Gara has a few potent and versatile abilities that give her remarkable flexibility, allowing her to easily handle many common situations. However, her generalized nature means that she is rarely the “best” Warframe for a chosen task, losing out to more specialized Warframes.
Furthermore, some of her strengths are less intuitive than on other, more straightforward Warframes. For example, Mass Vitrify can be used to deal high damage over a very large area, but lacks the single-button-simplicity of Volt or Banshee. Instead, Gara must perform many actions before the damage is dealt; cast Mass Vitrify, halt it when the wall has reached an optimal distance, then hit the wall with Shattered Lash. This also requires building your melee weapon specifically for the task, whereas simpler Warframes only need a few mods on the Warframe itself.
As for what “optimal distance” means, that’s where the ability becomes even more complicated. Enemies inside the ring won’t be damaged (though they will be vitrified, which makes them take more damage from other sources). Enemies that aren’t at the same elevation as the glass won’t be affected, either. Since Mass Vitrify starts off at about Warframe height before extending downwards, you need to juggle between extending the ring too far to damage enemies, and missing enemies at lower elevations because the ring didn’t have enough time to sink down. The tactic is powerful, but quite awkward to use.
Gara has a second method for dealing area damage, as well. Splinter Storm will deal constant damage to enemies in her vicinity, and the damage dealt can be increased by shattering Mass Vitrify while standing outside of the glass wall. This damage can stack infinitely, making the combo scale extremely well with content and mission duration. However, if Splinter Storm runs out of duration, it completely resets the damage counter, which can be incredibly frustrating if you’ve been stacking higher and higher for the past fifteen minutes.
Both methods require quite a lot of energy since they depend on casting Mass Vitrify and Shattered Lash regularly. Adding ability duration to your build can help with energy management in the Splinter Storm approach, but it can be hard to find room with all of the ability range mods you’ll also need to make these offensive setups work. It’d be good to have enough ability strength to reach 90% damage reduction on Splinter Storm, as well, which can be difficult to do with the strength penalty on Overextended.
On the less complicated side of things, Gara is an amazing option for protection-based objectives. Mass Vitrify creates a wall that enemies can’t move or shoot through, but allies have no such limitations. On top of that, Mass Vitrify freezes all enemies it passes through during its creation, making it a great crowd control tool in addition to its simple obstacle capabilities. And on top of all that, Gara ALSO has Splinter Storm, which provides up to 90% (50% for stationary Defense objectives) damage reduction to whatever allied entity is targeted.
Finally, there’s Spectrorage. This ability tends to get a bad rap, and perhaps at its core, this is deserved. It’s not necessarily a bad ability, but it’s kinda more of the same; a third move with the purpose of preventing damage to your target, in this case by distracting enemies into shooting the mirrors instead of something more important. It’s simply redundant when you consider the presence of Mass Vitrify and Splinter Storm, each of which fill similar roles in an arguably more reliable manner.
However, if you can fit it into your mod slots, the Spectrosiphon augment can give Spectrorage a nice quirk to set it apart from Mass Vitrify and Splinter Storm. With high ability range, it’s easy to take out large quantities of enemies inside the ring to drop loads of energy orbs. With how much energy Gara uses for nuking, energy management is crucial. There are other ways to make sure you’re topped off, but using Spectrosiphon under the right circumstances will guarantee that you have energy orbs to spare. And all those orbs are sure to make your teammates happy, too.
Special Mission Types
Is Gara a Good Warframe for Elite Sanctuary Onslaught?
Potentially yes; when using a Mass Vitrify shattering build, Gara can keep up with other top nukers. However, she will have to work much harder and smarter for this result than most. The awkward area of effect from Mass Vitrify forces Gara to use obscure casting locations to succeed.
