The first five things you need to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda crew
Mass Effect: Andromeda crew (Image credit: Bioware)

The Mass Effect franchise has officially returned with the fourth installment in the series, and everything here is very shiny and new. A new galaxy, new set of characters, and plenty of new content to delve into. Don't be worried if you're a returning fan though, there are plenty of nods to the original trilogy, and this includes the alien races you know and love.

With a game as expansive as Mass Effect: Andromeda, knowing what to keep an eye out for early is a good call. That's why we've got 5 tips to help you get started exploring the Andromeda galaxy.

Scan all the things

You have a handy little scanner right on your arm which can be activated by dressing the down button on the directional pad. This allows you to scan your surroundings and see if there is anything hiding from your view. Do this. Do it often, and do it everytime that you enter a new area. Even during the initial planetside mission there is tons to see and explore. While you won't be able to access everything at the get go, you can still tag it for your eventual return.

Scanning the environment is such a small thing, but it really does make a difference. Since unscanned items pop up in bright orange, it makes it easier to find important items or alien technology you might otherwise miss. You can also use it to scan enemies whether they are alive or dead, which can be particularly handy when you're just getting started. Scanning unfamiliar tech and aliens will also net you research points which are used to unlock technologies in the game, and you want those technologies.

Cover is your friend

There are some games where you can stride around like a tank, blowing the face off of anything you come across without paying a price for that audacity. This, is not one of those games. Cover is important, you will need cover, or you will die. Repeatedly. I would know, because I learned this lesson the hard way. Taking cover will allow you to heal from your wounds, flank an enemy while they can't see you, and get a better read on what you are dealing with.

To break it down further, humans are not a dominant species in the Andromeda galaxy. There are more of them than there are of you, and sprinting around shooting sounds fun until you die three times in a row because there are seven aliens shooting at you simultaneously. Use cover if you want to survive.

Keep an eye out for containers

You shouldn't be surprised, but there are plenty of loot containers to be found scattered through the worlds you'll be exploring. Be sure to keep an eye out for them, because not all loot containers are made equal and some of them have some lucky items in store for you. The loot containers will have items that relate directly to the race that left it behind. This means on an Angaran world, you're going to find Angara loot of one kind or another. What you find is also randomized, using a dynamic loot generation, so you won't get the same result if you die and return to a specific box.

Salvage containers look like boxes left behind, and alien orbs scattered about. Generally they look a little bit broken, or mussed up, and are filled with salvage only usable for trading to merchants for credits. The boxes you really want are the normal containers, which look like boxes. More or less. Depending on the rarity, you can find anything from components for weapons to the weapon itself. By grabbing every container you see, you can ensure that you have a solid stock for selling to merchants, and using later for crafting.

Stay aware of your surroundings

While the planets you'll be exploring are the hope of a future for mankind, they are still a bit hostile at times and if you aren't paying attention to what is going on it's very easy to wind up dead. This is because the planets are covered in various hazards of varying severity. While the level 1 hazards can damage your health and be a nuisance, level 3 and 4 hazards can kill you quite quickly. It is worth mentioning high level hazards are usually indicative of an area that is currently off limits until you have progressed further.

For the most part, hazards are pretty easy to see. Green smoky haze, fire, ice, geysers, and lava are all examples of hazards that you will run into during your exploration. To avoid being wounded by the hazard, just avoid the hazard. The hazard level is also shown at the bottom left of your HUD, so that you are aware when you are entering a dangerous area unwittingly.

What are your tips?

There is tons to do, and plenty to explore within Mass Effect: Andromeda, but these tips should help you to get a running start when it comes to exploring the Andromeda galaxy. Find rare items, get the perks you need, and remember that you are in hostile territory and you should have the hang of things in no time flat. Just remember that this is just the beginning, and there will be plenty more to explore and discover. Do you have a tip for those just starting Mass Effect: Andromeda? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments below and let us know.

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Jen Karner

Jen is a staff writer who spends her time researching the products you didn't know you needed. She's also a fantasy novelist and has a serious Civ VI addiction. You can follow her on Twitter.