The other day, I was browsing through Region Chat when I saw a message. Someone wanted help with a particular mission. I looked up the mission in question, Carpo on Jupiter. At first, I though it was either the spy or rescue missions. Jupiter’s new-ness makes it so these missions are harder than they should be compared to previous planets. But no, Carpo is an exterminate.
Of course, I offered to help. This was a MR5 Rhino after all, and Jupiter is a hard planet.
After we finished the mission, I asked him to show me his mod config for his primary weapon.
Needless to say, it was exactly as I expected.
This poor Rhino was using a Gorgon. Not only is the base Gorgon pretty crap, but all of the mods on his Gorgon were unranked. His Serration in particular was also unranked. What the little Rhino had done was shove as many damage-related mods on his Gorgon at once. So he had a grand total of only a tiny bit of damage on his gun. +15% from Serration and +5% from the anti-Corpus mod Bane of Corpus. Plus 5% multishot and 5% crit damage from Split Chamber and Vital Sense, and +10% damage from an elemental mod.
He then showed me the configs on his secondary and melee weapons, and I saw the exact same thing. He hadn’t leveled up Hornet Strike (he didn’t even have a non-flawed one) and his Pressure Point had only been leveled up once. The flawed Hornet Strike he had would have done nothing anyway.
So he was basically doing no damage. Thankfully, melee had carried him all the way through Ceres, thanks to the scaling combo meter.
Luckily, this problem is very easy to fix.
All you have to do is start upgrading your Serration mod. The Rhino had basically no credits, so I took him to Seimeni on Ceres to get him some quick cash. After a couple of runs, he ranked up his Serration to level 6. This boosted his gun’s damage to +105%, a MASSIVE step up. I then took the Rhino to my dojo, gave him a maxed out Pressure Point and a rank 6 Hornet Strike as well as some other useful mods.
Now that he was more set up, he was ready to face not just the rest of Jupiter, but the Europa junction as well. Unfortunately, the Nova in said Junction wasn’t a great way to show off his newfound readiness. Because the Nova Specter immediately used Null Star and gave herself 90% damage reduction, she was a little tough to kill, but the guy made it through anyway.
The simple lesson here: upgrade Serration and Hornet Strike.
Back when I was new, I did the same thing that Rhino did. I tried to shove on as many mods as possible without ranking them up. What I SHOULD have been doing though was ranking up Serration and Hornet Strike. Otherwise, no matter how many mods I equip, I’m doing hardly any damage. The vast majority of your weapons’ damage comes from the four main damage mods: Serration, Hornet Strike, Pressure Point and Point Blank (for shotguns). These mods are the main mods you need, and ALL OTHER DAMAGE MODS calculate their damage AFTER the base damage mods.
So, when you are new and lacking in endo, the base damage mods by far give the most damage for your money. As you upgrade more mods, the base damage mods make all those other mods stronger as well. But with your limited modding capacity, it is often far, far better to just equip your base damage mod that’s been ranked up, rather than shoving as many mods on your weapon as possible. The base damage does far more work than a handful of +10% bonuses.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t tell you this.
Warframe has always been cryptic with how modding works. The maths is often weird and confusing, and not even the Wiki can be 100% certain at times. But base damage mods should be explained from the start, even if it’s just a quick “you should level these mods up first.” While I may have managed to help that one single Rhino, I can’t catch every single newbie and tell them all the same thing. And many players are often unwilling to ask for help, simply because most other games ridicule you for doing so.
It’s a shame, really. Because this basic tip – ranking up and equipping your base damage mods before anything else – is so easily missed, most players have probably struggled for ages, not knowing how easy it is to fix your damage output.
In the mean time, if you are reading this article and realise you don’t have a non-flawed Hornet Strike or Serration, send me a message and I’ll give you one of each. I’ll even upgrade them to rank 5 for you, if you need Endo.