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For a long time now, Warframe has been one of the slickest, most stylish Sci-Fi titles around, and the craziest thing is the game is FREE TO PLAY! I know that the mere mention of ‘Free To Play’ is enough to cause some eyes to glaze over, but Warframe really is a game where you can have a great time living out the Space Ninja fantasy without spending a penny.
Whether or not you choose to spend, Warframe always demands one thing from its players: time. There are a ton of Warframes to pick from, but with each one requiring a 72Hour wait once you have all the parts, picking the right Warframe and building it is quite the investment. That’s where I come in!
I have graded each Warframe on its overall viability with a focus on end-game content. That being said, some Warframes have unique pros/cons that affect their position on the list. Also, the Helminth system can replace Warframe abilities, but this tier list will focus on their kits right out of the box.
These Warframes are the best of the best with abilities that range from powerful to downright broken!
Gara has a ridiculously powerful kit capable of infinitely scaling damage with Splinter Storm. You will need a ‘Stat Stick’ to get the most out of Gara but this ability is so good that it can take down enemies with levels into the thousands. Mass Vitrify is another fantastic ability and can stop enemies in their tracks whilst your Splinter Storm engulfs them in shards of glass.
Ivara is perfect for any stealth mission, with her Prowl ability granting invisibility and pick-pocketing! Ivara also has some fantastic mobility options available with her Dashwire which gives increased Critical Damage with the Empowered Quiver augment.
If blindly running in simply won’t cut it, Ivara is a solid choice and when everything inevitably goes to hell, her Artemis Bow is powerful enough to take down even the strongest foes.
Mesa has always enjoyed a spot near the top of the ‘Most Played Warframes’ list, for good reason.
Sporting an incredibly stylish kit, this gunslinger can dish out disgusting amounts of damage with Peacemaker, which gives Mesa dual pistols complete with an aimbot. You might think Mesa might have poor defenses to balance her out, but nope! Shooting Gallery jams enemy guns and Shatter Shield reflects bullet damage. Mesa is weak up close, but that’s the thing, nothing ever gets close!
Lovingly referred to as ‘Fast Rhino’ by some players, Nezha is incredibly versatile and is powerful enough to fly through most content in the game. Warding Halo can grant 90% damage reduction, making him very hard to kill. Fire Walker is a solid support ability that also damages foes. Blazing Chakram is a great damaging ability and Nezha has a passive ability that gives him a better slide. Never underestimate mobility in Warframe, if you can’t be hit, you can’t be killed.
This Warframe has an ability for everything and is well-deserving of the top tier.
There’s a case to be made for Octavia being the most powerful Warframe in the entire game!
All of her abilities are incredible and combine to give Octavia and her squad more speed, more armor, melee damage, multishot and that’s just the beginning.
If you’d rather not hunt enemies down, her Resonator and Mallet can combine and patrol the map, killing everything for you! Octavia can even give herself and her team invisibility that has no movement penalties. She’s downright broken and I’m shocked I don’t see at least one of her in every squad.
Saryn makes the S-tier for one reason: DAMAGE. Spores is a devastating ability that enemies spread to each other and as time goes on, its damage increases and nukes the map. Molt is a solid survivability tool. Toxic Lash increases Saryns damage output even further and Miasma is effectively a kill switch wrapping everything together in a Saryn shaped package of death.
Saryns damage potential is so insane her allies can sit back and relax, making sure they don’t go AFK by pressing a button every now and then.
Wisp is hands down, the best support Warframe in the game. So good, she pushes every other support Warframe down the list by just existing! Reservoirs is a superb ability that increases both movement and attack speed, heals allies, and even shocks enemies. Breach Surge is a powerful crowd control ability that blinds foes and her passive ability grants invisibility after jumping. No matter who’s in your squad, everyone is less likely to die with a Wisp around!
These Warframes all have powerful kits that will be valuable to your squad no matter what you’re doing.
Baruuk has a brilliant mix of defensive and offensive abilities and they all gel together with Restraint, a unique passive meter that powers Baruuk’s Serene Storm ability. Serene Storm is the closest thing to a good punching ability (sorry Atlas). On top of this, Baruuk can put enemies to sleep with Lull, evade projectiles with Elude, and can even destroy enemy guns with Desolate Hands. A powerful Warframe with a versatile kit that’s a blast to play.
