Any Warframe tier list has just about the same goal: providing you, the reader, with an at-a-glance idea of what’s worth playing and using in such a phenomenally complicated game. Not everyone has the time to grind or the money to buy all the best Warframes outright. You might instead just want to know what’s best for you and your preferred playstyle! Well, that’s what we’re attempting to give you now, alongside an overview of the best crowd control, damage dealers, supports, and more in the world of Warframe. That goes for whether you read the tier list in its entirety or just look at our brief notes on every Warframe released in the game as of March 2023.
This, by the way, is why you’re likely to see a lot of Warframes hovering around the A and B tiers. Generally good and/or playable are the norms these days. Excellent or ineffective? Well, those are the actual outliers. As they probably should be! Let’s take a look at all of them together, however, with a quick table of our Warframe tier list.
How Are the Rankings Selected?
Before we continue with more specific notes, there are two things worth pointing out. First is that this is not a basic starter guide to Warframe itself. We will probably use some jargon that total newcomers won’t recognize. Though we do our absolute best to be clear in most cases. Second of all… The fact of the matter is that nearly every Warframe in Warframe is just in a pretty good spot right now! This is due to the frankly absurd level of flexibility available through things like Arcanes, the Helminth system, Augments, and of course just your average mods.
It’s still pretty fair to say that most Warframes have at least one or two “useless” skills. While they may not be bad in a vacuum, sometimes they just don’t fit the overall needs of a particular character.
That’s where Helminth comes in. This giant, fungal wall requires a huge investment: a large number of crafting materials and entire Warframes to be sacrificed between its kissy lips. The sacrifice is not in vain, however, as this allows you to mix and match Warframe abilities between one another. Almost any character can suddenly become viable in a variety of ways with new combinations. The downside is that this is a huge grind. The upside is that you can play nearly however you want with whoever you want.
At the end of the day, though, most Warframes use their own abilities — be they simple passives or “ultimates” — as a starting point for all other customizations. This means it’s worth thinking about which Warframes are better in a wider variety of situations. The goal of these rankings is to determine which of those frames aren’t just usable in most content, but also excel in most content. Though some of the middle tiers might also just excel at one particular thing so well that they rise above the less applicable options.
The highest tier usually includes Warframes that offer both: versatility across most common gameplay encounters plus something that makes them really stand out. Though there are always exceptions. Always consider any tier list as a guideline provided by people with unique personal experiences that may influence those decisions. There is no such thing as an “objective opinion,” after all. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.
Important Notes on Specific Warframes
To help organize my thoughts a bit better for players that might not know each Warframe by name or by heart, I’ve included a lot of my reasoning in the sections below. These are broken up according to tiers, but each tier is presented in no particular order. Every Warframe in a given tier represents a particular playstyle, but generally functions in the same “bucket” of quality for general use. Naturally, we’re going to start with the S rankings and make our way down the tiers to D.
S Tier – Warframe Tier List
♦ Octavia has been and remains laughably strong since her release in 2017. Though she can require a bit of setup if you don’t have great timing. Her third power, “Metronome,” basically creates a quick-time event that provides buffs by performing certain actions on the beat with the music she produces. You can make these easier by using her Mandachord (the Warframe equivalent of a synthesizer) back on your ship. Simply set her “music” to play at a consistent rhythm.
From that point onward, “Nocturne” is probably the most important buff. Just crouch in time with one of her beats and suddenly you (plus any allies that do the same) are invisible. This means the first Octavia skill, “Mallet,” takes all the aggro. Which is good because the skill does scaling damage the more that enemies attack it. This allows Octavia to frankly trivialize much of the game. Assuming you go through the hassle of farming her blueprints and/or don’t mind spending Platinum.
♦ “Reservoirs” alone make Wisp worthwhile as they provide passive healing, crowd control, and movement speed to all teammates. For a lot of folks, though, “Breach Surge” is the star of the show. This blinds enemies while simultaneously causing them to become friendly “turrets” that release head-seeking projectiles — every single time they take damage.
