In light of Banshee Prime being released, as a Banshee main I thought I would write up a quick article on her various skills, augments and play-styles. I know that not everyone's play-style will correspond to Banshee, but if after reading this article anyone is tempted to give her a go, I will feel my mission is accomplished.
The best way to describe Banshee would be 'utility cc frame'. She provides crowd control and damage amplification to the team at the cost of being very squishy. Banshee is best suited for late game play, as her damage amplifcation is largely unnecessary before enemies hit level 100+, although it is of course always welcome to any squad. She shines best in constructed team comps as opposed to joining up with randoms, as you can build a team around her quite effectively. She must stay in the backround as opposed to the front line, as late game she can easily be one shot by any enemy due to her low armour.
Passive: All weapons used by Banshee will be considered silent.
This passive is quite niche, as most of the weapons that are suited to a stealth play-style are already silent. However this passive does have its place, the Latron (prime, wraith) is a good example of a weapon that can benefit from this passive. You can also level 'alarming' weapons faster by getting stealth kills with them for more damage, however this is no where near the most effective way to level weaponry at this stage in warframes development.
Sonic boom: Banshee emits a sonic shockwave that pushes targets in range with enough force to incapacitate or kill attackers.
Sonic boom is a useful, cheap crowd control ability. With a maximum power range and efficiency build you can very easily keep whole squads of enemies on the ground for long periods of time, plenty of time to kill them all. This ability also opens them to ground finishers. I would not recommend making a build based on this cc ability alone as it will hamper her more important abilities, Sonar and Silence. I recommend using sonic boom to get yourself out of a sticky, dangerous situation quickly, knocking enemies to the ground and giving you time to reposition.
Sonic boom augment: Sonic Fracture
By simply adding 43% extra power strength to your build, this augment allows you to completely remove armour on enemies, very effective when paired with high status weapons modded for viral damage. I do not personally use this augment as, if I am going late game enough to require it, I am likely running 4 CP in a squad. However, for solo play, this can be a valuable augment if you want to shred high level enemies easier.
Sonar: Using acoustic location, Banshee's Sonar power finds and tracks enemies, and exposes critical weak spots to everyone in your squad.
Sonar is arguably Banshee's best ability, although some people may argue Silence is more valuable. With a maximum power strength build, hitting sonar spots on enemies will do X15 damage. I would not recommend a full power strength build however, as that amount of damage can be rather excessive and will damage your efficiency. As a quick note, a full strength power build is very effective for leveling weapons. I use a build such as this to level weapons on Akkad, your allies weapons will do extra damage also adding to the over all xp. 20 waves can potentially level a weapon to full without the use of boosters. The damage potential of this ability is enormous and is the main reason Banshee can be a helpful addition to any team when you are facing level 100+ enemies.
Put bluntly, if you are not using this augment on a Banshee sonar build you are doing it wrong. This augment has fantastic efficiency as every time you hit a sonar spot you will proc a second wave of sonar, providing enemies with further weak spots making it easier to get the damage out. It also allows the sonar to spread to new enemies without having to recast the ability. Sonar spots can also overlap each other, creating spots that will have multiplicatively more insane damage. With a maximum power strength build paired with this augment, two spots that overlap will cause approximately (X15 X15) = X225 damage to the target.
Silence: Using Silence surrounds Banshee in an aura that stuns enemies and will limit their perceptions and tactical response to gunfire and Warframe attacks.
Silence is a great crowd control ability that will instantly stun enemies in a certain radius for a few seconds, following this they will be deafened. Because it deafens them, it will make the oblivious to weapons fire of any kind, however they will still be alerted if they see friendly bodies or if they see you. Be cautious as silence will also deafen your warframe and you may not hear enemies approaching you from behind. This ability is very effective in conjunction with Excalibur's radial blind as it will make enemies unable to hear or see anything. It's best not to put too much range on a Silence build as you will stun enemies in rooms you haven't approached yet. This ability is fantastic if you are in a tough spot and need to knock enemies out for a few seconds to reposition, similar to sonic boom.
Savage silence causes enemies to take much more finisher damage, the damage bonus can be increased with power strength. The true power behind this augment lies in it's secondary effect of opening up enemies to finishers, without the augment, enemies will not be set up for finisher attacks. By bringing a dagger with Cover Lethality, you can insta-kill any enemy that is able to be opened up to finishers (there are some exceptions to this, such as various bosses). This augment also allows you to level up your melee weapons a lot quicker as your finishers will do much more damage than normal, therefor granting more xp. Keep in mind that the enemies will only be open to finishers during the stun duration which only lasts a few seconds. I find there are two good ways to build around this augment:
#1: Maximum duration with minimum range. This means that enemies will only be stunned when you are very close to them, allowing you to perform a finisher on the enemy without affecting nearby enemies. Once you have killed that enemy you may move to the next, stunning them and allowing you to perform a finisher on them also, etc. The disadvantage with this build is that enemies out of range will still be able to target and shoot you, so this only works if you are playing very stealthily.
#2 Maximum range with minimum duration. This will stun an entire room of enemies and give you time to perform a finisher on a single target. The low duration means that by the time you have finished the animation of killing your target, silence will have ended and you may recast it to kill the next target. This allows you to neutralize a room of enemies one by one without taking damage, no matter what level they are. However the energy cost of doing this will be quite high.
Sound Quake: Channeling all of her acoustic energy into the environment, Banshee uses ultrasonic reverberations to violently shake the ground.
Sound Quake is Banshee's ultimate ability, and to be perfectly honest it doesn't fit very well with the rest of her kit. Banshee is one of the squishiest frames in the game, and this ability requires her to remain stationary. However, this ability can still be put to good use, but it will need a specific build that will make your sonar and silence less effective. By building for high duration and efficiency, you can reduce the channel cost to around 2.5-3 energy a second. Banshee Prime is going to have a base energy pool of 262.5 at level 30, so with a maxed Primed Flow this will allow you to hold Sound Quake for nearly 100 seconds. This can be quite helpful for missions like Interception, allowing you to keep a station or two clear of enemies. In fact, on some of the smaller interception tilesets such as Jupiter, by bringing some energy restores you can solo interception missions with Sound Quake. A Huras Kubrow is also very effective with a Sound Quake build as they can make Banshee invisible even while she channeling her ultimate.
Sound Quake augment:
Resonating Quake can get Sound Quake to extremely long ranges and deal large amounts of damage, however the energy drain does get very high. When combined with Sonar this ability can clear rooms quite effectively, but you will definitely need a good team around you (due to nullifiers) and energy restores. A well loved Warframe youtuber, Tactical Potato, has a good resonating quake build video you can reference from the link below.
Quick note on Banshee Prime:
I am very excited to farm and play Banshee Prime, the buff to her energy pool is quite welcome and will help with any build. Personally I feel the armour buff is not extremely helpful, it will be good for mid to early late game but in the true late game the extra armour will not make any difference to her survivability. She also received a small amount of extra sprint speed which will be beneficial to her playstyle.
I've loved playing Banshee for a long time now and am looking forward to her getting more recognition with the release of her Prime as she is the least played frame at the moment. I have not included any of my personal builds in this article as I am constantly changing and experimenting with them and wish for this article to just be a general guideline of what to build on her for various builds and methods. This article is probably largely unnecessary as a lot of this information can be found on her wiki page, as a Banshee fan I wanted to add my 2 cents and give her a long-winded introduction. Feel free to leave comments on Banshee below, are you interested in the new Prime?
Thanks for reading =)
Farm long and prosper,