Now Updated for Patch 18.5 “Sands of Inaros” state with many weapons added and most of the text revisited!
The amount of weapons in Warframe can be quite overwhelming to new players. This guide should help you in progressing through the game nice and smooth without spending too many resources, time and money on the wrong weaponry.
That said there hardly is any “wrong” weapon per se. When writing this guide i already had my hands on most of them, but I tried to focus on the ones i have the most experience with while picking only the ones that give you the most bang for your buck. Please note that i can’t cover every weapon in this guide, as this would make this article literally explode. This game offers a lot of valid options for you, so in the end it is up to your choice what you want to run with – and top DPS is not always the most fun way to go. 😉
If you like this content i would love to hear feedback from you. What did you like, what could be improved? Tell me what you think by using the comment-section below.
Modding your weapons – Damage 2.0
Before you go on reading about the weapons in this article, keep in mind that the damage model in Warframe is quite sophisticated. All your weapons (and warfames) have base damage stats, but start at level 0 of 30, meaning that they feature no mod capacity and thus do very little damage. As you score kills with a weapon it levels up and grants you additional capacity for mods.
Confused? Don’t worry, the damage model and preferrable mod choices will be described in further detail below.
How does it affect your gameplay?
Ignoring to mod your weapons altogether or modding them wrong will eventually make you hit an “artificial” difficulty-wall, as your weapons start to fall off in damage against higher level enemies. This will become particularly noteworthy as you enter the “Void” levels and higher systems, which are considered the “endgame” of Warframe.
As a rule of thumb: If you need more than half a magazine to kill an enemy, there is something seriously wrong with either your weapon or (more likely) the mods in it. While each weapon is usable against all enemy factions, some excel against a particular type of enemy or in a specific situation (i.e. when enemies attack from afar or in huge groups). With few exceptions you can use every weapon against any faction if you have the right mods attached to it, but there is no weapon or mod combination that works best in all cases.
Eventually the base damage of a weapon will hinder its usefulness against higher level enemies. This will mean that you might need to upgrade to a higher tier, usually separated by the mastery rank you gain.
Long story short: it’s good to always have a specific weapon with optimized mods against a particular faction in your arsenal. A lot of the weapons in this game are viable, so feel free to experiment with whatever you like. 🙂
A basic modding example:
As you progress through the first missions you will find a lot of new primary (rifle), secondary (pistol) and melee mods. Your weapons will also level up increase their mod capacity, which is why you should regularly revisit the arsenal screen to keep your weapons “up to date” with new or higher-ranked mods. You can learn more about ranking up your mods in my warframe beginners guide.
When modding any weapon, keep in mind the following rules (in the following priority-order):
- Mods that flat out increase damage such as Serration (Rifles), Hornet Strike (Pistols), Point Blank (Shotguns), Pressure Point (Melee) are always a preferable choice over any other mod. Always put them in first and you will see a noticeably difference in power.
- Mods that counter a mechanical / utility weakness of your chosen weapon (i.e. reload speed, firing speed) are a good second option. They are usually more common than the above and can be easily upgraded.
- Mods that increase damage against a certain faction (Grineer, Corpus, Infested) are the runner-up for best in slot (given that you fight against that faction a lot).
- Mods that increase the primary damage type (Puncture, Impact and Slash) are also a good (and more flexible) choice. This depends on what damage type weapon deals primarily and should be done if a weapon heavily favors one direction.
- If your weapon has a good status chance (i.e. > 20%), modding elemental damage against a faction can be helpful. Consult the damage model table and make use of the 3 loadout slots (A,B.C) to quickly switch your elemental weapon.However: Weapons with a low elemental status chance or crit rate (<10%) should not be modded to compensate for that weakness. All %-chance mods are multiplicative, meaning that +100% crit chance will turn a meager 5% crit chance into 10%, effectively wasting a lot of mod-points for only a very small benefit.
Elemental mods such as ice, electric, fire and poison damage are a bit more tricky to understand. You can combine them to get a very good status effect (called “proc” since it is percentage-based), which greatly increases your gun’s effectivity against a certain faction. However, elemental procs are not consistent and come with a drawbacks against certain factions. The rules below are a bit simplified, but try to keep it in mind:
- Magnetic Damage (Ice and Electricity) is good against Corpus Shields but very ineffective against other factions
- Corrosive Damage (Poison and Electricity) is good against Grineer or high-level enemies as they have high armor. This is a very versatile damage type that can be left on a weapon in many scenarios.
