With the release of Warframe‘s Deadlock Protocol content update, the game welcomes its newest Warframe, Protea. Early glimpses of her abilities include turrets and time travel, spurring some to hope that she would excel in the DPS category. Instead, Protea’s release has revealed that she’s a far more defensive of a Warframe, capable of taking hits, but not the best at dishing them out.
To start, let’s look at Protea’s abilities. Surprisingly, though her turret-building and time travel capabilities received the most attention pre-release, they’re currently the most lackluster part of her kit. Instead, it’s her shield grenades and dispensaries that provide her with the most utility.
Protea’s Grenade Fan ability offers the player two choices of grenades for Protea to throw out in front of her. The first, Shrapnel Vortex, can be selected by tapping the cast button. As the name suggests, these grenades unleash a vortex of shrapnel that inflicts slash damage and staggers affected enemies. This ability in itself isn’t bad. The damage is negligible against higher-level targets, but the guaranteed stagger effect can be useful for disrupting enemy attacks.
However, Grenade Fan really shines when you cast it as Shield Satellites. You can select this option by holding the cast button rather than tapping it. Doing so creates three Shield Satellites that attach to Protea, her allies, or her companions. Once attached, these satellites instantly restore up to 500 Shields. The Satellites then continue to regenerate up to 50 Shields per second, providing Overshields until the ability ends or the Overshields limit – 1,500 for most Warframes – is reached.
This ability is extremely useful for survivability, recharging shields even as enemies attempt to inflict damage. With the right mods, this recharge is so powerful that enemies struggle to even put a scratch on Protea’s health. For this reason, this ability is perhaps the strongest component of Protea’s kit.
In early previews of Protea’s abilities, many were excited by Blaze Artillery, which allows Protea to create stationary turrets. Most interestingly, these turrets displayed a damage multiplier that increased with every shot. This multiplier seemed to promise the potential for high DPS.
However, in reality Blaze Artillery has too many limitations to be impressive. For one, each turret has a default maximum of only six shots before becoming depleted. This greatly hobbles the damage multiplier, which is sorely needed. In fact, without the multiplier, the max default damage for each shot is only 500 points of Heat damage.
Furthermore, each turret is completely stationary and only capable of firing in a 130-degree cone in front of it. Without being able to rotate, its usefulness is limited to chokepoints or other areas of high enemy concentration. That said, it’s possible to deploy up to four turrets at once, which can work together to cover more ground. Still, at 50 energy per cast, it’s a rather expensive work-around.
Protea’s third ability allows her to create a single Dispensary that provides health orbs, energy orbs, and universal ammo. This Dispensary floats in place for up to 25 seconds, dispensing more supplies after five seconds if any are depleted. Normally, it only dispenses one orb or ammo pick-up at a time, but has up to a 25% chance to spawn an extra copy.
Due to its stationary nature and slow rate of replenishment, this ability is no substitute for a dedicated support frame like Trinity. However, it’s still handy for keeping Protea’s energy reserves topped up so that she can continue providing Shield Satellites for her squad. The health orbs and ammo are a nice bonus, but don’t spawn fast enough to make a huge difference.
Temporal Anchor is perhaps Protea’s most talked-about ability. When activated, it saves her current position and status as a snapshot in time. Protea then enters an altered state for up to eight seconds. In this state, Protea can cast abilities and do damage as normal. When the ability ends, she “rewinds” back in time, returning to her original position and regaining any health, shields, or damage lost while in her altered state.
Additionally, when she rewinds, she unleashes a percentage of the damage she inflicted while the ability was active in an area-of-effect implosion around her. This blast not only damages enemies, but pulls them towards Protea and knocks them down. Note, that these effects do not apply if Protea is killed while Temporal Anchor is active. In that case, she’ll be returned to her starting position, knocked down, and reduced to 5% of her maximum health.
In effect, this ability gives you a window to go in guns and abilities blazing without worrying about losing health, shields, or energy. It can also offer a slight safeguard against dying before entering a dangerous situation. That said, because it rewinds you back to your original position at the ability’s end, Temporal Anchor can be a little finicky to use. For example, in a linear mission where you want to head as quickly as possible to your destination, warping back to where you began is more of an inconvenience than anything. After all, there’s a good chance your squad will be charging ahead while you’re zooming backward.
That said, the ability may have a niche in missions like Survival or Defense, where Protea isn’t in a race to the finish.
Protea is still in the early stages of her release and may face alterations in the near future. As a result, it’s probably a little too early to stake a claim on a specific build. However, generally speaking, it looks like Protea’s two most important stats are going to be Ability Strength and Ability Duration. Nearly all of her abilities involve creating limited-time utilities for her and her allies, making Ability Duration an obvious choice. Meanwhile, Ability Strength will make for more potent Shield Satellites and more Dispensary drops. Not to mention, more Strength also means more damage from Blaze Artillery and Temporal Anchor.
In addition to Ability mods, defensive mods like Redirection and Adaptation can boost Protea’s already-stellar shielding capacity, making her a true challenge to take down.
As for playstyle, in her current state, you’ll likely be spending most of your energy on Shield Satellites and Dispensary. These can keep Protea up and at ’em, especially on longer missions like Defense and Survival. Consider Temporal Anchor if you want to wade into hairy situations like a swarm of Corrupted enemies. However, use it sparingly on more straightforward missions to avoid becoming separated from your squad.
Finally, try to avoid investing too heavily in setting up Blaze Artillery turrets. Though they aren’t bad to have handy at chokepoints, you’ll probably always be dealing more consistent damage by just using your weapons.
So, what do we think of Warframe‘s newest warrior? In her current state, Protea isn’t bad. In fact, her ability to boost shields and provide supplies make her an impressive survivor.
Still, the limited utility of Blaze Artillery and Temporal Anchor is a little bit disappointing. With these two abilities as narrow as they are, Protea doesn’t have much in her kit to round out her defensive abilities with offensive ones.
It seems that for now at least, Protea’s main niche in Warframe is staying on her feet and letting her guns – or her teammates’ guns – do the talking.