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Excavation is a game mode introduced in Update 14.5 for the Operation Cryotic Front event, and formally introduced as a standard mission type in Update 14.10. This game mode tasks players with searching and then extracting various artifacts buried deep within a planet's surface. This mission is the primary source of Cryotic.

Excavation game modes appear as outdoor Tilesets on Venus, Earth, Mars, Europa, Neptune, and Pluto, including available Dark Sector nodes.


Players will first need to locate dig sites whose positions are located on the minimap by the Lotus every 30 seconds, with a maximum of 4 potential dig sites being available. From Update 18.4 onwards, dig sites will not spawn near a freshly-excavated area, necessitating constant relocation as the mission progresses. Once players walk within 20 meters of a dig site, an Excavator will drop in on the location and start digging. An Excavator requires 100 seconds to accomplish its task, and must be protected from enemy fire during the duration of its operation in order to receive additional rewards. However, each Excavator only has 20 seconds worth of energy when deployed, thus players will have to locate Power Cells which are carried by designated Power Carriers. Killing a Power Carrier will drop a Power Cell, and each cell adds 20 seconds worth of energy to the Extractor and restores its Shields. Holding a Power Cell will limit the player to their Secondary weapon or Melee weapon, identical to a Mobile Defense datamass, and is automatically consumed once the player walks within 5 meters of the Excavator.

Regardless if the Excavator is successfully defended or not, all players will receive Cryotic for every second the Excavator was active (thus awarding 100 Cryotic for a successfully-defended Excavator). Additionally, if the Excavator survives to complete its digging, all players will receive a random reward. Once at least one Excavator is defended, the mission's extraction point will be revealed, allowing players to complete the mission if they choose to. However, Alert Missions (Including Syndicate Alerts and Nightmare Alerts) will only allow extraction after 500 units of Cryotic have been extracted, while Sortie Excavation missions require 1000 units of Cryotic before extraction is available.

Similar to Survival missions, the rewards for every successful excavation stack, and players can claim all artifacts that have been recovered upon extraction. Also, multiple Excavators can be active at once if desired, limited only by the squad's ability to defend them. While survival works by a reward every 5 minutes, Excavation is per extractor. With the ability to run multiple extractors simultaneously, and taking far less than 5 minutes each, Excavation missions lead to more frequent, and usually more numerous rewards.

Excavation MissionsEdit

Planet Mission Name Faction Level Tier
Earth Everest Grineer 1 - 6 1
Venus Kiliken Corpus 3 - 8 1
Mars Augustus Grineer 9 - 14 1
Europa Valefor Corpus 18 - 23 2
Neptune Despina Corpus 27 - 32 3
There are a total of 5 Excavation missions.


Besides the bonus amounts of materials, experience, and mods from the increase in enemies compared to normal missions, certain rewards can be awarded at the end of the mission if the mission is a success. Mission rewards will vary depending on the level of the mission's enemies (the starting level; this tier does not scale during a mission as higher level enemies spawn) and also depends on the amount of time spent.

  • Enemy level tier (in average):
    • Tier 1: Level 1 - 10
    • Tier 2: Level 11 - 20
    • Tier 3: Level 21+
    • Note: While most missions obey these enemy level tiers, there are a few exceptions, such as Valefor. Refer to the table above for a more accurate list of mission enemy level tiers.
  • Drop Rotation (the rewards rotation starts again after every 4th successful extraction):
    • Rotation A: 1st, 2nd; 5th, 6th; 9th, 10th; etc.
    • Rotation B: 3rd; 7th; 11th; etc.
    • Rotation C: 4th; 8th; 12th; etc.
  • The easy way to remember the Rotations is AABC with each successful extraction moving onto the next letter
  • Rewards stack the longer you play.
View Rewards List

Rotation A Rotation B Rotation C
Credits64 500 Credit Cache 14.29% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith G1 Relic 8.33% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith G1 Relic 12.91%
Credits64 1000 Credit Cache 14.29% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith K1 Relic 8.33% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith K1 Relic 12.91%
Credits64 1500 Credit Cache 14.29% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith S4 Relic 8.33% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith S4 Relic 12.91%
Credits64 2000 Credit Cache 14.29% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith S5 Relic 8.33% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith S5 Relic 12.91%
EndoIconRenderLarge15 Endo 14.29% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith V1 Relic 8.33% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith V1 Relic 12.91%
EndoIconRenderLarge50 Endo 14.29% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith V2 Relic 8.33% VoidProjectionsIronD Lith V2 Relic 12.91%
EndoIconRenderLarge80 Endo 14.29% FusionCorePackSilversingleHornet Strike 8.33% FusionCorePackSilversingleArrow Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingleIncendiary Coat 8.33% FusionCorePackSilversingleCleanse Grineer 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingleIntensify 8.33% FusionCorePackSilversingle Pistol Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingleParry 8.33% FusionCorePackSilversingle Rifle Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingleSerration 8.33% FusionCorePackSilversingle Shotgun Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingleSteel Fiber 8.33% FusionCorePackSilversingle Sniper Ammo Mutation 3.76%