Combine this with something like Gas damage to turn your enemies into headshot machines, or just hit them with “Sol Gate.” This does decent damage on its own, but more importantly has a 100% chance to proc projectiles from “Breach Surge.” Finally, “Will-O-Wisp” makes Wisp temporarily invisible, allowing her to escape most dangerous situations.
♦ Khora is an absolute damage monster with the right build. The “Accumulating Whipclaw” augment makes her signature whip even more powerful while “Strangledome” provides some survivability through crowd control. Khora’s passive pet, Venari, can also be ordered to heal you for more direct recovery.
However, you can “replace” Venari with potentially more useful Helminth abilities. This keeps the pet (since Venari doubles as a passive skill) and simply removes your ability to resurrect or command it directly. Venari still returns 45 seconds after “death.”
♦ Wukong thrives in spite of a downright mediocre ultimate. With the advent of “subsumed” abilities via Helmith, however, he becomes a blank canvas on which you can paint a variety of better damage, crowd control, or support skills. All because his other powers make him nearly immortal with little to no effort. He can heal himself and bypass certain mechanics with “Cloud Walker.” Then “Defy” boosts his armor, makes him temporarily invulnerable, and dishes damage back at foes.
Wukong arguably relies on “Celestial Twin” as his signature skill. This simply creates a direct clone of your character that fights beside you. That’s especially good with area-of-effect weapons. That way you don’t need your aimbot clone to actually, um, aim. To top it all off, if enemies target you instead, Wukong gets free extra lives as his innate passive. Not a bad deal!
♦ Saryn. Old reliable. She’s a nuclear bomb that moves fast and is surprisingly hard to kill, thanks to the aggro generation on “Molt.” Which also explodes for more damage… There’s nearly nothing wrong with her even after years of tweaks and changes to elemental damage. She doesn’t provide much utility, but that’s not really her job.
♦ Garuda just doesn’t stop. She brings infinite energy, infinite health, instant reloads (by way of the “Blood Forge” Augment), and a creeping damage buff that raises bother her ability damage and the power of her weapons. Which, as we just addressed, she can reload instantly while refilling her energy.
Besides blocking damage and making for a potentially spicy nuke, “Dread Mirror” is also a surprisingly good movement ability as the “pounce” Garuda performs has excellent range. You can use the shield while standing inside “Blood Altar” to become a great tank that also passively heals allies.
Or just replace the altar altogether with “Breach Surge” from Wisp. This pairs nicely with “Seeking Talons,” which causes extra bleeding on enemies, in turn dealing damage and proccing more projectiles from “Breach Surge,” which have a chance to cause more bleeding.
♦ Gauss is a hilarious little solo dynamo that can literally deal damage by smashing face-first into walls. He can outright block a huge number of damage types while providing himself with almost instant energy regeneration in the process. While he doesn’t provide a ton of obvious crowd control or team synergy, he does knock enemies down and produce Heat damage, which reduces armor and causes a “panic” effect that acts like a stun. He’s basically a perfectly self-contained package out of the box, which allows you lots of room to experiment with Helminth skills and more.
A Tier – Warframe Tier List
♦ Mesa does one thing exceptionally well: blast the ever-loving hell out of anything that moves. She can also take a hit thanks to “Shatter Shield.” Though she’s comparatively fragile without it. While all this is happening, you can effectively stun enemies with “Shooting Gallery,” and boost your damage alongside that of your allies.
Her great weakness is that her signature “Peacemaker” pistols lock her in place as she fires. This is both annoying and potentially dangerous. It also presents an opportunity cost compared to other Warframes that can kill quickly while still moving or performing other actions. This is why Mesa winds up in our A tier, despite the fact that she’s traditionally considered one of the best characters in the game.
That’s still true. She is one of the best Warframes in the game. She simply faces stiffer and stiffer competition every year. In certain circumstances, like Defense missions, she’s undeniably at the top. In others, you can do better.
♦ Lavos requires a lot of setup and plays quite differently than other Warframes in the game. This leads some players to write him off without really exploring his potential. Yet he becomes a powerhouse built on status effects with the right mods and some forethought. He’s far more than the simple “pilot” Warframe fans sometimes refer to him as, thanks to his ability to cast Railjack powers without using energy.
