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Platinum for Dummies (Updated, v1.5 -- 10 Apr 14)
This guide is intended for new players that don't understand what that shiny silver resource is at the top, and all the items that they should be spending it on. This guide has tons of information and is a very long read, but contains a short overview section for those who don't want to read everything.
Please keep in mind that this is not for players who already understand the game.
I am in no way an expert in Warframe, but I have played since this game has released on Steam. I feel like I have a good understanding of what Warframe offers, and how to best use the many resources the game provides to me.
THIS GUIDE CONTAINS A LARGE AMOUNT OF TEXT THAT MAY BE BORING FOR A LOT OF VIEWERS. I'M SORRY IF A LOT OF THIS SEEMS LIKE FLUFF OR UNNECESSARY DETAIL, BUT I INTENDED THIS GUIDE FOR PLAYERS WHO DON'T KNOW HOW TO SPEND THEIR MONEY AT ALL.
I will remove comments that I find grating or offensive, personally or otherwise.
Most of this guide is based on opinion and I will not, in any way, claim this information as factual. I simply wish to help new players understand what that shiny resource is and how to best use it.
It would be best to critique this guide for the audience I've targeted it for and to help them understand the information better! I already know the guide is long, has a lot of detail, images, etc. I made it after all!
v1. -- 11/28/13, Release
v1.1 -- 11/29/13, Added Trading Section
v1.2 -- 12/2/13, Added Value of Platinum Per Unit; Information on Profile Icons
v1.2a -- 12/2/13, Minor Grammatical Edits
v1.2b -- 12/2/13, Minor Grammatical Edits
v1.2c -- 12/2/13, Revisions to Forma Description
v1.3 -- 12/2/13, Added Information on Rushing Builds
v1.3a -- 12/3/13, Minor Grammatical Edits
v1.4 -- 12/25/13, Merry Christmas! Added new minor section, some edits.
v1.5 -- 4/10/14, One Big Fat Overhaul! I have almost no interest in Warframe as of now but I decided to revamp some information and add a bit of new stuff. Nothing has really changed besides wording and clearer information.
Guide Overview (Condensed Information / Precursor)
My guide is hella long and that tends to be the norm when I'm explaining things to new players. But since I'm a modest person, I generally like to include an overview for those who do not like to go in-depth.
The value of platinum is roughly ~0.06 USD per unit of platinum.
Weapon slots are the most important to buy with platinum, because you need different weapons to fight different enemies with the introduction of Update 11 (U11) and Damage 2.0 (D2). Niko1387 made this guide, which offers some more information on D2 and its specifics.
Warframe slots are less important to purchase with platinum, as warframes are generally based on your personal preference. While some warframes are far better at higher-end content than others, ultimately it is your decision to play who you want to be. Akamikeb has an amazing list of guides that offer detailed information about each warframe available, so go read them!
Orokin Catalysts and Reactors are good to buy, but only if you really like the weapon or warframe you're using. The blue potatoes (Warframe inside joke), or Orokin Catalysts, double the amount of mod slots available in your weapon (30 to 60 total, 2 mod slots per weapon rank), and gold potatoes, or Orokin Reactors, double the amount of mod slots available in your warframe (30 to 60 total, 2 mod slots per warframe rank). These Orokin potatoes allow you to add more mods into your equipment, and in the end, make you much more powerful.
Formas are meant for players who min-max an item's effectiveness, or for tilesets in a dojo (or for clan tech research / construction). Since these are for advanced players (and since they literally drop from everything, from login rewards to the Void), these are not necessary to buy due to their common nature. As such, they should only be purchased with excess platinum, or if you need them right at that moment and don't prefer to wait or hope you get lucky.
Cosmetic items can only be purchased with platinum and should be regarded as the least important thing to buy. However, this is personal preference, and you're welcome to spend platinum on cosmetic goods whenever you wish! I think customization is a good way to help people identify with their characters ingame, and increase the enjoyment of the game.