Equinox is a powerful unique Warframe with abilities that change depending on what form she is in. It’s a shame that almost everyone builds her for a single ability, Maim. Maim is a borderline broken map nuking ability that’s lethal even deep into Warframe’s end game.
Equinox has other decent abilities like Rest which puts enemies to sleep, but usually, when you see an Equinox, you know exactly what they are there for.
Excalibur has a powerful offensive kit with Radial Blind that stuns enemies and Radial Javelin that can pin lower-level threats to walls. He can also dish out solid damage up close with his Exalted Blade.
Excalibur lands a spot in A-Tier because he is hands down, the best starter Warframe in the game, with abilities that complement each other. A solid all-rounder that anyone can pick up and enjoy!
There aren’t many Warframes capable of zipping through content as fast as Gauss. He’s not only fast, but he’s also surprisingly tough with Kinetic Plating which absorbs kinetic damage and prevents knockdowns (that’s huge!). Speed grants many crazy buffs with Redline too. The only thing stopping Gauss from being in S-Tier is some of the more complex maps make Gauss’ speed more of a curse than a blessing.
Khora is a personal favorite of mine thanks to her pet kavat, Venari, but she’s got so much more going for her than that! Khora’s star ability is Strangledome which traps enemies in a terrifying metal cobweb. Whilst trapped, enemies take damage from the dome and take extra damage from other sources. Make sure you use Whipclaw on the dome to ramp up damage from respectable to ridiculous. Khora would make the S-Tier if Strangledome didn’t require so much energy.
As long as you’re bringing a gun to the mission, Mag can dish out damage with the best of them and has a decent set of abilities for crowd control and light support. Magnetize is a powerful damaging ability that gets even stronger if you’re shooting bullets into it. Polarize can further increase this damage and even strips the enemy’s shields and armor. Finally, Mag has access to Crush, a solid crowd controlling ability that restores her allies’ shield too.
Nekros fills an unusual but important niche in Warframe with his Desecrate ability. This ability makes fallen enemies drop additional loot and this can be almost anything, from mods to resources. Farming for resources can be tedious when you just want to go out and kill things, but Nekros makes that job a lot easier. He’s also rather tough to kill with his passive ability that gives him health any time an enemy dies nearby.
Nova is the Warframe you bring when you want to dictate the pace of an entire mission. Nova has a great survivability tool in her Null Star which grants up to 90% damage reduction, but you’re really going to be bringing her for Molecular Prime. This ability slows enemies down but can also be built with negative power strength to speed them up! These builds are lovingly known as Slowva and Speedva and are both powerful setups with the right squad.
Protea has a powerful arsenal of abilities that can kick out impressive amounts of damage and support the team. Dispensary drops health and energy orbs and can even drop ammo packs, which are superb for ammo-hungry automatic weapons. Grenade Fan is another impressive ability and can be used offensively to inflict Slash damage on enemies or defensively to give a decent amount of shields to herself or her allies.
Revenant has a fantastic kit that’s full of powerful damaging abilities and a defensive ability that can even make Rhino players jealous.
Mesmer Skin is like Rhino’s Iron Skin on steroids and completely deflects damage as long as it has charges to do so. That deflected damage also stuns and is devastating against high-level enemies especially. You can also build Revenant for his Danse Macabre, making him a spinning disco ball of death that’s extremely hard to kill.
Rhino isn’t as flashy as many newer Warframes, but he has a fantastic kit that’s always stayed relevant. Roar is a superb damage buff tool that works on Rhino and his allies. He’s incredibly hard to kill thanks to Iron Skin and also has a decent crowd control tool in Rhino Stomp.
Rhino has a well-balanced kit and is useful in just about any mission in the game. If all of that wasn’t enough, He is also available very early on as his parts drop from Jackal, the very first boss.