One popular playstyle involves using “Mecha” mods to spread his various status effects across large groups of powerful enemies. “Condition Overload” also makes him an incredible melee character, while “Growing Power” pairs well with his signature Cedo shotgun. “Swift Bite” is also great for the Steel Path — where enemies are stronger and more numerous.
All of this actually puts Lavos in the strange position of being more powerful against endgame enemies than standard foes. He needs targets with hefty health bars to really ramp up his various status effects.
Lavos does lose points, however, for simply being a bit unintuitive. Making the most of his skills require you to “infuse” them with other elements. This requires rote memorization of which abilities tie to which element (e.g. pressing and holding his ultimate ability infuses Fire damage into any other power).
♦ Trinity is no longer the mandatory squad member she used to be. Not with the addition of Operator powers and mods that allow easier energy regeneration. Yet she still fills her niche as a general super-healer quite nicely. Using the “Energy Leech” augment, she’s also quite a powerful tank thanks to shield gating (a semi-secret Warframe technique that prevents damage when your shields drop from full to zero).
♦ Styanax isn’t exceptionally flashy. He occupies a similar, straightforward mascot role as Excalibur: doing a little bit of a lot of different things. And all of those things are very, very good. Styanax regenerates team energy and shields, strips enemy armor, and stuns foes while dealing area-of-effect damage at range. He may not look that exciting, but the Warframe is so well-rounded that he can fit into any team composition or help solo most of the content in the game with little issue.
♦ Titania is an all-around good damage dealer that supports her allies with some very useful buffs. In addition, her “Razorwing Blitz” is a unique power that turns her into a miniature flying fairy — allowing her to bypass and outright trivialize a lot of platforming sections while she shreds opponents.
♦ Xaku is weird and we absolutely love them for it. They’re a great all-rounder with a variety of different abilities that synergize well with the Helminth system. They reduce shields and armor, mind control enemies, disarm foes (while turning their guns against them), and increase the amount of Void damage they take. You can also lift enemies in the air — making them easy headshot targets for “Xata’s Whisper,” which can proc a “bullet attractor” status effect that draws in more headshots. On top of this, Xaku has a unique “dodge chance” mechanic that makes projectiles likely to not hit them at all.
But “unique” isn’t always to everyone’s liking. In a game like Warframe, that’s someone understandable, since new ideas might not cooperate with mods and other items you’ve already invested resources into. Dodge chance doesn’t directly synergize with popular mods like “Adaptation,” for instance.
♦ Nekros could be considered a fairly middle-of-the-road Warframe with a very useful non-combat skill: “Desecrate.” Players mostly use this to generate extra loot, which can have some gameplay impact by generating orbs and ammo, but it’s inconsistent. What’s more consistent now is the power of “Soul Punch” and “Shadows of the Dead.”
Warframe‘s Eximus enemies — elite foes with powerful passive abilities that buff their allies — got a major rework recently. They’re now stronger and immune to crowd control until you break a special health bar called their “overguard.” Breaking overguard and using mind control-y abilities is quite a hassle. Shooting them to death and bringing their ghosts back to life, on the other hand, is much simpler. Which is exactly what Nekros can do with his previously mentioned powers.
♦ Damage. Armor Reduction. Defense. Crowd control. Buffs. Vauban has your back on just about everything. It only took years of tweaks and reworking to get there… I could just as easily put him in the S tier, but am slightly reticent to do so thanks to slightly wonky physics with his “Vortex” and tether mines. If placed incorrectly, even by accident, these can actually slow down mission completion. And there’s no way to turn them off until the abilities run their course.
♦ Citrine is a pretty straightforward support frame. She heals, defends, and boosts damage through increased status chance and especially crits. Her ultimate ability gives a guaranteed 300% critical hit chance — providing her controller and their allies with “tier 3” critical hits. Otherwise known as “red crits.” Citrine can also generate energy and health orbs. Though she doesn’t technically need to if all you want to do is heal. Her passive actually gives all nearby allies naturally regenerating HP with no downside. This effect can even be boosted by picking up health orbs, which raise the regen for the entire rest of the mission.