What not to buy is as follows: resources, credits, helmets, mod and fusion packs, sentinels, void keys, warframes and weapons, profile icons, rushing builds, and revives.(This is basically everything you can get in-game or are very unnecessary to buy.)
Resources are very easy to farm, and there's a very helpful guide made by Miclantecuitli that describes the best places to farm each resource as efficiently as possible. In general, it's better to just work your way through and get what you need. (Given the rarity of Orokin Cells, it isn't a bad idea to pitch for a couple once and a while, but try to avoid making it a habit.)
Credits are stupid easy to acquire, and is probably one of the stupidest buys you can make with platinum. Please don't be that guy.
Helmets are good, but they are not worth buying most of the time. There is usually at least one or three alerts per day that award a helmet blueprint, so if you're patient (and lucky), you'll be able to score your helmet for free. I recommend consulting the Warframe Alert Informer by Sonicsonedit to help you scope out when a helmet becomes available.
Mods and fusion cores drop often from within missions, and can generally be acquired much more reliably through trading. Please don't be that guy either.
Sentinels are entirely for fun to me. I think they're just an added level of customization that act as convenient little boosters from time to time. I personally just recommend farming out the credits to buy and make them, rather than using the platinum to get them. If you have to buy a sentinel with platinum, however, I recommend getting the Carrier (for the Vacuum specialty and Sweeper sentinel shotgun).
Void keys are 50/50 when it comes to buying them, but I personally do not believe they're worth buying unless you have extra platinum to spend. You can just grind them out from survival / defense missions. I usually end up with 10-20 keys on me without even realizing it.
Warframes and weapons should be sought after in-game, rather than bought by platinum. The whole point of the game is to fight and construct new and better technology for yourself, so you're basically eliminating the point of the game by buying these. But if you must purchase a warframe or a weapon, try buying the cheapest ones. Since warframes and weapons cost so much platinum, you're better off acquiring them. (They do come with a free inventory slot and catalyst / reactor, but you can get the inventory slot and the catalyst / reactor for far cheaper.)
Profile icons are such a massive ripoff, considering 75 platinum is 4.49 USD, and 15 for one icon is about ~0.90 USD. You're spending nearly an entire dollar on a couple of tiny icons. However, with excess platinum, I do not necessarily see the problem of wanting to represent your favorite warframe (with favorite helmet combo) with your icon. Like I said, customization increases player enjoyment!
Rushing builds is a very silly thing to do. I know waiting three days for a brand new warframe is hard to do, but keep in mind that you'll have to wait 12, 24, or 72 hours for everything you make. The best course of action is to build character and wait patiently for each build, instead of burning platinum on rushing builds.
Buying revives seems like a good idea when you start panicking and don't know if you can ever play the game again without worrying about dying for the next 3 days, but the revives reset basically every day. Just play more carefully, and regard your lack of revives as a warning to your thoughtless actions. (Trust me, they are definitely not worth the 19 platinum for a full refill.)
2) Starting Plat and You!
Players start with 50 platinum and have no idea what exactly it is when they first start playing Warframe. This is assuming they don't put ahead any research or understand what they're getting into, so I will describe what that (extremely) small amount of dosh can do.
a) Where can I find my platinum? What is it?
When you first log into the game, you will notice several important things right away: the top, the left, and the center. The left side of the top menu (your profile / progress bar) displays two things: your credits and your platinum.
Credits, as a point of reference, are the in-game currency that you can collect by completing missions, collecting credits inside the missions, and selling excess items you no longer have a reason to keep (such as duplicate or no longer usable frame parts or weapons you don't like). Unlike games such as Guild Wars 2, you can not exchange these credits for platinum, and as such, platinum is solely a resource you can only acquire by spending real money.
b) Are there other ways to get platinum?
