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Warframe Melee Balance

January 14, 2015

This post is for Update 15.8. I do not intend to update this post for newer versions of Warframe.

Warframe has had a serious balance problem throughout its history. Balance isn’t about having all weapons about the same power level. Balance is about introducing meaningful choice into which weapons are good. It means that advantages are matched with disadvantages. Ideally, the balance would be so good that the most popular article on this blog would be impossible to write.

Tier
Starter weapons should do less damage than MR 0-2 upgrades, which in turn should do less damage than primes and high MR clan-tech. I sorted weapons into 4 tiers: Starters, Basic, Advanced, Primes+. Starters have MR 0-2 and are not difficult to acquire. Advanced are either low-MR clan tech, medium clan tech, non-Wraith/Vandal event rewards, or some factor which makes them hard to get. Primes+ are weapons that are either Primes, Wraiths, Vandals, Dragon, or MR 6+ Clan tech.

Starter weapons get a DPS penalty of 20%, Basic weapons are 1.0, +20% for Advanced, and +40% for Primes+. That way, hard to get weapons can do more damage and still be considered balanced.

Speed
Faster weapons should do less damage. This is because with melee, the initial time before the enemy takes damage and is staggered is very important. Rapid attacking weapons have a major advantage over slower weapons beyond the mere fact of thereby being able to do more damage. Berzerker is more likely to trigger with a fast attacking weapon, as are status effects. I assigned a factor of (2.-attack speed) to DPS. This means that a weapon with an attack speed of 1.3 will get a DPS factor of 0.7, and a weapon with a 0.7 attack speed will get a factor of 1.3.

AOE
Small AOE weapons such as Sparring and Daggers should get 10% more DPS to compensate, and Large AOE weapons such as polearms and heavy weapons should get 10% less DPS to compensate.

Results
The average base DPS of all WF melee weapons is 54.86. I started with a base DPS of 50, applied my modifiers above and got an average of 56.5 if the weapon damages were changed to what I think they should be. That’s a bit of a buff, but close enough. I think in any rebalancing effort, the average damage should increase, since the unbalance is mostly caused by the OP weapons being too good rather than the bad weapons being too bad. If a weapon is bad enough, people will simply ignore it, or passively level it and sell it. However, overpowered weapons show up in every match and have a huge impact on the game. The average weapon damage could increase by 50% and still the average weapon DPS for weapons actually used in game could decrease. Perhaps an increase to an average of 60 or 70 would be acceptable. Either way, the ranking is unaffected by the scaling anyway.

25 most underpowered weapons
NameĀ  Over/Undertiering
Large buffs needed:
Sheev 0.38548951
Machete 0.419318182
Ether Daggers 0.434848485
Fang 0.457438017
Plasma Sword 0.433461538
Fang Prime 0.479220779
Dark Sword 0.505666667
Pangolin Sword 0.517159091
Dark Dagger 0.533677686
Dual Skana 0.546666667
Heat Dagger 0.559090909
Karyst 0.555555556
Cronus 0.587045455
Skana 0.597916667
Prova 0.597916667
Silva and Aegis 0.597916667
Obex 0.568181818

Slight buffs needed:
Skana Prime 0.615
Ceramic Dagger 0.652272727
Dual Cleavers 0.583333333
Kogake 0.624793388
Venka 0.64469697
Nikana 0.675
Glaive 0.7175
Prova Vandal 0.702857143

15 most Overpowered Weapons
Name Overtiering factor
Large nerfs needed:
Galatine 2.546296296 – If the damage is nerfed a bit and the current damage is used as it’s charge attack damage, that would balance this weapon. It’s mostly too fast right now. If the speed were dropped to 0.8, it would be fine.
Tipedo 2.476190476 – Like the Galantine, it’s just too fast. 1.3 is extremely quick for a basic tier, 50 damage weapon. Raise the MR to 5, put it in the Tenno Clan Lab, drop the speed to 1.2 and it’ll be fine.
Scindo Prime 2.476190476 – Not surprising that the highest DPS weapon in the game makes the OP list.
Jat Kittag 2.373015873
Amphis 2.354960317
Gram 2.12962963

Slight nerfs required for weapons below this point:
Magistar 1.745454545
Fragor 1.703703704
Orthos Prime 1.702380952
Bo Prime 1.636904762
Scindo 1.628787879
Scoliac 1.495663265
MK1-Bo 1.40625 – Surprised a MK1 weapon made the list?
Dragon Nikana 1.396428571 – Not actually that bad considering the MR of 8. It really should be one of the best weapons.
Kronen 1.357175926

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