Formas in-game, they require a certain amount of grinding in order to find the blueprints and rare crafting materials needed, and you can only build one Forma per day. Beyond that, your only options are to grind for exceedingly rare Forma rewards from certain endgame dungeons, or buy Formas for 20pt each. This can be tempting, but there’s little call for more than one or two Formas a day, unless you’re both building the equipment that needs them and also grinding out more than thirty levels per day on your equipment.
Avoid Warframe’s random packs. Warframe’s mod system is superficially similar to collectable card games, and like such games, mods, fusion cores, and tower keys are sold in randomized packs. Unlike those games, the packs are a bad value, since mods, cores, and keys are a natural byproduct of playing Warframe. Mod packs are a bad value because you’re not at all likely to get anything of value, whether you buy the cheaper or more expensive packs. Fusion core packs are a poor value since you can buy fusion cores from other players, generally for much cheaper. Void key packs are the worst value, since most of the keys are now easy to obtain. There’s just no reason to bother with the randomized packs.
Some of the most obscure options are also the worst. Each frame you own can self-revive in a mission four times daily. This refreshes each day, and each frame you own has its own pool of revives, so there’s little need to pay the 12pt price to refresh your revives. You can buy credits directly, buried deep in the bundles section of the in-game market, but the conversion rate is awful. You can pay to rush building an item in the foundry, but doing so often can add up fast, and items rarely take more than a day to build anyway. None of these are a good value for your money.
Platinum gives you the freedom to have more gear to choose from, choose how your equipment looks, and choose to skip past the worst of the grind. There’s no wrong way to spend it, but consider carefully the value you’re getting out of what you buy or trade for. It’s easy to trickle it all away, and be left with nothing to show for it.