Yes, actually. Digital Extremes (DE), the developers of Warframe, hosts events from time to time that will randomly reward players with platinum (for free!). The main source is from a die roll on their twitch (http://www.twitch.tv/warframe/), where they choose a random viewer to receive 1,000 platinum. Generally they only roll the die 3 or maybe even 4 times, and will not pick someone who already won (I can not confirm that people who won from a different session will win on another).
They will also have events on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PlayWarframe) from time to time, which are generally long-term contests that involve doing something in-game and taking a screenshot of it, or entering yourself for a lottery. Examples include posing with a new weapon they've added and showing your best skillshots.
You should also wait until you can acquire a 50% or 75% Off Platinum from the login reward before purchasing more platinum. This is a very good money saver! The login rewards are very random, however, and it takes a lot of good luck or effort just to get a 50% Off Platinum coupon, but if you're patient, everything becomes insanely cheap. DE is really the only company I have in mind that has this sort of RNG money saver in place, which is really nice and refreshing from most F2P games.
b) What do you mean I start with platinum? Why?
Digital Extremes (DE) knows that this game is handicapped for the sake of financial encouragement. While it is often a bad practice to limit a key feature of a game based on a paygate (having to pay to unlock something), it is generally the only reliable way for a free-to-play game to make money. Although Warframe does not directly support this, players are affected indirectly, which I will explain in the next few sections.
However so, DE does let you start with some platinum, unlike most developers, but it will not last you a very long time regardless. 50 platinum is minimal at best.
3) Inventory Slots Are The Most Important
With the introduction of Update 11 (U11) and Damage 2.0 (D2), players can no longer get away with just having a handful of weapons to beat anything on this game. While people will continue to argue that you only need Soma or Ogris, there are other guns available that are equal, if not better than what the Soma can offer in the longterm battle now.
a) Why should I buy these?
The more inventory slots you have in your inventory, the more guns and warframes you can keep in your arsenal. It is imperative that you have a diverse selection of guns to fight different enemies with, due to D2's changes to weapon damage, and to compare the actual strength of the average weapon to the powerful alternatives that people can find and use.
For example, I carry several different weapons that range from semi-automatic bullet weapons, to silent bows, to dual pistols and fist weapons. This gives me the ability to choose different guns based on the enemy I'm facing. For example, my Latron does amazing puncture damage and is very good at killing Grineer. My Orthos does very high slash and can easily clear out massive hordes of Infested. My Dual Vipers can easily demolish Infested Ancients and Grineer Heavies.
b) How do I get to my weapon inventory?
It's actually quite simple. First, you click on the button that looks like two Skana swords crossing over a Warframe helmet. This will bring you to your character sheet, where it shows all of your equipped weapons and the current warframe. To get to your inventory, you click on the large inventory button near the bottom, just above the mods page.
When you get to this point, you will notice several buttons at the top (see: previous image in section a). Explore these to see where different items go.
c) How do I buy weapon slots for my inventory?
It's actually easier than finding your inventory! All you have to do is press the "Buy Slots" button at the bottom, and a notification will ask you to confirm the purchase.
d) What about Warframe slots? Are those important?
Yes, but warframes are mostly based on personal preference. There are "better choices" of warframes later on, but in the longterm, you'll basically choose anything that suits your playstyle the most. If you're like me and you have a lot of completionist attitude in you, you're gonna want to get all of them! (They're also the best way to level up mastery, arguably, even if they take a lot of effort to build.)
4) Potatoes & Formas for Platinum
Orokin Catalysts and Reactors are meant to be used specifically for those who really like a certain weapon or warframe. Since these are very hard to come by, it is generally said that you should save them when you find a gun or warframe that really fits your style.
Formas are a little more complex and generally aren't available until late in the game, but it is still a good item to talk about. They're free alternatives to potatoes in most cases.
a) Potatoes? Wtf?
Sorry, that's an inside joke for Warframe players. Hehe! But anyway, potatoes, or Orokin Catalysts and Reactors, are super-chargers that double the effectiveness of any weapon or warframe you put them in.
