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Health (And Armor) Vs. Shields


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A small argument has been blowing over in my head over which one is better, so I brought it to you guys. We're assuming that the player has heavily modded the chosen stats and ignored the other side.



    Health is usually considered your last line of defence against death, and not as a main source of protection. After all, health doesn't regenerate, right?

    However, healing balls aren't that rare, and there is the important fact that health can never be cut in half by freezing temperature missions. This means you can have a constant protection you can rely on any mission.

    Armor is essential when considering health. It cuts down the damage attacks do to you, as long as the weapon isn't armor-piercing.

    The Stalker is a powerful enemy that can possibly one-hit KO you. I haven't tried this yet, but if you boost your health as much as possible, you might be able to survive an attack.

    Another point worth raising is that when you are revived, your health is instantly restored. Say, you have 15 points of health left in a situation with one enemy. You let it take you down, and it's obliterated by your teammates while you are revived.



    +Can't be cut in half by frozen missions

    +Damage can be reduced with armor

    +Can be restored by revive

    +Health balls aren't that rare

    +Might be able to withstand one hit ko attacks

    +A solid defense you can rely on almost every mission.


    -Doesn't regenerate

    -Might crumble in long term fights.

    -Possible that strong attacks would still take you down.



    Shielding is a more popular option, and for good reason. It regenerates at a good rate, stops damage to your health, and stops armor piercing, as far as I know. What's not to love?

    One of the biggest problems here is that it can be cut in half by frozen missions. It presents a major obstacle to players overly reliant on huge amounts of shielding.

    Another problem is the psychological effect it has on you. One moment, you're blazing through the enemies, taking no damage because of your shields. Then you find your shields have collapsed, bringing you to a quick end in the middle of the mob, where no one can get to you fast enough.

    Shields can be viable because they allow you to tank in areas where there might not be enough healing spheres to keep you going. All you need to do is keep under cover for a little bit.

    However, against the Stalker, you might not be able to survive under the firepower he possesses to regenerate shields. Another point to raise is the fact that toxic damage is not blocked by shields, so if you have low amounts of health, you're going to die.

    When in an Infested mission, shields usually aren't viable as the two ancients- Disrupter and Toxic- both have methods of getting past your shields (knocking your shields to 0 or affecting your health directly, respectively).



    +Regenerates rather quickly

    +Can get a massive amount of shielding on

    +Very useful for long range play, where you might get skimmed by the occasional bullet and can't afford to lose health

    +Also useful for tanking, played properly


    -Can be cut in half by cold missions

    -Gives a sense of invincibility which can prove fatal

    -Might not be able to stand up to very heavy and fast weapons (like the Gorgon)

    -Cannot block toxic damage

    -Cannot be affected by armor



I just wrote this essay for you guys to pick apart as you please. Feedback?


Edit: Factored in toxic damage. Thanks to AndryB94 for pointing this out.

Edit 2: Factored in the presence of Ancients. Thanks to Callback for pointing this out.

Edited by Zeri_the_Imp
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The main point is that shields don't benefit from armour. If they did, then it'd be biased towards shields by FAR.... But it already is. most people will prefer shields over health because, after all, you can duck and lean, duck and lean, duck and lean, constantly keeping your shield up.

Generally speaking you're right. Shields are eaiser to put up, and you can improve their regen as well, but because of the armour factor they'll also go down easily. If you have a heavy-armoured frame, health won't go down as easily. With a lightly-armoured frame however, once your healthbar is reached then you're in trouble.

You missed a CRITICAL point: Toxic damage goes through shields. Having very low amounts of health can kill you if you receive too much toxic damage. What I don't remember is whether toxic damage is reduced by armour or not.

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Totally forgot about toxic damage.Thanks for pointing that out.


In my opinion, shields are the way to go when you're in early-game. As you get further and further on, you'll want to switch over to health.


The reason I'm not suggesting a compromise (health AND shields) is because you're probably going to want to stick some abilities in your warframe, which you can't do if you're all buffed out with shields and health. If you don't care about abilities either way, then go for it.

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Nice essay, in the end it shows up its not a question of what works better in general but what are you able to do when you rely on Shields / LP-Armor.

A tank with high LP-amount and heavy armor should use this advantage by modding those, due to nice effectivity of mods.  (+200% of 450LP are more worth than of 300...)

On the other hand you have (depending on frame) some options to prevent damage when shields fell to 0 (just look at Link-Trinity, Ironskin-Rhino, SnowGlobe-Frost...)  or just instant kill while swarmed (SlashDash-Excaliur or any other...)

So it depends on how you treat enemys ;)

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Yes, health seems very rare when you need it. ;) Glad you liked it.


@hvidliljer (sorry if I accidentally misspelled it)


Eventually I'll write in how abilities themselves factor into the whole deal. Thanks for your post. Glad you liked the essay.

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I agree that stamina doesn't really seem useful, due to the fact that you don't get to sprint for large distances unless you're a rusher- most of the large areas you can use some other method of transportation, while others you end up fighting so much your stamina will recharge.




And that's one reason to go with health- if you aren't comfortable with your shields not always being effective. But yeah, shields usually are what you want, at least start game.

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On my Frost, I tried an experimental build, in which instead of the basic Redirection and Vitality, I'd go for Redirection with Fast Deflection and With 70% armor coupled with his helmet, which reduces health for even more armor. When my shields failed, I took very little damage.

Hell. Anyone remember Phorid's projectile attack that hits through shields? Out of 285 Max health, I managed to survive with around 35 left? Allowing me to survive it. I don't think stacking health would've saved me from that.

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Shields can be an amazing defense, I agree, along with armor. Just as long as you don't get too reliant on it (cold missions/infested missions).


A flexible build might be best- something you can swap in health/shields at any time between missions easily that is still effective.

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Indeed. It was just an experiment after all. I was attempting to find the differences in the importance of Shield capacity vs recharge speed.

With a higher capacity, you can get hit more, but you'll be spending more time in cover.

With high recharge, you may not be able to take as many hits, but being able to stay in cover for less than half the time you usually would is very beneficial and benefits a high speed playstyle.

Also, was testing the impact of armor by having significantly less health. Thing is, good armor makes each point of health have significantly more value, even to the point where shields are but just a temporary buffer.

I might be testing a Shield Recharge with high armor and Vitality. Should be amazingly durable,.but not reliant on hiding in cover too much for too long.

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