Unlike other Warframes, it’s usually best not to cast from the center of the map. There’s a high likelihood that large groups of enemies will end up inside Mass Vitrify’s circle, keeping them safe from the outward shatter. And if the map has multiple elevations, you can’t just halt Mass Vitrify right away to keep the ring small, as it won’t extend downwards enough to hit every floor.
Instead, it’s best to find decently high locations around the edge of the map, and try to halt Mass Vitrify just before it reaches the majority of the enemy swarm. Enemy Radar helps a lot with this, if you can get by without Corrosive Projection.
With the unorthodox positioning required to make Mass Vitrify work as a nuke ability, Elite Sanctuary Onslaught’s once-per-ten-seconds limit on 4th abilities becomes a good deal more daunting. It’s easy to mess up your casting location and catch hardly anything in the explosion, resulting in a valuable ten seconds wasted. No pressure!
Another huge problem for Gara in Elite Sanctuary Onslaught is Nullifiers. While these enemies are the bane of any nuke Warframe’s existence, Gara is hit particularly hard; Mass Vitrify is a huge structure, and if a segment happens to lightly tap a Nullifier bubble, you can’t hit anything behind or around the Nullifier, either. Their bubbles also quickly chomp through Spectrorage.
Nullifiers eating Spectrorage may not sound like much of a loss, but when using the Spectrosiphon ability augment, it can be a huge asset. Energy is hard to come by in Sanctuary Onslaught, where your Energy Restore gear items are locked away from you and there always seems to be an energy leech Eximus creeping around somewhere. With Spectrosiphon, however, you can get a dozen or more energy orbs littering the ground in a matter of seconds. If you’ve put together a premade squad with a Trinity to fill your energy bar to bursting, you don’t need to use the mod slot on Spectrosiphon, but if you’re using public matchmaking (or trying to solo the mission for whatever reason), it’s tremendously helpful.
Between the bizarre positioning, Nullifiers, and heavily armored Grineer, it’s likely you won’t one-shot the map with every cast. I highly recommend using Splinter Storm as a supplemental mini-nuke ability to keep Simaris’ bloodlust sated. It’s only a little bit of extra complexity tacked onto the weird dance you’re already having to perform; cast Splinter Storm at the start of each round (after Spectrorage if you’ve brought Spectrosiphon along), and make sure to shatter Mass Vitrify from outside the ring instead of inside. After a couple shatters, you’ll be able to shred any enemy you come marginally close to, keeping your Efficiency capped out between casts of Mass Vitrify.
Overall, Gara can be more effective than even some of the common meta picks for Elite Sanctuary Onslaught, but doing this requires exceptional effort and gear to pull off.
Is Gara a Good Warframe for The Index?
Not really; though Mass Vitrify is decently effective for keeping enemies from their goal, Gara has little else to help her in this game mode. Splinter Storm doesn’t offer enough protection to reliably offset the Financial Stress debuff, and weapons will typically outperform Shattered Lash.
Even with 220% ability strength and the best melee mod setup possible (aside from the inevitable sub-maximum roll on the Riven), I was unable to deal enough damage with Gara’s Mass Vitrify nuke to take out the enemy team. And with how much energy it cost to perform, there was no spamming it to offset the inadequate damage.
You could potentially focus on building Splinter Storm instead and just running into enemies, but a well built weapon can one-shot them anyway, making the infinite scalability unnecessary. Furthermore, while Splinter Storm’s 90% damage reduction is impressive in most content, the Financial Stress debuff will reduce your health and shields by up to 90% itself, effectively negating Splinter Storm’s benefit and making Gara fight as a “normal Warframe” against the brokers.
Mass Vitrify is really Gara’s only meaningful contribution to The Index, being used to deny your opponents access to their goal. Since running out to carry points and score goals is a bad idea anyway with Gara’s relative fragility, you’re best suited to stay at the goal and taking out any opponents trying to move in for a score. Might be useful for the Nightwave objective of winning three rounds of Index with enemies scoring, but aside from that, Gara’s just not a great choice for The Index.
