Mass Effect Andromeda Tips
Mass Effect Andromeda may not be perfect but if you’re a fan of BioWare’s bantering squaddies, combo-based shooter action and romantic opportunities then you shouldn’t let a few low review scores put you off exploring the Heleus cluster. Push on through those painful early hours and you’ll discover Mass Effect Andromeda’s heart of gold.
If you’re planning to hop aboard the Ark Hyperion and head to the Andromeda Galaxy, we can help make your journey smoother and less exasperating than our own was. Check in with our full Mass Effect Andromeda guide and walkthrough, if you like, but these pointers will go a long way towards smoothing the jagged edges off for you.
It’s our sincere hope these tips make your initial grappling with Mass Effect Andromeda a lot more enjoyable, so you can get on with exploring the Heleus Cluster, enjoying squadmate banter and sorting out which of your romance options is the hottest.
Forget the Eos side content – leave the planet as soon as possible and return later
Mass Effect Andromeda makes this really easy to miss, but once you finish the Vault on Eos you begin to clean the atmosphere of that deeply annoying radiation that’s covering vast parts of the map.
It doesn’t happen immediately – you’ll need to advance the critical mission path a little – but once it’s gone you’ll be able to explore almost the whole map without taking heavy environmental damage all the time.
Don’t bother fighting the radiation to track down all that Eos side content when you first arrive on the planet; the radiation is there to stop you doing it too early, not to provide a challenge. Some of the content is possible to complete, but you’re better off ignoring it to begin with.
There’ll be more Eos side content along again later on anyway, so don’t worry about it: you’re saving yourself a trip or three by waiting till it piles up a bit. Leave Eos. The game gets much better after those first story beats.
Don’t worry about research and crafting just yet
You don’t really need to research and craft weapons and armour in Mass Effect Andromeda at all, but if you are going to do it, you may as well wait until later in the game, when you have a better idea of what you want – something to boost biotic powers, for example.
The reason for this is that crafting materials and research points are in relatively short supply, so if you’ve spent all your hard-earned currency unlocking a dozen different level one leg pieces, you’ll really struggle to get the points needed to get a higher level piece at the end of the game.
This goes especially for anything in the Milky Way subset of the research screen – those research points are by far the hardest to come by, but some of the most iconic Mass Effect gear is found in this section.
Most of the gear you see in the crafting menus is available in drops or from shops, anyway. The point of crafting is that you can apply augmentations when you craft them. A crafted, augmented level five weapon will be better than the same weapon acquired through other means, and you get to choose how.
Another reason to come back later is that the menus make a heck of a lot more sense later in the game when you’re not lost and overwhelmed. Leave crafting be for now – come back later.
Spend your skill points wisely on complementary powers and abilities
An important aside to the previous point is to make sure you understand the skills page fully. Anything with a circular icon next to it is an active power – this means it’ll take up one of your three valuable power slots on any given profile and be executed with a button press.
Those with triangles next to them are passive abilities – constantly active buffs. To elaborate on with what we say above about min/maxing on a few good powers rather than a mixture, focus on three main active powers you’re going to use, and then plough all the rest of your points into passive abilities that’ll support your play-style.
Your active powers should also ideally complement each other – a good idea is to have two powers that ‘prime’ enemies for combo detonations and one power that’ll ‘detonate’ the combination – read the skill descriptions to see which is which.
Your plan then should be to prime enemies with one move and detonate them with the other for maximum damage.
Commit to a small number of powers and profiles
The dream of Mass Effect Andromeda is being able to flip rapidly between builds (‘profiles’ here) as if they were multiplayer characters, rather than being locked to one path.
In reality, you do yourself a huge disservice by spreading yourself thin. It takes a lot of upgrade points to evolve a power from its base form to its far more powerful sixth level manifestation, and having two or three level six powers will be much more deadly than a dozen level two abilities.
Similarly, if you try to unlock every profile it’ll take ages to get any individual profile to a level where each of the bonuses makes a significant difference to you.
We recommend picking one of the straddling profiles, such as Vanguard or Sentinel, and building into two of the three types of powers (Combat, Tech, and Biotic) Pick three active powers total across your chosen two skill trees, and buff them right up to maximum, while spending spare points on passive abilities to complement your powers, as discussed in the slide above.
If you find you’ve cocked it up, there’s a respec station on the Tempest, inside the Med Bay on the lower floor.
Try new weapons before you sell or chuck the old ones
There are so, so many weapons in Mass Effect Andromeda, and they vary considerably, even within classes.
It’s not just a matter of differing weight, clip size and damage output – some of these weapons handle really differently from others in the same family. We think we know what the best weapons in Mass Effect Andromeda are, but what works for us won’t necessarily work for you.
For example, there’s one assault rifle take a few moments to prime after you pull the trigger, then fires a short burst of ammo before needing to be primed again. That’s not something you expect from the spray-and-pray assault rifle class, is it?
Since you can’t change your loadout mid-mission, you don’t want to be kicking off a boss battle with a heavily shielded enemy only to find out the weapon you’re carrying is about as useful as a feather duster for that purpose.
