Warframe – A Beginner’s Guide To The PlayStation 4′s Best Free-To-Play Title

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If you own a PlayStation 4, you really should be playing Warframe, the console’s free-to-play online multiplayer shooter. The game is centered around a team of futuristic ninjas, and it has a lot in common with the multiplayer found in Mass Effect 3. As you play, you will unlock new character classes, weapons and other assorted gear. You will also level your characters and equipment, and find loot drops from defeated enemies.

While Warframe can be loads of fun, it can also be a little intimidating for new players. There’s a general lack of explanation when it comes to the gameplay systems beyond a very basic tutorial. And immediately after that tutorial, you’ll be asked to make a choice that you’re in no way ready to make, when the game asks you to pick a starting Warframe.

While there are many different Warframes available — think of them as character classes — only three can be selected for free at the start of the game. Once you select one, you’ll have to wait a considerable amount of time before you’re able to find the parts required to build the other two. It’s not a choice that you should take lightly, and you should educate yourself before making your selection.

That’s where we come in. Though we’re not claiming to be experts in the game, we have spent a considerable amount of time with Warframe and have decided that the very least we can do for you, dear reader, is put together a beginner’s guide to help get you started. So, without further ado, check out our handy, dandy tips to the PlayStation 4′s best free-to-play title.


Selecting Your Warframe

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Excalibur is the “warrior” choice and the one who you will have just finished playing the tutorial with. His powers include dashing through a group of enemies and hitting several targets at once, a super jump that enables him to jump at three times his normal jump height, a blinding attack that temporarily disables the vision of every enemy around you, and an area effect attack that throws javelins in every direction.

Mag could be considered the “magic user” of the group. She can control and manipulate all metal in the area, which includes enemies, teammates, and even bullets themselves. Her pull ability allows you to pull an enemy close to you for a quick attack from your blade, or pull a downed friendly your way for a quick and safe revive, far removed from the enemy hordes. She can also deplete enemy shields and buff the shields of teammates, and create a large “bullet attracting” bubble around any enemy. Finally, her ultimate attack levitates all enemies around her off the ground, and crushes them with her magnetic powers.

Loki is pretty much the “thief” class. He specializes in deception and stealth. He can cloak to turn invisible to all enemies in the area — even those he was fighting with only a moment before — and can then proceed to melee attack them without breaking stealth, and with a rather large damage bonus. In addition to being able to place a holographic decoy of himself, he can also instantly switch places with his decoy, any enemy, or any teammate. This can be invaluable for getting a friend out of trouble, while simultaneously putting you where the action is. Loki’s final trick is his ability to disarm all enemies that surround him, which will make them resort to melee attacks.

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Once you’ve made your selection, it’s time to start thinking about movement. Movement is a big part of Warframe, and there are a number of movement combinations that you might not realize until stumbling upon them. All advanced movements and movement combos also have a stamina cost associated with them, but stamina recharges fairly quickly as long as you’re not running or otherwise engaged in an activity that drains it. Here are the three basic types of movement.

  • Running – As you run, simply jump and continue holding the jump button. Doing so will allow you to run horizontally along a wall, or run vertically up a wall. From a horizontal wall run, you can let go of the button to wall jump, which will launch your Warframe quite far. This is true even if you’ve only just started your wall run.
  • Sliding – While running, press and hold L1 to slide. Once you are sliding, your slide will continue until you choose to leave the sliding stance, or your momentum brings you to a stop. Sliding also allows your stamina to regenerate while keeping you moving. To stop sliding, you can use your melee weapon to do a dashing slash attack, jump to launch yourself considerably farther than a standard jump, or press the L1 button again to resume running.
  • Jumping – In addition to allowing the player to wall run, a basic jump can also be combined with a melee attack to perform a powerful downward thrust attack that will knock down most enemies. This allows the player the necessary time to charge up a strong melee attack as the enemy returns to a standing position, or follow up with a quick stab into the still downed enemy. Players can also hit the slide button while performing a running jump, which will result in a jump kick that can also knock down their opponent.
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Party Up

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Warframe is at its best when it’s played with a group. You might consider running a few solo missions to start off, but once you’ve levelled up a bit, you really need to start playing the game with some teammates. When playing with a team, you can’t instantly die in Warframe. Instead, you will be put into a downed state when you run out of both shields and health. Once you’re down, you can still shoot with your pistol, but you will die in a few moments if another player doesn’t revive you. If a player fails to revive you, it will only take one player to finish the mission, and you will still get all of the mods and bonuses that you found before dying.You can also choose to self-revive, but only four times per day.