When I say super-charge, I mostly mean they double the mod slots available in the warframe or weapon. Mod slots are the limitation to the frame or weapon that prevents you from using every single mod for that weapon type. The base is 30, which is neat and doable, but if you really want to go places, you will need to put potatoes in your favorite gear, which will double those mod slots to 60. (You earn 2 mod slots for every level you gain when potato'd, rather than 1, so you don't have to wait until your gun is rank 30 to use a potato.)
b) Can I get these taters without buying them? Should I buy them?
Yes. The main source of potatoes is after a twitch stream by DE. Generally, DE has a session every Thursday, and following the stream, they release a 24 hour alert that rewards either a blue or gold potato. These are often called "Gift of the Lotus" and can be seen on the left side of your solar system map under the Alerts tab.
Similarly, random alerts will sometimes reward a potato. This is very rare, so don't expect to get a lot of catalysts or reactors in a short amount of time.
Due to their rarity, they are a good choice when it comes to spending platinum. Due to their simplistic nature, they are good for starting players to buy. They are not entirely necessary, however, and should be reserved as your best possible purchase with platinum.
c) Orokin Catalysts
Orokin Catalysts are blue, and are used to super-charge weapons. By default, weapons will increase by 1 mod slot for every rank the weapon has achieved, up to a maximum of 30. With a blue potato stuffed in the weapon, the weapon will now earn 2 mod slots for every rank, up to a maximum of 60.
d) Orokin Reactors
Orokin Reactors are orange, and work almost exactly as Catalysts do. The only difference is that they are applied to warframes. As said, they will double the amount of mod slots you can have for the super-charged warframe, up to a maximum of 60.
e) Forma stands for Min-Max
Formas are meant for players who want to min-max their items. Of course, these are for advanced players. Why? Because they're confusing and have a consequence upon use.
When you apply a forma, you can change, add, or remove a polarity from a weapon or warframe. (Modules with the same polarity as the slot they're applied to will cut the slot requirement for that mod in half. Inversely, applied modules with the opposite polarity will double the slot requirement.) The item has to be rank 30 before you can forma it.
If you decide to forma something, it will reset the rank of the item and you will have to relevel the weapon all over again. YOU DO NOT GET MASTERY XP FROM FORMA LEVELS!
The other reason why these are for advanced players is because you have to understand what polarity you're adding, and why. This requires knowledge of the available modules, the best build for a certain weapon or warframe, and the time and patience to continuously relevel the item. Due to D2's changes to combat, it is important you know what modules work best for what gun. Most of the required mods for certain weapons will remain the same, such as +crit chance% and +crit damage% mods for Soma or Thunderbolt for bows.
5) Cosmetics Can ONLY Be Bought With Platinum
Cosmetic items are things that basically make you look cool, and add a bit of personal flavor. Since these do not really improve yourself in-game, they are least important to buy. It is up to the player to purchase these items whenever they wish.
a) What kind of cosmetics are there?
There are several cosmetics that you can't acquire in-game. There are syndanas (or scarves), skins that change the patterns on a warframe or model on a weapon, and helmets.
Since helmets can be acquired in-game, I seriously do not recommend buying them with platinum. There's at least one alert per day that offers a helmet blueprint as a reward, so if you're patient (and lucky), you'll be able to get the helmet you want.
(You may notice I "bought" a helmet, but I actually constructed it from a blueprint I got from an alert.)
b) Should I wait and buy these?
Personally, no. The most important thing to me in a video game is being my own person. I want to be set apart from everyone else and look how I want to look. I think this increases the quality of enjoyment a player receives from a game, and so it is up to the player when it comes to buying cosmetics!
6) Things You Shouldn't Buy With Platinum
There are a lot of things available that you should somewhat or ultimately avoid when spending platinum. While some may disagree with what I list here, it is important that I only list these as the worst things to buy for people who do not have a steady source of platinum.
a) Okay, so what should I avoid?
