Lavos has a highly involved playstyle, requiring lots of action, positioning, and game knowledge to play well. Compared to other Warframes, Lavos takes more time to set up his abilities for optimal use, but will often outperform those other frames if that preparation was adequate.
Lavos has high health and armor, residing in the top 5 of both attributes among all Warframes. This makes him exceptionally durable, though he lacks any abilities to further boost those attributes like the Warframes that sit above him on their respective lists. As such, despite his stats being so similar to those frames, he’s not quite as durable as one might intuit through comparison. You’ll have to watch his health closely when in dangerous missions, as there’s no safety net like Iron Skin or Hysteria.
By holding down an ability key, you can infuse your next ability cast with the element that the held ability represents. If you infuse a second, different element, you’ll get the combination element, such as Toxin (ability 1) and Electric (ability 3) to make Corrosive. You can either infuse one element and then another, or hold both buttons at the same time to quickly create the combination element of your choice.
Understanding all of the elements available is key to making the most of Lavos’ abilities. This includes both their damage bonuses and penalties against various enemies, and the effects of each status ailment. In my experience, Viral is the most frequently impactful, greatly increasing the damage dealt by your ability’s damage-over-time effects as well as most other damage from you or your allies. However, Viral doesn’t help nearly as much against Corpus enemies due to their shields; just one example of how knowing each element is necessary for making the best use of Lavos’ abilities.
Unlike other Warframes, Lavos doesn’t use energy. Instead, each ability has a cooldown before it can be used again. This both hinders and frees Lavos; while you can’t spam the best ability for a given task, you can use every ability without being concerned that you’re using energy that could be spent on another ability instead. This makes Lavos feel far more varied and frantic than other Warframes, as you’ll be dancing across your keyboard (or game controller) rather than finding one basic sequence of buttons to repeat over and over for the most efficient outcome.
The first ability, Ophidian Bite, is a quick lash on enemies in front of Lavos. It has a decently generous angle of effect, allowing you to hit most enemies in range so long as they’re on your screen, except along the very edges or behind obstacles. A portion of damage dealt will be returned to you as health, complimenting Lavos’ high defensive stats. Knowing the elemental resistances of your enemies will help to maximize the health restored by this ability, though that becomes less important the more enemies you have in range. The most impactful obstacle to healing will be Grineer armor, so knowing which units are weak to Radiation versus Corrosive is the most important thing to learn.
The second ability, Vial Rush, is a speedy forward slide that leaves puddles behind Lavos that constantly deal damage and guaranteed status effects in Cold and your infused element. This makes it the most effective ability for quickly stacking a chosen status effect, with Cold being a constant every time you cast the ability, keeping enemies stuck in the puddles and unable to retaliate for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, the puddles themselves are unaffected by Ability Range, so the controlled area will always be somewhat minimal.
The third ability, Transmutation Probe, is a sliding bubble sent forward with a size determined by Ability Range, allowing it to affect a very large area when building Lavos for that purpose. Like all of Lavos’ abilities, it inflicts a guaranteed status effect of the infused element and its base element (Electric, in this case). This makes it an effective way to quickly get an essential affliction on many enemies at once, such as Viral to make most enemies take loads more damage from all attacks, or Cold to halt their march towards an objective. The bubble will hit enemies once per second, allowing for multiple status applications with a high Ability Range. Each enemy affected by Transmutation Probe will also reduce the cooldowns of all other abilities by a set amount based on Ability Efficiency, though it will only do this once per enemy per ability cast; hitting one enemy multiple times due to high Ability Range won’t trigger the cooldown reduction multiple times, unfortunately.
Finally, the fourth ability is Catalyze, a ring of gas clouds sent out in all directions from Lavos. The ability does decent damage to all enemies it contacts, but its real strength is the fact that this damage is doubled for each status effect already present on the enemy. And this isn’t a cumulative calculation; it’s exponential. In other words, 2000 damage becomes 4000 with one status effect… Then 8000 with a second status effect. 16000 after that, 32000 after that, and so on. It can quickly become the most damaging nuke ability in the game. However, its effectiveness is severely reduced by its long cooldown of 30 seconds, plus its limited vertical reach of 5m above and below Lavos’ casting location. Areas with multiple floors turn Catalyze from a vaporizing nightmare into a pretty but ultimately useless spectacle. Careful attention must be paid to avoid putting Catalyze to waste.
