Now that we’ve run down the different types of mods in Warframe, we’re going to take a look at the process of actually equipping them. You’ll find that they function the same across both weapons and Warframes. That said, there is a delicate balancing act between maximizing the benefits of mods while remaining under the item’s mod capacity. So let’s start there!
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Every item you equip in Warframe has a certain level of mod capacity. This limits the number and strength of the mods you equip. Every item starts with a minimum mod capacity that eventually maxes out at 30 as you level it up. You can then double this with an Orokin Reactor (an item used to buff Warframes) or an Orokin Catalyst (an item used to buff weapons). An items’ starting mod capacity is relatively small, however, and only allows you to equip one or two basic mods at first.
Items level up as you use them, increasing their mod capacity over time, until you reach the maximum of 30. This gets easier as you play the game, however, since your Mastery Rank (the overall level of your profile in Warframe) overrides all items’ minimum mod capacity. If your weapon starts with a minimum mod capacity of four, for example, but your Mastery Rank is 11, the weapon instead starts with 11 mod capacity.
There are other ways to increase your mod capacity — even beyond using Catalysts and Reactors. For more information on that, check out our Upgrading Warframe Mods Guide.
Mod Slots Versus Mod Capacity
It’s also important not to confuse mod slots with mod capacity. Mod capacity is the maximum sum total of every mod’s strength that you can have equipped on an item. So if you have 15 total mod capacity, you can equip three level five mods, or five level three mods, or any other sum up to 15 total strength.
Meanwhile, mod slots define the total number of mods you can equip on a given item — regardless of total strength. Every item can have up to 10 “normal” mods. Melee weapons also get a Stance mod slot, while Warframes get special Exilus and Aura slots that can only equip certain mods. It’s… complicated, but makes more sense once you see it firsthand. For more details about the different kinds of mods, check out our Warframe Mod Types Guide.
Every mod also has a polarity. Excluding Aura Mods, Stance Mods, and Exilus Mods, all mods can be equipped in any mod slot. Polarity does not limit which mods can be equipped, period. Rather, polarities give bonuses and penalties if the the slots and mods line up or not, respectively.
Most items in the game come with at least some polarized mod slots. Match these up with the right mods and the their capacity cost will be halved. If the polarities don’t match the cost will increase by 25 percent.
Meanwhile, Aura and Stance mods actually add mod capacity based on their levels, rather than detract from it. So polarity works a little differently for mods in those slots. Match your Aura and/or Stance polarities and the bonus capacity you receive will double. Mismatch the mods and the bonus will be reduced by 20 percent.
If that sounds a little confusing, you honestly aren’t wrong. It’s a lot for a new player to comprehend. The good news is that Digital Extremes doesn’t really punish you for not having optimal mods until very late in the game. You’ll have hours upon hours to gradually adjust to the system. I’m more than 100 hours into the game and only just starting to get really finicky about my mod selection.
Physical Mod Damage Types
Most basic weapons come with, well, one of three basic damage types. These are Puncture, Slash, and Impact damage. Different enemies are weak to different damage types, but here’s a very simple breakdown of who is weak to what:
- Grineer – Puncture (sometimes causes enemies to deal less damage).
- Corpus – Impact (sometimes staggers enemies).
- Infested – Slash (sometimes causes enemies to “bleed” and lose health over time).
You can increase any weapon’s overall damage with a basic damage mod: like the Serration mod for primary weapons. This will boost all your damage types on a particular weapon — regardless of its type and whether the damage comes from a mod or the weapon’s basic stats. However, some mods will also enhance a particular damage type.
Jagged Edge, for example, increases the Slash damage of any melee weapon you equip the mod to. It will not, however, add Slash damage to a weapon that doesn’t already have it. So don’t waste your mod slots and capacity with mismatched physical damage.
Elemental Mod Damage Types
Here’s something else that was a surprise to me. The order in which you slot your mods into your weapons actually matters. Any mod that gives your weapon a different elemental damage type — like Heat or Cold — can be combined with another elemental mod to produce a tertiary damage type. And unlike physical damage, you can add elemental damage to weapons that don’t already have it.
That can be pretty important. Different enemies are weak to different elements. And if you aren’t high enough level to deal incredible damage yet, you want to have a few different loadouts ready with varying damage types.
For starters, here are all of the basic damage types:
- Heat – Sets enemies on fire.
- Cold – Slows enemies down.
- Electricity – Stuns enemies.
- Toxin – Poisons enemies.
And here are the combination elemental damage types. Remember, to get a combination element, you need to add two or more mods with the necessary basic elements to your weapon first:
- Blast (Heat + Cold) – Knocks enemies down.
- Corrosive (Electricity + Toxin) – Reduces enemy armor.
- Gas (Heat + Toxin) – Creates an AoE toxic cloud.
- Magnetic (Cold + Electricity) – Reduces enemy shields.
- Radiation (Heat + Electricity) – Reduces enemy accuracy and causes them to damage each other.
- Viral (Cold + Toxin) – Reduces maximum health.
Warframe will read your elemental combinations from left to right, top to bottom, as you place the damage mods into your weapon. The mods do not have to be back to back, either. For example, if you put in Heat, Electricity, and Toxin mods — in that order from the top left — you actually get both Radiation and Toxin damage as a result.
Here are our general recommendations of damage types to use against different enemy factions. This is by no means a perfect breakdown, but should be useful:
- Grineer – Radiation + Toxin
- Corpus – Magnetic + Toxin
- Infested – Corrosive + Heat
- Corrupted – Corrosive + Cold
In addition to these basic enemy factions, you also encounter “Sentient” enemies later in the game. These robotic foes repeatedly adapt to damage types as you attack them — taking less damage from each category over time. Equip multiple weapons with different damage types and alternate to take them down. Then, once you beat The Second Dream quest, you can also use your Operator’s void attacks to “reset” Sentient resistances. This makes these fights much easier, as you can continue to attack with your preferred weapons over and over.
You can make things easier on yourself by saving up to three pre-made “loadouts” for each weapon. Just select between Loadout A, B, and C when placing your mods. The game will automatically save those combinations for future use. That way, you can have one gun with loadouts specialized for Grineer, Corpus, etc.
Looking for more info on Warframe mods? Head on over to our mod type guide or check out our upgrading mods guide!