There are a handful of things, actually, and hilariously enough, they're all put together in the same area! Things like credits and mods should be avoided completely, because if you decide to waste platinum on mod or fusion packs or (bless your soul) credits, then you clearly did not learn anything from this guide, or started reading this guide too late.
Keep in mind that the value of platinum, per unit, is roughly ~0.06 USD.
I really do not encourage the purchasing of weapons or warframes. Yes, it is very tantalizing that they come with free inventory slots and super-charging potatoes, but that's just a scam DE set up to entice you to buy them. You can just buy the potatoes and inventory slots individually for far less platinum, and you'll also have more of a reason to play this game longer by farming for the weapon itself.
Since the only point of this game is to farm for new or better technology, you're basically cutting out large swaths of game time by purchasing that tech. I know you really want to use something other than your Skana, Lato, and (MK-1) Braton, but you need to be patient and get enough resources to begin constructing new weapons. Since warframes take a lot more effort to acquire, they're generally the first things to be bought by players, but like I said, time and patience wins out, and you'll feel a lot more satisfied knowing you managed to find and acquire those things legitimately (not that buying them isn't legit, but you won't be seen as much of a respectable player in the end if people knew you bought your weapons and warframes). I have bought warframes and guns (mainly Darvo weapon pack sales) before, but mainly when they're on sale or I do not want to go through the headache of acquiring them (Banshee, Zephyr, Volt, before they added them to clan tech...).
b) So what about resources? Sentinels? Void Keys? Other things?
I don't recommend buying any of these, either. There's a very helpful guide made by Miclantecuitli, which goes into detail about where the most efficient places to farm certain resources is. You can do it manually while leveling up your gear and acquiring new mods.
Now, void keys are touchy. They're not too easy to come by, but they're not impossible to acquire, either. I would recommend being patient and farming them out when you can so you aren't burning so much platinum on them. But if you really need void keys right away, I don't see it as a catastrophic loss. You can also just trade for them, anyway.
Sentinels are fun to have, but they're hardly required, and can also be farmed. But if you really want to shortcut a sentinel, I would personally get the Carrier. Carrier's specialty is the ability to sweep up things like construction materials and mods from a distance, saving you the time and energy to run over them yourself. He also comes with a really powerful shotgun! But, like I said, I would just wait it out and farm the resources instead.
On the idea of profile icons further increasing your uniqueness, they are a very horrible buy with platinum you need to keep. I have calculated (very roughly) that one platinum is worth approximately ~0.06 USD, rounding out at around ~0.90 USD for one profile icon. You're spending almost a dollar on a tiny icon! Of course, if you like to represent your favorite warframe (with favorite helmet combo), you're free to do so! But keep in mind that I find them as a bit of a scam item (just because of how expensive they are), even though I purchased a few for my own because I was sick of looking at Trinity's lobster face.
c) I hate waiting three days for my new warframe. Should I rush it?
No! This is a very horrible thing to waste platinum on, and if you can't learn to wait for your first warframe, you will have a very hard time sitting through every other item you construct. It's best to build character and grow hair on your chest and learn how to be patient for new things, because everything takes 12 or 24 hours to build. Only warframes take 72 hours to construct, so don't worry.
Your builds will continue to construct even while you're offline, so don't worry.
7) Trading in Update 11 (U11)
With the introduction of trading, some changes have occurred in player attitude and how they act toward each other. While much is still the same, the controversial element of trading has added new value to things such as Serration (main weapon +damage%) or Barrel Diffusion (secondary weapon +multi-shot%) mods.
a) Trading seems relatively simple. Why is it game-changing to you?
The reason I think trading changes up the game is because it adds player value to each item in the game. This will cause a surge in interpersonal activity, and things such as blueprints, although they can't be traded at this moment, will become very valuable to the right buyer.