At a glance, Vial Rush is the only ability that benefits from Ability Duration… However, part of Lavos’ passive ability is that Ability Duration actually affects ALL of his status durations, as well. This includes the status effects from any of his abilities, as well as those applied by his weapons. This can make a huge impact on how much damage his abilities ultimately put out, as Heat and Electric (the base elements of Catalyze and Transmutation Drone respectively) both have damage-over-time components that become much more effective by lasting longer.
Should I use Lavos?
You should use Lavos if you want:
- Highly engaging gameplay.
- Leveraging your game knowledge for the greatest impact.
- Seeing your effort pay off with huge damage numbers.
You should avoid Lavos if you want:
- Quick, easy, and efficient gameplay.
- Immediate access to any given ability as the need arises.
Special Mission Types
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Elite Sanctuary Onslaught?
Not really; though all of Lavos’ abilities deal area damage, they don’t tend to have enough power to handle later waves of enemies unless you go through a lot of setup, making each nuke take far longer than better-suited Warframes.
In addition, reducing the cooldown on Catalyze using Transmutation Probe is essential to keep the damage coming. When in a squad, however, your allies will typically be killing enemies as well. Even if they’re killing slowly, each enemy they take down means one less enemy for your Transmutation Probe to hit, increasing the amount of time between casts of Catalyze.
That said, if your allies have some method of spreading status effects to many enemies at once, they can make each Catalyze you do cast into something far more powerful, capable of taking on the beefier enemies that it wouldn’t be able to kill if cast on its own. In this way, Lavos is something of a force multiplier, except that his allies boost him instead of the other way around.
Because all of Lavos’ abilities apply guaranteed status effects in an area, he is actually his own best ally for stacking Catalyze damage; a full Lavos squad with each player assigned a different set of elements can vaporize enemies well beyond wave 8 where most tend to leave.
However, that’s all a lot of preparation for something that some other Warframes can nearly accomplish on their own. Without allies to spread status effects, Lavos has a much more difficult time. All of his abilities can inflict two status effects at once, but only Catalyze has the kind of coverage necessary to really prime the map for a nuke, which obviously prevents Catalyze from being used as the nuke. Transmutation Probe affects a respectable area, but not typically enough to cover everything… And even if it did, only two status effects isn’t quite enough to push Catalyze into instakill territory.
Weapons can also apply status effects, but the problem is the same; they just don’t affect a large enough area. The Cedo, Lavos’ signature shotgun, is most certainly the best candidate for the job… But the glaives that it launches only allow the user so much control, and you certainly can’t force them to move around the full map to ensure that all enemies are primed for Catalyze. Other weapons have much more focused target areas, making them even less effective than Cedo.
Lastly, the effectiveness of Catalyze is highly dependent on the map layout. Each probe Catalyze sends out will only hit enemies 5 meters above and below it, making it far less potent in maps with multiple floors.
Overall, Lavos just lacks the coverage and damage output to keep up with other nuke Warframes with any sort of expediency.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for The Index?
Not really; despite Lavos’ cooldown system negating the energy drain of Financial Stress, his abilities are only able to get kills on their own in the first half of the match. He also lacks the means to survive while at high Financial Stress stacks, making him a poor point carrier.
With no Ability Strength mods, a Toxin-infused Catalyze (the most effective element choice in this scenario) is unable to kill most brokers. 313% Ability Strength allows most brokers up to level 39 to be killed by a Toxin Catalyze. Getting 180% Ability Duration as well bumps the level up to 49. It takes less than 40 broker kills for them to level past this point, meaning your Catalyze will only be effective for the first half of the first round unless you stack some status effects on those brokers first.
The thing is, applying those status effects typically means having line of sight on them; Transmutation Drone can hit from a pretty good range, but not good enough for map-wide nuking. And if you have line of sight, that means that a well-built gun could kill them anyway. It simply defeats the purpose of having a nuke ability. The Cedo shotgun can somewhat overcome this problem, as its homing glaives will find enemies even if you don’t see them. It won’t typically hit everyone, however, so most will still survive the attack.
Unfortunately, even if Catalyze could keep up with enemy level scaling, its 30-second cooldown keeps it from really having an opportunity to speed up the match. The low enemy count also means that Transmutation Drone won’t do much to reduce that cooldown, even if you manage to hit every enemy with it.
