Five long years. Let that sink in, because that’s how long it’s been since we had a new game in the Mass Effect universe. Our epic journey with Commander Shepard came to an end (in rather controversial fashion) and we had to wait for an entirely new generation of consoles to revisit the series.
Mass Effect Andromeda, then, takes us to a new galaxy, with a new set of characters to play with, romance, fight, and explore this unfamiliar territory, and though the game isn’t out until March 23, we’ve played it already, and come up with a few pointers to guide you through the game’s sometimes daunting set of interlocking systems. Whether you choose Scott or Sara Ryder as your protagonist, our tips will help you become the hero Andromeda needs.
Take your time
The first five to ten hours of Mass Effect Andromeda are all about understanding the systems and mechanics. Andromeda tries to keep the action adventure feeling of the second and third game, but mix in some of the more menu heavy RPG ideas of the original title. There’s a lot to get on top of, and at first it can seem a bit too much, especially if you’re new to the series. Relax, enjoy the dialogue, explore at your own pace, but don’t rush things. If you do, you may well find yourself completely misunderstanding entire systems, and that’s not good.
Unlock extra weapon slots
At first you’ll only be able to carry two weapons. Ideally this will be a pistol and an automatic weapon, but you’ll probably want a sniper rifle, too. The quickest way to do this is going down the “Combat Fitness” skill tree. Six skill points will get you to Rank 3, which will give you a third weapon slot. With shotguns and other weapons available, you’ll probably want to get the other weapon slots eventually, but having a sniper rifle can really make the difference with the right team composition.
Don’t be afraid to try new powers
Bringing in abilities like Incinerate from the previous games is great, and there’s nothing wrong with unlocking things you know and are used to. But Andromeda has a plethora of abilities and powers you play with, and you switch them out pretty easily, either at the start of the mission or via a forward station on a planet. If you’re struggling against shielded enemies, switch out your powers for something that will help you. One we found useful was the energy drain tech ability which pulled health from enemies and recharged your shield. Experiment, find what works for you, and have a backup plan.
When you go to land on a planet, you can (as you’d expect) select your loadout. It’s not overtly clear at the start, but how heavy you are can affect you in a negative way. If you’re following our tips, you’ll have unlocked Rank 3 in Combat Fitness, which gives you that extra weapon slot, but also +25% weapon weight capacity. The reason weight is important is that it affects the recharge rate of your powers. Sure, you can carry too much if you prefer outright shooting combat, but your powers are so important, and will suffer.
Don’t stress about Profiles, but do experiment
New to Andromeda, profiles are specific to Ryder and all have their own unique buffs and use cases. You’re not going to die over and over if you don’t unlock all of the profiles, but they are designed in a way to unlock as a reward for you experimenting with powers. Unlocking lots of combat, biotic, and tech skills will, in turn, unlock the profiles quicker. Ranging from pure combat to engineer or infiltrator, these profiles will give you the edge as you get farther into this massive game.
Use the Nomad to mine resources
It’s not explained very well, but the Nomad (the on the ground vehicle, think the Mako from the previous games) is an effective way to mine for resources when you’re spending extended time on a planet. Hitting right on the D-pad will open up the mining menu, and there will be a baseline graph that fluctuates depending on how many resources are available in the given location. Usually your AI (SAM) will tell you when you’re in a location that is mineable, but other than that, Andromeda doesn’t explain this situation well. Basically: mine when the graphs are high.
Scan everything! R&D and augmentations are helpful
Andromeda is a very systems-heavy game at times. Instead of one system that tells you “You need X amount of Y to create Z”, it splits that system into two separate ones. On foot, hitting down on the D-pad will bring up your scanner. Anything in red can be scanned and will give you RP (research points). There are three types of RP based on the tech you are scanning, and you can spend these points on researching different technology.
Doing this will unlock blueprints for the development section, which require resources to create. Among these blueprints will be augmentations which can affect your weapon creations dramatically. Take your time (again) and create the best weapon you can. Think about the long term use of a weapon, and don’t waste RP or resources on one you won’t be using in five hours time.
Don’t forget your team-mates
As well as applying skill points to Ryder, every time you level up you’ll also get those points for your squad. This is nothing new, but it’s easy to forget about them if you’re in the habit of using your favourites. There’s a decent number of people you can take on missions with you, but when you get a new team-mate, don’t forget to pop to the skills menu and give them some attention. They will start at the level you’re at when you get them, because you and the squad level together, so they’ll usually have lots of points to apply.
Romancing is pretty similar to the previous games
This wouldn’t be a BioWare game without a bit of wooing. In Andromeda, the biggest change to romance is in how many people are available to put the naughty on. We had romance options appear with people that we’d met for the first time, and in the interest of testing, we tried that conversational route. If you think you’re being a little forward; you are. After each mission you need to go and speak to your crew, who will all have fresh dialogue to go through. This is the path to romance. Show an interest in people if you want them to like you, just like the previous games.
Get used to the jump
One of the biggest changes to combat is the fact you’ve got a jetpack and can boost yourself up into the air. This is half meant for the rudimentary platforming sections in the game, but it can also give you an edge in combat. Getting into cover and feathering the trigger is still an option, as is using your powers in combination to really destroy someone, but you can also bounce up into the air and hold the aim trigger to hover in the air. Enemies won’t expect this, but it also leaves you open to damage.