After a five-year wait, we’re finally back in BioWare’s Mass Effect universe with Mass Effect: Andromeda. Anticipation for the new entry into the space opera series has hit a fever pitch over the last few weeks, with the game receiving a lot of attention. There are lots of new ideas and features this time around, and we’re in a new galaxy with a new protagonist, and a vast open world design to explore. If you’re a bit overwhelmed by how to play at the start of your adventure, don’t worry. That’s where we come in.
- Master your jump-jet early. The most fun addition to Mass Effect: Andromeda in terms of gameplay also has the potential to be the most useful. All of your jumps will be powered by a short burst from your jets, making traversing difficult terrain a bit easier. Additionally, targeting with your weapon while in mid-air allows you to hover for a short time, giving you the opportunity to find the perfect angle for an attack, or to set up for a falling AoE melee attack. Likewise, using the evade button will cause a short lateral burst in the direction of your choice. The latter is super important for getting a little extra distance from your jumps.
- The scanner has a long range. There’s no need to pull out the scanner every few steps. If you find yourself in an open area with some potential salvage, do a wide 360 sweep. You’ll be surprised how far away the scanner can detect objects.
- Morality is no longer black and white. The Paragon/Renegade system has been replaced with a more nuanced “tone” system, where the player has the option to develop Ryder’s personality as emotional, logical, casual, or professional. Players are free to have Ryder develop more as an independent character instead of feeling forced to min/max morality points.
- Not every enemy drops loot. As an RPG veteran, realizing I didn’t have to approach every alien corpse after combat to loot their valuables took some time. Instead of every enemy dropping piles of useless junk and low-level weapons, only a few will drop more valuable pieces.
- Explore the Nexus before heading out to Eos for the first time. After docking the Hyperion to the Nexus, check things out! There are a couple of questlines that begin on the Nexus and finish in the starting area on Eos.
- Respec in the MedBay. After receiving your ship, you can visit the MedBay for a full respec of your character. The initial cost is a lowly 20 credits, but it scales up with each subsequent usage.
Andromeda tries something new this time around with its character creation. Character classes have been jettisoned out of the airlock. No skills or weapons are locked behind class restrictions, so you have total freedom to create the character you like. This may come as a shock to BioWare game veterans, but you still have several “training” backgrounds to choose from that will offer narrative and skill variety in the early game. The options are:
- Security – During your Alliance military service, you focused on learning everything you could about weapons and tactics.
- Biotic – You were effectively “designated biotic” during your Alliance military tenure, assisting your cohorts with your ability to control mass effect fields.
- Technician – As a technician in the Systems Alliance military, you learned to operate drones and hack enemy systems.
- Leader – You were a team player and a natural leader in the Alliance military, working closely with your cohorts for their safety and the safety of others.
- Scrapper – When a fight broke out, you were always the first soldier in the thick of it — mostly according to Alliance military protocol, and occasionally not.
- Operative – In the Alliance military, you studied covert operations and the tech used by special forces — knowledge you rarely found a use for until the Andromeda Initiative.
Quick Tip: Unlocked Skills are made available much earlier when players select their respective training. Otherwise, you’ll have to commit 9 points into the category (Tech, Combat or Biotics) to unlock it.
You will also have the ability to customize your appearance, the appearance of your twin, as well as choose the gender of your previous Commander Shepard.
Combat in Andromeda is fast and hectic. Unlike the original trilogy’s corridor-focused combat, you will often find yourself flanked by enemies pouring in from all sides. The jump-jet adds a level of mobility never before seen in BioWare combat, and it’s very much needed to gain the positional edge in combat. Additionally, going into cover is an automatic process, and it works with debris and walls of varying types and heights.
Combos are one of the most important elements of combat to master. These are powerful effects that occur when 2 skills are used in conjunction, either by the player or your companions. Combos consist of 2 parts: priming and detonating, with the primer determining the effect that happens upon detonation. These effects are listed below:
- Fire – Sets enemies in the area on fire.
- Cryo – Slows or freezes enemies in the area.
- Tech – Causes a stunning electrical discharge.
- Biotic – Causes a massive force explosion, sending enemies flying.
Quick Tip: Since Andromeda has removed the global cooldown for skills, having both a primer and a detonator as active skills ensures constant personal access to easy combos.
View Our Complete Combat Guide Here
No Mass Effect title is complete without a gaggle of intergalactic pals to explore the galaxy with. Your squadmates in Andromeda are exceptionally fleshed out, with tons of lines of dialogue and unique interactions. They’re also very useful in combat, as the game’s combat AI is the series’ best so far. Once recruited, companions will find a place for themselves on your ship, the Tempest, and will be available for deeper conversation.
Quick Tip: Just like in the original trilogy, each companion has a locked skill that can only be trained by completing their loyalty mission.
Cora – Human Female
- Combat role: Front line biotic.
- Personality: No-nonsense, empowered warrior who believes in your father’s vision for the initiative.
- Romance:Male Ryder only
Liam – Human Male
- Combat role: Close-range tech combat specialist.
- Personality: A hard-working idealist who is relentlessly optimistic.
- Romance: Female Ryder only
Vetra – Turian Female
- Combat role: Mid-range tactician with custom armor.
- Personality: A pragmatic smuggler who protects her own.
- Romance: Male or Female Ryder
Peebee – Asari
- Combat role: Gunslinging support.
- Personality: An adventurous spirit enthralled by the potential of discovery.
- Romance: Male or Female Ryder
Drack – Krogan Male
- Combat role: Front line veteran warrior.
- Personality: Violent, stubborn, lovable.
Jaal – Angaran Male
- Combat role: Guerrilla sniper.
- Personality: An open book who always says what he’s thinking.
- Romance: Female Ryder only
Quick Tip: Romance options aren’t contained to just your combat companions. Do some pathfinding by flirting around to discover new possibilities!
Missions & Exploration
The explorable world (or rather, worlds) offers plenty to explore in Andromeda. Gone are the corridors and enclosed spaces of the previous two games. Instead, you’ll find your self pathfinding in open spaces more often than not. As a result, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to do. Maps are littered with various points of interest and side missions which increase the planet’s viability. Scannable resources are commonplace, and planet mining makes a return as a function of the Nomad. Just be careful to keep an eye on hazard levels. At the beginning of the game, a hazard level of 3 (common on Eos) depletes your life support rapidly, causing damage. If you find yourself stuck in a hazardous zone, you can always fast travel back to a Forward Station, Outpost, or the Tempest.
Quick Tip: Play at your own pace. Unless you’re a completionist, just do the missions you’re interested in! If something feels like a chore, leave it for later. You can always come back.
Increasing a planet’s viability is imperative to continue developing the planet through the founding of outposts. These outposts function as resupply areas for Ryder and further various ideals of the initiative, from giving colonists a place to live to researching the local fauna. They’ll also open up new objectives and missions. Additionally, the headquarters for the initiative in Andromeda, the Nexus, has many areas and elements still under construction or awaiting power. Progressing through the game will open up these areas for exploration.
To learn more about characters, weapons, and skills in Mass Effect: Andromeda, visit the Mass Effect Wiki.
Bryan previously worked with Beyond the Summit and helped develop game features such as Teamfight Recap. He now lives in Alabama with his wife and works as a freelance production assistant and writer.