♦ Caliban is a half-Sentient Warframe that bring some distinct ideas to the table. Namely: more Sentients. These little buggers aren’t just surprisingly tanky; they also heal overheal shields for you and your allies. In addition, they have high threat levels that draw enemy fire for more passive tanking.
This lets you bypass some of the usual problems with corrupting and controlling enemies. You don’t need to worry about Eximus “overguard” (explained in greater detail above). You can just summon allies that draw aggro and provide buffs on a whim — a surprisingly rare trait among playable Warframes.
Caliban also provides both shield and armor stripping in one skill, similar to Hildryn below. There’s plenty of tougher competition from for armor stripping in Warframe right now, but the versatility of affecting both hit point types helps this one stand out. You can then combine that with the aerial knock-up effect of “Sentient Wrath” — which further amplifies damage and presents easier headshots.
♦ Protea is surprisingly straightforward for someone that also plays so smoothly. Perhaps that’s to be expected for a standard commando type. She produces her own ammo, energy, and health. She drops a turret. She throws grenades. Granted, she can also rewind time, but we’ve all got our quirks.
Together, these skills make her hit hard and hard to hit. All while she boosts her own abilities even further with her passive. There’s not a lot more to Protea. Her “Dispensary” isn’t as overtly strong or quick as other support skills, perhaps, but it’s versatile and benefits the whole party.
♦ At first blush, Gara seems like a defensive Warframe in the vein of Frost. Yet she’s really more of a self-propeling ball of damage. “Splinter Storm” reduces incoming damage, hurts nearby enemies, and increases the damage those enemies take from weapons as well as abilities. “Mass Vitrify” then provides two things. It refreshes the duration and, if you smash it from the outside with “Shattered Lash,” it adds even more passive damage dealt to enemies that get close.
All of this is honestly probably enough to put Gara in the S tier. The only issues are that it takes so much setup and has that finnicky positioning requirement. Compare the stacking damage of Gara to Octavia, for example, who just casts two skills and stands by (or rather crouches) while enemies blow up.
♦ If you like melee combat and status effects, Voruna is pretty great. She can inflict and spread a large array of statuses by combining “Fangs of Raksh” with her fast-moving ultimate, “Ulfrun’s Descent.” In this way, Voruna fills a similar role as Lavos by first priming enemies with status damage before blowing them up very quickly. And while she lacks that Warframe’s explosive potency, Voruna doesn’t have the same cooldown limitations.
The idea is to be a consistent, never-ending source of damage and crowd control while providing light support and staying alive via passive buffs (of which Voruna has four that she can switch between at will). She also joins the likes of Ivara, Loki, and Ash with some stealth gameplay for good measure.
♦ Harrow is another potential edge case with one notable problem: he’s just so damn squishy in solo play. Partly this is because he strips his own shields to buff himself and his allies. The buffs that he produces are, for the record, incredible. He brings those shields back while also locking down enemies. Then he boosts reload, rate-of-fire, energy regeneration, health regeneration, and critical hit chance. Harrow is a teamwide buff beast. But without friends to draw aggro, or hold down crowd control, he’s often a sitting duck. This makes him just the teensiest bit situational; even if you probably still want him in 99% of multiplayer missions.
♦ Appropriately for a trickster, Nezha is always on the move and doesn’t let enemies pin him down. This is because his “Warding Halo” provides not just a 90% damage reduction, but also total immunity to status effects. Though the skill does require you to keep one eye open at all times, since it has its own HP, rather than a fixed duration or energy drain rate.
You can still cleanse status effects automatically with “Fire Walker” — both for you and your allies. All while lighting enemies on fire. Those same enemies then receive extra damage from “Blazing Chakram” and stay nice and still for headshots after using “Divine Spears.” All of which adds up to just a roundly solid character (even if his halo does require a tiny bit of micromanagement).