The final nail in Catalyze’s coffin is that one of the two maps is multilevel, with every floor seeing a roughly equal amount of traffic from the brokers. The severely limited vertical range of Catalyze makes it even more unreliable in this map, when it could barely keep up to begin with.
And unfortunately, none of Lavos’ other abilities come even close to being able to take out brokers. While Vial Rush can soften brokers that happen to run through the trail via infused Viral or Magnetic, most well-built weapons won’t have much of an issue in the first place. Ophidian Bite’s damage isn’t remotely high enough to take out a broker, and the health steal doesn’t even help much when Financial Stress has brought you below 200 health max. Transmutation Probe can soften enemies like Vial Rush, but once again, is it really necessary?
Overall, Lavos just doesn’t have quite enough oomph to make it as a nuker for the Index, and definitely doesn’t have the tools to be a point carrier or goalie.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Eidolon Hunts?
No; the Eidolon cannot be affected by Warframe abilities or status effects, which are Lavos’ main strengths. He has no abilities to help with weapon damage or ally/Lure support, and thus brings nothing to the table.
If you’re looking for any possible reason to use Lavos, I’ve got three very small ones.
One, his high health and armor make him durable enough to endure some of the fight without having to switch to Operator to survive. He’s not invincible, though; many attacks remain too deadly to just take it on the chin. It’s less of a safety net and more of a parachute; it’ll slow down your death, but won’t totally stop it from happening.
Two, and somewhat tied to one, is that Ophidian Bite can be used to heal Lavos back up if he’s taken damage. However, finding a target to steal health from can be difficult. Vomvalysts will be the most common available targets, but it’s generally best to keep their numbers down in case of a shield scream. If the Eidolon wanders into a Grineer camp, you’ll have a good number of targets to use, but they aren’t likely to last long with Eidolon attacks and Warframe bullets flying.
Lastly, Vial Rush can help Lavos to quickly reposition when the Eidolon decides to do a pirouette that puts its Synovias out of sight. Because it has no energy cost and a very low cooldown, this isn’t hindered by the Eidolon’s magnetic scream or touching water.
Again, though, these are very small advantages, certainly not worth basing an Eidolon hunt around.
Core Mission Types
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Defense?
Not really; Lavos’ main avenue for handling Defense missions is his nuke potential. However, between Catalyze’s cooldown, limited vertical range, and requirement for preparation, it is much less efficient than better-suited nuke Warframes.
With adequate Ability Duration, Vial Rush can be used at chokepoints alongside Electric, Heat, Cold, or Radiation infusions to deter enemies from attacking the objective.
Transmutation Probe and Catalyze can perform a similar role to Vial Rush, though their longer cooldowns and lack of lasting damage fields mean they will be less effective for the purpose. Plus, both abilities are better saved for the sake of nuking enemies when a good opportunity arises.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Disruption?
Yes; Lavos’ high health and defense give him decent survivability in late waves of Disruption, and Catalyze can take out groups of enemies to drop keys. Forcing Cold status effects can slow down Demolishers considerably, and Vial Rush lets him get back to conduits quickly if needed.
Since Lavos has no abilities centered around damage prevention, especially late rounds can begin to overwhelm his defenses. With defense-focused Arcanes like Grace and Guardian, however, it will take quite some time before this becomes a problem. Using Ophidian Bite can restore lost health when needed, complimenting his defensive stats.
Using Vial Rush along the path the Demolisher must take will quickly max out their Cold stacks, slowing them to a crawl. Since Cold is the default element for this ability, you can also infuse whatever other element you want. Viral is a particularly good choice, as the damage fields will apply 3 stacks at a time, making the Demolisher’s effective HP drop to a quarter of its normal value within one or two seconds.
Because the Cold’s slow and Viral’s vulnerability are status effects, the Demolisher’s nullifying pulses won’t remove them, giving Lavos the potential to be more effective at handling Demolishers than other Warframes. However, the nullifying pulses will destroy the vials and fields themselves, so if they happen to pulse at the same time as you’re passing them, they may be able to escape the effects. By ensuring that your Vial Rush drops puddles both on top of them and in their immediate path, you can ensure that they’ll be affected without having to time your Vial Rush for after a pulse.
