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‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ guide to loadouts, weapons, skills and profiles

'Mass Effect: Andromeda': How to spec out and equip your Pathfinder for maximum effectiveness

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Electronic Arts
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.

The Basics

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.

Profiling your Pathfinder

Figuring out what weapons and armor go with your individual playstyle is half the battle. The other half is deciding where you want to put the skill points you earn as you work through the game and level up Ryder. These let you buy and upgrade abilities, which, in turn, determine what class — called a “profile” in Andromeda — you should use. Combining the right abilities and uniting them under a complimentary profile (or profiles) is key to making yourself the most effective space marine-slash-diplomat you can be.

Leveling up and assigning points

Andromeda starts by asking you to pick a class as part of your backstory, but that identity game is more malleable than previous games in the series. In fact, you can spend skill points earned from leveling up on any ability you want. Even if you choose to be a Biotic at the start of the game, you can still specialize as a soldier (which is mostly weapons-focused) or in tech (which is things like debuffs and auto-turrets). The best way, we found, is to pick and choose what abilities you want to use and work backwards.

Start with powers that work in all situations

You might want to be primarily a biotic, primarily a soldier, or primarily a tech specialist, but there are a few capabilities that are great for the early game because they’ll help you in any battle. Please note, however, that you can only equip three special abilities in your loadout at any given time. Spend accordingly.

Overload: A tech skill that stuns enemies briefly and, more importantly, saps their shields. Shielded enemies are immune to getting knocked down by skills like “push,” so overload compliments biotic builds very well.

Incinerate: A Tech skill that sets people on fire and destroys armor. Like shields, armored enemies are immune to some of your more engaging abilities, and require more shots to kill, so having a skill to deal with them will help take them out before they become bigger threats.

Concussive Shot or Throw: One is a Combat power and the other is a biotic ability, but both knock enemies down from you while dealing damage. This is great for fending off smaller enemies and attackers that rush you in cover. When you need some space and/or breathing room, these abilities can help.

Combat Fitness: This passive combat power ups stats like maximum health. Regardless of what your specialization is, you’ll probably want to invest some points here.

Barricade or Backlash: barricade falls under combat and backlash is biotic, but both afford you some added protection. barricade lets you create cover on the fly, and backlash lets you create a biotic shield that lessens damage while you’re moving. Both are good in a pinch when you need to protect yourself.

Figure out your style

After you graduate from using all-around skills, it’s time to think about which of Andromeda’s three skill trees most appeals to you and go from there. There are enough skills and abilities in Andromeda that you can tailor your play-style quite a bit. It’s hard to recommend specific places to invest skill points because there’s so much opportunity for customization. For starters, though, let’s talk about what the trees are and what it means to lean in any given direction.

Combat: The combat skill tree makes you more resilient in a fight and more effective with guns. Even if you mostly invest points in the other trees, you’ll want to pump some points into the passive abilities on the combat tree because you’ll be shooting a lot of the time, regardless. Players who rely on standard cover-based shooter tactics will find combat abilities to be the most straightforward.

Tech: The tech tree generally focuses on things like weakening enemy defenses and support skills like automatic turrets. You’ll be able to weaken armor and shields with tech abilities, while also passively increasing your squad’s strength. If you like to hang back and/or snipe, Tech abilities are generally a good fit.

Biotics: Mass Effect’s equivalent to magic features telekinetic abilities that usually wrap up enemies and take them out of the fight. Abilities like throw, pull, and singularity send enemies flying or floating so they can’t fight back. Biotics also give you protection so you can clear a path and get in close, making the skill tree great for folks who like shotguns and recklessness.

Mix and match

It’s easy to customize your playstyle however you want by buying only the skills you want from whatever tree you like. It’s a good idea to invest in things such as your shields, health, and barriers, as well as your effectiveness with your favorite guns. Still, that’s about it for marching orders — find the skills you like and invest.

As you pump skill points into the various skill trees, you’ll unlock different “profiles” — classes you can activate to give your character some passive bonuses based on how you play. Certain profiles only unlock as you spend points, though. For example, you won’t get the “Vanguard” profile until you’ve put a few points into both Combat and Biotics. These profiles will also level up, adding stronger bonuses, when you add more points into the classes they represent.

Profiles can be changed at any time, giving you different advantages based on the situation. As with you play with different abilities, consider making and saving a few different classes so you can quickly adopt the profile best suited for the fight you’re in. Making yourself adaptable will make you more effective when it comes combat, so learn the upshots of each profile you unlock and when you might want to use it.

Respec if you don’t like it

You aren’t locked into your character progression if you don’t like it. Visit the Med Lab on the Tempest to reset your skills trees at any point. The cost goes up every time you use the Med Lab to respec your character, however, so try not to make it a habit. That said, if you’re unhappy with a skill you’ve put lots of points into, it isn’t hard to get your points back.

Starter Loadouts

As previously mentioned, there’s so much customization in Andromeda that it’s tough to point to any one build as the “best.” The benefit of such a flexible system is that you get to play exactly as you want to, with the abilities you like for any given situation. That said, all those skills, abilities, points, and profiles can be a bit daunting so, if you are looking for a long-term roadmap, we’ve put together a few loadouts. You can follow these to the letter, or use them as a jumping off point to find your best kit.

All-around soldier

Weapon: Assault rifle (and whatever else you want to bring).
Abilities: Concussive shot, overload, incinerate.
Profile: Soldier
Where to put your extra skill points: Combat fitness, offensive tech, assault rifles.

This is a loadout for the player who favors assault rifles, mid-range fighting, and generally handling whatever the game throws at them without much worry. If you’re someone who mostly plans to do your fighting with guns and doesn’t want to focus heavily on worrying about powers and combos with your squad, go with this all-around fighter. You’ll have the ability to knock out shields and armor, and force people out of cover, while handling the heavy lifting with your rifle. The Extra Holsters perk in Combat Fitness will also give you shotguns or sniper rifles, allowing for greater versatility.

Sneaky sniper

Weapon: Sniper rifle.
Abilities: Overload, assault turret, tactical cloak.
Profile: Infiltrator.
Where to put your extra skill points: Combat fitness, offensive tech, sniper rifles

Leaning into the Tech tree with an emphasis on staying out of fights, this skill-set emulates the infiltrator profile as it appeared in previous Mass Effect games. The Infiltrator profile boosts your cloaking capabilities, and you can use overload to knock out shields and stun people while you line up a headshot. The assault turret keeps enemies busy and suppressed, picking off anybody who might slip out of cover or takes a shot but isn’t quite dead. Finally, the Tactical Cloak lets you flank enemies, rendering it the perfect tool for escaping dangerous situations.

Biotic commando

Weapon: Shotgun.
Abilities: Charge, throw (or nova), backlash.
Profile: Adept or Vanguard.
Where to put your extra skill points: Combat fitness, barrier, shotguns, offensive biotics.

Full-on, psychic mayhem — forget about cover. This class is built for sprinting into battle, ravaging everyone in your path in the most hilarious way possible. Shotguns decimate enemies from point-blank range, and biotic abilities like Charge let you smash enemies up close and personal. Nova creates an explosion around your body to get rid of people bothering you, but Throw is good for clearing guys (who you can then chase with Charge). Backlash, on the other hand, is handy for dealing with incoming damage when you’re in the thick of it.

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