Essential Mods and Where to Find Them
There are a ton of mods in Warframe and the process of knowing what is useful and what isn't can be a little daunting. Hopefully I can point out what mods will be useful and where you can get them.
Most mods have a damaged variant that will probably be the first thing new players come across. These mods have a broken appearance and significantly reduced stats from their real counterparts. However, new players should absolutely use these mods and rank them up. They have significantly less drain, which is incredibly useful for players with lower Mastery Rank or that do not have an Orokin Reactor installed on their frame. They also do not require a lot of resources to rank up!
Regular Mods come in bronze, silver, and gold rarities and have a wide range of effects. The rarity of a mod does not necessarily mean it is useful.
Primed Mods are very rare and powerful versions of regular mods. They are normally obtained via the void trader Baro Ki'Teer.
Nightmare Mods are given as rewards for the completion of Nightmare Mode missions. These missions have unique effects such as; no shields, no energy, or life drain. They are usually much more difficult to acquire than normal mods.
Corrupted Mods are obtained through the hidden vaults in Orokin Derelict missions. These vaults can only be opened with the correct Dragon Key that matches the door. Typical runs ensure every player is carrying a different key, each with their own horribly debilitating effects. Several extremely important endgame mods are obtained this way!
Drift Mods are obtained from secret puzzle missions. These usually require skill and tileset knowledge to complete! They can only be obtained on a specific location you unlock later in the game through completion of your story quests.
These mods are always obtained from Syndicates for varying level of reputation points. They modify weapons or frames and change how they behave. For example, the Miter has an augment that gives its blades a 90% chance to pop nullifier bubbles instantly. Pretty good!
Most endgame builds revolve around using these mods to change how your warframe behaves in a specific way. Usually to establish a different playstyle. I highly recommend you peruse the list of them HERE.
Spoilers! Just kidding, these mods are upgraded versions of regular mods with high drain. Their gimmick is that they increase the power of other Umbral mods as more are equipped. There are ways to make some pretty powerful builds like this. You get these mods by completing the storyline of the game.
It should be noted, you can only use [Umbra Forma] to polarize a slot for these mods! Also they give you Tau resistance, which is a spoiler!
Ahh Riven mods, these random mods are locked to a specific weapon and MR level that you need to unveil by completing their challenge. I could write a whole guide on these. You'll get them after story completion as rewards from your daily Sortie (just kidding, you'll probably get an Anasa Ayatan Sculpture instead *cries*).
These mods are completely (well mostly) random. From the stat combinations to the weapon, polarity, and even MR requirement. The challenges to unveil them are random as well. They can offer some of THE strongest single slot bonuses to a weapon in the game, but it is quite hard to get a good one.
Rivens strength is affected by the disposition of a weapon. The disposition is a modifier to the bonuses of a Riven, dictated by the popularity of a weapon. So a less popular weapon will have high disposition and very good bonuses.
These are meme-mods that have goofy effects to them. Like Peculiar Bloom.
Where do I find mods?
Most of these mods are commonly found in missions as drops or Mission Rewards. I highly suggest reading that link as the rewards system can be a little complicated at a glance.
Several mods, namely Blind Rage, Fleeting Expertise, etc. are found in Orokin Derelict vaults and are commonly called Corrupted Mods. They always have one positive and one negative stat. These are what allow endgame builds to shine by selectively increasing one of your stats while decreasing one you don't need.
The mods that have Drift in their name found in moon puzzles. Which you will only have access to after the quest The Second Dream. WARNING: Major spoilers if you go to that page!
Here is a neat trick for early mods!
Once you have progressed through your Star Chart to the point you get to the Void you can do some runs that allow for fast mod acquisition. Basically you run these missions looking for secret containers that can drop mods. Check out the guide HERE.
These also work with most Launchers and Bows.
Special Rifle Mod Combinations
Heavy Caliber and Beam Weapons
Heavy Caliber is often a trap for newer players. It offers a HUGE damage boost at the cost of you almost never being able to land a shot. However, this does not apply at all to beam weapons like the Quanta Vandal or Amprex! Have at it.
I believe it does affect the trajectory of some grenade based weapons. Be careful!
Bows and Speed
Reload speed affects the amount of time it takes for you to notch an arrow, which is already extremely fast and usually a waste of a mod slot.
There are some mods you may find that aren't on this list that can be used in more niche builds, like Vicious Spread.
You could also substitute in some of the simpler mods if a build calls for it, like; Quickdraw or Trick Mag at lower levels, to compensate for a weapons weakness (for example the Twin Grakatas can benefit from magazine size).
Other Useful Mods
Magnum force is really useful on beam weapons since they are not affected by negative accuracy. On most other weapons it is not feasible though.
These will be your bread and butter mods for most of the game.
The mods denoted by asterisks (*) are extremely expensive and rare.
Other Useful Mods
Special Melee Mod Combinations
The Covert Lethality mod can be used on daggers and has a devastating effect when paired with any frame that can open enemies to finishers. For example, the Inaros skill Desiccation or Ivara's Sleep Arrow. This mod allows you to one hit kill any enemy vulnerable to finishers, at any level. Note that this does not work on bosses.
This build (and its variations) are the reason why Condition Overload, Drifting Contact, Blood Rush, and Weeping Wounds are astronomically priced. Whether using conditions or just a plain slide crit build you will be absolutely murdering every enemy on the map. Even worse when paired with Primed Reach or a similarly strong Riven.
