Damage in Warframe is pretty complicated… just like the rest of the game. The amount of damage you do to a given enemy depends on the type of physical damage you output, what kind of elemental mods you have equipped, if those combine into more unqiue elements, and much more. Most enemies also have distinct both vulnerabilities and resistances — even within the same faction. This is why multiple loadout slots exist: so that you can easily equip different weapons and Warframes with different damage types for the right situation.
Before we break down the different Warframe damage types, and how to understand that aspect of the system, let’s first talk about the numbers that Warframe displays.
When you deal damage to enemies, you’ll notice numbers that spew out of them. These are color coded based on how successful the attack was. Default attacks are white while critical hits are yellow. Orange and red indicate even stronger “super critical” hits that are only possible when your weapon has a greater than 100 percent crit chance. And when damaging shields, the numbers will always be blue. Likewise “overshields” are always purple. The only time you really need to worry, though, is if you’re seeing gray. This means the enemy isn’t taking damage at all. This is usually caused by special mechanics or hitboxes that make characters immune to damage.
Last but not least, you’ll occasionally see icons appended to the damage numbers you cause. For example, the symbol for “radioactive” or a magnet. These indicate that your attack generated a status effect. Every damage type in the game has its own status effect: like poisonous damage-over-time from the Toxin damage type or a stagger from the Impact damage type. These have a percentage chance to activate, just like critical hits.
Primary Damage Types
Most weapons have one of — or some combination of — three physical damage types. Impact (represented by a hammer icon), Puncture (a needle through a circle), and Slash (shown as a vertical arc) are the primary physical damage types you’re dealing with. Physical damage types are generally less important and less customizable than elemental damage types (which we’ll get to later). Even this is a gross oversimplification, but let’s just roll with it for now. Warframe is a complicated game.
Each has its own strengths and weaknesses associated with it. Impact is generally strong against shields, Puncture against armor, and Slash against flesh. They also have a chance to generate different status effects.
Here’s a quick rundown:
- Impact: Strong against Shields. Weak against flesh. Can stagger enemies.
- Puncture: Strong against armor. Weak against shields. Can reduce enemy damage output.
- Slash: Strong against flesh. Weak against armor. Can cause a bleed effect.
Physical damage can also be amplified by mods such as Serration.
Elemental Damage Types
While physical damage is typically (but not always) determined by the weapon you’re using, elemental damage is almost entirely (but not always) determined by the user. You can add elemental damage types on top of a weapon’s physical attributes with mods.
There are five primary elements in Warframe: Cold, Electricity, Heat, Toxin, and Void.
- Cold: Strong against shields and Alloy Armor (mostly found on bosses and heavy enemies). Weak to flesh. Can slow enemies.
- Electricity: Strong against robots. Weak to boss armor. Can chain lightning to other enemies.
- Heat: Strong against infested flesh. Weak to Proto Shields (mostly found on bosses). Can cause burn and panic effects.
- Toxin: Strong against regular flesh. Weak to robots. Can cause a poison effect.
- Void: A relatively new and strange damage type. It’s not actually stronger or weaker against any enemy in the game, but it has unique effects when used against the Sentient faction. Some Sentient enemies can only be killed by Void; other Sentients gain resistance to all other damage types over time which can be reset to zero by Void. The status effect for this damage type causes bullets to magnetize towards a specific spot for a short time.
There’s also Tau damage. This currently only exists as a damage type dealt by certain enemies in Warframe and cannot be wielded by the player. Like Void, it also has zero strengths or weaknesses against different HP types. Nor does it cause any special status effects on opponents.
But even that’s not all. If you equip multiple, different elemental mods on a single item they will combine into different damage types. Which brings us to…
Secondary Elemental Damage
Secondary elements are created by equipping an even number of elemental mods with differing damage types. For example, Hellfire (Heat damage) and Cryo Rounds (Cold damage) combine together to create the secondary Blast damage. Note that combined damage types take the place of their constituent elements. So, if you do combine Heat and Cold to make Blast damage, you will no longer deal Heat and/or Cold damage. The Blast will overwrite the other two mods. You can counteract this by equipping an odd number of elemental damage mods.
- Blast (Heat + Cold): Strong against machines. Weak against Ferrite Armor (typically found on Grineer foot soldiers). Can knock down enemies.
- Corrosive (Electricity + Toxin): Very strong against basic armor and some heavy Infested. Weak against boss shields. Can reduce armor effectiveness.
- Gas (Heat + Toxin): Strong against Infested flesh. Weak against other flesh. Can create a toxic cloud that deals damage-over-time in an area.
- Magnetic (Cold + Electricity): Strong against shields. Weak against boss and heavy armor. Can increase the damage shields take and deactivate natural shield regeneration.
- Radiation (Heat + Electricity): Strong against boss armor, robots, and certain Infested on Deimos. Weak against shields and some Infested enemies. Can confuse enemies into attacking each other.
- Viral (Cold + Toxin): Strong against regular flesh. Weak against some Infested (several large Deimos enemies are completely immune to it) and Grineer machinery. Can create a stacking damage multiplier that causes enemy health to take more damage.
The order in which you place the mods also matters in Warframe. The game reads them left to right, top to bottom. Put a third mod after those Heat and Cold mods to add another primary elemental effect such as Toxin. Put the Toxin before those mods, however, and you’ll get Gas damage and Cold damage instead. See the screenshots below for the example.