- Gas Damage (Gas and Fire) is good against Infested as they have high HP values and come in greater numbers, however it is very weak against all factions other than infested.
You can combine and play around with various damage and elemental types, which is one of the greater fun-factors in this game. However just keep in mind that there may be situations and mission types where your weapon simply is not yet strong enough. In that case you can either level it up a bit more, try to find the right mods or try to trade them in with other players (which can be done within a Dojo).
These weapons are available to you right from the start. You don’t need any “Mastery Rank” (your Player-Level at the top-left of the main screen) to obtain them. Although many weapons are locked by mastery (somewhat separating them into Tiers) there still a huge variety to choose from when you start playing.
As your first rifle you start the game with a Braton-Mk1, which you should upgrade to a normal Braton (without the “Mk1” suffix) from within the market. It is cheap, has well-rounded stats and does equal damage to all factions within the game, making it a preferred choice when you don’t have more specialized weapons yet.
However, if you want to specialize against specific factions, some viable choices would be:
- Latron against Grineer, as it features good puncture damage, high accuracy and ammo efficiency. The low rate of fire is easily compensated with mods, and Grineer aren’t as numerous or quick as infested, allowing you to snipe them from a distance. If you got some friends, try to get the parts for a much better prime-version of this great rifle which is available at mastery rank 0.
- Grakata is a decent early game choice against Corpus. While it lacks in early game punch it still does decent damage once you acquire some mods, favorably magnetic damage against those shields. It also does decent damage against other factions if you don’t like the lower fire rate of the Braton. However, keep your ammo in mind as this weapon is wasting your ammo unlike any other.
- Hind is a good choice against Infested due to the high slash damage and fire rate. However i think this weapon does not scale too well considering the high purchase price. If you want to go against infested i would rather recommend using a specialized Braton build until you are higher in rank.
- Honorable mention: If you are really desperate for a good “anti-infested” weapon, you can try to get your hands on the “Dread” bow, but it is quite hard to get since you need a lot of drop luck and surival skills when meeting the enemy sinister Warframe called “Stalker”.
Purchasing secondaries is a good idea if you want to diversify your loadout against multiple enemies. If you want to gain mastery quickly, having a good high-level secondary while your “freshly crafted” rifle is just leveling up is also good way to progress. Pistol mods are very powerful in this game, rewarding your thoughtful decision and mod-point investment with lasting value.
- Aklato is a good entry point for dual wielding secondaries and simply a plain upgrade to your starting “Lato” pistol. Aklatos are easy to obtain, do decent damage and feature high accuracy, making them perfect for beginners.
- Lex packs a punch per shot, but punishes you for missing due to very low fire rate. It might be a good “sniping” alternative for your fast-firing main weapon. If you more firing rate for less accuracy, consider going for the Vasto revolver.
- Akboltos are also very good pistols that will carry you well into midgame. They lack accuracy but make it up with good damage and punch through effects, ragdolling enemies backwards.
- Twin Gremlins are a boss drop, so you might need some help in aquiring the blueprints. However they are very effective early on and easy to craft, making them a very good choice early in the game.
- Honorable mention: Despair throwing knives are hard to ignore as you can earn them early game by defeating the Stalker (an evil Ninja that appears randomly after you murdered a boss). Stalker is hard to kill, but with a decent team you might survive and get the blueprint for this one. If you got Despair you won’t need another secondary for along time since they work well against almost any enemy.
As for melee, upgrading your Skana should be a priority after upgrading your main and secondary weapons. Melee falls a bit short in late game, but is quite effective against most enemies and very effective against the infested. Some good choices are already available to you early on:
- Cronus is the first real upgrade you can attain early-on in the game by simply defeating the first boss, Captain Vor.
- Upgrading your starter weapon to a dual-wielded version is a good option, but while you’re at it it, just go for Dual Ether. It has a very good attack speed, wide range and staggers enemies on each hit, making it efficient to stunlock even larger enemies. You will be using these babies for quite a while.
