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A Warframe beginner’s guide

Warframe is one of the most popular free-to-play titles on the market, with more than 50 million registered accounts across all available platforms. First launched in 2013, the game has continued to grow over the years and has accrued an impressive amount of content, keeping the community engaged and active. That’s great news if you’ve been playing since launch, but anyone looking to jump in today has a massive learning curve to overcome.

Whether you’re tackling Story Missions, navigating the Star Chart, or upgrading your Mods, there’s a lot for new players to wrap their heads around. Thankfully, you don’t need to understand everything Warframe has to offer in order to enjoy its fast-paced combat. Here are a few things all beginners should understand and accomplish within their first 30 hours of playing.

Further reading

Bullet jumping and basic controls

Warframe 4
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The first thing new players will notice about Warframe is just how fast the gameplay is compared to other titles. Each multiplayer match you join will probably consist of three teammates who are zooming around the map at high speed, performing ridiculous acrobatics, and leaving you in their space-ninja dust. This game is all about speed and agility. Learning how to efficiently move about the map should be your first priority.

It’s definitely intimidating, but don’t worry — you’ll develop the same expertise with a bit of practice. The first step on this journey, though, is mastering the Bullet Jump. This method is briefly touched on in the game’s tutorial, so pay close attention and make liberal use of it throughout your time with Warframe. In essence, bullet jumping allows you to propel yourself forward much faster than if you were simply sprinting. It’s an easy maneuver to pull off, too — just sprint, slide, and jump! Bullet jumping can also be used to quickly get yourself out of dangerous situations — something newcomers are bound to encounter.

Once you’ve run a few missions and know how to bullet jump, take a look at the Settings menu and adjust your controls as needed. There are dozens of ways to tweak your experience, but most players will benefit from these minor adjustments:

  • Toggle Weapon Zoom: ON (Best for PC)
  • Toggle Sprint: ON
  • Toggle Crouch: ON
  • Field of View: MAX

The Star Chart and Story Missions

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

The first few missions you play in Warframe will introduce you to the Star Chart — a sprawling network of planets and other celestial locations that is home to all missions in the game. Many experts will recommend that new players occupy their first dozen hours clearing every node on this map. And we agree, working your way through the Star Chart is an excellent opportunity to familiarize yourself with all facets of Warframe.

However, it’s also important to start clearing Story Missions. These are periodically unlocked as you navigate the Star Chart and reward you with unique items. Keep in mind that just because you can start a Story Mission doesn’t mean you should. Often, Story Missions will simply be too difficult for your current gear, making it a frustrating way to spend the beginning of your Warframe career. Here’s the best order to tackle these chapters:

  • Vor’s Prize
  • Once Awake
  • The Archwing
  • Stolen Dreams
  • The New Strange
  • Natah
  • The Second Dream
  • The War Within

There are plenty more Story Missions than the above, but these are a good introduction to the lore of Warframe and a great way for a beginner to use their time.

The basics of crafting

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

This is where many people quickly become overwhelmed. At first glance, the crafting system of Warframe looks like a convoluted mess. There are weapons to build, components to craft, resources to gather, and a marketplace that offers a dizzying number of items.

However, once you understand how crafting works, you’ll realize that it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s the gist:

  • First, you’ll need to acquire a Blueprint for your item of choice. These can be purchased on the Marketplace with Credits and Platinum, or found during your time playing Warframe.
  • Once you’ve got a Blueprint, head over to the Foundry on your Orbiter. Here you’ll be able to look at the Blueprint and determine what resources are needed in order to craft the item.
  • Many valuable items will require you to craft other components before they can be built. For example, Frames require you to craft their Systems, Chassis, and Neuroptics, which in turn require their own blueprints and resources.
  • Resources vary by location, but common resource drops are listed on the Star Chart prior to starting a mission. Just hover over the drone icon at the lower right-hand side of the screen to see the details.

If you have all the required components, you can begin the crafting process at the Foundry. You’ll have to wait for the item to be built, and times vary wildly based on its value. Some weapons might only take a few seconds to craft, while others will be sitting in the queue for days.

Mastery, Mods, and Warframe upgrades

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

Warframe‘s leveling system is also a source of confusion for newcomers. Missions will indicate the level of enemies on the map, but it’s not a perfect correlation to any number acquired by the player. In other words, a Mastery Rank of 5 doesn’t mean you are a good match for level 5 enemies. Instead, you simply have to play the game and discover what enemies you can handle based on your gear. It’s a strange way to handle progression, but here’s what you need to know:

Mastery Rank: This is the number that appears next to your player icon. It increases as you become more proficient with all types of weapons/gear in the game and work your way through the Star Chart. You’ll have to pass a short Mastery Rank Test in order to advance to the next level.

It doesn’t directly impact how powerful your character is — however, it does grant you access to new weapons, Frames, and story content.

Weapon Ranks: Every time you use a weapon, you’ll earn a bit of Affinity, or experience points. Gain enough Affinity and you’ll rank up the weapon. Most gear can be ranked up to 30, and each time it ranks up it becomes more powerful — and contributes to your Mastery Rank. This gives players an incentive to unlock all the gear in the game, as once it hits Rank 30 it’ll no longer accrue points toward your Mastery Rank. This is why you might stumble upon a player with a high Mastery Rank who is incredibly weak — they might be leveling up a whole new set of low-level weapons.

Mods: These are components that can be slotted into weapons and gear to improve their abilities. Each time a weapon levels up, it can hold a few more mods. Mods themselves can be leveled up using two types of currency — Credits and Endo. Some mods are definitely better than others, but your first few hours should be spend upgrading mods that you enjoy using. There are plenty of different ways to enhance your mods, but don’t get bogged down in the details as a beginner. Simply increase the level of mods you like and sell unwanted mods for Endo.

A world unexplored

We hate to say it, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of Warframe in this guide. Polarities, Void Fissures, Railjack missions, PvP, types of currency, Warframe abilities … the amount of content available in this game is truly staggering. However, everything we discussed above should give you a great foundation for your adventures. Portions of the game are surprisingly easy to pick up as you play (such as Warframe abilities and Polarities), while other components will present themselves to you as you move out of the beginner phase (like Void Fissures and Railjack missions).

Be patient, meet up with veteran players, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to be confused. The game has been on the market for seven years — newcomers are bound to be overwhelmed. Take your time to work through all the content, and you’ll find Warframe isn’t as intimidating as it seems.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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