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Trick Out Your Warframe Arsenal with These Top Picks

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 07/10/22 at 05:46 PM CT

Digital Extremes’ “Warframe” is a very busy Live Service game with a LOT of moving parts under the hood. Having been in Perpetual Beta since 2013, some of the basic mechanical systems have been revised multiple times, while – unlike Bungie – Digital Extremes has never actually removed any content from the game. Thus there’s a lot to take in, which can be overwhelming to new players and those who don’t read the Wiki – which is doubly important with how generally piss-poor Digital Extremes is when it comes to tutorializing or providing in-game explanations of how things work.

The Arsenal itself is a pretty big deal, allowing players to pick and choose not only the warframe they pilot, but a loadout of three weapons, replete with mods. While modding is an in-depth activity that would require a full-length article for any one given piece of equipment, below I’ll provide a rough overview of my top 5 picks in each weapon slot, and what Mastery Rank those items become available for use. The exception, of course, will be the extremely-random and frustrating-to-acquire ‘Kuva’ and ‘Tenet’ weapon variants. While many of them are considered top-tier by veteran “Warframe” players, the tedium involved with the gameplay systems required to get them is a stretch even for a Live Service game.

Primary Weapons:
Primaries aren’t, actually, the primary way most "Warframe" players deal damage. It’s simply a weapon classification bucket where ‘long guns’ fit within the game’s systems. And many of these weapons aren’t even ‘guns.’

1. Nataruk (MR 0)
This weapon is an energy bow rewarded to the player partway through ‘The New War’ campaign mission. Not only does it have no build requirements or Mastery requirements, it comes with a free weapon slot and a free Orokin Catalyst, doubling its mod capacity. But with the paperwork out of the way, how does it perform? GODLY! I really wanted to like the bows in “Warframe” as much as I liked the bows in “Destiny 2,” but they just don’t work the same way, with nearly all “Warframe” bows falling by the wayside due to their inability to one-shot even mid-game enemies, their single-target nature, slow draw times, projectiles that require target leading, and limited ammo capacity. Nataruk defies its archetype by having infinite body punch-through (meaning that when you shoot it at a conga-line of enemies, it will got through the whole line instead of sticking in the first guy’s head and stopping). It also has infinite ammo (energy), speedy draw times, and quick projectiles that make target leading more do-able. On top of that, it has some of the craziest critical and status chance stats in the game, boosting its already impressive damage into the stratosphere when fully modded. Yeah, it can one-shot enemies like a good bow should, all the way through the end-game!

2. Cedo (MR 8)
“Destiny 2” players who switch to “Warframe” will be shocked by just how good and useful shotguns are in the latter compared to the former (where they’re mostly used as cheap-shot weapons in the Crucible PvP mode). Cedo is fairly unique among shotguns in “Warframe” in that it only deals a single damage type by default – Puncture. Puncture damage is generally quite useful, as it is effective against heavily armored enemies and can apply a debuff that reduces enemy damage output. However, most “Warframe” veterans are obsessed with Slash damage and its bleed debuff instead. So, how can a shotgun that deals no Slash damage be the second-best Primary? Well, there’s a mod called Hunter Munitions that gives any and all critical hits a roughly 1-in-3 chance of inflicting a bleed debuff. But we’re not here to talk about modding! Cedo is an amazing weapon in its own right, as it is a fully-automatic shotgun with a decent-sized magazine and a high fire-rate. It also has a unique secondary fire mode that launches a ricocheting homing ‘glaive’ that bounces between enemies, exploding and forcing a number of debuffs on them before returning to the player to be launched again. And Cedo gains a huge damage boost for each debuff afflicting its target. Yep, anything the glaive doesn’t kill outright can be mopped-up with the Puncture-based birdshot.

3. Ignis Wraith (MR 9)
This is the upgraded ‘Wraith’ variant of a standard Grineer flamethrower. While the visible fuel tank on it is the size of a medium drink from a typical fast food place, in practical use, it’s possible to spread a long, wide, and deep beam of fire for a good long time before reloading. Beam weapons in “Warframe” greatly benefit from a high rate of fire, and the Ignis Wraith has that by default, and only gets more ridiculous via modding. As a purely elemental weapon, the Ignis doesn’t deal Slash, Pierce, or Impact damage, instead dealing pure Heat damage by default, which not only strips armor from enemies, but causes them to quite literally Halt and Catch Fire, as they panic and stop attacking in order to extinguish themselves.

4. Bubonico (MR 13)
“Warframe” has a fair number of grenade launcher weapons… but nearly all of them suck extremely hard. This plague-themed arm cannon isn’t primarily a launcher, but a shotgun. However, with its infinite, regenerating, biological ammo; high fire rate; and considerable damage output, the secondary burst-launcher mode is arguably better than the primary. On top of the fact that it’s an easy source of infinite explosions, those explosions deal innate Viral damage, which causes a debuff that makes every other source of damage hurt more. Moreover, even the shotgun primary fire has innate Toxin damage, allowing it to bypass energy shields and inflict damage over time debuffs. The small magazine is really the only downside… well aside from the screen-obliterating visual clutter of the constant explosions.