You can trade mods, void keys, and Prime parts. The kicker is that you can trade items for platinum, which is why I made this section for this guide. Many purchases have already occurred, such as, as a friend claims, a maxed out Serration mod was sold for 1,500 platinum, and many other things have been sold for up to 200-500 platinum! So the reason I think trading is such a controversial mechanic is because the value of certain items become devalued, and others become grossly over-exaggerated in worth that it makes trading very difficult, and often times very hard to work with. In addition to that, some players will become trading kingpins, although that isn't necessarily a bad thing in a game like Warframe, but can hurt the economy and eventually unbalance the game (Diablo 3 being a good example of this).
b) So what does this have to do with me as a new player?
It means you should acquire things on your own, and probably avoid trading for a long time. A maxed out Serration mod sounds really tasty, but it's not worth the amount of platinum people are selling them for. Considering 1,500 platinum is almost 100 USD, you'd either have to be well-off and not worry about spending the big bucks on video games, or just silly and too lazy to do these things on your own, or even both.
Misc Info: Space Bucks in the Grand Scheme of Things
THIS SECTION IS INTENDED FOR PLAYERS WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND VIRTUAL CURRENCY. SKIP THIS IF YOU DO NOT CARE TO READ ABOUT GENERAL INFORMATION REGARDING IT.
Space bucks are controversial in many regards and are often looked down upon by many gamers around the world. While virtual currency is often good to make money from, it is in turn considered a subtle way for developers to scam players into purchasing things that should readily be available in the game.
a) What are "Space Bucks?"
A "space buck" is a derogatory slang term for virtual currency that does not cost the developer any financial expense to sell to the player. Ironically, it is a very fitting name for a sci-fi game such as Warframe!
The idea of most free-to-play games is to offer a secondary shop (often referred to as a "cash shop") for items that allow players to support the developers by purchasing their space bucks and spending them on two of the most common merchandise in a cash shop: cosmetic items and boosters. Of course, the merchandise available varies from developer to developer, and is not always limited to just those two things.
b) The positivity of Space Bucks
Space bucks are good. As I said, they're in place to support the developers with their financial expenditures, such as the game you're playing, or for newer IPs that they may create in the future!
In general, they allow a player to insert themselves as VIPs, either by self-entitlement, or the developers sometimes give you a special title or item to show your support! Of course, no one likes a snobby player who "pays to win," right? But it doesn't really matter in a game like Warframe, since PvP (Player versus Player) is broken and mostly a worthless addition, but that's just my opinion.
c) The negativity of Space Bucks
Actually, there are a lot of things wrong with space bucks that aren't immediately apparent. For starters, most developers create space bucks to hide the actual value of items that you purchase in their cash shops.
What you may be buying for 500 Zen may not seem like a lot, but when you remember that 100 Zen = 1.00 USD, you start to second-guess your purchases.
Of course, Perfect World Entertainment will tell you the value of the currency. If you're good at basic mathematics, you can easily solve the value of 1 space buck (1 platinum, or 1 cartel coin) on your own.
There are some stores that simply tell you the value of what you're buying with your local currency. In general, this is often a much better (and much more honest) way of getting people to buy through your cash shop, and allows for direct purchases.
Of course, there are some circumstances where the game needs virtual currency, such as being able to exchange in-game currency for gems in Guild Wars 2.
Finale: Thank You For Reading!
I generally do not like to make myself public with my advice, due to my sensitivity to negative feedback, and not knowing when I'm wrong or right. I wrote most of this guide from personal experience and research, with the intention of helping new players understand what the most important things are when it comes to purchases in Warframe.
Like I said at the beginning, I'm sorry if this guide seems too long, but manuals are repetitive and redundant for a reason. Not everyone can follow brief or unclear detail like others can, so it's best to cover as many angles as possible.
I do not know if I'll continue editing this, but if people bring up proofreading errors or new / updated information, I will add it in! c: