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Mass Effect Andromeda guide: AVP, planetary viability and the best cryo pod perks to upgrade

Mass Effect Andromeda players can unlock some sweet perks and passive bonuses by racking up AVP. Here's what you need to know.


Mass Effect Andromeda players who venture off the critical story path in pursuit of side quests can unlock some excellent bonuses for their efforts.

See, the point of Mass Effect Andromeda is colonisation. Your goal in the Heleus Cluster is to establish self-sufficient, sustainable colonies for the Milky Way races who, for all they know, may be all that's left of the galaxy's organic life. The more progress you make towards this goal, the more support the Nexus can offer its Pathfinders.

This support is represented by the perks you unlocks via the AVP system. AVP, which stands for Andromeda Viability Points, is a recourse you accrue by taking actions big and small to solidify the Nexus's position in the Heleus Cluster.

There are a total of five planets you can settle in the game, and if you manage to settle each successfully (which is in no way guaranteed and is based on your in-game choices) you'll have a planetary viability measurement out of 100% for each. Each time you add to that number increases your AVP across the board. You can continue to increase your AVP even after you've raised all five planets to 100% viability if you so wish - there are plenty of extra quests to do beyond that cap.

Your AVP is displayed in the top-right of the main menu and is counted separately from your main EXP counter for your character. It levels up at its own unique rate too, raising the Nexus Level - or how proficient the Nexus, your galactic hub for Andromeda, is. As the Nexus levels up new areas of the station will become available. You can check your progress from a dedicated menu in the pause screen.


How to earn AVP, increase planet viability and level up the Nexus quickly

There are a number of ways to increase your AVP and boost planetary viability - and doing both of these things will in turn raise your Nexus level. We'll talk about why you'll want to do that in a moment, but first, here are the most reliable methods to boost your viability and gain AVP:

  • Exploring and activating a Remnant Vault will net you 40% viability right away.
    This happens as part of the main quest on some planets, but on others you'll have to seek the monoliths and vaults out. As well as the huge uptick in viability, activating vaults will make some of the more difficult to travel planets far easier to explore, by making the climate more agreeable. More importantly, SAM yells at you less about the weather.
  • Establishing outposts will give you 20% viability
    Establishing an outpost requires high viability to begin with, but it will reward you with 20% viability for doing so.
  • Dropping Forward Stations adds 2% viability
    You'll want to drop forward stations as a priority anyway since they act as fast travel points, but when you do it'll give you 2% extra viability
  • Planet main plot completion adds 10%-20% viability
    Each planet has some sort of quest that is its 'main quest' away from the Priority Ops of the main story of Andromeda, such as brokering terms with the Krogan or solving the turf war on Kagara. Completing this quest will add a significant chunk of viability.
  • Architect Defeat and/or Enemy Base Clear will add 10% viability
    Architects are nasty, gigantic boss enemies found on several of the colonist worlds. Defeating them will add around 10% viability, and the same is true for the large enemy bases found on some worlds. Some worlds have both.
  • Priority Ops will add between 5% and 10% to the related planet's viability
    Some planets are deeply associated with priority ops, and in those cases you'll gain 5-10% viability.
  • Side Quest completion adds 2% to 5% to viability
    Side quests all contribute to viability, and are a great way to grind for viability and AVP quickly in small increments.

Getting all planets to 100% viability isn't that difficult and actually carries an in-game reward. Once planets are at 100% viability you can keep pushing on with quests - viability won't rise past 100%, but your AVP will continue to be added to your overall Nexus Level. Your Nexus Level is vital because it can be spent on...


Spending your AVP and Nexus Points on Cryo Pods

As for why you'd want to increase your AVP total: every time your Nexus levels up you not only see the Nexus grow a little busier and sometimes expand, you also unlock a new Cyro Pod Perk. When you hear SAM alert you that 'you have AVP outstanding', that's what he's getting at. You can spend your AVP at a terminal on the Tempest or on the Nexus itself in the Operations area.

The Nexus upgrades are split into three main sections: Science, Military and Commerce. This is a little bit like Dragon Age Inquisitions advisor perks, except there's a lore explanation this time: AVP represents your ability to support more colonists, so when you add to that capacity significantly you get to decide who to wake up next. The colonists you choose to awaken provide unique perks to you, so you have to pick carefully.

Most important to note is at a point AVP and Nexus points max out, so it's impossible to get all of the perks. Be careful and choose wisely.

Here are some of our favourites that we think you should prioritise picking up early:

The best Military Pod Perks to get early

  • Advanced Training: You'll have to unlock one other lower-level skill before this one (we recommend Reconnaissance), but this then gives you 10% bonus EXP from all encounters. Get this one early!
  • Always Prepared: This pod requires the Munitions Pod be unlocked first, but this then gives you an extra consumables slot, used to equip items that give you a major boost in battle such as elemental ammo or defence buffs.
  • Versatility: This pod is an upgrade of Always Prepared, adding one fourth and final slot. Having all four slots will give you a lot of options.
  • Reconnaissance: Recommended above, this perk reveals hidden chests near forward stations on the open world maps. These chests contain great loot that you can use, sell, or break down for raw materials for use in crafting.

The best Science Cryo Pods to get early

  • Improved Development: This upgrade will give you 10% more research data from all sources - vital if you plan to research new gear, especially as research is finite in the game.
  • Improved Development II: As above, but this adds another 10%. If you're crafting this stuff is a big deal.
  • Innovation: If you get into crafting, this adds one more augmentation slot to all your research & development projects, meaning a chance to make things even more powerful.

The best Commerce Cryo Pods to get early

  • Trade Capacity: This is an absolute no-brainer - it ups your inventory size. At a certain point in the game this becomes absolutely vital.
  • Trade Capacity II: See above! Once you have the upgrade you can do this again - it's still not big enough, mind. (Brenna disagrees with me, and just junks everything for parts immediately.)
  • Fusion Mod Support: This is a bit of a late-game upgrade, but it halves the penalty for all fusion mods. Fusion mods are hugely powerful armor mods that also carry a hefty negative hit to offset their huge bonuses in their area of expertise. This halves those penalties, making the mods much more viable.
  • Market Dominance: If you're more interested in crafting than buying, pick this up - it'll expand shop inventories right across the Heleus Cluster a fair bit with rarer stuff.

When you get closer to endgame you may want to think about the perks that regularly cough up research points; there's a finite source of research available in the single-player campaign, and if you're not keen on sending your AI crews on missions, this is your best way to keep it rolling in so you can unlock top tier gear.

About the Author

Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whisky buff.

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