5. Fulmin (MR8)
This was the first Primary weapon in “Warframe” I truly enjoyed using. The Fulmin is a dual-mode energy rifle that can be toggled between a rapid-fire Electric machine gun or a slow, short-range shotgun taser. In taser mode, the Fulmin hits like a freight train and is inherently silent, making it useful for Spy missions. In rifle mode, the Fulmin suffers from one of “Warframe’s” underlying weapon design flaws, in that rapidly shooting a large number of weak bullets doesn’t compare favorably to shooting fewer powerful bullets. Regardless, with its regenerating battery, it has infinite ammo, and its innate Electric damage provides solid crowd control via its area stun debuff.

Secondary Weapons:
Like the ‘Primary’ classification, Secondary Weapons need not, actually, be secondary. This is the catch-all category for ‘sidearm’-style weapons. But they aren’t all *plink plink* pistols, as throwing knives and shuriken also land in this bucket.

1. Zakti Prime (MR 14)
This is the Primed (read: power-crept) variant of the Zakti fart gun. No, that’s not a typo. While it is technically also a dart gun, the darts explode into colorful clouds of noxious vapor shortly after impact. Most veteran “Warframe” players favor using their Secondary as a ‘status hose,’ applying a pile of debuffs to enemies in order to cripple their effectiveness and kill them off with damage over time ticks. The Zakti Prime is an incredible status hose, with a great innate status chance stat that can be boosted easily to the magical 100% required for guaranteed debuffs via modding. While the innate Gas damage caused by the Zakti’s farts is currently considered one of the least useful damage types, it’s very easy to add useful damage, like Viral and Heat, via modding, allowing the Gas clouds to spread absolutely debilitating status effects as they linger. Unfortunately, these farts aren’t silent but deadly… they’re just deadly, requiring the player to slap a maxed Hush mod onto the Zakti to make it more practical as a Spy weapon.

2. Epitaph (MR 8)
Weapons with multiple fire modes are a staple of “Warframe’s” design, allowing players to bring additional functionality to bear without relying on additional weapon slots. Epitaph is a bizarre, wrist-mounted… I want to say ‘crossbow,’ that hurls rectangular slabs instead of bullets or arrows. Quickly tapping the trigger sends out an explosive slab that deals a moderate amount of Cold damage in a radius, applying a slowing debuff to foes caught in the blast. However, charging a shot for a second before releasing the trigger transforms the explosive slab into a high-speed railgun projectile that can be used for sniping or like a Pocket Nataruk (see the Primary section above) to pierce through an entire conga-line of foes.

3. Quatz (MR 9)
This humble pistol looks like a grease gun and a high-tech dildo had a child together. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t get the love and attention from the veterans of the “Warframe” community that it deserves. Not only does the Quatz have the stats to make it a viable ‘status hose,’ it’s yet another weapon with variable fire. Shooting from the hip, the Quatz is a bullet hose of a submachine gun. Aiming down the sights, however, transforms it into a semi-automatic precision burst weapon that feels like a pocket shotgun. On top of its favorable stats and variable fire, the Quatz has another trick up its sleeve: A reload gimmick. Reloading the magazine from empty causes the gun to emit an Electric shockwave around the player, forcibly stunning any nearby enemies. Then there’s the innate Electric damage, which is useful for crowd control on its own, but can be modded quite trivially into Radiation or Corrosive damage. It’s a nice little gun, no matter how ugly it is.

4. Hystrix (MR 7)
A high-speed, full-auto dart gun, the Hystrix can fill a number of roles in a player’s arsenal due to the fact that its darts always apply a debuff to the target, regardless of how the weapon’s status chance is modded. These debuffs can be manually cycled by the player, allowing for all of the ‘basic’ non-combined elements: Toxin, Heat, Cold, and Electric. Do you want to eat enemies with damage over time? Toxin. Do you want to strip armor and make your foes stand around swinging their arms? Heat. Do you want to slow someone down to make sniping easier? Cold. Do you want to stun an entire group? Electric. Oh, and most debuffs in “Warframe” are stackable to an extent, so the rapid-fire nature of the Hystrix guarantees that where there’s one debuff, there’s ALL the debuffs.