Shattering Impact Sarpa
The Sarpa is a harder weapon to build, and it isn't very good per say, except for the existence of the Shattering Impact mod. This mod decreases the armor of an enemy hit with Damage 2.0/Impact Damage damage. This is BASE ARMOR, as in factored in before level scaling and reduction from Corrosive Projection. This means you can strip armor from enemies that are not effected by status procs like the Hemocyte and Eidolon Teralyst, and what weapon makes that easier?
The Sarpa! This gunblade has a ranged attack that procs impact damage! This means you can use Shattering Impact outside of melee range to strip armor. This is especially useful on larger boss enemies at high levels.
A Guide to Modding
Here is will try to comprehensively cover how and why to mod your items a certain way.
Warframe mods can be thought of in three categories; Survive-ability, Ability, and Utility.
Health vs. Shields
I will always recommend modding for health over shields. Shields provide good paper EHP (effective hit points) but they fall flat in a few areas, like dealing with Toxin and Slash ticks. Shields also do not have damage reduction from Armor, meaning in higher levels they get busted down instantly.
Armor affects the reduction applied to damage done to your Health. The combination of Vitality and Steel Fiber is great, if your warframe has high health and armor base values. For example, Inaros is a monster with these equipped, practically unkillable. A frame like Nova however will have almost no increased damage reduction from Armor.
Survive-ability also comes in the form of mitigation, or more simply, using abilities to keep you alive. For example, Banshee is a VERY squishy frame. Armor mods don't do much for her due to her low base armor. Health mods give you the most bang for you buck but she still has a small health pool. But say you want to maximize her for damage, you will not have the slots available for health and shield mods. Instead, you will want to maximize the potential of her Silence ability to keep enemies she passes unaware of her and momentarily stun them.
All warframes currently operate on a four way stat system for abilities; Strength, Duration, Range, and Efficiency. Every ability a frame has uses some combination of those 4 stats to determine how they work. The key to making a strong build for a frame relies on the min/maxing of these values.
Some frames have absolutely no use for certain stats, meaning you can use to reduce that stat and increase a beneficial one. For example, a Valkyr using a Hysteria build (all melee) does not need Power Range, her buffs are for her. Also, some frames like Trinity apply some of their abilities based on the Affinity Radius and aren't even affected by Power Range.
Make sure you check the wiki for the frame you have and mod accordingly!
These mods affect your frames performance under specific conditions. A prime example is Patagium, which increases your Aim Glide, allowing you to stay in the air longer.
Many utility mods, for example Flame Repellent, are completely useless.
You should take an aura that fits your build and mod slot. The most common useful auras are Corrosive Projection and Energy Siphon. There are some damage enhancing auras like Dead Eye and Rifle Amp that can help as well.
Corrosive Projection is probably the most important aura at higher levels due to enemy Armor scaling getting ridiculous.
Steel Charge gives you the most bonus mod capacity, more than any other aura. It is a great aura mod on a melee frame like Valkyr. It is also one of the only aura mods that allows for enough capacity to do Umbral builds.
There are three common build paths for weapons; crit, status, and hybrid. You should always be modding to play into a weapons strengths, and keep in mind how the weapon performs so you can get a feel for what build is most useful.
These 3 types; damage, multishot, and fire rate are going to be the base of almost all weapon builds.
As the name suggests we can build weapons based on Critical Hit Chance and Critical Damage. Two common mods for this are Point Strike and Vital Sense (this is for rifles). These increase the frequency and damage of critical strikes. They are made even more potent with sustained headshots.
These builds will have low or no status chance at all. Meaning it is more valuable to use the larger elemental damage mods like Stormbringer to get better results.
Typically in a crit build you will have about 2 slots left for elemental mods. You want to use mods that provide the best utility or damage bonus against the enemies you are fighting. For example Radiation is quite good with 75% damage increase to some Grineer units and a not-entirely-useless proc.
Here we build weapons based on their Status chance. Usually we are trying to achieve 100% Status, this means we will get the Status to proc all the time.
You will need all 4 dual stat elemental damage mods usually, such as Pistol Pestilence.
I will talk about what procs are and what they do in my damage explanation!
My Crappy Damage Explanation
Basically, when you are modding (especially at lower levels when you don't have great mods), mod so that your damage type is the most effective against the enemies you are fighting.
Most weapons have 3 raw damage values; Impact, Puncture, and Slash. Some have more of one than another.
Each type of enemy is strong/resistant to specific types of damage. Make sure you mod to hit them where it hurts! Check out the Damage 2.0 section of the wiki for in depth details.
A Proc is an effect that is triggered by a status. Every damage type in this game has access to a status type and thus a proc.
Impact, Puncture, and Slash all have their own procs as well.
- Impact - knocks down enemies (shows little hammer icon)
- Puncture - weakens enemies (little pierce icon)
- Slash - applies a bleed based on the damage dealt
Elemental procs are as follows...
- Heat - enemies panic (which is CC), burns them for small damage over time
- Freeze - slows enemies
- Toxin - poisons enemies for small damage over time (really bad against armor but ok against Corpus since it bypasses shields)
- Electric - stuns enemies
Combined procs are as follows...
- Radiation - enemies have friendly fire, accuracy also reduced
- Corrosive - strips enemy armor (extremely useful)
- Gas - creates Toxin clouds (for poison damage over time)
- Magnetic - reduces enemy max shields
- Blast - ragdolls enemies (hilarious)
- Viral - Halves enemy health (amazing paired with Slash damage)