Compare this to playing alone, where losing all your shields and health will not put you into a downed state, and the only way to continue the mission will be to use a self-revive. If you choose to end the mission before completion, you won’t get to keep any of the mods you found along the way, and obviously won’t get any of the end-level bonuses either.

Speaking of mods and other loot, each player gets their own loot drops, so there’s no worry about being teamed up with some random jerk who grabs all the best loot and leaves none for you. There are actually not very many reasons to avoid playing with random players. The most annoying thing that you’re likely to run into are players who want to rush to the end of each level while you want to explore, or vice-versa.

Warframe also allows players to join missions already in progress, so there’s no good reason not to play with a full group whenever possible. Play with friends if you can — and that shouldn’t be too hard to do in a free-to-play game — but be sure to play with other players.

Please note that in addition to being on your PSN friends list, your Warframe teammates also must be in a separate Warframe friends list. At the main menu, hit the options button and find them by searching through the in-game list.  Once added, you will be able to invite them and they will be able to join you.  This can be done anywhere on the mission selection screen. Then, just pick the same mission and the game will fill any vacancies in your team with random players.

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Levelling, Mods and the Importance of Fusion

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I’ve mentioned mods a few times already, but now it’s time to learn how they work. Your Warframe, primary weapon, secondary weapon, melee weapon, and sentinel — once you buy or build one — all have their own experience levels. All characters and weapons start at level zero, and gain levels as you use them. With every level gain, characters and weapons unlock the ability to hold more mods.

Mods are a little like trading cards that grant players additional powers. They randomly drop from enemies during missions and can also be awarded to the player at the end of a mission. Each Warframe and weapon can reach a maximum of level 30, which means that once you’ve reached the level cap, you would then have 30 mod points to play with. You can go beyond the 30 mark, but we’ll discuss that later.

Each mod has a numbered cost associated with it. If your Warframe is at level ten, and you’re using a mod that requires two points, then you’ll have eight points left to spend on your other mods. Mods are also class-based. You might find a mod that increases your damage with shotguns, your fire-rate with rifles, your reload speed with pistols, or the recharge rate of your shields, but these mods can only be used to upgrade those specific weapons or Warframes. You can’t put a pistol mod on your rifle, or a health increase mod on your melee weapon. Character specific abilities — such as the ones listed in the “Selecting your Warframe” section above — are also unlocked and upgraded with specific mods.

Once you’ve started finding mods, it won’t be too long before you’re finding the same ones more than once. The good news is that mods can be “fused” together to create a more powerful version of the original. While any mod cards can be fused together, fusing two of the exact same mod will typically give you the best results. You might find a pistol mod that does 15% fire damage. Combine that with another of the same 15% fire damage mod and you end up with a mod that does 30% fire damage.

The first upgrade usually only requires two mods to be fused together, but the next upgrade will often require two or three more mods to be combined, and additional upgrades after that point will require an even higher number of mods. Another thing to note is as the power of a mod goes up, so will the cost associated with it. If your 15% fire damage pistol mod starts out requiring four points, you can expect that number to change to five points once it’s upgraded to a 30% fire damage pistol mod.

One more thing you should also be aware of is mod polarity. Each mod, and some mod slots, have a symbol in the upper-right corner. If the symbols match, the cost required to install the mod is lowered by 50 percent. If the symbols don’t match, then the cost to install the mod is increased by 25 percent. The Warframe specific abilities have a polarity symbol that looks like two claw marks and you should make sure to install them in matching mod slots to get the most of your Warframe’s potential.

Once you’ve started maxing out certain mods, you’ll be glad to know that there are a couple of things you can do with unwanted mods. You can simply sell them for a small amount of credits, or take four unwanted mods and “transmute” them into a new mod. If you transmute four rare mods, chances are good that the resulting mod will also be rare. If you put common mods into the system, you’re more likely to get a common mod out.

Keep in mind that there are no do-overs if you’re not happy with the result. Once you choose to transmute your mods, you’ll be stuck with whatever random mod that you’re given. You should also note that unlike fusion, you don’t get better results by using the exact same mods. Lastly, in addition to specific mods, you’ll also find plenty of generic mods that can be used to upgrade any mod. This is especially useful for rare mods, as it enables you to level those mods without needing to find more of them.

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The Power Of Orokin Technology

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There are three very important items you should be aware of when playing Warframe: Orokin Cells, Orokin Reactors, and Orokin Catalysts. Orokin Cells are required to build most Warframes and weapons as well as Orokin Reactors and Orokin Catalysts.