5. Sporelacer (MR 0)
The Sporelacer itself isn’t a ‘gun,’ but a receiver that can be assembled into a ‘kitgun’ by combining it with a grip and a magazine. Most “Warframe” veterans love to build the Sporelacer into a Secondary pistol with maximized critical chance and base damage, but minimized fire rate. What does this receiver do? Well, as a pistol, it launches an explosive mushroom that bursts into several smaller bomblets upon hitting anything. Essentially, it’s a biological pocket rocket that would make Mr. Torgue from ‘Borderlands’ proud. Kitguns are kind of a pain in the ass to build, though, requiring many components that can only be acquired via mining or fishing (both rather boring open-world activities), and it’s easy to go ‘wrong’ by pairing the receiver with a less-than-optimal grip and magazine (the Haymaker grip and Splat magazine seem to be the agreed-upon ‘best’ combination). To make up for this, kitguns can be modified with special weapon Arcanes that can’t be applied to other weapons. Typically, a Sporelacer is paired with the Pax Charge Arcane to give it a rechargeable battery instead of a finite ammo pool. It will definitely kill the heck out of things, but the blast radius will likely see the player knocking themselves off their own feet on many occasions.

Melee Weapons:
The Melee Weapon category really should be known as the ‘Primary’ category, since it’s the biggest source of damage most players will have access to at any given time. Melee in “Warframe” is incredibly powerful and fairly easy to mod, meaning that if an enemy is within melee range, melee is the best way to kill it. Of course, with boss mechanics and flying foes, melee isn’t the be-all, end-all, hence the need for the other weapon types as backup.

1. Orthos Prime (MR 12)
“Will it blend?” Yes. Everything. This is the Primed (again, power-crept) version of the Orthos polearm. One of the oldest weapons in the game, the Orthos Prime still manages to kick ass and take names largely due to its excellent base stats, which allow it to achieve both 100% critical chance and 100% status chance via modding. Melee weapons also have ‘Stance’ mods to deal with, and polearms have some really great ones that allow players to run around at full speed, twirling their melee weapon like the blades in a blender, obliterating anything that comes within range. Naturally, as a polearm, the range on this thing is excellent as well!

2. Plague Kripath/2-Handed (MR 0)
Like the Sporelacer, the Plague Kripath isn’t a complete weapon on its own. Rather, it’s the ‘strike’ (read: blade) component of “Warframe’s” module melee-crafting system of ‘zaws.’ Zaws can be built as either one-handed or two-handed weapons, with each different strike falling into a specific category depending on its handedness. Generally, though, two-handed zaws are better than one-handed ones, and, unsurprisingly, when built as a two-handed weapon, the Plague Kripath is another polearm. Yes, there are a ridiculous number of good polearms in “Warframe,” and I was tempted to fill this entire list with them, but there are other options. While no zaw will be able to match the Orthos Prime in raw stat distribution, the Plague Kripath is unique in that it’s one of only two zaw blades with innate Viral damage. Unfortunately, the two Viral zaw components are only available during “Warframe’s” annual Halloween event, making them a pain in the butt to acquire.

3. Paracesis (MR 10)
While the blueprint for this massive two-handed sword is handed out for free as part of “Warframe’s” story, the onus of accumulating the materials and actually crafting it is on the player. Paracesis is interesting and powerful primarily for two reasons. The first reason is that it has the innate ability to clear Sentient resistances. Sentients are an enemy faction that, like the Borg in ‘Star Trek,’ adapt to the damage they receive, reducing its effectiveness. A single bop from this sword, though, takes them back to square one. The second interesting thing about Paracesis is that it’s one of the first weapons in the game that can be leveled up higher than the typical mastery cap of 30. By polarizing it once it reaches its ‘maximim’ level, the player can raise its mastery cap by 2 levels. Spending a total of 5 Forma to polarize it 5 times grants access to its true mastery cap of 40. Of course, mastering, polarizing, remastering, polarizing, re-remastering, etc. sounds like some sort of Sony shenanigans, and can become both a time- and resource-sink that’s too much for more casual players.

4. Kronen Prime (MR 13)
Outside of polearms, one of my personal favorite weapon archetypes in “Warframe” is tonfas. There aren’t very many of them, though, and most of them aren’t very good. They feel nice to use, with great stance options, but they just don’t hit hard enough to blend an entire map worth of enemies. Enter the Kronen Prime, the power-crept version of the Scandinavian-themed Kronen. I’m still a couple of prime components away from crafting this beauty myself, but, man, am I looking forward to it, based on its stats alone!

5. Broken War (MR 10)
Like the Nataruk that opened this article, the Broken War is given to the player for free, complete with a free weapon slot and Orokin Catalyst for making progress through the game’s main story. As a one-handed sword, the Broken War might seem a bit basic and underwhelming at first glance, but its excellent stat distribution, powerful stance access, and weight towards being a critical-hit-based weapon allow it to dish out hurt from the time the player acquires it until they replace it with a polearm. And that Rank 10 Mastery requirement is only a suggestion, as players can wield their free Broken War as soon as they get it as a mission reward.

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