Zephyr – A Canary in a Cage

Zephyr sits at the bottom of my list of Warframes, looking at me longingly every time I scroll down to select Volt or Volt Prime. She squeaks and caws, thinking I might pick her, knowing full well that I want my electric space ninja more than anything else.

But lately I’ve been expanding my horizons a little bit. Playing more than just Volt with a hint of Khora and Ivara. Volt’s my main Warframe. Ivara‘s for Spy missions, Plains of Eidolon things and the occasional Riven Challenge. Khora is my go-to lazy frame for when I just want a mission done and out of the way. There is something in common among two of those three frames though. Volt and Khora are naturally speedy. Ivara’s slow as fuck when in stealth mode but she’s supposed to be someone you take things slow and tactical with.

In both the expansion of horizons and the desire to be fast, Zephyr kinda fits the bill perfectly. She’s fast. She’s speedy. And she can reach the horizon in no time at all.

Birds can't normally hover quite like this. They need some sort of external air current or something.
Birds can’t normally hover quite like this. They need some sort of external air current or something.

Normal Zephyr though is kinda… ugly. She has lots of uncolourable parts, which makes her hard to Fashionframe. There is a Zephyr Immortal skin for her that deals with the issue, but it’s only available via Baro Ki’Teer, which is annoying as fuck since I like immortal skins and I missed it the first time round. Zephyr Prime on the other hand is gorgeous, much more regal and bird-like, complete with feathers and tufts and all sorts. You almost HAVE to put on the Avia armour set and a wing-like Syandana.

Abilities-wise, Zephyr is a mixed bag. Especially with her passive, which is basically low gravity. It can take a while to get used to Zephyr’s floatiness. Like, a long while. Basically, don’t play her on Jupiter because you may not ever touch the ground again.

Tailwind is Zephyr’s signature ability, which propels you forward in the direction you are looking, sending you flying into the air. While you’re in the air, you can keep on casting Tailwind (with a reduced cost) to propel yourself in any sort of direction, or cast it while looking straight down to divebomb enemies. A less useful use of Tailwind is to charge it for a couple of seconds then let go, which causes you to leap up and then hover in midair for a bit. It’s cool but really most people just use Tailwind to get out of tight spots and to get around.

Airburst is basically a Sonicor Tripleshot. It’s your average deals-damage ability except it’s bound to the 2 key rather than the 1 key like most other frames. It costs half energy if you’re airborne.

Tornado, despite its singular name, spawns four tornadoes that suck in enemies and can be aimed by aiming with your gun and pointing where you want them to go. They are 6m tall and can be made taller (but not bigger) with Airburst. Interestingly, Tornadoes can absorb damage from both enemies and your weapons to deal whatever elemental damage your stuff does most of. Tornadoes don’t do much damage but they are amusing and they do keep enemies out of the way. Unless you’re using Funnel Clouds, the augment, which spawns 8 tornadoes but makes them smaller and they don’t suck enemies up.

Really, the crowning jewel of Zephyr’s kit is her third ability, Turbulence, a weird shield ability that deflects projectiles and gives Zephyr a feeling of tankiness. Turbulence basically deflects projectiles, but Zephyr can still be killed by status effects or area-of-effect things like the fire left behind from an Ogris blast. Basically all Zephyrs want to keep Turbulence up constantly.

But Turbulence can be made better with the augment Jet Stream. Which gives you a speed boost and increases the projectile speed of your weapons. That’s the fun part of Zephyr. Leaping around and being somewhat hard to kill as you run and fire incredibly fast. You can share Jet Stream’s buffs with team mates but they don’t get Turbulence’s shields, and the range to give them the boost always feels very… small.

Zephyr though, despite a mini rework when her Prime came out, still isn’t that popular. And I’m pretty sure that the answer is because most Warframe maps are too small for Zephyr to make use of.

Zephyr - Free like a Bird
Zephyr – Free like a Bird

I mean, aside from the Plains of Eidolon, Corpus Outposts and maybe some larger tiles on Europa and some Corpus ships, a lot of the rooms you run through are too small and have too many nooks and crannies to snag on. So Zephyr finds herself grounded quite regularly, and at worst she spends more time crashing into walls than anything else.

Still, when you do take Zephyr somewhere where she can spread her wings, she’s amazing. Flying through the air, bullets bouncing off you, leaving tornadoes in your wake and raining death from above, it’s something else that no other frame – not even Titania – can really do.

And since Zephyr is a Dojo Warframe (alongside Volt, Banshee, Wukong and Nezha), all you need to do to get her is join a clan that has her researched already.

Honestly, it’s worth it. Even if you just fly around on the Plains of Eidolon.


Medic, also known as Phovos (or occasionally Dr Retvik Von Scribblesalot), writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF since she doesn't have anything better to do. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Phovos has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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