Warframe Guide – Introduction to Progression and Mastery

Warframe is an online, shared-world game developed by Digital Extremes. As it features elements of MMOs, shooters, dungeon crawling looters, PvP, crafting, RPGs and more, we’ve put together a collection of guides to help new players get to grips.

With Warframe having just launched on Switch, it’s the perfect time for players to learn or get a refresher course. 

Warframe Guide


OK, you’ll need to bear with me, because from here on out, things start to get COMPLICATED. Everything that you can equip in-game — Warframe, weapon, companion, Archwing and their individual components — can be levelled up to a maximum of 30 levels.

As you progress through the game, you will be awarded Affinity, which is essentially XP. This is shared across your devices, depending on how the Affinity is won. For example, a Melee kill will split the Affinity between the Warframe and the Melee weapon, while a companion kill will all be applied to the companion only.

Each progressive level requires more and more Affinity, but levelling your equipment does not increase stats. This seems counter-intuitive, as compared to other RPGs, but levelling does have other effects. Namely, it increases your mod capacity and it directly influences your Mastery Rank.

The bottom line is that if you want to progress in the game, you NEED to level your equipment, but levelling your equipment does not itself increase your effectiveness.

Levelling Up

So what does?

Progression in Warframe is fairly simple, but it does take time to understand. At least without a little help; so hopefully this article will clear it up for you.

All of your equipment have base stats and these don’t change as you increase their level. There is some slight change as you level a Warframe, unlocking abilities, for example, and some very small stat increases, but no major increase in power.

The stats also don’t change much as you increase your Mastery Level. The ONLY way to increase your stats is to apply mods. Every piece of equipment has a number of mod slots and a certain capacity for mods.

As you progress through the game, you will find mods which drop from enemies, bosses, and so on. There are hundreds of them, each of which affects your stats in some specific way. For example, the Vitality mod will increase the base health of your Warframe by 20% at its base level. Realistically, this means that mods are the primary method of progression.


In essence, progression in Warframe requires three things; levelling your gear to increase Mastery, increasing your Mastery level to get access to better weapons and mods and applying mods with increasing power. This will then allow you to take on missions with higher and higher Enemy Level.

To some degree, this is oversimplifying, but to a new player, this will definitely help. To put this in perspective, after 25 hours in the game I was MR4 and comfortable against enemies up to around level 20. Considering end game content can include Enemy Level 80-100 the game has lots of playability.


I’ve referred to Mastery Rank several times now, but I still haven’t explained what it is.

Mastery Rank is essentially your Account Level and pretty much just reflects how much of the game you’ve played. You rank up by gaining XP from levelling your weapons. All Affinity applied to weapons is transferred as XP to MR and when you hit a certain amount, you are invited to take a Mastery test.

Increasing in MR rewards players with a few things many of which will mean nothing to you at the start of the game. Most importantly, though, increasing MR will increase the initial mod capacity of your items, and unlock equipment of increasing power.

On top of this, increasing MR will increase the amount of Void Traces you can collect, Syndicate reputation you can earn, the number of extractors you can deploy, additional loadout slots, and access to trading.

All of this does a few things. Primarily, it provides some gating, so players can’t buy their way to power. It also gates access to various later-game benefits. Some of the benefits I’ve mentioned above will mean nothing to you as a beginner, but as you progress, you’ll begin to understand their importance.

Considering players can choose NOT to switch weapons once they’ve maxed their level, there needs to be some impetus to increasing MR.

Lastly – and this is actually my favourite part – once you’ve maxed out a weapon, for example, you can apply a resource that will reset its level and increase the mod capacity.

This means that you can continue to improve your favourite weapons and turn them into powerhouses. However, once maxed, you can no longer gain XP from them.

This system encourages players to try different weapons and different Warframes and means that you have a damned good reason to try out all the toys. 

Make sure you check out our other Warframe Guides to help get you started.

This post first appeared on Cephalon Squared and has been republished here with permission.

Greg Newbegin
Greg Newbeginhttp://genewbegin.com
Gamer since the early '80s. Dad. May or may not be terrible at video games. Also a writer of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror - see what I'm working on at genewbegin.com!

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