Mass Effect: Andromeda can be downright brutal sometimes. Everything on these planets are trying to kill you! Most of the enemies hit just as hard as you do, and that doesn't really get better as you gain more armor and better weapons. The terrain is rough, and sometimes your squad AI can be kind of... bad.

If you're having trouble making all of the planets viable while trying to balance ridiculous Milky Way politics and figuring out what the Remnant have done, this guide should help!

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Go looking for subquests

This one should be obvious, especially if you've played the other Mass Effect games, but don't try to burn through the main story. Everything will be so much easier if you frontload your game with sidequests, so you're at least a level or two ahead of the average player when you step into the next puzzle.

Always stop and check for sidequests, from the moment you first dock with the Nexus. There are several available well before you reach ESO, and the experience from those side jobs are way more than you get for completing the initial tutorial. It's a nice edge to have when going down into the first Vault, and you can keep that lead as you travel from planer to planet.

Use your Nomad driving modes

As soon as you touch down on a planet you're in a sandbox, and these mostly open worlds are best traveled inside your six-wheeled space car that totally isn't a less awesome Mako. The Nomad can cross dangerous areas quickly, which is a big deal as you try to make planets viable throughout the game, and the key to really enjoying this experience is remembering to constantly switch between drive modes.

Your Nomad has a fast driving mode and an all-terrain mode, and you can quickly switch between them with a tap on L1. This ends up being really important, because the all-terrain mode can climb up almost anything that isn't perfectly vertical and the speed mode will get you through an area twice as fast as long as it's mostly flat. Switching between these modes at speed makes it much easier to climb around areas instead of taking the long way around with the roads you see in the game.

Switch Profiles as often as possible

You may have been too busy trying to not get shot to notice, but Alec Ryder actually gives you a pretty good demonstration of the best way to use Profiles in the fight for Habitat 7. As simple as it may seem to pick a Profile that best suits your play style and level it up until it's the most awesome thing ever, things get a lot easier for you later in the game if you're regularly switching between Profiles based on your immediate needs.

Make sure you're jumping between Profiles on a regular basis. If you're out in the open and being ambushed by Kett, the Infiltrator profile will keep you from being pinned down and overwhelmed. If you're staring down a massive Fiend with nowhere to run, the Siphoning Strike in the Vanguard Profile will keep its attacks from destroying you in one hit. Even if you aren't loading up on weapon proficiency in your skill tree, the Soldier Profile keeps your aim steady when you need it most.

The most important thing is to practice switching quickly, so you're able to jump in and out of tough situations with ease later on.

Go to hazardous areas first

The open world aspect to Mass Effect: Andromeda is curbed by making some areas more hazardous when you approach them. In the Habitat 7 mission, for example, lightning strikes got worse when you drifted "off mission" in places. Sometimes it's a biohazard warning, sometimes it's a big hovering troop carrier, but the end result is the same for most people. You turn and run, not looking back until you've earned some Viability points to make the area less terrible.

Instead of avoiding those areas, grab your Nomad and barrel in quickly. Do a quick pass, and look for things to mine. These areas frequently offer the harder to get minerals, which makes the better weapons and armor easier to get much earlier in the game. You have to be very careful not to get yourself stranded or killed in the process, but it's so very worth it when you find those materials you've been hunting for.

Don't bother balancing your team

When you level up, your team members gain some experience points to spend as well. Team skill trees aren't nearly as complex as your own, which means you can choose between balancing your team members so they're all around more effective or focusing on one specific ability and jacking it all the way up as early as possible. I recommend that second one, especially early on in the game.

Your AI-based squad mates are blunt instruments, use them as such. If you're planning to let them run out and attack without a lot of instruction from you, focus on doing the most damage with their special abilities. If you plan offer a guiding hand to your team, or you plan to have them always by your side to keep you alive, don't bother spending points on special abilities initially. As you play the game it will you'll have enough skill points to focus on that kind of thing, but initially it's far more worth it to specialize and let each team member be very good at one thing.

How are you surviving?

Have you found that "one weird trick" for dealing the most damage or making the best decisions in Mass Effect: Andromeda? Share them with us in the comments, and we'll add the best ones to this guide!

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