With the high speed of a Vial Rush, you can be somewhat daring in searching for the Demolisher, as returning to the conduit takes very little time. However, this will mean being unable to use Vial Rush to hinder the Demolisher if you don’t aim the ability for their path. It’s advisable to set up a Cold infusion while the Vial Rush is in progress, and then use Ophidian Bite or Transmutation Drone to quickly put 3 Cold stacks on the Demolisher to slow it down. It’s not as effective as the repeated status application of Vial Rush, but it can still give a decent advantage in taking the Demolisher down before it reaches the conduit.
Catalyze can be useful for clearing groups in your hunt for keys, though it’ll need a boost from other status effects to do an adequate amount of damage. This makes Catalyze a bit less effective than other nuke powers in the earlier levels of a Disruption mission, but the high damage against status-loaded enemies makes Catalyze substantially more effective at much higher waves. If your health and armor can keep up, Lavos will likely end up being one of the most effective key-finders available.
Overall, Lavos has to work a tad harder than other good Disruption Warframes, but can also progress the mission more quickly than others at especially high wave counts.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Excavation?
Not really; while Lavos can easily apply status effects to enemies that will hinder their ability to damage Excavators, this isn’t nearly as potent as the shields and defense buffs that better-suited frames provide. Catalyze can quickly clear a group of enemies from around an Excavator, but the cooldown means that new enemies can easily replace them.
The puddles created by Vial Rush can help to lock down one or two chokepoints for a brief period of time, but aren’t likely to halt an advance entirely, and will need to be frequently replaced to have any lasting defensive value. Vial Rush can also be used to quickly relocate if an Excavator begins to lose health, and infusing it with Heat or Electric can provide a short stun to give extra time to deal with the threat, so long as the enemy types are able to be affected by the crowd control components of those elements; Ospreys won’t flail or twitch from either status effect, for example.
Transmutation Probe can be effective for hindering enemies with status effects, as well. Since Electric is built in to the ability, Cold is an effective infusion as it will increase the length of time that affected enemies will twitch for. Unfortunately, the ability only hits each enemy once, and even though it applies 3 stacks of Cold with that hit, the overall effect won’t be as strong as Vial Rush’s puddles. Its advantage is that, with high Ability Range, it will affect many more enemies in one shot and doesn’t require the use of a chokepoint to function.
Catalyze can work similarly to Transmutation Probe for applying status over a large area, and if used for this purpose, Cold is once again a good infusion since it will cause the flailing from Heat to last longer. However, you may wish to save Catalyze for after hitting enemies with Vial Rush or Transmutation Probe so that their status effects will increase Catalyze’s damage, simply eliminating the affected enemies rather than just slowing them down.
Overall, while Lavos can be a thorn in the enemy’s side, his methods for defending the Excavator are simply too impotent, precise, and/or infrequent to easily ensure victory.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Exterminate?
Somewhat good in normal Exterminate, definitely good in Steel Path; Transmutation Probe followed by Catalyze can kill most enemies it contacts. While most other Warframes’ nuke abilities start to lag behind in Steel Path, Lavos can use a bit of extra setup time to make Catalyze disintegrate any enemy it touches.
For lower-level Exterminate missions, Lavos isn’t quite as effective as other nuke Warframes. The long cooldown and limited vertical reach of Catalyze make it difficult to keep up with more spammable and spherical-AoE powers. However, with enough Ability Range, Strength, and Duration, Transmutation Probe can become an effective nuke power as well, allowing for more staggered nuke casting that makes Catalyze’s cooldown far less of a hindrance.
By infusing either ability with Viral, you will more than double the amount of damage enemies take from the Electric or Heat status effects intrinsic to Transmutation Probe and Catalyze, respectively. This is less effective for Corpus Exterminates due to their shields; for these, you would be better served with a Toxin or Magnetic infusion, instead.
Steel Path and other high-level Exterminates are where Lavos really shines, however. While you’ll need to build up more status effects to take advantage of the damage boost on Catalyze, the buildup is worth it; while a Volt or Gara might need to use their nukes multiple times for one group of enemies, a little bit of preparation will ensure that Catalyze clears the room in one cast.
Piling on status effects could be done with Vial Rush and Ophidian Bite, but I’d instead recommend a high-status-chance weapon like the Cedo shotgun, Kuva Nukor pistol, or Mutalist Cernos bow. There are others, but these are some of the most effective choices for quickly spreading an assortment of status effects among a large group of enemies, typically more easily than with your first two abilities.
