Welcome to Mass Effect: Andromeda and the Andromeda galaxy! You’ve been in cryosleep for 600 years, and it’s time to go claim your new home in the Heleus cluster. Certainly, everything is going to go exactly according to plan, and nothing could possibly go wrong.
Your first mission in Mass Effect: Andromeda, "Planetside," is a tutorial that will hold your hand pretty well throughout. It’s a big information dump, so this guide focuses on all of the various things you’re introduced to during your first hours with the game.
There’s a lot going on, so we’ll break it down as you encounter it. We’ll talk about your dialogue options (tone choice), some of the ways you’ll interact with the environment, and we’ll start exploring your (unwieldy) menus. We’ll wrap up with a couple notes on combat and cover.
Like we said, though, this is a tutorial mission, so we’re not going give you turn-by-turn directions. This guide is about learning and understanding the systems in Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The first Mass Effect: Andromeda mechanic you’ll use is tone choice. Your choice of tone shapes your character’s personality and, in time, how people react to you. Gone are the simple days of good versus bad, "Hug an orphan" or "Kick a puppy" dialogue choices.
Mass Effect: Andromeda has four categories your responses can fall into:
- Emotional. Emotional responses have a heart icon. These tend to be, well, emotional responses — things like "I can’t lose him" and "We can’t give up."
- Logical. Logical responses have a gear icon. They’re a lot more matter-of-fact and to the point — think "It looks bad" as opposed to "I’m sure it’s nicer once you get inside."
- Casual. Casual responses get a round spiral icon. These are more flippant and devil-may-care.
- Professional. Professional responses have a square spiral icon. They’re by-the-book and rules-oriented — things like "Planetfall in 30" and "That’s our job."
You can keep track of how you’ve responded in your menu, then skills, then choosing Ryder and pressing the button to view statistics and finally choosing narrative stats (menus are a little unwieldy).
As you continue through the first Mass Effect: Andromeda mission/tutorial, "Planetside," you’ll soon bump into a disaster in progress. This is here to teach you about your scanner.
On consoles, press down on the D-pad to activate the scanner. Then you have to press a button to actually scan what you’re looking at. Scannable things get outlined and highlighted in a brighter orange in the scanner window.
Scanning things is going to become even more important later. When you scan new things, you’ll earn research points that unlock new gear.
Data pads add color to the story. Pick them up when you see them and skim them over — they’re going to make the story richer and your experience fuller.
Throughout our walkthroughs, we’re not going to point out the location of every data pad and non-critical interaction. There’s going to be a ton of them.
Your map is the default option in your menu for a reason. Use it. And check back often.
Your map will fill in as you wander around. Points of interest, locations and objectives will all appear here and let you plan your routes accordingly.
During "Planetside," take your time (take too much time, even) and visit every waypoint that pops up — these are all either mission requirements or additional, optional objectives.
We won’t say that your goal in every single mission should be to complete every single optional objective, but this is your first experience with Mass Effect: Andromeda, so why not stretch your legs?
Speaking of stretching your legs, let’s talk about your journal. Your journal is your mission management list. You’ve got four options here (well, five if you include completed missions, but that one’s pretty self-explanatory):
- Priority ops. These are your main storyline missions.
- Allies and relationships. Like in previous Mass Effect games, this is where missions that are of importance to your friends, acquaintances and crewmates appear.
- Heleus assignments. These are side quests. You’re going to bump into people with a helpful blue exclamation point above their head (not during this first mission, but later), and they’ll ask for your help.
- Additional tasks. These are the non-critical, optional tasks you stumble on during missions. In the first mission, "Planetside," you’ll find additional tasks like "investigate the flares" and "investigate the crashed alien ship." These tasks are optional, but they’re going to expose you to more characters and more of the story, earn you a few extra XP and open up further side missions down the road — they’re optional, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
In the journal menu folders, you can chose to activate any given mission. This will eliminate other waypoint markers on your HUD and map so you can focus on a goal. Alternately, you can deactivate all missions and wander a little more freely.
Conveniently, if you’ve got no currently active mission, all of the available mission waypoints show up on your HUD and map. There’s even an indicator on your HUD to show when you’re getting close to one.
Spoiler: You’re going to be shooting things, even during your first mission. But you already know how combat works. Left trigger to aim, right trigger to fire (on consoles). There’s a reload button and a melee button (that only work when you’ve got a weapon drawn). It’s all the standard stuff.
It’s 2017 — there’s nothing new to be said about the combat mechanics here, so we won’t waste your time. Even the cover system is dead simple: Walk up to a thing, keep walking into it, and you’ll take cover.
We should point out, though, that cover is a little finicky. You have to press forward a little longer than you expect to officially enter cover. And you have to watch the terrain. In the GIF above, not only did we not make it all the way into cover, but the rocks we were standing on confused the cover system. We stood up into the line of fire instead of ducking. Just watch your feet, and make sure you’re in a good place to take cover before you bet your life on it.