The player may engage in player versus environment (PvE) content through missions or player versus player (PvP) content through “Conclave”. There are also “Quests”, which are a set of PvE missions with a narrative or story behind them.
Available missions are scattered across the planets of the solar system, the moons Phobos, Europa, Lua (Earth’s Moon), and dwarf planets Pluto, Ceres, Eris and Sedna. Players can also access missions set in a pocket dimension known as The Void through completing junctions on other planets and can fight enemies from The Void through Void Fissures. Warframes, and most other items in the game, are obtained through various in-game activities, such as mission rewards, quest rewards, etc. Players can possess all Warframes in their inventory but may only equip one at a time. Warframes, as well as various other elements in the game, are highly color-customizable. New Warframes are developed and released every 3–5 months. Each Warframe has 4 active abilities and a passive ability. During a Co-op session, players can synergize their respective Warframes’ abilities to deal increased damage, restrict movement of foes, or to help and protect each other. Warframes are not essentially designed to a class of gameplay, like stealth or defense but can be modified to suit a more hybrid playstyle by using various combinations of mods. The abilities of each Warframe are subject to change by the developers depending on the usage and feedback from the community.
The players are equipped with three weapons: a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, and a melee weapon. All equipment can be upgraded with “mods” that drop from enemies or are given as mission rewards; these can be installed, removed and upgraded into slots on the piece of equipment. Companions can also be equipped and accompany Tenno on missions, each with their own powers. These can be floating mechanical sentries, called Sentinels, or, following a quest, players can earn their own Kubrow, a canine-esque monotreme with a horned nose, or a Kavat, a feline-esque animal with reptilian features. Warframes, equipment, companions as well as various other elements in the game can level up, which increases attributes and/or allowing more “mods” to be equipped.
Players rest and travel in their own small, customizable ship in-between missions. Up to four players work together to complete missions, such as eliminating enemies, retrieving data from terminals, assassinating high ranking/dangerous targets, defending an artifact, or surviving as long as possible, before they can be extracted and the mission considered a success. Missions are ranked on a level basis, indicating the strength of opponents the player will face. There are various endless wave missions, which enables the players to continue for as long as they like, with increasingly difficult enemies and proportionally greater rewards.
The camera is positioned over the shoulder for third-person shooting. The player can jump, sprint, slide, and roll, as well as combine techniques to quickly move throughout the level and avoid enemy shots. The game also allows players to utilize parkour techniques to evade enemies, bypass obstacles or gain access to secret areas. Maps are generated procedurally with pre-built rooms connected together so that no levels have the same layout. At times, the player will be required to hack security terminals by completing a puzzle mini-game within a small time limit to proceed in the missions. Credits, ammo, resources, and mods can be found in set locations, such as lockers and destructible containers, as well as dropped by enemies. If a player’s Tenno loses all its health, that Tenno is down; if the player is alone, they can expend one of their revives for that mission to be returned to full health, while if with other players, another player can revive that Tenno. If all Tenno are down and no one revives, or in the case of certain missions if the objective is not met, the mission ends prematurely with players forgoing any rewards beyond what they have already collected.
New weapons, Warframes, equipment, and blueprints to construct such equipment can be purchased in the market, using either Credits earned in-game, or Platinum, a premium currency that can be purchased via microtransaction or traded for in-game. Also, some blueprints are dropped by certain enemies. Gear defined by blueprints can be constructed using resources collected from missions. Players can trade some of their gear to other players as well.