♦ Many players have walked away from Mirage since the days of her AFK supremacy. Yet we shouldn’t ignore the power of “Hall of Mirrors”: a special power that makes up to four clones of the Warframe to fight alongside you. While these don’t outright quintuple your weapon damage (each only does 20% of your total at max rank), they still introduces interesting variables to a playstyle. Specifically, explosive weapons with consistent rate-of-fire like the Kuva Bramma spread damage around like wildfire.
This is in addition to Mirage’s (somewhat unreliable) “Eclipse” buff. Which can be paired with “Total Eclipse” and/or “Hall of Malevolence” to boost your mimics’ damage output. Together, this makes Mirage an incredible weapons platform, even without touching her once-dominant ultimate.
♦ Baruuk operates under a pretty simple concept. He avoids fighting (at least directly with his abilities) until he can unleash massive melee power. That’s basically it. His primary defensive ability, “Elude,” is a bit of a pain since it drains energy over time and only works when you’re not attacking. Yet you need it to “charge” your ultimate: “Serene Storm.”
This is the reason Baruuk winds up so high on this list. He punches things really, really hard at zero energy cost. Then he starts the whole process over again. The major downsides are obviously range, radius, and the need to help Baruuk stay alive while using his ultimate. Thankfully he can also disarm enemies to bring them in close — where he has the advantage.
♦ Nova is undeniably powerful in Warframe. Though she has some very notable quirks that contrast with her most popular ability: “Molecular Prime.” This is an excellent ability on paper that (by default) slows enemies in an absolutely massive radius while increasing the damage they take. This is a godsend for new players as they get used to the game and/or if they generally just want an easier time.
However, this “Slowva” strategy also slows down mission completion — dragging out enemy spawns on wave-based activities like Defense. It can even get you killed in Survival by slowing the spawn rate of life support capsules. If this was all Nova had to offer, she would probably be further down on this list. Yet you can also speed up enemies by giving her less Ability Strength. On top of all this, her oft-overlooked ability “Null Star” makes her potentially quite tanky with the “Molecular Fission” Augment.
♦ Nidus is an endless mission king. He can essentially just stand back and build, build, build stacks “Mutation” to fuel his abilities. The more enemies he hits, the more damage his basic ability “Virulence” inflicts, while generating more “Mutation” in the process. Once he has 15 stacks or more he also becomes immortal… up to a point. He will instead “spend” stacks of mutation.
There are a couple of downsides that keep this from bringing him into S tier. At least right now. One is that, especially on lower-level missions, allies will often kill foes before Nidus has a chance to build up significant stacks. This literally locks him out of much of his abilities, since they cost “Mutation” instead of energy. Nidus also vastly prefers missions where large groups of enemies come to him — which he can then pull into position and hit all at once with “Virulence.”
♦ Previously one of the worst frames in the game, the Zephyr received a massive overhaul in the last few years that makes her one of the more distinct and often even powerful options in the game. Her “Tornado” ability crowd controls enemies while distributing gun damage across everyone inside its pull. This includes both status effects and crits, the latter of which get multiplied even further by the skill.
“Turbulence,” as well as her passive that keeps her effectively flying during missions, mean Zephyr can simply float above Defense quests and other open-ended maps while raining death from above. You can even double up with on the “aerial tank” theme thanks to midair defense mods.
♦ It’s Rhino. You know him; you probably love him. He’s just a good Warframe. He’s not the flashiest member of the family, but he’s been Getting Shit Done for years. If there’s one “complaint” to be made about Rhino, it’s that “Roar” is such a good Helminth ability that you might break him down for everyone else to enjoy. Though you’ve also got “Iron Skin” to simply keep you in the fight forever.
B Tier – Warframe Tier List
♦ Atlas gets extra tanky thanks to the “rubble” he collects with his passive, while also providing two stone goons to draw aggro and generally mess with enemies. He can then petrify those foes and smash them to bits — producing more rubble that continues to keep him in the fight. Atlas remains slightly hard to place, however, since it feels like you need one or more of his Augment slots to make him useful. This presents an opportunity cost (more Augments mean fewer mods that are more generally useful). At the end of the day, though, it’s hard to deny his total potential.
