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What you need to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda’s overwhelming side missions

A warning about learning to ignore distractions

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

In Mass Effect: Andromeda, you have to learn to ignore distractions. Between the mysteries you’re about to uncover, the side missions already hanging over your head, the side missions you’ll be finding along the way and the tantalizing icons that are about to show up on your map, the main mission is going to seem less than interesting. And we’re here to tell you to ignore all of them for now.

Listen: We get it. We have a side mission addiction that causes us a ton of problems playing open world games. And we’re easily distractible. If you, say, offer us a space monkey mascot (the "Monkeys in Space" Heleus assignment that you’ll get the first time you go back to the Nexus), we’re going to drop everything and find that space monkey. This got us into trouble, which is why we’re writing all of this before getting to the mission.

"A Better Beginning" is going to take you down to Eos and expose you to a lot of new stuff. And it’s a long mission. If you promptly abandon the main mission (like we did) things are going to get confusing fast. You’re going to head in the wrong direction (away from the main mission’s goals), you’re going to encounter tougher enemies and meet people in the wrong order, you’re going to spin off even more side missions, and you’re going to get confused by things you’re asked to do. Because (and this is the moral of our story so we’re going to make it bold) the main mission teaches you things that the side missions assume you already know.

Our advice

So, what’s our advice? Look for hints that you’re going the wrong way and — this is important — heed those warnings. Don’t power through (like we did) assuming things will make sense eventually. Here’s what those warnings look like:

  • Tough enemies. Sometimes these are just a large number of enemies, and sometimes they’re an eight-foot tall monster literally named a "fiend."
  • Tasks that don’t make any sense. If the game asks you to "find two more glyphs" and you have no idea what a glyph is, maybe head back to the main mission and let the game teach you.
  • Going the wrong way. Side missions make the most sense when they overlap with your main goal. If you literally have to turn around and head the opposite direction, maybe don’t. Mass Effect: Andromeda doesn’t restrict you. But you should remember that you can go back and revisit planets for that thing you missed. It’s OK to let the story guide you faster than you’d go on your own — you can always come back and check behind every rock.

And we’re here to tell you that when you finish this mission, you’re going to have so many side missions to do on Eos that you’ll be happy for the exploration, familiarity and preparation that the main mission gives you. The game will reward you for your patience.

A caveat

Like we said in that last point above, side missions make sense when they overlap what you’re already doing. We’re not saying to avoid all side mission tasks at all costs. We’re just saying that, on your first trip someplace new, don’t prioritize the side missions over the main one.

What to do when you ignore our advice and end up in over your head

Just leave. You can fast travel to forward stations and some other locations (like the Tempest and, later, outposts). Or you can just turn around and walk away. It’ll save you a lot of frustration and confusion.