Vying for the title of ‘edgiest Warframe’, Sevagoth has a rather unique playstyle, with his shadow having abilities of its own and is well worth the time to build and learn. Sow is a powerful AoE ability that drains life from any enemies caught within its radius. Gloom slows enemies down to a crawl whilst also giving lifesteal to allies. This frame feels especially great to use because his abilities don’t need line of sight to work, this may not sound like a big deal, but on cluttered maps, it’s a game-changer.
If you want to play a support role in Warframe, Trinity is one of the best. For starters, she’s very hard to kill thanks to her Link, which channels damage taken to nearby enemies. Blessing restores health and shields, but the star of the show without a doubt is Energy Vampire.
This ability constantly gives Trinity’s allies energy, letting them use their abilities far more often. Trinity lacks in damage of her own but can bump up her squad’s overall damage to dizzying heights.
Xaku is one of the later entries into Warframes roster and proves the new blood can still kick it with the best of them with a superb, well-rounded kit.
The Lost is a collection of 3 abilities and out of those, Gaze really stands out as it can completely strip enemy armor. Grasp Of Lohk is Xaku’s damage ability of choice that steals enemy guns! These guns follow you around shooting at anything that moves and you can have up to 16 of them. That’s right, Xaku has a gun army, and it’s glorious.
Zephyr is a polarising Warframe but sits this high on the list because of how devastating her Tornado ability can be. Enemies caught in a Tornado take additional damage when they are shot at. Zephyr can also boost her own damage whilst she’s airborne with her passive. Zephyr has a strange floaty jump that will take time to get used to, but if you take the time, she can really dish out the damage.
These Warframes fill the middle of the pack with abilities that have more of a niche use or are outclassed by others. Every Warframe here is still viable and worth building if you like their playstyle or aesthetics.
Ash is the quintessential Ninja in Warframes roster with the kit to go with it. Shuriken is a great low-cost ability and can strip armor with the Seeking Shuriken augment. Blade Storm is a solid damage dealer and invisibility from Smoke Screen makes for a superb survivability tool. Teleport sadly feels rather clunky as it requires a target to use and even then, sometimes feels like it doesn’t work when it should.
Banshee has some powerful abilities available to her, but unfortunately, the ability that should be the most powerful is almost laughably bad. Sonar is excellent and marks areas on every enemy caught in it to take more damage. Silence is a great tool for crowd control as it both stuns enemies and disables their abilities. Sadly, her kit is let down by Sound Quake, which locks her in place as the world vibrates and her enemies giggle to themselves.
If you’re convinced you’d do better alone than with a team, Chroma is the Warframe for you. Chroma can throw out staggering damage numbers with Vex Armor, which increases his weapon damage when he loses health (you can trigger this yourself!). This ability makes him a solid choice for the Profit Taker and Eidolon fights, but he brings little to the table outside of punchy damage for him and him alone. A selfish Warframe.
Ember has always struggled with high-level enemies and although she’s better now than she was, they are still a problem. Immolation is a great defensive tool that offers a ton of damage reduction. Ember can lay waste to swathes of enemies with Inferno and even though her damage drops off in end game content, she will absolutely get the job done when you need to fly through lower-level missions.
I’ve sunk more hours into playing Garuda than any other Warframe. She’s stylish and devastating if you’re a risk-taker. Dread Mirror is a great survivability tool providing you can aim it to catch enemy projectiles and Seeking Talons is great for throwing ‘Bleed’ status all over the place.
Bloodletting lets Garuda exchange health for energy and she’ll want to do this as she does more damage when she’s on the verge of death. A fair trade if you’re willing to play on the razor’s edge.
Harrow has a great kit full of useful support abilities. Their only real downside is their lack of range. Penance lets Harrow take a hit to his shields to give allies health when he damages enemies. Thurible and Covenant both give other useful buffs, but even the ability descriptions in-game say allies need to be ‘nearby’. If you’ve played Warframe for any length of time, you know that doesn’t happen very often.
For the longest time, armor and health have always been better than shields. At least, they were. Then Hildryn showed up.
This Warframe is unique as she uses shields as a resource and has incredible survivability with her Pillage ability. This allows her to steal shields from nearby enemies and when used well, Hildryn is almost impossible to kill. Unfortunately, the rest of her kit is a little underwhelming. The Helminth system can go some way to fixing that but I am only focusing on original abilities here.
