Warframe has a robust melee system, but the heavy melee attack is often misunderstood and ignored. This is a shame, as it can result in an incredibly powerful impact against enemies, and will absolutely melt a lot of the game’s toughest challenges.
To perform a melee attack, you can hit the middle mouse button on PC, or R3 on consoles. This will perform the heavy attack of the melee weapon that you are using at the time. While all melee weapons have different heavy attacks, there are some commonalities that you should be aware of if you want to make the most of this form of attack.
Combo Counter and additional damage
When you performing a heavy attack, you essentially spend your combo counter. In return, you get a damage multiplier that is equivalent to your combo counter. So, if you have a combo counter of 2x, then you will get a 2x damage multiplier. This means you can build a combo counter by using regular melee attacks against lesser enemies, then unleash a devastating heavy attack against a more powerful enemy. You can still perform heavy attacks without a combo counter, and they will hit hard, but they will not be as impactful as they could be.
To build a combo counter, you simply need to perform normal melee attacks against enemies, and each successful strike will add to your combo counter. After a period of time where you don’t hit enemies with a melee attack, the counter will reset to zero. You can find your combo counter in the bottom left corner of the HUD.
It is possible to reduce this drain on your combo counter by using mods such as Focus Energy, or taking advantage of the Zenurik Focus tree and using Inner Might to get your combo counter to rank up faster. Alternatively, the Naramon tree will allow you to delay the loss of your combo counter, making it easier to maintain high values until you find a suitable target.
All heavy attacks have a windup, that is to say, the length of time it takes to perform the attack from the start of the animation to actually doing damage to an enemy. This will vary from weapon to weapon, and during this time you are susceptible to status effects so it is possible for the windup to be interrupted if you are knocked prone.