- If melee is really not your style, you can go for the Glaive. Altough there is a much faster “Glaive Prime” version, the Glaive is very good at taking out enemies at range and does decent damage if modded properly, making it a good choice when your weapons are currently not “cutting” it (haha!). The glaive is retrieved as a login reward, so it might be a while until you have access.
- Daggers are great weapon if you hget your hands on the covert lethality mod. Combined with stun effects like Excalibur’s Blinding you can mass-kill enemies with ease.
- Honorable mention: Shakus are a recent addition to the game. They require a Dojo with a Tenno lab, but are available at Rank 0 and provide decent status damage. Consider them as second priority if you don’t have immediate access to a Tenno Dojo.
The first mastery ranks are mainly there to get you used to the in-game mechanics and the modding system. While there aren’t as many good rifles available to you, the early selection of secondaries and melee weapons is quite amazing.
As said before, Rank 1-3 is bit of a void in terms of end-game viable rifle choices. However there are a few sweet guns i still want to highlight, as they carry you nicely through most of the content
- Boltor is a real killer against high-armor targets such as the Grineer. In addition to that it is fun and easy to use while nailing your enemies on a wall. The only downside to this rifle is a slight inaccuracy and travel time of your projectiles. However the good damage and innate polarity slot makes up for its downsides.
- The Drakgoon Flak Cannon is a new addition to the game and shreds Infested to confetti. Don’t hesitate to build this weapon as it is very unique and fun to use. With some fire-rate mods slapped on it spurts impressive damage numbers and allows you to snipe enemies with quick concentrated bursts of shrapnel.
- The Vectis sniper rifle is a good entry point to this kind of rifle type. Slow rate of fire, but easy to use as your vision doesn’t get obscured by a scope view. The innate impact damage makes this a very good anti-corpus weapon for people who like the long-range approach.
- Kunai – you simply can’t hit Mastery Level 2 and ignore these little things. They are silent, quick and deadly, reload very fast and are almost as good as the (much harder to acquire) Despair. This is a very good choice to have to quickly kill high-armor targets.
- Hikou throwing stars are a close second choice if you don’t like the kunai for whatever reason. They fire even faster but for less damage.
- Sonicor is a nice recent addition that allows you control massive crowds of enemies with an amazing ammo economy. This weapon is also hidden in the Corpus Dojo lab but well worth the investment.
- If you like to go “all-in” the Orthos does the job quite fine. If you run around as Rhino or Trinity you can mow down hordes of enemies with this staff, as it features devastating charge damage and a wide arc attack. I’ve been using this polearm weapon for quite a while.
- Fragor is a nice choice if you need a reliable escape tool. The hammer can be smashed on the ground, knocking down enemies in a huge area. Due to the slow swing speed i wouldn’t recommend it for “normal” melee use though.
- Dual Zoren axes are the first melee viable for crit-builds. They are fast and grant you a lot of mobility and allow you to hit a lot of enemies at once, but with a low range.
- If you’re more of the “no questions asked” type of guy, Galatine is a must-have. This sword hits up to 5 enemies and dishes out damage in the thousands with one well-aimed attack. Galatine is a very nice addition if you are using a tank frame like Rhino or go in stealthy frame with Loki.
- Tipedo is a top tier staff melee weapon with good range, crit and status chance. It’s expensive to build but a solid long term investment.
- Honorable mention: The Kronen bladed tonfas are a rather new type of weapon. They are very effective at dishing out damage but require “Argon” (dropped in voids) to craft and have a specific stance which may be hard to get.
Rank 4-6 is the place where the first real gun-shaped candy is hidden. Many of the most powerful weapons can be achieved at these ranks. However you should join a clan at this point, as many of these weapons are a research option in the Dojo. If you are not feeling like joining a clan, you can just briefly be invited by someone and buy the blueprints from their clan lab.
- If you have’t gotten a shotgun until now, Hek and Sobek are both reliable choices. Due to a very tight spread and low damage falloff at a distance, the Hek allows for sniper-like approaches. With the introduction of new Syndicate mods you can even modify the Hek to turn into an endgame beast. The Sobek on the other hand is a nice run-and-gun close to mid-range weapon due to being fully automatic and having a huge magazine.
- Tonkor grenades provide awesome damage output without the risk of killing yourself. Modded for crit, this weapon carries you into late game but can be a bit lackluster to use.