♦ Hildryn isn’t all-around fantastic, but “Pillage” is such a standout skill that she’s well worth constructing. Even if you just want to subsume her into Helminth. Replace her “Aegis Storm,” which is fun but not terribly useful, with something more effective if you go that route. Such as the classic “Spectrorage” from Gara — preferably with its “Spectrosiphon” Augment mod.
♦ Perhaps not surprisingly, Equinox is similar to Xaku in that she does a little bit of a lot of things. Though they mostly boil down to dealing and surviving a lot of damage in a small radius. This means Equinox is always on the move, ducking and weaving between groups of enemies to catch them in nasty effects, while trying to maintain her energy pool.
Besides power cost, there are also some drawbacks in the form of micromanagement (you need to switch between two forms regularly to access different skills) and actually buffing enemy attack speed in one case. And while it doesn’t really factor into these rankings, she’s also a pain to farm…
♦ Oberon fills a niche as a fairly stationary support class. He heals and buffs and protects from status effects. That last part is especially important. Reactive status clearance is fine, but proactive status immunity for the whole party is much better. Status effects can be real killers in Warframe. Not just that: they can reduce DPS uptime on things like Eidolon battles. This makes Oberon a great friend to Eidolon hunters — especially newcomers or those who simply don’t want to waste build space defending against statuses.
♦ Sevagoth can be a serious powerhouse and very fun to play, but currently requires a lot of investment in Forma to arrive at a comfortable place. An eventual Prime version with extra Polarities will help. Though that’s likely a ways off. In the meantime, if you take the plunge, Sevagoth has a very “natural” feeling kit that allows you to wail on enemies at close and medium range.
♦ Frost is as Frost does. He’s a defensive Warframe that doubles as an ice wizard. You can’t go wrong with him during Defense, Excavation, and similar protection missions. He’s just not going to light your world on fire with all that snow.
♦ The Robin Hood of Warframe makes a case for herself with various arrow-based buffs. Ivara is exceptionally fragile and relies on “Prowl” to stay invisible and stay alive. She also has a cloaking in her “Quiver” ability that allows both her and allies to stay hidden. This ability to stay permanently invisible lets her excel at safely cheesing certain content. Albeit more slowly than Warframes that can simply step into the Steel Path and slaughter everything that moves.
Yet for Spy missions — particularly the Corpus flavor — there’s none better.
♦ Gyre is a crit machine with some excellent abilities and some very obvious weaknesses. She has hefty shields with no way to actively recharge them on her own. That makes shield gating difficult and doesn’t provide her with any inborne survivability. Outside of crow control, that is. And though Gyre does have good crowd control on paper — via Electricity damage and “Coil Horizon” — these can be inconsistent due to RNG and physics on her ability projectiles.
At the same time, “Cathode Grace” is a comically powerful critical hit buff that synergizes well with her ultimate, “Rotorswell.” She may have more rigid build requirements than other Warframes, but she’s still very deadly within her own niche.
♦ Ember has gone through massive changes over the years. Though damage has always remained her primary focus. Especially against Grineer and heavy Infested — whose armor she can strip with both Heat damage and “Fire Blast.” Her major weakness is micromanagement, since she burns (heh) through energy at multiplying rates. Even more so if you want to pair her with any particularly good Helminth abilities that don’t also provide some kind of energy regen.
♦ Excalibur is the “original” death machine in Warframe lore and it shows. The sword-centric character is pretty basic. Light crowd control, mobility, some area-of-effect damage, and a flashy ultimate. He’s nothing special, exactly, but he also won’t do you wrong.
♦ Revenant has some extremely potent abilities build around “Enthrall.” Unlike other Warframes who passively benefited from the Eximus rework, however, Revenant saw a very noteworthy indirect nerf. Eximus attacks now strip “Mesmer Skin.”
Well… Technically they always did, but now Eximus units won’t get stunned or open themselves up for a free “Enthrall” by default. This is a pretty noteworthy deal since the best mind-controlled enemies are strong types that produce passive benefits for their allies (i.e. Eximus units). Hence Revenant slipping just a bit lower than he normally might be.