I mentioned earlier that there was a way of going beyond the 30 point mod limit, and this is how that is accomplished. Orokin Reactors instantly double the number of mods available for your Warframe. If you install a Reactor at level 5, you’ll now have 10 points to allot to mods. If you have a Reactor installed at level 15, you’ll already have the full 30 point mod capacity of a Warframe that has reached the level cap. And when you reach the level cap of 30, you’ll be able to install 60 points worth of mods.

Orokin Reactors are also used to double the mod capacity of Sentinels, while Orokin Catalysts do the same for weapons.

The Foundry And The Marketplace

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Orokin Technology is not easy to get a hold of in Warframe, especially in the early sections of the game, which is why many players suggest using a bit of your starting platinum to buy an Orokin Reactor for your Warframe. If you don’t choose buy a Reactor, another other option is making one yourself once you’ve reached the later sections of the game. Then you’ll be able to find Orokin Cells and the other components required to build Orokin Reactors and Catalysts.

The building of new Warframes, weapons, sentinels, Orokin tech, and everything else in the game takes place in the Foundry. To build anything, a blueprint is required, along with any necessary components. Once you build the item, the blueprint will be destroyed. You can find some of the blueprints, or you can buy many of them in the marketplace in exchange for credits.

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The Economy of Warframe

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There are two forms of currency in Warframe: credits and platinum. Credits can be earned by playing missions and platinum can only be bought using real-life money. Players are also given a little starter platinum to get them used to spending it alongside credits. All players are given 50 platinum to start, while PS Plus members start with a total of 150 instead.

To give you an idea of the prices, an Orokin Reactor or Orokin Catalyst costs 20 platinum, while a sentinel will run you 75 platinum. Buying a weapon or Warframe without building it will also cost you. Weapons can cost anywhere between 65 and 240 platinum. Some Warframes — such as Loki or Volt — will only cost you as much as a sentinel, at 75 platinum. More advanced Warframes — such as Ash, Nova, Frost, or Nekros — will run you a total of 350 platinum for each. Mag is the most expensive starting Warframe, at 175 platinum, which is something you should consider when selecting your character at the beginning of the game. But if you can’t earn platinum in the game, and you can only buy platinum with real money, you’re probably wondering how much all of this is actually going to cost you in real life.

Keep in mind that there are ways to build just about everything in the game, so the following should be thought of as the price of shortcuts, not money that is required to be spent to actually enjoy the game. With that said, here’s the breakdown.

$4.99 will get you 75 platinum. $9.99 will net you 170 platinum. $29.99 — or half the cost of a brand new retail game — will get you 570 platinum. And this goes on until you reach the “best” deal, which is $149.99 for 3210 platinum and three mods. To get that much platinum at $4.99 a pop, you would have to buy the cheapest platinum package 43 times. This would would cost $214.57 for 3225 platinum, and no mods would be included. So you can see that you would be stupid NOT to spend $149.99 on the game right away, as it’s clearly the best value. And before I even start another paragraph, let me assure you that I am NOT being serious. Please do not spend $150 on this or any other FREE-to-play game.

At the very least, don’t do so in one transaction. To buy just the seven Warframes that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, it would cost over half of the platinum included in the $149.99 package, and you would still be missing about half of the available Warframes. And that’s not even including all of the weapons, sentinels, and other purchase options. But at the same time, you shouldn’t neglect your starter platinum. You can get a lot of gameplay out of Warframe without spending a dime, and even more by investing wisely in the occasional platinum purchase.

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How To Spend Your Money

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As I said before, the good news is that almost everything in the game can be built or found. Blueprints for new Warframes, weapons and more can be purchased with credits or found while playing missions. In addition to finding a blueprint and the right building materials, you’ll also be required to wait in real-life time while your gear is being built. Warframes themselves take the most time, as they require three days to construct.

Platinum, in most cases, is just a shortcut. The number of things that can only be bought with platinum is a fairly short list. It includes cosmetic items, such as a larger color pallet to paint your Warframe, and some cool scarves for your Warframe to wear. It also includes additional slots for new Warframes and weapons. When you first start the game, you are given a Warframe and can build one more before you need to essentially purchase an addition to your virtual garage of killing machines. These extra slots cost 20 platinum, which means that PlayStation Plus members can build and hold nine different Warframes, as long as extra slots are the only things they purchase with their starter platinum.

