Mass Effect: Andromeda is familiar, but different. And that can be a problem. Some of the things we assumed we understood didn’t quite work like we expected, and some new mechanics just weren’t explained. The game is all about exploring and gives you plenty of freedom to do just that (arguably too much freedom in some cases), but it does so at the cost of clarity and hand-holding.
Here are 11 things to get you started. They’re not numbered steps, and they’re not “do this not that” decrees — these are things that will help you think about the game you’re going to be playing for the next several dozen hours.
The game is buggy, but not broken
We’re going to start with this one right away. Everyone’s talking about it — Arthur wrote about in his review — and you’ve probably seen the goofy facial animation GIFs. You’re going to see more as you play — characters will float or stutter or warp in from nowhere, audio won’t play, buttons won’t work, enemies will skate past you like in the GIF below. Hell, we played a level where the enemies’ models just didn’t load, and we fought ghosts for 15 minutes.
That sounds awful and like we’re just complaining. We are complaining, but the point is that it’s not awful — it’s buggy. There’s a solid game under that rough exterior. You can still have fun playing. Don’t lose sight of that.
That door’s probably not locked — it’s just loading
This one sounds obvious when we write it out or spend more than five seconds thinking about it, but it was surprisingly hard to notice while rushing around in the game (also we’re impatient). When you find a door that you feel like you should be able to get through, check the hologram in the center. If it’s red, the door is locked, and you can’t get through. If it’s blue and orange and spinning, the room behind it is loading, and you just have to wait.
And sometimes it spins for way longer than you’d expect. That GIF above is in real time — it takes five seconds to go from one room of the Tempest to the next.
OMG side missions
We’ve written about this before (and mentioned it in several guides), but it bears repeating here: You have to learn to ignore side missions. Rather, you have to learn to ignore side missions until you’re ready to spend an evening just playing side missions.
You’re going to find yourself with an overwhelming to-do list of errands and help requests and (literal) grocery lists just by walking around, talking to crewmates and checking your email. Every time you revisit a location you’ve previously cleared, there’ll be someone new with some new request.
Sometimes, that’s fine, and you can knock out their request with five minutes of legwork. Other times, that small request becomes an hour-long fight for your life through some of the toughest enemies you’ve faced yet. And there’s no way of knowing which it will be when you start that side mission.
And that’s why we keep saying to ignore them until you can focus. If you’re trying to play the first main (priority ops) mission on a planet, it’s not the time to get bogged down in a side mission that requires you to find 50 hidden datapads or scan rocks on a dozen different planets.
But side missions matter
Side missions earn you XP and AVP points (and AVP perks unlock things like extra inventory slots and gifts of money or resources). They build relationships and let you explore the galaxy you’re trying to call home. You’re going to need to run some side missions for levels, loot and team-building, so you can’t completely ignore them.
Don’t ignore the other skill trees
It’s tempting to focus on only one skill tree when assigning your hard-earned skill points, and it makes sense early in the game to max out your skills in one particular weapon or biotic ability. But as you progress, don’t ignore the other skills. Spending some points into the other categories will unlock other profiles and abilities you didn’t even know you wanted. Check out our profiles and skills guide here.
Your shooting-only soldier will benefit greatly from a few points in biotics (like pull, which can make bad guys float out from behind cover). Your tech-heavy hacker will last longer in a fight if you drop some points on combat fitness (which increases the weight you can carry). The important thing to remember is that you can switch between profiles — and their associated benefits, boosts and skills — at any time. You don’t have to focus solely on playing one class (profile).
You can completely redo your skills
It’s not explained in the game, but you can completely clear out you skills and do it all over again (for a price) — we wrote about it here. So don’t agonize over where to spend those points — do what makes sense at the time, and know that you can go back and retry it later.
Sell your salvage
While you’re shopping for that perfect weapon and armor, don’t forget to sell your salvage. You’re going to pick up a ton of stuff from containers and the bodies of fallen enemies — and you’re probably not going to know what to do with any of it. And that’s OK. Whenever you’re at a merchant, there’s an easy button to press that will just sell everything out of your inventory that has no use but to be sold for cash.
Some of the choices you have to make are black and white, and there’s nothing you can do about it
Despite the nuances of tone choice during conversations, a lot of missions and conversations end with a binary choice.
You can’t save these decisions and come back later, and there’s rarely any middle ground. This is just something you have to lean into. Define your character in your head, and answer how you want to — because there’s no getting around making a choice.
It’s OK to argue with your crewmates
The binary nature of conversations often carries over into your interactions with your crewmates. But these decisions don’t carry the finality of the mission-ending choices. If you keep talking and checking back with the members of your crew, their stories and moods will adapt to your choices. Don’t feel bad about hurting one crew member’s feelings — go with your gut (or your own Ryder headcanon) because it’ll probably work out.
You can’t visit all those other planets
Each system you visit in the Andromeda galaxy will have multiple planets, but you’re not going to set foot on them. You can orbit them and scan them, but unless Suvi immediately tells you that there’s an anomaly, there’s nothing else to do.
But you can visit some planets multiple times
Your actions on each planet have long-lasting effects. Turning on monoliths and vaults will expand the area you can explore over time — opening up new locations and, inevitably, side missions.