♦ Chroma, to be perfectly frank, is a little boring. Half of his abilities are notable and useful, but very passive buffs. His two active skills are “situational” at best and borderline useless at worst. He does still have a very good, notable niche as a tank that turns soaked-up damage into buffs. This is good for open-world bosses like the Profit-Taker. Yet there are more and more new options in the game that function similarly, such as Necramechs.
♦ Volt makes for a useful Warframe to have in your back pocket. Most of his skills are pretty archetypical “spellcaster” moves: dealing lightning damage at a distance. He can also provide teammates with a speed boost, which some players like to use in low-level content to ramp up mission completion times. Probably his most powerful ability, however, is “Electric Shield.” This provides a basic wall of cover, but more importantly also boosts the damage and crit chance of allies who shoot through it. That makes it a old standby in big boss fights: most notably Eidolon hunts.
♦ Mag isn’t the most popular Warframe these days. Not by a longshot. This seems less to do with her relative strength and more with just general playstyle. She’s actually still quite potent but doesn’t do anything overtly impressive compared to similar choices. She strips armor, blocks and redirects projectiles back at foes, and recharges shields. All good stuff. Yet her first ability, “Pull,” is an obvious choice to replace with another Helminth skill. Meanwhile, “Magnetize” relies on… Well, Magnetic damage. Which isn’t the most universally applicable damage type.
♦ Limbo is an odd duck even by Warframe standards. As such he’s not to everyone’s taste (including mine). Yet his solo play potential is enormous thanks to his wholly unique “rift” mechanic that lets him, allies, and enemies flip between parallel dimensions. This makes you functionally immortal by simply… phasing out of reality so enemies can’t hit you. Meanwhile, “Aquablades” subsumed from Yareli as a Helminth ability has become quite popular since Limbo can hit enemies with whirling death while he remains intangible.
♦ Ash fills a pretty narrow role. That might put him in the C tier if not for some semi-behind-the-scenes technicalities (slightly similar to how Zephyr can double up on survivability with aerial damage reduction mods). “Bladestorm,” for example, is much slower than similar area-of-effect killers. Yet its blows count as “Finisher” attacks — allowing it to synergize with anything that boosts (or benefits from) Finishers.
One currently popular option is to subsume the Banshee skill “Silence,” alongside its Augment “Savage Silence.” This is doubly useful because “Silence” deactivates Eximus abilities — which really sting after the Eximus rework. Any Warframe that can justify bringing “Silence” into their abilities is now more useful than ever, and Ash benefits from it as much as basically anyone in the game.
His other abilities aren’t terribly impressive: except for a light bit of invisibility through “Smoke Bomb.” This is always appreciated because of how Warframe AI handles invisibility so poorly. Yet it’s probably the weakness innate invisibility power in the game. Armor stripping through the “Seeking Shuriken” Augment also has its place, but as you’ve probably noticed by now, there’s no shortage of ways to strip armor in the game these days.
C Tier – Warframe Tier List
♦ Banshee these days is largely about “Sonar”: an extremely powerful damage boost that is nonetheless a bit finnicky for my taste. It works by creating highlighted weak spots on nearby targets. Shooting said weak spots multiplies damage up to 500% (by default). However, lining up specific shots takes time and effort that reduces overall DPS in practice. Especially when compared to other Warframes that simply boost damage and/or strip enemy defenses.
Thanks to the recent changes to Eximus enemy types, Banshee does also have a new calling via “Silence.” She can use it to manually deactivate Eximus special abilities. The only issue is that this is her Helminth ability — technically making the skill available to every Warframe in the game (such as I mentioned with Ash above). I may still consider moving her around again soon with more testing.
♦ Yareli exists in that “interesting but not necessarily great” category Warframe players know and love. And by “love” I mean “scream about in comments sections.” Yet “Merulina,” her living surfboard, isn’t even the chief issue. The bigger problem is that Yareli’s other powers don’t especially stand out from the crowd. They’re not bad; they just don’t feel worth the practice needed to play this uniquely mobile character effectively.