Unwanted gear is often better dismantled than sold
While credits in Mass Effect: Andromeda aren’t exactly as abundant as in previous Mass Effect games, they’re actually still pretty plentiful thanks to all the “salvage” (junk) items you pick up on the way. These items don’t take up inventory space and are easily sold with one click at stores, though hardcore Mass Effect fans might want to read some of the item names and descriptions first for some fun nods and easter eggs.
Beyond this junk your actual equipment is probably worth holding onto rather than selling. Once you’ve used the previous tip to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, instead of selling the weapon consider going into your inventory menu and using the option to dismantle it.
Guns, armour and add-ons that are dismantled by you will give you extra resources that can then be used for crafting – and as we mentioned earlier, some crafting ingredients can be quite hard to come by. It’s worth picking absolutely everything up if only to dismantle it.
As a bonus, you can dismantle items mid-mission and the loot you get from doing so doesn’t take up inventory space – so this is a great way to free up some inventory mid-mission if you find your carrying space maxed out.
Don’t forget weapon weight when picking gear
As you upgrade Ryder you’ll have the ability to carry more gear – up to four weapons and up to four types of consumable add-on. The temptation might be to load yourself up with weapons, but it’s wise to keep an eye on your equip load.
Mass Effect veterans will know this, but weight matters. Every extra kilogram of gear you’re carrying means a slightly longer recharge time on your non-weapon powers. The trade off is simple: if you want to use your powers more frequently, carry fewer or lighter weapons – and vice versa.
Generally speaking we wouldn’t advise overloading on weapons – powers are really what makes Mass Effect combat satisfying, so pick your weapons wisely. Don’t forget that certain weapon add-ons can increase or lower the weight, too.
The good news is: once you’ve maxed out your favourite profile and the skills you like best, you can always invest in the passive skills in the Soldier tree; when fully upgraded, these allow you to carry an amazing amount of gear with little to no effect on your cooldowns.
Don’t sleep on melee or consumables – they’re amazing, so use them
One major addition in Andromeda is the actual melee weapon slot which allows you to equip proper melee weapons. You start out with an omni-tool, but don’t ignore potentially upgrading this section of your inventory. You’ll find new melee weapons as drops and also be able to craft them, and they range from more powerful omni-tools through elementally-infused swords, hammers and others besides, depending on whether you like ’em slow but deadly or rapid fire for those emergency clutch situations.
I found the Asari Sword to be one of the best weapons in the game, for instance. There are plenty of proper melee weapons – for a biotic class it’s an absolutely amazing, devastating last resort. Basically, melee is well worth your time, especially with profiles that encourage you to get up close and personal. The Vanguard profile features massive melee bonuses at high levels – mine is currently at 40% – which can make these weapons even more deadly.
Consumables replace a lot of classic Mass Effect skills and make them usable across all classes – here’s where you’ll find disruptor, cryo and inferno ammo, plus other helpful bonuses including ways to quickly boost your health and shields back to max if you’re in a really bad spot or ways to bolster your ability to survive some of the game’s environmental hazards. These don’t impact your weight, so take as many as you can, unlock additional slots via the AVP interface on the Tempest and use them often – they can quickly turn the tide on a rough battle.
Carry something that can take down shields
Shields are a literal lifesaver for you and your squad in Mass Effect Andromeda, but they’re a major pain when the enemy uses them. Just like you, enemies can recharge their shields, and they can and will run off and hide to do so.
Many otherwise powerful abilities have little effect on shields unless you evolve them for that purpose – especially those designed for battlefield control like pull and singularity – so you’ll want some way to get those shields down, and fast.
There are abilities specifically tailored to take down shields, so you may want to switch profiles when facing particularly tough shielded baddies, but in general a rapid fire weapon like an SMG or an assault rifle is your first port of call.
For ultimate devastation against smugly shielded baddies, purchase the relatively cheap disruptor ammo consumable. It eats them alive.
Drop the shield, then switch to a heavier weapon for the kill. Set shielded enemies on fire or apply other damage over time effects to prevent them regenerating shields.
… and don’t forget something to counter armour
Armour is less of a pain in Andromeda than shields, but they’re still pretty damn strong. Armour is represented in-game by a health bar that’s yellow instead of health’s red or the blue of shielded enemies.
Armour is the opposite of shields – many of the things that are effective against shields aren’t against armour and the inverse. For the maximum impact against armour, use slow-firing weapons such as shotguns. Fire-based abilities such as the flamethrower also do well.
Since you can pack multiple weapons and three abilities, you have multiple opportunities to bring along something effective against shields and armour. That said, consumables are your pal here if all else fails – both cryo and incendiary ammo are great for rapidly chewing through those annoyingly persistent yellow bars. Apparently they’ve never heard of insulation and fire-proofing in the Heleus cluster.
Combat is now more about movement than ever
The original Mass Effect trilogy became more and more of a cover-based shooter as time went on, and though Mass Effect: Andromeda features a cover mechanic, your general approach to combat should be much more based on movement and momentum – so get used to that.
