Mass Effect: Andromeda introduces a ton of changes to some of the series’ long-standing abilities and weapons. Even if you’re familiar with biotics, or know the differences between playing a “vanguard” and an “infiltrator” in Mass Effect 3, you might be overwhelmed with the sheer number of options available to you as you level up your character. There is very little structure, so you’re on your own when it comes to deciding what weapons to take, what abilities to focus on, and what armor to wear.
The good news is that, as you develop your character, you can choose a profile based on your personal play-style based on your particular combination of skills, weapons, and armor. What you choose can make you a pretty effective fighter — if you play your cards right. And the whole system is flexible enough to let you change your thinking, rework your specs, and try something new.
Still, there’s a lot to sift through when it comes to creating your perfect explorer. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Inventory management is a thing
For much of the Andromeda, you can indiscriminately pick up the loot you find around various planets without having to worry about it, but after a while, you’ll likely find that you’re carrying too many guns, too much armor, and too many mods. While you can eventually upgrade your inventory size using AVP, or “Andromeda Viability Points,” you’ll want to periodically sell or scrap your old gear. Completing missions only earns you so much AVP, after all.
Each type of weapon and armor comes in a few variations, affixed with Roman numerals, so once you’re stocked on level II armor, start throwing away your level I armor, and so on, up to level V. You have two options for dealing with old stuff: You can sell it at a shop if you need cash — eventually, you’ll get a shop station on the Tempest — or disassemble it for crafting materials. Keep in mind that you can also instantly disassemble loot you pick up when you find it, if you can’t carry it or already know it’s something you don’t need.
Watch your weight
For at least the early portion of the game, you’ll find yourself restricted to two weapons. You can unlock more holsters for guns over time if you pump skill points into the Combat Fitness category when you level up, but it takes time to get there.
Like in Mass Effect 3, there is a give and take between equipping lots of weapons and your other combat abilities. Each weapon has a “weight” rating, and the heavier your equipment is, the slower your powers recharge. In other words, if you carry four heavy weapons, abilities like biotic “throw” or tech “overload” might not be available when you need them most. If you’re the kind of player who relies heavily on those powers, you should consider bringing one or two guns, and limiting yourself to smaller, lighter ones. While there are light and heavy weapons for each type, sniper rifles are generally the heaviest weapon type, for instance, while pistols are lightest.
Mod your armor
Armor sets come in two varieties: A full suit like in previous Mass Effect games, and armor you can mix and match in three categories — chest, legs, and head. (Either way, you will also equip a helmet). Both armor types have up- and downsides: Suits often feature more slots for armor mods, which you equip at will to customize your armor bonuses, but you lose on the extra stat boosts incurred from the discrete arm and leg armor items.
“Fusion mods,” the rarest armor mods, can have a big impact on your armor’s passive traits. They come in many varieties, but they always offer some kind of trade-off. You can double your shields, but you’ll have to cut your health in half. These mods are rare and can’t be crafted, so keep an eye out for them in the world. Find good ones that match your playstyle for some major bonuses.
Your best gear comes from crafting
You’ll find lots of armor and weapons throughout the game, but, invariably, to get the best equipment, you’ll have to make it yourself.
Andromeda‘s crafting relies on a multitude of smaller systems. You need research data point, whichs you earn from scanning technology and alien life anywhere and everywhere in the game, along with blueprints for new items. Once you have those, you can research new stuff at any research station, including the one on the Tempest.
Once you’ve learned how to make a weapon you need, you’ll need to actually craft it on the research station’s “Development” menu. This is where you can get really creative. You can add permenant internal mods called “augmentation” to the weapons and armor you make on your own. You can install multiple augmentations on a piece of gear, depending on its level, and they offer some pretty hefty bonuses.
You can also research and craft augmentations, so when you’re thinking about upgrading your weapons, it helps to make a plan. Identify the equipment you want to make and the augmentations you want to spec it for your preferred playstyle, and start saving up. (You’ll need plenty of crafting materials to get the best stuff).
Once you’ve got everything you need, you can craft some really amazing armor and weapons; gear that’s not only powerful, but built to help you play your way.