Mirage has two most visually distracting abilities in the game and can deal a ton of damage in the most hilarious way! Hall of Mirrors creates a group of doppelgangers that copy Mirage, including her weapon.
If controlling a small army jumping around with Grakata’s doesn’t make you smile, nothing will! This ability does a ton of damage if built correctly. Prism might be the most vomit-inducing ability in the game. Use it with caution.
Nidus excels when the name of the game is locking an area down. Virulence is an impressive ability that steals energy from foes and makes them take additional damage. Ravenous is gross but swarms enemies with maggots and can deal toxin damage. If you’ve got the time to set up and let Nidus’s abilities get going, he’s excellent. His kit has quite a niche use, however, which dictates his place on this list.
Oberon is a perfect example of a decent Warframe made mostly redundant because Wisp exists. Oberon has decent abilities like Hallowed Ground that damages enemies whilst cleansing allies of status effects. Combining this with Renewal gives allies an armor buff as well. Reckoning can inflict radiation damage, which is always good, but as I said earlier, Wisp exists. Hopefully, Oberon will have his niche again in the future.
Titania is a tricky Warframe to grade because she’s got a fantastic kit, but your mileage with her will depend on if you enjoy using an Archwing (or in her case, Razorwing). Lantern is a superb crowd control ability that basically attracts enemies to it like moths to a flame. There’s a lot of nuance to this Warframe but if you enjoy using your Archwing, you’ll enjoy playing as Titania.
Volt used to be the king of speed until Gauss came along. This didn’t stop Volt from having a niche to fill, as he is fantastic for Eidolon hunting. It’s just a shame a lot fewer people do that nowadays.
Speed unsurprisingly is Volts ‘go faster’ ability, and it’s always a blast hurtling across the Plains of Eidolon with it. His Electric Shield grants a 200% critical multiplier when you shoot through it, which is enough to punch holes in the strongest enemies in the game. Volt is an Eidolon killing machine but is less useful outside of that.
Another strong Warframe for Spy missions! Wukong has a strong mobility tool with Cloud Walker, which turns Wukong into a cloud of mist. Whilst in this state, Wukong can fly, which makes even the trickiest spy vaults a breeze. He also has a good defense ability in Defy, which grants temporary invincibility.
Much like Titania is tricky to grade, so is Yareli, as unless you like using a K-Drive to get around, you’ll hate using her. Assuming you DO like using a K-Drive, Yareli is a fun Warframe to use with Merulina, a water creature that you can ride around the map combined with Aquablades.
Aquablades is a lethal ability when combined with the Surging Blades augment and when built correctly, Yareli can deal a good amount of damage and stay relatively safe.
These Warframes are useable but have glaring faults in their kits that you’ll need to play around.
Caliban has some really cool-looking abilities but sadly, a lot of them feel like they are just for show. Razor Gyre looks like a budget Danse Macabre from Revenant and isn’t particularly damaging.
Lethal Progeny summons sentient allies but they seem wildly inconsistent. Fusion Strike can completely strip armor, but plenty of other Warframes can do this and still have other powerful abilities.
Grendels playstyle revolves around eating his enemies and using what’s left for abilities… Sadly, it’s not as terrifying as it sounds. Grendels biggest strength is his Nourish ability, which provides a decent selection of buffs for himself and his allies. This Warframe is also very hard to kill thanks to his passive which grants him armor per enemy swallowed with Feast.
Inaros is the Warframe I found hardest to grade. He is popular and always sees use thanks to his unrivaled survivability. Seriously, he’s nigh on unkillable with Scarab Swarm and the Negation Swarm augment. With the Helminth system, you can build him with some incredible offensive abilities, but as I’m grading on his base kit alone, he has S-Tier survivability, and that’s about it.
Lavos is unique in that his abilities don’t use energy and instead, use cooldowns. If cooldowns sound like they would make Lavos feel clunky to use, unfortunately, you’re right. His cooldowns work well in Railjack at least making him a decent pilot. Outside of Railjack, Catalyze is a decent damage-dealing ability, but it’s overshadowed by countless others on this list.