You can have three different mod loadouts for each weapon and ‘frame you use. We recommend you outfit each of these for the main enemy factions: Grineer, Corpus, and Infested. The vast majority of early to mid-game missions focus on these foes. And every mission will let you know the primary enemy type within, so setting up different loadouts lets you easily swap to the right mod setup. For the most part, this will carry you all the way to endgame activities and beyond.
There really is no simple solution to which damage types are most effective against every faction. Infested are a great example, as they have four different types of health depending on the specific subspecies you encounter.
These are our recommendations for your builds:
- Grineer: Corrosive against rank-and-file enemies. Radiation against bosses and heavy foes. Puncture remains generally effective.
- Corpus: Magnetic, Viral, and Impact. Corpus “Flesh” does resist impact somewhat, but this health pool is usually miniscule compared to their shields.
- Infested: Corrosive, Slash, and Gas are effective in most situations. Infested resistances unfortunately vary wildly. Radiation, for example, is usually weak against the faction, but is effective against the “Infested Sinew” armor type. Magnetic, on the other hand, is not strong or weak against any Infested health type. However, its anti-shield status effect is useless against these enemies.
These will take care of most missions. Later in the game, especially while opening Void Relics, you start to face Corrupted enemies. These technically consist of multiple mutated factions. As such there’s not really a perfect damage type to bring against them. Then again, there’s rarely a perfect damage type to bring against anyone. Viral, however, is generally applicable since there currently no enemies who resist it. Not to mention the Viral status effect is quite good in general. Cold is also effective since there’s only one type of Corrupted enemy (at the time of this writing) with any resistance to it.
To help visualize this, we prepared the following graphics.
These, too, are vast oversimplifications of an endlessly complex Warframe system. But they should be as simplified as possible while also giving generally accurate information. Some enemy types are obviously omitted; there are literally hundreds of units and variants in Warframe. Most of these either don’t appear that often or aren’t worth worrying about matching damage types against. Does anyone really need help killing a Latcher with just 10 HP?
Other enemies have unique, puzzle-like restrictions despite their health types. Eidolons, for instance, technically sport very dense Shield health. Yet these shields can only be pierced by the Operator Void Beam (we’ll get to Void damage in the next section). Thus it’s actually the monsters’ Alloy Armor and Robotic health need to worry about when customizing your weapons.
Speaking of shields (marked in blue above) and armor (colored with yellow), these are typically your number one priority when dealing damage. Depleting a unit’s health type (colored above in red) is what kills it. However, these are usually much less dense than shields (in the case of most Corpus enemies) and/or heavily protected by armor. Basic Infested enemies are the major exception. These typically rely on numbers, rather than durability, and are weak to Gas damage, which excels at crowd control. Even this is an oversimplification: the Deimos open-world zone introduced a wide variety of large Infested with a unique armor type that are weak to Radiation rather than the usual Corrosive.
It’s literally a balancing act. Whenever a particular damage type becomes overused, developer Digital Extremes introduces a new enemy type or reworks a status effect. Even as Deimos made Radiation more valuable, the Sisters of Parvos gave us a use for Magnetic. On and on it goes… Just try your best.
Sentients & Void Damage
The Sentient faction mentioned in relation to Void damage above is unique. Unlike other enemies, which have defined strengths and weaknesses, Battalysts and certain other Sentients can “adapt” to up to four damage types as you deal them. That means if you deal too much Heat damage, for example, they’ll become almost entirely resistant to Heat damage after a few hits, and so on. Therefore it benefits you to vary up your damage types when fighting these enemies. Consider equipping your primary, secondary, and melee weapons all with their own damage types — preferably with several different types on each weapon.
Later in the game, after The Second Dream story quest, you also unlock “Operator” mode. This allows you to leave your Warframe and use an Operator’s Void Beam to damage Sentients directly. This effect removes all of the enemy’s developed damage resistances. They will regain them again, however, so you will then need to hop out and reset the damage again. Certain other enemies in Warframe also interact with Void damage in unique ways. For example: transforming into ghosts that can only be killed by Void damage, or erecting shields that can only be depleted by Void damage.
As time wears on, Warframe is also beginning to add Void damage from other sources. The most notable of which for now is the ‘frame called Xaku. They’re a unique character class, in that they can deal Void damage with abilities, but don’t gain all the usual benefits. They can still reset drone-type Sentients’ damage resistances. However, they can’t damage Eidolons (boss Sentients with shields that must be depleted by Void). Nor can they reset the Profit-Taker boss’s shields as Operator beams can.
As for Tau damage, as mentioned above, this is a unique damage type dealt by Sentient enemies. It’s currently impossible for players to inflict it themselves. On the bright side, Tau damage doesn’t really have any special effects.
Similar to Tau damage, True damage is not really a proper damage “type” in Warframe. It’s more of a semi-invisible statistic used for balance reasons. It simply refers to any effect that deals damage while ignoring all weaknesses and resistances to instead deal fixed amount. This more-or-less means melee finishers and the bleed damage inflicted by Slash status procs.
And there you have our very basic breakdown of Warframe damage types! Consider checking out this table if you need the real nitty gritty on every single enemy type. But know that these tips and tricks should help you get through nearly all the content in Warframe without a hitch. Good luck out there, Tenno!