Warframe Beginner’s Guide: How to Get Started With The Online Shooter In 2024

Warframe Beginner’s Guide: How to Get Started With The Online Shooter In 2024

Warframe feels like it has been around forever. And yet despite being 11 years into its run as a live-service game, it still has a thriving fanbase, thanks to a crucial combination of community goodwill and a game that’s legitimately fun to play and is always getting cool, new stuff. But for those considering jumping in, Warframe can look pretty dense and unapproachable. In some ways that’s true, but in other ways it couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’ve been considering joining Warframe for a while or have recently been drawn in thanks to the intriguing cyberpunk flavor (and Ben Starr voice acting) of upcoming expansion Warframe 1999 (hi), we have a few tips to help you sift through the deluge of stuff Warframe dumps on you from the jump. This is based on my own experience getting started in just the past few months, so rest assured this advice isn’t coming from a seasoned vet who may miss the forest for the trees a bit.

So grab your favorite robot/ninja/frog-person and let’s get started. Well, I’ll help you with that part too.

The stakes are refreshingly low

Screenshot: Digital Extremes

Before anything else, it’s important to frame the experience appropriately so you don’t immediately drown. Free-to-play games can be pretty meta-heavy, and if you start reading about Warframe or even playing it blind, you may find that there’s way too much information coming from multiple angles all at once. If nothing else, take this from me here: you don’t need to give a shit about anything to enjoy Warframe.

The whole game is basically a series of missions in which you go out to a stage, beat the stuffing out of bad guys, pick up all the junk they vomit, then go home and make your robot ninja frog’s numbers go up. There isn’t really an important PVP element at all, and the ranking system is entirely tied to your personal progress. The best way to enjoy Warframe is to take your time and just do whatever looks interesting. The appeal is in doing cool video game stuff, and all the metrics and stats and other nonsense is secondary. If you gel with the basic combat mechanics, that’s the whole point!

Which Warframe should you pick? How about weapons?

Screenshot: Digital Extremes

First things first, you gotta pick your freebies. There are tons of different Warframes and weapons to collect, which involves either lots of farming (do this) or spending real money (don’t do this). But as is the case with these kinds of games, you get some starting equipment for free.

You can pick one of three starting Warframes:

  • Mag
  • Volt
  • Excalibur

I picked Excalibur, because it’s a generic sword man. Not lots of thinking involved with this one. Many players swear by Mag though, because it has easy-to-use abilities that will draw enemies right to you in clumps, stun them, and let you bonk them to death with little resistance.

Nobody really cares about Volt, apparently.

Weapons come in three categories: primary, secondary, and melee. You can choose between two options in each category.

Primary

  • Mk-1 Braton – assault rifle
  • Paris – bow

Secondary

  • Lato – pistol
  • Kunai – uh, kunai

Melee

  • Skana – sword
  • MK-1 Bo – staff

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to pick the assault rifle over the bow, unless you’re one of those bow sickos who thrived back in the 2010s when every FPS suddenly had one. The secondary weapon doesn’t make as much of an impact, but it’s worth noting the kunai are good for not tripping alarms if you care about being sneaky.

Finally, if you’re playing as Excalibur, it only makes sense to pick the sword. But otherwise the staff is really good, especially when it comes to hitting multiple targets with regular attacks. And if you’re Mag, using its powers to bunch enemies together and pull them in makes the staff an incredible tool.

Fill out the Star Chart

Screenshot: Digital Extremes

The worst part of information overload in Warframe is simply not knowing what to do. A lot of different routes are open to you from the beginning, and it’s easy to get distracted with each new thing you unlock and get lost. Instead, try and put the blinders on and focus on simply playing all the stages in each planet. That’s the Star Chart, which is basically a map of all the planets you can visit with points of interest all over it.

As you fill in the Star Chart you’ll find, more or less, an organic path through the game. Paths to other planets are big milestones that double as barriers with specific requirements, but especially early on you’ll likely obtain what you need well before you clear all the levels. Try to hold off on actually leaving Earth if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and take each planet one at a time.

Modding is The Thing, forever

Screenshot: Digital Extremes

The biggest part of Warframe’s progression, and perhaps one of the most intimidating, is modding. As you play the game, you’ll earn these cards that fill up your modding inventory, and each one offers some kind of stat bump. You get mods for your Warframe and each weapon, and things like pets down the road. Try not to overthink this stuff at first, and simply equip what you have the capacity for as you go.

The effects of mods range from obvious (bumps to health, damage, armor, etc.) to more complex (status conditions, elemental damage/resistance, etc.). And as you dive in more, you’ll get to things like upgrading individual mods and upgrading your capacity so you can actually make space for upgraded mods. But this is the long game. Don’t get caught up in trying to maximize this part.

Most importantly, don’t sell mods for credits! Choose the other currency instead, which is explicitly for upgrading mods and is much harder to come by.

Try the Duviri Paradox

Illustration: Digital Extremes

If you want something a little more streamlined to ease you into Warframe from a gameplay perspective, you can try the Duviri Paradox. This is a separate mode that’s kind of roguelike-y, and has its own self-contained story and reward systems. It’s also one of several options to check out if you simply need a break from the regular grind!

Lore comes later

Illustration: Digital Extremes

One thing you hear a lot from the Warframe community (and other online game communities, shout out to the Final Fantasy XIV kids) is how awesome the story is. And when you jump into the game and are mostly met with a bunch of loot grinding and menus to drown in, the whiplash is understandable. The answer, as in other cases, is to stick it out a while because the story starts much later.

If you’re really curious but disappointed that things aren’t popping off right at the start, the unfortunate reality is that you’re playing a game that evolved over the course of a decade into what it is today. And you gotta get through the onboarding before you get to the stuff that came after Warframe became a big deal. So if you’re vibing with the combat and loot loop, your patience will be rewarded with more lore and storytelling moving to the foreground. But don’t stress yourself out trying to find it. The story will come to you as you keep playing and progressing.

Keep the Wiki on standby

Screenshot: Fandom / Kotaku

I tend to hate this advice, but I want to stress how unnecessary it is while you’re still getting your robo-froggy feet wet. The Warframe wiki is a tremendous community resource that will be your best source of information for anything going on under the hood. If you have questions about how something works, or some other minutia to optimize your build, hit the wiki. But until that point, don’t worry about it too much. Just know it’s there, waiting for you, when you need it.

Hopefully this helped! It’s admittedly easy to feel intimidated by Warframe at first, as fun as it looks. Heck, I tried two or three times and bounced off before the stars aligned and it clicked. Now I’m having a blast, and all it took was thinking about the approach a little differently. Remember, there’s no actual pressure to do everything and perfectly engage with the Warframe meta. This isn’t a competitive game by most accounts. Instead, pick stuff that looks cool and fits how you like to play action games, make your way through the story and decide what you think of the game on your own terms. It’s much less stressful that way. Before long you’ll be playing “Fashionframe” with all the other vets.


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