At first glance, Warframe is all about getting new ‘frames and weapons. But all of the real action is behind the scenes. Mods are the primary determiners of your power level — regardless of what weapons and robots you wield. They amplify raw damage, modify elemental types, and generally make everything you do better. Even if that Ashe Warframe is maxed out on level, it won’t truly be powerful until you have the right mods for it.
This guide will walk you through all of the different mod types. From your run-of-the-mill mods, to Rivens, Aura Mods, and Exilus Adapters: there’s a lot of ground to cover. So buckle in!
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There are five primary ranks of rarity for Warframe mods: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Legendary (commonly called Primed), and Riven. These follow the usual color schemes of bronze, silver, and gold. Meanwhile, Primed mods are platinum and Rivens are purple.
The latter two, Legendary and Riven, do not drop from enemies. Generally speaking, these special classes of mods are either purchased or earned through specific missions.
Mods come in the form of “cards” that equip to just about everything in Warframe. You get mods for your ‘frames, weapons, companions, Archwings, and more. Each mod enhances a different statistic (sometimes multiple statistics). Some increase your damage output. Others raise your shields and/or heal to increase survivability.
Normal mods drop throughout your everyday missions and as rewards for completing bounties. Regular enemies, bosses, and containers all randomly drop mods. Certain mission types — such as Survival, Excavation, and Interception — also periodically award mods. You’ll earn these suckers so quickly while playing Warframe that you won’t know what to do with them all. We’ll cover that in another guide, though!
Aura mods affect both you and your entire squad at once. They are equipped to a dedicated slot (only found on Warframes themselves) which cannot be utilized by any other type of mod.
The most common way to earn Aura Mods is by doing Mission Alerts. These are the time-limited events — usually lasting 30-60 minutes — that periodically appear on your star map. Keep an eye on the feed for chances to earn Aura Mods! If you don’t do these missions, you can go a long time without these important buffs.
If you’re on Twitter, we recommend following @WarframeAlerts. This account exclusively tweets out the details of Warframe Mission Alerts in real time. That includes info on the rewards you get and how long you have to beat a mission.
Also, unlike regular mods, Aura Mods stack if multiple players sport the same one on a single team. So a team of four players all equipped with Energy Siphon will regenerate more energy per second than a single player with the same. Most of these auras are map-wide, too. Only one, Infested Impedence, is isolated to the immediate area around its user.
One of the most important things about Aura Mods is that they add to your total mod capacity, rather than subtract from it. We’ll get more into this in a bit, so make sure to check back. For now, just know Aura Mods that match their slot’s polarity (the tiny symbol on the top-right of every mod card and mod slot) double their “drain.”
An Aura Mod with a drain value of four normally increases mod capacity by four. However, if the symbols match, it will instead increase capacity by eight. Likewise, if you put a an Aura Mod into a Warframe with a conflicting symbol, you will only get half the benefit. So the four bonus points would become two. That makes a huge difference — especially when you’re still leveling up a Warframe.
Stance Mods are very similar to Aura Mods. They can only be equipped in a specific slot and only on melee weapons. They also increase the weapon’s mod capacity, which again, is doubled when the polarities line up.
When equipped, Stance Mods add valuable melee combos to a weapon. They do not, however, affect the entire team like Aura Mods. And note that these are only available when the weapon is drawn instead of a gun: not when using quick melee.
Exilus Mods are, again, very similar to Aura Mods. They typically provide small utility bonuses — like the ability to see loot on your minimap. Exilus Mods must also be equipped in the special Exilus Mod slot, which only appears on Warframes and not weapons.
To unlock the slot, you must use a special item called an Exilus Adapter. This is a rare reward from Sorties (late-game daily missions), Teshin (the PVP vendor), and Cephalon Simaris (a special vendor on Relay stations that gives you hunting bounties). You also get Exilus Adapters from certain quests.
Technically, Drift Mods are just an offshoot of Exilus Mods. They fit into the Exilus slot on your Warframe and offer relatively minor boosts. However, they’re typically much more powerful than standard Exilus Mods. They provide two stat bonuses, like Nightmare Mode mods, and can only be obtained in one way (besides trading).
You obtain Drift Mods on Lua (aka the Orokin Moon). That’s the Warframe name for Earth’s moon. The zone doesn’t unlock until after you beat The Second Dream quest. Once you do, however, can access the area like any other. Except Lua missions will spawn one of several challenges at random. If you complete a Lua challenge, you get the corresponding Drift Mod. So the “agility test” unlocks Agility Drift, while the “collaboration test” unlocks Coaction Drift, and so on.
Nightmare Mode Mods
Once you “complete” a given planet or moon by fully unlocking all of its mission nodes, you unlock Nightmare Mode missions. These time-limited missions reward exclusive mods with two different stat buffs.
