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Mass Effect: Andromeda multiplayer guide

Loadouts, leveling, loot boxes and lots more

As soon as you get Mass Effect: Andromeda, you can play its multiplayer component. But before diving in, there are a few things you should know first. In this guide, we’ll teach you all about multiplayer’s relationship to the campaign (and how to avoid spoilers), loadouts, leveling up, loot boxes and more.

Do not play multiplayer until you have a grasp on the story

Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer is going to ruin a number of cinematic reveals from the campaign, as well as some mechanical components that are best experienced solo.

Trolling around in the match setup screen for just a few seconds will outright ruin the main enemy factions. Not only are there general lore overviews, but origin descriptions as well. If you intend on playing Mass Effect: Andromeda online or don’t care about spoilers, it’s fair game, but there won’t be many surprises left if you jump into multiplayer right away.

It’s not just an issue from a narrative standpoint, but a gameplay perspective as well. The thrill of fighting unique enemy types and learning their nuances will be wasted here in multiplayer, where they’re thrust in front of you en masse rather than through the scripted nature of the campaign’s specialized arena boss fights.

That said, roughly 10 hours into the campaign you should be good to go when it comes to the major reveals, and since multiplayer and the campaign funnel rewards into one another, it’s beneficial to start playing online sooner than later.

How does multiplayer relate to the main game?

Gone are the days of reaching a multiplayer goal to get the best ending in a Mass Effect game. Now you can simply enjoy each mode separately, with small currency and item bonuses.

So how are the two components linked? Through apex missions. These are playlists (more on this later) that can either be played in multiplayer for rewards, or completed by sending off strike teams, who can complete them automatically. You can choose to either manually play them or play a metagame, and obtain benefits for both modes. Let’s take a closer look.

The core gimmick that unites both modes is the idea of strike teams. During the campaign, players can opt to send AI on missions, which provide items for the campaign (called pathfinder rewards) and mission funds (more on that currency below) for multiplayer.

Simply select a mission to see your chances of success and the time it takes to complete it (typically around two hours), hit confirm and hope they don’t fail. At the end of the time limit, you’ll either come back empty-handed or obtain the reward listed when you accepted it. There are no consequences for failing. It’s merely a way to stop you from taking breaks.

You start with one team that can go on one mission at a time, but you can recruit more. To do this, it’ll cost you a increasing amount of currency starting at 40 mission funds, before ramping into 80 and so on.

You can also opt to pick up the Apex HQ app to manage your strike teams on the go.

The finer points of playing online

Drawing from Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer focuses on completing random objectives throughout multiple rounds with the tertiary goal of killing everything in sight. You might have to disable devices like they were bombs or protect certain zones like a king of the hill match, but for the most part your job is to take out as many enemies as possible, then prepare for an extraction at the end.

Just like a zombies mode in Call of Duty you can revive other players mid-round, and if their revive counter expires, they’re brought back on the next round. There’s bronze, silver and gold difficulty ratings, which have recommended levels of 1, 10 and 18 respectively, as well as apex playlists, which provide modifiers (like extra shotgun damage and lower sniper damage) for bonus rewards.

Finish the short the tutorial right away

It seems obvious, but the tutorial for Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer will help you acclimate to all of the objective types (mostly so you know what they look like, and they don’t blend in with the environment), and provide you with a hefty bonus in the form of extra content packs.

To finish the entire set of tutorial challenges you’ll need to:

  • Claim the subsequent basic pack for running through the initial tutorial mission
  • Play a match (win or lose)
  • Equip a new weapon (alternatively, you can just de-equip your second slot)
  • Equip a new mod (gained from the reward pack)
  • Buy a pack with credits (the cheapest one will work)
  • Buy an item from the store (with mission points)
  • Use a booster (by equipping a temporary power-up from the loadout menu)
  • Use a supply consumable
  • Host a game
  • Level up two different characters (just once each will do)
  • Spend a skill point (in the loadout menu)
  • Complete a mission (it can be bronze difficulty)

You’ll unlock an advanced pack for your trouble and a ton of multiplayer credits (more on those later). For the advanced pack, you might need to log out and back into multiplayer to have it show up.

Next, tweak your loadout

Loadouts are handled roughly the same as Mass Effect 3, with weight (how much equipment you're holding) directly impacting how quickly your powers recharge. If you’re held down by more gear, your spells are going to take longer to cool down.

