The path to success
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Mass Effect asked you to explore the final frontier, reaching for the stars across Commander Shepard's trilogy adventure.
Developer's Bioware return to the space-faring universe in the all-new Mass Effect: Andromeda – and, as an open world title, it's now a very different beast altogether.
So before heading out into uncharted space, check out our tips and tricks on how to become the perfect Pathfinder.
Scan, scan, scan
When it comes to exploring the pocket of space that is the Andromeda galaxy, there’s no better tactic for improving your standing than doing your research. Your chosen Ryder comes with a biotic scanner, so simply press down on the D-pad to activate it. Enemies, creatures, fauna and certain objects can be scanned - you’ll know a target can be scanned because they’ll have a bright orange silhouette when your omni-tool is active.
There are three categories of subject to scan - Milky Way, Heleus and Remnant - with each one netting you Research Data that can be used to buy new weapon blueprints or graft new augmentations to your avatar.
Don’t scrimp on dialogue trees
Long conversations with NPCs might not be for everyone, but this is an RPG after all, so following every line of dialogue with a character offers greater benefits than basic exposition. Much like the trilogy that preceded it, Andromeda is littered with side-quests and expanded objectives that can only be triggered from deeply-mined conversations.
Be sure to check back with other characters related to the mission you’re on - new dialogue options will often pop up based on lines of questioning you’ve pursued elsewhere. You’ll also get XP so don’t leave without questing each NPC within an inch of their lives.
Know your profiles
New to the Mass Effect series are Profiles - think of these like an extra-layer of skills and abilities that are linked by a particular playstyle. There are seven in total to choose from - Soldier, Engineer, Adept, Sentinel, Vanguard, Infiltrator and Explorer - and each one will reward you for playing a certain way. For instance, Soldier will provide perks based on firefights while Infiltrator will enhance those wanting to apply a more covert strategy.
Each Profile ranks up individually based on how much you use it, so be sure to switch between them during a mission if you see it’s going to descend into a bullet fest or a situation that requires more biotic solutions.
Never stray far from the Nomad
While the Mako from the original Mass Effect may have left a sour taste in the mouth, Andromeda’s vehicular transport is a much improved model. The Nomad is also your best friend when exploring a planet. For a start, it provides mobile cover and serve as a refuge should you become overwhelmed.
You also can’t summon the Nomad from afar, so be sure to use your six-wheeled car for the navigational legwork before jumping out to scan and shoot. The Nomad also has a mining computer that enables you to identify pockets of resources and mine them with a drone.
Manage quests the right way via the Journal
Mass Effect Andromeda is a huge game, and you’ll end up completing countless quests across your 50+ hours in its operatic space embrace. Thankfully, Andromeda enables you to return to incomplete or unresolved quests when the main campaign is wrapped up, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore everything but main missions.
Remember that loyalty missions return in Andromeda and many of these have a hidden time limit. You’ll get prompts in your email (yes, they still have email in the distant future) to remind you, but these are easy to miss so use your Journal to track those that need completing before passing a certain point in the story.
Make full use of Forward Stations
With the proper planet exploration of the original Mass Effect retooled into the mix for Andromeda, the thought of driving around all those planets in the galaxy is still a tad intimidating. That’s why Bioware has added Forward Stations - think of these as mini bases that enable you to replenish your shields, fast travel and recall the Nomad.
These are predetermined sites, but every planet has a healthy amount scattered across it so be sure to activate each one you find, especially in the latter half of the game where firefights and mini-boss battles are more frequent and far more deadlier.
Always pick the right squad setup
Just like its predecessors, Mass Effect Andromeda enables you to pick two or more members of your crew to join you on missions away from your ship, the Tempest. For a start, make sure you have at least one core member you keep for most of the story - for us, our Soldier playthrough benefitted from a character with the defensive capabilities of a biotic, so experiment to see who blends the best.
For the other, swap them in and out depending on the mission to come. Scientists are better for research, while those with more tech-focused skills will be a synch in missions requiring lots of hacking. Just make sure you level their skills as well!
Romancing takes time
So you want to chat up an alien? Okay, it’s still pretty creepy, but if you’ve got romance on the mind (or something else, you dirty beggar) there are plenty of ways to flirt your way across the galaxy. Most of the major NPCs you meet can be romanced, but not all of them are open to a relationship with both male and female Ryders so don’t get too heartbroken if that wooing falls on deaf loins.
Always engage dialogue after story missions to further the relationship and make sure you complete said character’s Loyalty Mission to a) upgrade their key skill and b) raise their overall affection for you. Should your advances bear fruit, most sweethearts will then prompt you to meet them in their/your quarters for some awkward animated sexy time.
Level up the right skills first
For Ryder, her skills are broken up into three categories - Combat, Biotic and Tech - and each one of these contains 12 separate and unique skill subcategories. Further still, each subcategory has a Rank tree that can be customised the further you invest Skill Points within it.
If you’re just starting out with a more Combat focused playstyle, we suggest levelling up Combat Fitness, Barricade and Turbocharge. If you’re going for more of a Biotic driven experience then Shockwave and Singularity are great, while Overload and Invasion pay dividends on the Tech side of things.
Use terminals to craft new weapons/armor
Some of the best weapons and armor in Mass Effect Andromeda aren’t just sitting around on some distant planet waiting to be nabbed - you’ll need to build a lot of these from scratch. Remember those blueprints we mentioned earlier? Once you obtain one, take it to an R&D Terminal to begin crafting it.
Keep in mind that this crafting system, like every other we can think of, requires resources so it pays to check what you need for a desired weapon as soon as you get the schematics. Resources are mostly obtained from mining on planets, recycling weapons/armour and from merchants. Check in your inventory to see which blueprints you currently own.