The other day my Xbox-based buddy told me that he‘d just finished building his very own Railjack in Warframe. I still remember my initial confusion and frustration with that particular piece of content vividly because the game explains jack shit about how it all works, so I intended to spare him that headache and started to give a rundown of the basics.
However, I wasn‘t even halfway through with my explanation when he asked me to slow the hell down. „Jeez, this is another whole game inside the game, isn’t it?“ he asked, pretty much hitting the nail on the head. Warframe‘s nothing if not complex.
Of course all there is to know already exists out there on the interwebs in some form or another, but back when I was in my mate‘s position I had to piece together the info I was looking for from various different sources, and some blanks still remained that I had to fill in for myself. I would’ve much preferred one complete and chronological step-by-step guide for beginners. Since I couldn’t find such a piece I‘ve decided to write one myself, and this is the first part of it.
Step One – Starting the journey
In order to get the quest that has you recover old Railjack parts and build a new ship from them you need to
- have finished the Second Dream quest,
- buy the Railjack Cephalon blueprint from the market and build it in your foundry, and
- have access to a drydock.
Collecting the Cephalon, who goes by the name of Cy, from your foundry will start the actual quest, called Rising Tide, and it will guide you through the process of reconstructing the old Railjack from here on out.
A drydock can be built in every Clan Dojo, so if you‘re a member of an active clan chances are it‘s already been done and you can use the fast travel option from anywhere in the dojo to get there.
Alternatively, the relays around Saturn, Europa, Eris and Pluto all sport a public drydock, providing access to its functionality for players who aren’t in a clan or don‘t want to build one in their own dojo for whatever reason. The fast travel option is available here too.
As you obviously don‘t have your Railjack yet the only thing you can do here at this point is install your freshly built Cephalon into the marked terminal, which will advance the quest.
Step Two – Building the Railjack
You will now be sent on a journey to recover said Railjack parts, six in total. The missions aren’t too difficult, but you should be prepared to fight sentient enemies. Having a good Amp (basically anything other than the Mote Amp) and/or a strong frame should suffice. I just blasted them to bits with Mesa, for example.
After each step you have to finish constructing the part in question, which costs some credits and resources – nothing too expensive after DE did a couple rounds of nerfs (or buffs? Depends on how you look at it) – and takes one hour to finish.
After having repaired and installed the sixth part your Railjack is basically complete and you can enter it, either directly from the drydock (go down the ramp that leads to the ship’s bottom end) or by using the middle platform on your Orbiter‘s lower deck (right outside the Operator room).
However, before you can actually take off a key part for the ship‘s drive still has to be acquired, so you‘re sent on one last fetch-mission. After that your Railjack is finally operational, and from now on you can select space missions (called Empyrian missions) directly by using a new button in the upper right corner of your usual navigation menu.
Step Three – Playing (and beating) the first missions
This is unfortunately where the game fails horribly at guiding players towards a smooth, successful and thus fun start to flying their shiny new Railjack.
First of all, do not try your luck with the Call of the Tempestarii mission that’s most likely marked on your map from the moment your vessel is ready to go just yet. That mission is not meant to be a tutorial or something along those lines. In fact it was added to the game quite a bit later than the Railjack system itself. It‘s a story mission that unlocks access to the warframe Sevagoth, and you‘ll probably not able to beat it with a vanilla Railjack.
Instead, I advise you to navigate to Earth Proxima and select the Free Flight mission first. As the name suggests you can fly around at your own leisure here, and nobody will attack you. Steering the ship and firing your guns doesn‘t really need a whole lot of practice, but you can and should use this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Railjack‘s layout and functions, because unfortunately this isn‘t something that‘s explained to you at any point, and once you‘re in a real mission you‘ll definitely need this knowledge.
This is a tactical view of your ship (green stuff added by me, obviously). You don’t have access to it ingame just yet, but this should help you find your way around for the time being. You can ignore the blue numbers, those depict NPC crew members. Here’s the legend:
- Bridge – The pilot’s seat is located here, all the way up front where you’d expect it. A bit behind it you have the navigation console, and the forward artillery seat right behind that.
- Turrets – In addition to the pilot’s guns you have two turrets that can either be manned by other players or, once you have them, by NPC crewmates.
- Airlocks – You can exit the Railjack here and fly around in space with your Archwing. This is needed to board crewships or to get to on-foot objectives. The rightmost airlock is just a floor panel between the turret stations and easy to miss. The two on the left are on the lower deck.
- Slingshot – Another way to exit the ship, but with a twist: the slingshot shoots you out like a living cannon ball. The range is about 4km, which helps you get to places faster. Also, if you aim at a crewship that’s in range you are propelled right through its hull and don’t need to use your Archwing at all. Very handy. It’s all the way in the back of the upper deck.
- Forge – Used to replenish ordnance and artillery charges, among other things, but this has to be unlocked first. Like the rear airlocks this is on the lower deck.
- This is you. Or rather, in this case it’s me.
Once you feel comfortable with all of this it‘s time for some action. The first and easiest combat mission is Sover Strait on Earth Proxima. Select it, and the Railjack will warp into the battle zone by itself. All you need to do here is shoot anything that moves and stay alive while doing so. Easy, right? Well, yes and no.
Blasting regular fighters out of the sky is straightforward enough, but crewships, of which you encounter at least a couple in every mission, are a different matter. When their hitpoints are depleted they shut down and float helpless in space, but they aren‘t destroyed. After a while their HP regenerate, and they start fighting you again.
To defeat them you need to do either of two things: shoot them once with the forward artillery when their HP are low or down, or board them and destroy their reactor from the inside. The artillery is much faster of course, but you have limited ammo for it and can’t resupply during missions yet.
Another thing you need to know is how to repair damage to your own vehicle. Whenever your ship‘s HP hit zero you can‘t maneuver or shoot anymore – just like crewships, basically – an alarm sounds and a countdown starts. You have that much time to find the damaged hull section and repair it; the mission fails if you don‘t. As it’s marked on the minimap it usually isn’t hard to find. But how do I repair it? I hear you ask. Here’s the thing: unbeknownst to you a tool called Omni is added to your first open gear wheel slot every time upon entering a Railjack mission. When there’s damage to repair equip the Omni, “shoot” the fire or leak with it until it‘s gone, and voilà.
If you‘re boarded just kill the bad guys, repair any damage if needed and continue with what you were doing.
If you keep these things in mind it should be no problem to successfully finish this mission. Once the objectives are marked as completed you can use the navigation console to either return to the drydock or start another mission (or the same one) right away.
The really good news is that you’ve now overcome the hard part and things are going to get a lot more fun from here on out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to pimp their very own space-ride?
The second and last part of this guide will show you how to do just that.