♦ The long-suffering Hydroid always has a niche as one of the few loot-boosting Warframe characters. His Augment “Pilfering Swarm” lets you grab more goodies as you crowd control enemies. That’s pretty much his only saving grace and nearly always has been.
♦ Valkyr is a Warframe near and dear to my heart. She helped me get through some of my earliest days in Warframe, clearing the star chart and farming Nightmare mods. Like a lot of older characters, however, the game has simply moved on without her. She’s totally usable, like most frames in the game, but now faces obvious competition from someone that fills every roll she does: Sevagoth and Baruuk. She needs (and deserves) some update love after years of basically going untouched.
D Tier – Warframe Tier List
♦ Another is a personal favorite Warframe of mine that I wish I could place higher: Inaros is a mummy-like, sand-based machine with some unique skills and utility. He simply suffers from focusing on several things that other characters do better almost across the board.
Most of his skills, for instance, lock him into long animations that make it impossible to shoot or attack with melee weapons — a weakness other Warframes with similar crowd control do not share. His ultimate, “Scarab Swarm,” provides an okay armor buff, alongside some potential healing, but must be (very slowly) reapplied anytime you fall into a hole. Or into water. Or touch a Nullifier.
Is he hard to kill? Yeah, usually. Inaros can still be extremely tanky with specialized builds. The issue is that other characters fill that same role while bringing more flexibility and dealing more damage.
♦ Loki shares a tier with Inaros because he also shares a central problem. Other Warframe choices do everything he does, only better. Ivara and Octavia can also turn invisible, but for longer periods or with more damage on top. “Radial Disarm” is nice, but other characters can blind or stun foes and kill them quick enough that the duration isn’t an issue.
♦ Grendel, once a contender for the worst frame in the game, finally got his much-needed rework. He’s a lot more fun to play these days. More importantly to some, he’s quite good besides. Grendel is now a perfectly manageable tank — somewhat similar to Inaros, but with a bit more maintenance required — that can also passively deal Viral damage and heal allies. The energy management for these abilities is somewhat offset by Grendel’s buff boosting energy gained from any source by up to 100%. Grendel is also quite speedy thanks to “Pulverize.” Though the process of unlocking the frame is anything but. Acquiring Grendel is still as much of a grind as ever.
♦ Nyx has been near the bottom of the Warframe barrel for a long, long time. The aforementioned Eximus changes, which make her already comparatively weak “Mind Control” skill even weaker, haven’t helped matters. It’s honestly somewhat surprising she hasn’t gotten much of an update in so long.
What Do the Rankings Mean?
As alluded to above, nearly every Warframe works well with setup, preparation, and/or practice. That’s a good thing. That’s variety! Our philosophy is that players should be proud of their ability to have fun and make any and all Warframes (or weapons or abilities) work well with their particular build. Yet accounting for every single, possible scenario in a game this highly variable is not the intent behind this or any other tier list we create. We’re here to help give an overview to help you decide.
As such, we’ve categorized all Warframes between S and D ranks. There is no F tier since no Warframe is so totally beyond hopeless that it can’t be used (except in the case of bugs, of course, at which point we have bigger problems). This is to indicate that pretty much anything can work. You just might need to put in more effort as a result!
Here’s a very basic drilldown of what we’re trying to communicate with each tier:
- S Tier – Excellent in nearly all content. Weaknesses are either negligible or easily compensated against.
- A Tier – Excellent in most content or very good in nearly all content. Weaknesses are either negligible or easily worked around.
- B Tier – Very good in most content. Weaknesses may be apparent, but are hardly dealbreakers, or they can be worked around.
- C Tier – Good in most content or perfectly usable in nearly all content. Weaknesses are apparent and probably require workarounds.
- D Tier – Perfectly usable in most content, but their weaknesses leave them simply outclassed by multiple better choices.
And that’s it for now! We’ll continue to update this tier list as the game develops, as well, and attempt to improve it with the best information we can gather via our own testing and community dialogue. In the meantime, we hope our Warframe tier list at least helped you get a better sense of what you want to play!