When played well, Limbo is a master of crowd control and can essentially beat defense missions on his own whilst his squad plays cards in the corner. Sadly, when played poorly, he can single-handedly ruin everything.
Stasis is a phenomenal ability that freezes enemies in place. It even freezes their projectiles! If you build Limbo with a ton of range, however, he freezes enemies miles away, slowing the mission to a crawl whilst everyone hunts for things to kill.
Loki has a superb survivability tool with Invisibility. He’s a brilliant choice if that’s all you’re looking for, but his biggest flaw is a lack of damage. That’s not to say Loki only has a single good ability. Radial Disarm breaks nearby guns, forcing enemies to engage in hand-to-hand combat and Decoy also has its uses.
Loki has lots of ways to avoid detection, making him a great candidate for Spy missions, but he’s not the Warframe you want for an all-out firefight.
Many other Warframes on this list overshadow Nyx, but she still has a fun, serviceable kit that’s viable for plenty of content. Psychic Bolts is great as it can strip enemy defenses and you can change its trajectory mid-flight for some cheeky bank shots.
Chaos is a solid crowd control tool that makes enemies attack each other. I’ve had mixed results with this ability. It’s satisfying when it works, but I’ve also taken hits when I’m sure I should be safe.
Valkyr was my favorite Warframe until Garuda joined the fray! She’s a lot of fun but has limited abilities compared to a roster where many Warframes can do a bit of everything.
Warcry is a powerful ability that speeds up Valkyr and her allies’ melee attacks. If you combine that with Hysteria, she becomes completely immune to damage, becoming a stabby whirlwind of death! It’s as awesome as it sounds, but many Warframes do so much more.
Whilst not terrible by any means, Vauban just feels like an aging Warframe with only a couple of abilities you would want to build for. Bastille is hands down, the most popular ability for this Warframe as it holds enemies in place and can strip their armor.
Minelayer is also decent, allowing the player to cycle through 4 different mines to suit the occasion. Fun to play if you need to lock an area down and take time to learn his kit.
If you’re drawn to these Warframes, use them! Just be prepared for an uphill struggle.
Atlas has all the makings of a ‘one punch’ powerhouse but unfortunately, his kit just doesn’t let it happen. Atlas can get some use out of Petrify to freeze enemies in place so he can punch them with Landslide, but it just doesn’t do enough damage. His Tectonics and Rumblers are all but useless outside of meme builds. Unfortunately, there’s nothing Atlas does that other Warframes don’t do better.
It pains me to put one of my favorites down here, but it would be dishonest to place him anywhere else. Frost is a relic of a playstyle long since passed. His entire kit is built for slowing enemies down with abilities like Snowglobe. This sounds like an ideal fit for defense missions, but nowadays, stronger Warframes can just delete problems instead of delaying them. Sadly, Frost struggles in the one niche he should excel in.
Hydroid used to have a niche as a resource farmer using the Pilfering Swarm augment on his Tentacle Swarm ability. Sadly, just as with Frost, nobody plays like this anymore. Resources are easier to get and so much more using a frame like Nekros instead, who’s comfortably sitting in the A-Tier.
Considering how many Warframes are available, Digital Extremes have done a fantastic job balancing the roster. There will always be a ‘Meta’ and Warframes that outshine others but that doesn’t mean you have to use them if you don’t want to.
Decent Mods can make any Warframe viable, so I encourage you to go with your favorites over anything else!
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Where are the Prime Warframes?
Answer: Prime Warframes have superior base stats compared to standard Warframes, but it doesn’t change how useful their abilities are.
Question: You Said my Favorite Warframe is bad. Should I Pick a New One?
Answer: No, absolutely not. With the right mods, every Warframe is capable of doing the Weekly Sortie and beyond. Always pick your favorite. There are ways to make every Warframe work.
Question: Why Doesn’t your Tier List Take the Helminth System Into Account?
Answer: The Helminth system is great and allows you to really make Warframes really feel like they are yours. I think the changes you make should always be based on your own playstyle.