While Mass Effect: Andromeda provides you with two weapons by default, you don’t have to equip both of them. If you find yourself relying entirely on your rifle in a match it might be useful to unequip your second gun, which in most cases guarantees that you’ll have a 100 percent power recharge rate.

Another equipment concept you’ll want to pay attention to is item management, which consists of four power-ups: ammo packs (replenish ammo), cobra RPGs (a one-time use super weapon), first aid packs (a healing power that prevents death) and revive packs (a healing power that brings you back after a death). Players can only carry two of each type into a match, and you’ll need to replenish them with the game’s supply packs or the item store (more on that later).

For a rundown on the game’s skills, see our full Mass Effect: Andromeda skill guide.

Pick a character that suits your playstyle before you commit to it

Characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda have specific skills, so make sure you do some research and understand how they play before you start leveling them up.

If you get sucked into multiplayer, you’ll probably end up grinding out multiple characters, but for those of you with a limited amount of time, it pays to pick one and stick with it.

Just like in the campaign, soldiers are the easiest to acclimate to if you’ve never played a Mass Effect game before. They act similarly to a common shooter archetype with a heavy focus on offensive skills. We recommend giving the turian soldier a go, as they pack a punch but have the defensive fortify skill (which sacrifices movement speed for extra damage mitigation and can be toggled at will).

Also keep in mind that playing as a character contributes to a prestige system called bonus stats, which cover maximum health, health regeneration, shields, regeneration delays and meter recharge speeds. Playing a complete round will net you roughly 1/20th of what’s required to level up a prestige stat once, which will impact all your characters.

Even compared to a fresh account, these prestige stats only provide small advantage — even when leveled up — but it’s one way BioWare attempts to guide players toward grinding multiple characters.

How leveling up works and the easiest way to do it

The economy once again revolves around loot boxes (called packs), of five varying types — supply, basic, advanced, expert and premium. The latter four are focused on providing items (weapons, weapon mods, armor) and characters, while supply packs replenish your power-ups.

The better you play and the less items you use to garner an advantage, the less currency you’ll spend on supply packs.

Loot boxes are a go

Mass Effect: Andromeda has three types of currency — multiplayer credits, mission funds and andromeda points.

Andromeda points are the premium currency, and cost roughly $4.99 for 500, with discounts as you go up in quantity and a 10 percent if you’re an EA Access member.

You can also opt to spend nothing and slowly accrue multiplayer credits to purchase any pack in the game. When spending multiplayer credits, it’s recommended that you only buy expert packs or above if you’re a hardcore completionist. Item rarity in Mass Effect: Andromeda starts at common, then runs up to uncommon, rare and ultra-rare. You can only get ultra-rares from expert or premium packs, you’re limiting the content you can acquire if you don't buy them.

Mission funds, as we touched on a bit earlier, influence strike team acquisitions and replenish individual item power-ups without having to purchase a supply pack. The game entices you to buy supply packs for multiplayer credits to fund your power-ups, so that you don’t spend them to unlock more characters, items and weapon mods. You need to decide how to replenish your consumable stock (through packs or mission funds) — or better yet, be stingy with them so you don’t have to choose.

That way you can spend all of your mission funds on strike team missions and slowly earn them back through subsequent strikes to use in multiplayer while you’re racking up campaign rewards. If a match seems like it’s going poorly early on, don’t blow all of your items in an attempt to save the run. Move on and save the items for a better match.

Spam playlists for the biggest gains

BioWare will cycle in playlists (called apex missions) for each difficulty type, providing bonuses to experience, multiplayer credits and mission funds. Play these and slowly work up a gear set with one character that can work around the modifiers that each list presents.

Playlists seem a lot more complicated than they actually are. Similar to the modifiers in Destiny’s Nightfalls, an apex mission might feature something like dampened powers, which reduces power damage by 25 percent, or reduce the efficacy of every gun except one type. If your character has that type of buffed weapon available to use the entire match or focuses on defensive powers that don’t answer to modifiers like reduced damage, they can effectively ignore that modifier.

This is where a balanced character with a good amount of experience comes into play. The higher level you are and the more workarounds you have at your disposal, the more playlists you can play in at any given time. With a min-max (all or nothing) character, you might encounter a Sisyphean task with any given randomized playlist and lose out on the rewards.

In addition to the turian soldier, the human sentinel, human infiltrator and salarian infiltrator are the most balanced characters (they have both offensive and defensive skills) that are unlocked from the start. Picking one of them will ensure that you don’t get caught in a situation where you can’t effectively and consistently finish a playlist.