Overall, Lavos is an effective Exterminate Warframe that pulls further and further ahead of other Warframes the higher level the mission. Just be mindful of enemy elevations, as Catalyze can be wasted if enemies reside on multiple floors.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Interception?
Not really; Vial Rush can be used to quickly move between capture points, but beyond that, Lavos has little going for him in Interception missions. No elemental status effect can stop a hack in progress, and Vial Rush’s puddles last too short a time to use them for locking down a capture point.
Aside from the repositioning of Vial Rush, perhaps the best advantages of Lavos for Interception are guaranteed Cold and Viral status effects. Cold will slow down an enemy’s hack speed, giving more time to react, while Viral will make it substantially easier to clear the area of enemies. Unfortunately, compared to better-suited Warframes, these status effects are of minimal impact.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Mobile Defense?
Only slightly; widespread Cold and Heat/Electric status effects can hamper enemy assaults, and Catalyze can clear enemy forces with some preparation. However, Lavos lacks the means to protect the objective directly, so if any enemies slip through his offense, the objective is vulnerable.
Vial Rush can briefly lock down a chokepoint to prevent the arrival of enemy reinforcements. However, the low duration of its puddles means it will need to be refreshed frequently, taking time away from protecting the objective.
Catalyze can take care of a group of enemies with a little preparation to build their status effects so that Catalyze deals adequate damage, but its cooldown means that it won’t be able to consistently and perpetually prevent threats to the objective.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Rescue?
Not really; Cold status effects (especially paired with Heat or Electric’s brief stun) can be used to give yourself some extra time against an alerted warden, but Lavos has no inherent means of stopping a hack that’s already in progress. He also has no abilities for protecting the hostage aside from the same Cold/Heat/Electric tactic mentioned above.
The only other advantage Lavos really has is the speed of a Vial Rush. This can be used both to quickly reach the hostage, and to quickly reach extraction after the hostage is freed. So long as extraction is completed before the hostage bleeds out, the mission will be a success. This becomes less viable when in a squad, however, as teammates won’t necessarily be able to keep up with you, and without prior communication, they may not even try to rush for extraction in the first place, opting instead to protect the hostage in a more traditional fashion.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Sabotage?
Not really; Vial Rush can allow for reaching the objectives more quickly than other Warframes, but Lavos otherwise has very little to assist in completing the mission. His status effects can hinder enemies for defense-oriented Sabotage routes, but this isn’t nearly as effective as some sort of shield ability.
One rather minor advantage is that Vial Rush’s end explosion can damage objects, which includes the reactor pipes that are revealed when reinserting the fuel cell into the reactor. With adequate Ability Range, this allows you to finish the reactor destruction route very slightly faster than you otherwise could.
Another advantage of Vial Rush’s explosion damaging objects is that it can be used to hunt for Sabotage Resource Caches when used alongside Loot Radar. However, the explosion radius can only go as high as 25.2m and is centered on Lavos, making the process somewhat tedious and frustrating if you aren’t quite familiar with the tileset.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Spy?
No; with no stealth or laser-gate-bypassing ability, Lavos has no advantage in traversing Spy vaults. For Grineer vaults in particular, all of his abilities cause damage without hard stuns, immediately alerting camera drones if they take a hit.
The only possible advantage Lavos has going for him in Spy vaults is the speedy movement of Vial Rush, but this can just as easily be a detriment if you’re not paying close attention to laser door sequences and camera positions. The explosion at the end of the rush can alert enemies in the area, as well, not to mention the puddles left in your wake.
Is Lavos a Good Warframe for Survival?
Somewhat; though Catalyze often takes too much setup to be worth the time in mid-level Survival missions, it can overtake the damage of other nukes once the mission has scaled higher. Lavos’ high health and armor make it easier for him to survive at these high levels, as well.
In cases of low life support, Vial Rush can be used to reach life support towers much more quickly. By infusing the ability with Heat or Electric, it can also buy you some extra time to actually activate the tower without being fired upon.
When hunkering down in a side room with only one entrance, the focused flow of enemies makes it easy to hit numerous targets with Transmutation Probe, quickly reducing the cooldown for Catalyze. Between the shorter cooldown and the time needed for new enemies to reach the area, Catalyze should always be ready when you need it.