The alternative is to build a new Warframe, and then sell off one of your first two Warframes to make room for your third. Additional weapon slots are even cheaper, at 12 platinum for two fresh weapon slots. Because extra slots cannot be found or built in game, they are probably the best use of your platinum. Buying an Orokin Reactor or a Sentinel early into your first Warframe can also help you quite a bit when it comes to unlocking all of the areas required to farm the rest of the game’s Warframes and weapons.

And buying a new Warframe — while not really necessary — is certainly not the worst way you could spend platinum, especially when you consider that buying a Warframe outright includes a new Warframe slot and a pre-installed Orokin Reactor. These items alone would run you 40 platinum if bought in the store, effectively making cheaper Warframes seem closer to a 35 platinum investment, rather than 75.

You can also get a color pack for 75 platinum. While that might seem a bit pricey, it will allow you a much greater variety when selecting colors for your Warframe, primary weapon, secondary weapon and melee weapon. Each color pack only needs to be purchased once to be used on all of your Warframes and weapons. For the best variety, I would suggest either the basic colors, or the saturated version of the basic colors. You can also preview any color from any pack before you decide to spend the money.

Play Often And Be Rewarded Daily

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One last thing new players should be aware of is the login rewards system that Warframe uses. By playing daily, Warframe recognizes that devotion and rewards players accordingly. The rewards are randomized, and the best rewards are given to players who have played for at least seven consecutive days.

This can be very confusing at first, when you see a new pistol or melee weapon and are told to “claim your reward.” The login system will never simply hand you a new weapon. Instead, you’ll be given the blueprints required to create that weapon. You can also be awarded Affinity – Warframe’s name for experience, which will appear as a picture of a weapon, and can confuse new users. That picture simply indicates which item is gaining the Affinity bonus. The experience boost can be awarded to your primary weapons, your secondary weapon, your melee weapon or your Warframe itself.

In addition to blueprints and Affinity, you can also be awarded credits, rare building material, or keys to unlock special “void” missions.

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Closing Words

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I’ve already covered quite a lot here, and I haven’t even touched upon some pretty major topics — such as clans and building your own clan Dojo — but this is a guide for beginners, so there’s already more than enough here to digest and there’s certainly enough to get you started.  And so, I’m going to close this guide with several pieces of advice that didn’t fit elsewhere. If you have any additional tips for new players, feel free to leave them in our comments section below.

  • There are “auto-aim” options for both firearms and melee weapons, but many players feel that they’re actually a hindrance, especially the melee targeting. Try turning them off, and see if you agree.
  • Speaking of menu settings, you can pull the camera back to see more of your Warframe and the surrounding environment, or push it closer to get more of an over-the-shoulder viewpoint.  Experiment, and see which you prefer.
  • When you see doorways blocked by green lasers, you can slide through them. You can also turn them off, by shooting any security camera that can see you or any other player.
  • If you notice a sticky bomb attached to you, simply roll forward by taping the L1 button to safely remove it.
  • Holding the circle button over a fallen teammate will revive them, but they’ll be revived much faster if two or three teammates revive them simultaneously.
  • Crafting materials are often dropped by defeated enemies, and appear as yellow or blue puck-shaped containers. Yellow containers typically hold common components, while the less common often appear in the blue containers. Text at the bottom of the screen will tell you what you just picked up.
  • There is a progress bar in the upper-left corner of the main menu. This is your mastery rank, and it will increase as you play the game. When it is full, you are able to take a test that will allow you to continue to the next rank. Some weapons will not allow you to equip them until you have reached a specific mastery rank.
  • Missions with a skull next to them are nightmare mode missions, and missions with an exclamation point are Alert missions. You can get some great items from these missions, but you should avoid them–especially nightmare missions–until you have better gear, and are close to the level cap.
  • You should NEVER leave a mission. Warframe can be a bit glitchy game at times, but as long as one player is able to make it to extraction, everyone will be rewarded for completing the mission. I once actually joined a game, and my entire screen was black. I died almost immediately, but waited for my teammates to finish, and I still received a rare mod for completing the mission. Another time I was unable to enter an open door, due to an invisible wall that affected everyone but the host. After allowing enemies to defeat me, the host was able to finish the level, and we were all credited for completing the mission.
  • Finally, on the topic of glitches, Warframe launched on the PS4 with update 10. Update 11 is already available on PC, and will be coming to PS4 soon.  It features a new damage model, a new Warframe, new enemies, new levels, new weapons, and many other fixes and adjustments. The developers have also announced that they hope to allow PC and PS4 players to play together in the near future.

For more on Warframe, be sure to check out the excellent Warframe Wiki, which is especially useful when trying to learn where to farm specific building materials.

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