Overall, Gara can play a defensive role very well, but it’s rare that such a thing is needed to begin with.
Is Gara a Good Warframe for Eidolon Hunts?
No; while Splinter Storm can be a decent method of protecting Eidolon Lures, there are far more effective choices available. Beyond that, Gara has nothing else to contribute to Eidolon hunting, as Warframe abilities do not affect the Eidolon itself.
With the Mending Splinters augment, Splinter Storm can become a bit better at protecting Eidolon Lures. Though three health per second may sound trivial, the 90% damage reduction means that it gains 30 effective health per second, instead. This healing rate is affected by ability strength, as well, allowing you to take the effective health per second up to around 75 per second if you max out your ability strength, or even higher if allies contribute using the Power Donation aura.
All that said, the same end result can be accomplished with an unmodded Trinity casting Blessing periodically, and without the danger of her healing being outpaced by the Eidolon’s damage. Unfortunately, Gara just doesn’t have the means to be an optimal part of an Eidolon team.
One hope I had for Gara was using Mass Vitrify to prevent the Eidolon from healing during its final scream phase, but I was unable to get results in my testing. Despite not seeing any Vomvalysts making it to the Eidolon, it emerged with full health after its tantrum was completed.
Overall, Gara is a poor choice for Eidolon hunts, outclassed in support and unable to help in other ways.
Core Mission Types
Is Gara a Good Warframe for Defense?
Very; with Mass Vitrify and Spectrorage, it’s highly unlikely that enemies will even get a hit on the objective, and Splinter Storm ensures that those rare hits will be negligible. With the right build, Mass Vitrify can also be used to nuke the area and clear each wave quickly.
Unlike with Sanctuary Onslaught, enemies in Defense missions tend to only spawn around the edges of the map. This makes Mass Vitrify much easier to use as a nuke ability, since you usually won’t have to avoid catching enemies inside of the circle while you grow the wall’s height.
If you aren’t going to nuke with Gara for whatever reason (already have a nuker in the squad, don’t have a good melee weapon to fuel it, simply don’t enjoy nuking, etc.), she still has a lot of value as a safety net.
Mass Vitrify’s walls are an obvious asset for preventing enemies from reaching the objective, but the crowd control component of the power is also very useful. If and when enemies break through the glass, recasting the ability will both refresh the wall and freeze those enemies that made it through, on top of making them take extra damage for good measure.
If you can’t attend to the objective the entire time, refreshing Mass Vitrify as soon as enemies break through, then Splinter Storm is there as another line of defense. Unfortunately, Splinter Storm will only provide 50% damage reduction to stationary Defense objectives instead of the full 90% that mobile entities can receive, but that’s still quite potent.
Furthermore, if you build the damage of Splinter Storm by shattering some Mass Vitrify walls with the objective outside of the circle, you can ensure that melee enemies are shredded immediately upon getting within range to attack. This can be a decently quick method for clearing melee-heavy Infested Defense missions when paired with a Speed Nova if you so choose, though bear in mind that nuking with Mass Vitrify would be substantially faster if you can build for it.
In missions with Operative NPCs as the Defense objective, such as Sorties, Gara is still very effective, though you might need to change tactics just a tad if you’re not going to use a nuke build. Instead of centering a Mass Vitrify wall on the Operative right away, you can lead them into a side room before casting to set up what my friends and I like to call the “playpen.” This will keep the Operative contained and out of trouble while you and your allies handle incoming enemies, as they can’t pass through the wall.
As a warning, the Operative can still climb walls, so you’ll have to initiate the cast from a high position. Or, if the map allows for it, you can try to get the wall directly in a doorway, though the Operative may simply glitch their way into climbing it anyway. I recommend just making high walls to be safe. After catching the Operative in a side room, you could even make a new wall that keeps them caught in the room with the outside of the wall, while the other side of the circle keeps enemies at bay, providing a double layer of defense.