For example, Vigor increases both health and shields. And since it isn’t just a Primed version of Redirection (which increases shield capacity) or Vitality (which increases hit points), you can stack those bonuses.
They can be incredibly powerful. Although Nightmare Mode quests usually come with harsh modifiers (like no shields). Try to equip the right ‘frame for each job!
Like Nightmare Mods, Corrupted Mods affect two different stats. However, these mods increase one and actually reduce the other. However, the increased stat is leagues higher than most other mods in the game. And, like Nightmare Mode mods, you can stack them with normal mods. In general, try to increase something important to your Warframe and its play style while decreases something that doesn’t matter as much.
Unfortunately, Corrupted Mods are very tricky to obtain. You can only earn them, at random, on the Orokin Derelict. The mods are stored in hidden Vaults which require Dragon Keys to enter. There are four types of Dragon Keys and the Vault will only open for one. So, since only one player can equip one Dragon Key at a time, you want to have four players — each equipped with a different Dragon Key — every time you hunt for Corrupted Mods.
It’s complicated… And you don’t really have to worry about these items when you’re just starting out. It’s just helpful to know what they are so you at least know what general chat is talking about. Speaking of which, the Recruitment channel is a fantastic place to find teams of players looking for someone to help carry Dragon Keys.
As the name implies, Augment Mods alter a specific Warframe power. They provide existing abilities with additional effects or more power. Rising Storm, for instance, is an Ash mod that extends the melee multiplier of Blade Storm by 100 percent at its highest level. A mod for Hydroid, called Pilfering Swarm, causes enemies hit by the Tentacle Swarm skill to drop extra loot.
Warframe Syndicates found on Relay stations provide these mods. You need to align yourself with them to earn the “standing” necessary to buy them. Or you could just trade with other players for quicker access. Each Syndicate favors specific Warframes, too, so unlocking them all is a Herculean effort.
Conclave Mods are the least popular mods available. They’re exclusive to the PVP Conclave mode and don’t do anything anywhere else. Unless you plan on playing that (and not everyone does) these are safe to ignore.
Flawed / Damaged Mods
Flawed Mods are easily identified by their cracked images and large “DAMAGED” text on the cards. These are weaker versions of “real” mods that you get at the start of the game. They’re okay for new users, but should be replaced the second you get the standard versions. That should happen almost immediately.
Every few weeks, Baro Ki’Teer, a trader from the void, comes to a Tenno Relay somewhere in the solar system. If you know Xur from Destiny 2, you get the idea. Although Baro comes decidedly less frequently. He does brings a somewhat random selection of cosmetics, weapons, and Primed Mods, though. These Legendary Mods are better versions of normal mods and have a higher ceiling of rank 10.
Note that even though they technically have different names, Primed Mods do not stack with their regular counterparts.
Here are your late-game mods. Rivens, as the community calls them, are the bread and butter of the endgame and a big driving force of the game’s trading economy.
Each Riven Mod can have up to four random attributes — either positive or negative. And in general, stronger negative effects mirror stronger positive effects, similar to Corrupted Mods. The big difference is that these stats are completely random. That can make for some potent combinations that are highly sought after on Warframe‘s Trade channel.
Rivens are a potential reward through the daily Sortie missions which are offered later in the game. You also get one for completing “The War Within” quest.
Unlike other mods, Rivens drop in a Veiled state, where the stats are initially unknown. Every Riven is also specifically meant for one specific type of weapon. For instance, you can’t use an Aklex Riven on an Arca Plasmor. Not to mention, the less common a weapon is used by the Warframe community, the more powerful the Riven stats can potentially be.
Sadly, in Veiled form, all you know about a Riven is what category of weapon it’s for: rifle, melee, pistol, shotgun, etc. You unveil a Riven by completing a special challenge marked on the mod. That’s when you find out exactly what weapon it’s for and what effects it has.
Set Mods are rather unique. They gain strength with each mod from the same set that you equip. Each set consists of at most six mods that have their own stat on top of the set bonus. Augur Accord, for example, boosts your shield capacity depending on its rank. It also has the set bonus which is shared across the other mods. Equip just one Augur mod and you’ll only get 40 percent of your spent energy converted to shields. Complete the set, however, and you gain a much larger 240 percent.
Set Mods come from multiple different sources depending on, well, the set. They come from both random drops and bounties on the Earth and Venus open-world zones (Cetus and Fortuna, respectively). You also get a few sets from “The Sacrifice” quest.
You’ll pretty much never encounter Peculiar Mods unless you go looking for them. There are only two and you’ll likely have to shell out some Platinum in a trade. Thankfully, Peculiar Mods offer no combat advantage. Rather, they’re focused on silly little effects. They cause flowers to spawn on enemies you shoot and limbs to subtly inflate when you score critical hits.
Looking for more info on Warframe mods? The next part of our guide covers the process of equipping mods. We also have a guide for upgrading mods and everything that comes with that.