Cover here isn’t an ‘active’ system where you press a button to hunker down against something, but is instead dynamic. As soon as you get within cover range of an object Ryder will naturally hunker down, and aiming around the cover and blindfire all work as you’d expect from this position. It feels a little weird for those of used to the old way, but you’ll get used to it. Health, shields and biotic barriers recover more quickly when you’re in cover, so your main use for cover is when your shields are down and you’re in danger.
Other than that you should be prepared to move, and often. The new jump jet, hover and dash moves are all major changes to the Mass Effect formula, giving you a ton of movement that was previously impossible. In an ideal world you should be spending fights constantly on the move, using dashes to kite around enemy attacks and flank dangerous foes. Don’t forget that several skills aid with movement or can help with shield restoration without the need for cover, so invest in things that cover your play-style properly.
Most of the more dangerous enemies have attacks that either lob around cover, strike through cover, or knock you out of cover, so you’re going to have to get used to being on your toes. Sorry.
Take a tour of the Tempest and the Nexus after major story beats
This is old news for Mass Effect veterans but if this is your first go-round with a BioWare RPG, make sure you check in with important NPCs after you complete a major mission or unlock a new planet.
Many squadmate conversations are locked to story progress, so if you want to unlock those loyalty missions or advance a romance, you need to check in regularly. Sometimes an email or PA alert on the Tempest will flag a new development, but not always – so be sure to visit with each member of your crew between missions. Nobody’s gonna bang you if you forget to talk to them.
You should also head back to the Nexus and stroll around the major areas – the Docking Bay, Operations, and perhaps even the Hyperion areas. Even if you think you’ve totally explored an area, new side quests pop up all the time, and you can save a lot of time by hoovering them all up at once and getting them done on your first visit rather than having to duck back two or three times as you clear your quest journal later in the game.
Upgrade the Nomad and learn to use it properly
The Nomad has a few more tricks up its sleeve than the good old Mako, although it is still possible to wedge it in crevices or get stuck on slopes over hazards if you’re very careless.
If you find the Nomad tiresome (or love it but want it to be even better), make sure you develop upgrades at the research centre – as well as the initial selection, you can pick up a stack of blueprints by speaking to Angaran engineer NPCs in the rebel base as you push through the main quest. The most useful upgrades improve boost, add six wheel drive mode, give you the option to switch off traction mode, and provide a brief shield whenever you exit the vehicle.
To take advantage of the Nomad’s expanded capabilities, learn how to switch between general and six wheel mode, how to switch traction control on and off, and how to use jump and boost; check the control screen for details on your platform’s bindings. You can even turn the headlights on and off, which is less useful when you’re climbing mountains but a pretty cute touch.
Oh, and always keep an an eye out for Nomad upgrades whenever you find a new general goods shop. As well as those we’ve discussed above, you can find cool new paint jobs – including Alex’s personal favourite, the Garrus-themed Archangel.
Wait, here’s one last thing: you can extract to the Tempest in orbit directly from the Nomad: just hold Triangle on PS4, Y on Xbox One, and T on PC. Pure magic.
Make use of Strike Teams and Cry Pod perks for free stuff
Don’t sleep on a couple of the most poorly-communicated systems in Mass Effect Andromeda. While you’re off saving the galaxy – oh fine, the cluster, whatever – you could also be passively earning fat loot.
There are two parts to this. The first is Strike Teams. Open up the APEX terminal in the Tempest central hub and send your team on a bronze tier mission, then come back in a couple of hours, debrief, and tab to the rewards section to collect your loot. Easy! When your team levels up enough you can send them on harder and more lucrative missions, and after a while you’ll be able to afford a second team – right up to six squads. You can even send them on the multiplayer missions rather than go yourself. You have to be online to use the Strike Team system, though.
The other passive loot system is AVP Cryo Pod Perks. We’ve got a whole guide to farming AVP and the best Cryo Pod perks, but basically, as your game completion statistic rises, you’ll unlock various perks. Some of these will generate credits, research points, and crafting materials at regular intervals – free loot, forever. Since research in particular is an otherwise limited resource, these perks are an enormous help in the late game.
Leave side content until endgame
If you’re an RPG veteran, and especially if this isn’t your first BioWare rodeo, you probably tend to run around new hubs grabbing all the side quests, and then rush out and do them all before the next critical path story beat. Normally we’d applause this approach, but in Mass Effect Andromeda, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
The thing is, Andromeda has so many minor quests on the books, and they’re doled out in so many little batches, that doing them as they crop up means revisiting the same areas over and over again. It’s a lot of time on loading screens, and you gain absolutely nothing by doing it the more laborious way rather than efficiently knocking off almost everything in an area off all at once after it unlocks towards the end of the game.
In fact, there’s some evidence Mass Effect Andromeda was designed for players to get everything done just before the point of no return; certainly all the NPCs struggle to keep track of your activities, and you can actually ever so slightly spoil some content for yourself by triggering scenes, emails and dialogue too early.
We said to leave Eos side content until the radiation clears, but you know what – save everything for the second to last story mission. Get everything done whenever the game gives you one of those “embark on a mission” prompts during a priority op, and you’ll be fine.