Warframe Beginner’s Guide — Which Starter Warframe Should You Pick?

At the beginning of Warframe, players are given a choice between one of three of the titular space ninjas. Eventually you’ll be able to unlock all of the game’s 40+ characters, but the choice between Excalibur, Mag, and Volt will define your early experience with the game. So which should you go with? None of them is a bad choice, so here’s our breakdown to help you decide.



In many ways the face of Warframe, Excalibur’s design is based on a character in Digital Extremes’ previous game, Dark Sector. He’s not much to look at, but Excalibur is a powerful Warframe with a range of useful abilities. Slash Dash is an extremely powerful lunging attack that can chain to multiple enemies, while Radial Blind and Radial Javelin are good crowd control options. Finally, he can summon the powerful Exalted Blade to deal massive damage to large groups of enemies.

Excalibur Pros

  • Passive ability gives him a boost to attack speed and damage while using swords
  • High armor compared to the other starting Warframes, which reduces incoming damage
  • Exalted Blade is an extremely powerful ability that can be sustained for long periods of time with the right mods

Excalibur Cons

  • No buff abilities to directly help team members
  • No long range abilities
  • Using a weapon other than a sword means missing out on Excalibur’s passive ability

The Verdict

Excalibur is a great all-around choice for solo players who want to focus on melee combat and pure damage. Radial Blind and Javelin also make him a welcome addition to many teams, giving him some basic crowd control abilities. It’s important to note, however, that you will receive an upgraded, separate form of Excalibur in a quest later in the game that essentially renders the base model obsolete. It’s not for a while into Warframe, but it’s something to keep in mind.



The only female Warframe of the starting trio, Mag’s abilities revolve around magnetism, as her name suggests. Mag sacrifices health for stronger shields, and her abilities inflict Magnetic damage, which is in turn deadly to enemy shields. Pull brings enemies closer to Mag, which can be useful for getting into melee range. Magnetize freezes foes in place while also drawing gunfire and other objects towards them. Polarize emits a pulse that strips enemy shields and armor while restoring allies’ shields, and Crush creates a field of deadly Magnetic energy. Mag’s abilities have powerful synergies between them, too. For instance, Polarize creates shards of metal which can then be attracted to enemies using Magnetize.

Mag Pros

  • Passive ability pulls in pickups when bullet jumping
  • High shields
  • Great crowd control options

Mag Cons

  • Low health, so susceptible to damage types that bypass shields
  • Magnetic damage is less effective against unshielded enemies like Grineer

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a support class, Mag is probably your best bet amongst the starter Warframes. She works perfectly fine solo, but shines when her abilities are simultaneously damaging enemies and helping allies. Plus, controlling enemy movement is even more useful in a group when your allies can then coordinate fire on your trapped foes.

More Warframe:



If you want unlimited power, then Volt’s the Warframe for you. With his electrical abilities, Volt can take down targets, boost his speed, and create barriers, making him a highly flexible choice for any mission. His basic attack is Shock, which fires a bolt of lightning that can zigzag between enemies. Speed grants Volt and nearby allies a bonus to movement, reload, and melee attack speed that can stack with other modifiers to accelerate Volt to ludicrous speed. Electric Shield creates a barrier that can be placed or picked up by Volt which blocks incoming attacks and charges outgoing ones with Electrical damage. Finally, Discharge releases an energy pulse that stuns enemies and chains damage between them.

Volt Pros

  • Passive ability builds up static energy as Volt moves, which is then released in his next attack
  • Speed is great for rushing through missions as quickly as possible
  • Range of abilities to attack enemies and assist allies

Volt Cons

  • Electrical damage is less useful against armored Grineer enemies

The Verdict

Volt is a powerful Warframe welcome in any team thanks to his useful abilities, but also a great choice for playing solo. He’s probably the most versatile of the three starters, and the one that will be the most useful into the late game. That said, his reliance on Electricity damage can hinder him in situations where enemies resist it.

One Last Note

Regardless of which Warframe you pick, you’ll be able to build the others later on in the game. The initial choice doesn’t lock out any content, so feel free to pick whichever appeals to you most (on the basis of gameplay or even appearance) and rest easy knowing that if you don’t end up liking it, you’ll always be able to switch out down the line.


merritt k

Managing Editor, Podcasts

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