Rotation A Rotation B Rotation C
Credits64 1500 Credit Cache 16.67% VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso C2 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo A1 Relic 11.06%
Credits64 2000 Credit Cache 16.67% VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso D1 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo N3 Relic 11.06%
Credits64 2500 Credit Cache 16.67% VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso F1 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo N4 Relic 11.06%
EndoIconRenderLarge15 Endo 16.67% VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso F2 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo S5 Relic 11.06%
EndoIconRenderLarge50 Endo 16.67% VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso S2 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo V2 Relic 11.06%
EndoIconRenderLarge80 Endo 16.67% VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso S3 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo V3 Relic 11.06%
VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso V1 Relic 6.67% VoidProjectionsSilverD Neo V4 Relic 11.06%
VoidProjectionsBronzeD Meso V3 Relic 6.67% FusionCorePackSilversingle Arrow Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Charged Shell 6.67% FusionCorePackSilversingle Cleanse Corpus 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Fast Deflection 6.67% FusionCorePackSilversingle Pistol Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Hornet Strike 6.67% FusionCorePackSilversingle Rifle Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Provoked 6.67% FusionCorePackSilversingle Shotgun Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Serration 6.67% FusionCorePackSilversingle Sniper Ammo Mutation 3.76%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Steel Fiber 6.67%
FusionCorePackSilversingle Vital Sense 6.67%

Source: VoiDGlitch's Warframe Data
Last updated: 08/Dec/2016 (The War Within: 19.3.1)

Excavation rewards follow a similar logic to Survival missions and draw from the same pools of possible rewards, with each excavator successfully deployed counting as a 5-minute interval. This makes Excavation missions ideal to farm Relics, since its reward rotation is quicker than a Survival rotation.

As an example of a possible reward sequence, successfully deploying four excavators in Everest, Earth, could result in players receiving a batch of 1500 credits, 80 Endo, a Lith S3 Relic, and finally an Arrow Mutation mod, in that order.

Dark Sector ExcavationEdit

These Excavation missions have a higher level range than the planet they're found on, but yield greater Affinity and Credits due to the inherent bonuses of Dark Sectors.

Planet Mission Name Faction Level
Earth Tikal Infestation 6 - 16
Europa Cholistan Infestation 23 - 33
Pluto Hieracon Infestation 35 - 45
There are a total of 3 Dark Sector Excavation missions.


  • Excavators cannot regenerate health, but can replenish their shields. An Excavator's shields can also be replenished by delivering a Power Cell to it or using Warframe powers like Mag's Shield Polarize.
  • Excavators have 2500 Health and 500 Shields, regardless of mission level. This makes a strong defense an absolute must against higher level enemies.
  • Lost Excavator health can be restored by using a Warframe equipped with the Rejuvenation Aura, the Vazarin Focus power, or Nidus's Ravenous ability.
  • Power cells can be more easily picked up by keeping your Use control (default X ) held down while running over one (or standing under one as it falls to the ground). As with datamasses, they can be dropped by switching to your primary weapon.
  • Excavation is the one of the few missions from which Cryotic can be reliably acquired.
    • While Cryotic is also a cache reward in Hive and Uranus Sabotage missions, gathering this resource in those missions is not nearly as efficient as in Excavation.
  • 4 Power Cells are enough to complete one excavation.


  • Sometimes when a host migration occurs, Power Carriers will stop spawning, the ones that were already spawned in the area will not drop a power cell when killed. However, any Power cells left on the ground before the migration occurs will remain.
  • The excavator's hitbox is larger than the size of the excavator itself. This can be seen if the player attempts to shoot an enemy near the excavator as the shots will not hit the enemy because the excavators' hitbox is in front of them.
  • Despite being a machine, the Excavator has flesh-type health.
  • Standing on the spawn point of an Extractor before it actually appears will cause the Extractor in question to not spawn. It cannot be spawned after the bug has occurred, rendering that spawn point useless for the rest of the round. This bug might be caused by a high number of enemies in the same area preventing new units and elements from spawning. [Needs more testing.]
  • Attempting to pick up an energy cell immediately after climbing up will cause a player to fall out of the map.
  • After approaching an excavation zone the excavator may not spawn. This can always be fixed by eliminating existing enemies in the map.
  • Picking up a powercell while equipped with a dual-wield secondary weapon will force single-wield animations, even after dropping the powercell. This causes both weapons to clip since single-wield animations have both hands together, among other graphical problems. No effect on gameplay.
  • Occasionally the dig site's location will not be marked on the mini-map, causing the dig site to not activate.


  • Scanner. No longer exists as of Update 16.
  • Excavator.

Patch HistoryEdit

See alsoEdit

Start a Discussion Discussions about Excavation

  • Excavation enemy scaling?

    2 messages
    • Do the enemies' level on Excavation missions scale with successful extractions or over time? Basically, if I stop activating extractors, w...
    • They scale over time. If you don't trigger any excavations at all, you will still find they scale up.
  • Excavation loot table with relics

    2 messages
    • Hi. I started a google sheet document to register the loots in excavations, as I play these missions a lot.Of course my results alone aren...
    • TRUE , many excavation missions  have been changed or altogether dropped since the induction of SOTR . I used to solo these missions when ...

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