- More control but also more risk with self damage is provided with the Penta grenade launcher. It is devastating right from the start and easy to use thanks to the remotely triggered grenades.
- If you like explosives but don’t want to lob grenades at your enemies, the Ogris rocket launcher is a very viable alternative. Be careful though: like the Penta this baby can kill you very quickly due to the huge splash damage.
- For over a year the Soma assault rifle was and is still considered as one of the best all-around weapons in the game. Huge mag, high precision and fire-rate and a ridiculous crit-rate makes this weapon viable for mowing down groups of enemies or sniping foes from afar with single, well-aimed shots. This weapon is so good that it’s almost illegal. As of patch 15.8 a prime version was added, which is slightly better but a lot harder to get.
- Honorable mention 1: The Ignis is not a “must-have” per-se, but it is unique and easy to get (Rank 4, Dojo) and easy to use due to being a flame-thrower. This is a very neat weapon if you want to kill a lot of infested without having to bother about the finer details (like aiming).
- Honorable mention 2: If you have resources (and maybe forma for polarity-slots) to spare, the Amprex is a beast of a weapon. It’s close range continous fire but kills crowds of enemies within seconds without harming the user.
- The Marelok is the grineer attempt at building a pocket sniper and it can be considered as a straight up upgrade from the Lex (non-prime). It has a low clip size but dishes out very high damage with pinpoint precision, making it one of the best secondaries in the game at this point. If you can muster the faction ranking or find a friendly soul to sell it to you, the Vaykor Marelok is a straight upgrade at MR6. Once you grab and mod this thing properly you won’t have to change your secondary for quite a long time.
- Harder to get from the void, Hikou Prime throwing stars are an excellent secondary that can be thrown at ludicruous speed with absolute silence.
Looking like a classic Katana the Nikana in your Dojo (Mastery Rank 4) will grant you a huge boost to both your Tenno ego and your melee damage. This weapon can later be upgraded in the “Dragon Nikana” – one of the most deadly swords in the game, only surpassed by its prime counterpart. The only downside to this weapon is that it uses a specific “Katana” type stance which can be hard to find.
- Once you hit MR5, Jag Kittag is the way to go! Pay your grineer lab a visit and save up for this baby, you won’t be disappointed! This hammer combines godly damage with huge range and crowd control goodness! fun to use AND look at.
- Dual Ichors are quick axes (looking like infested daggers) which allow you to be very mobile (like Dual Zoren axes). They dish out great elemental damage with a very high crit rate and the stance for them is very easy to use. They are a decent alternative to the rather slow Orthos and Galatine 2H-weapons which i mentioned earlier.
- Bo-Prime is a great elemental proc and crowd-control weapon. It’s not that easy to achieve as the Ichors but just as fun to use due to the huge area you can cover with each blow. It’s one of the rare weapon with high impact-damage, making it easier to ragdoll enemies around and get rid of their shields.
- Honorable mention: Dakra Prime is a beautiful-looking sword and one of the best 1H-weapons you can get. It’s one of the few 1H-swords capable of hitting multiple enemies. However I’d consider getting this sword more as a choice of style, as the forementioned weapons are more effective in terms of mobility and handling huge crowds.
Rank 7 to 12
These ranks are what I consider to be the “experimentation phase”.
The biggest melee upgrades you can get in this phase are the aforementioned “Dragon Nikana” (if you haven’t already got Nikana Prime that is) as well as the “War” 2H-sword from Stalker, both of which are nice upgrades, but do not differ greatly from the melee choices you got around MR5 and 6.
However, at MR12 you will get a huge boost to your damage, because then you can unlock the highest syndicate tiers. Out of all these faction weapons, the Vaykor Hek, Synoid Simulor and Sancti Tigris stand out the most as they provide outstanding damage and ammo economy. Make sure to trade with other players or buy them with platinum – aside from your MR there is no restriction in owning or trading weapons with other faction players.
After hitting MR12 you will be mostly out of real upgrade options – a fact that will most likely change very soon as further weapons are released to provide incentives for people in higher Mastery Ranks. So once you reach this level you can congratulate yourself: You got access to the best of the best this game (currently) has to offer.
With all that said: Continue to experiment and practice with your weapons – there’s always something new to discover around the corner. 🙂
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