The Heleus Cluster is a pretty big place, and it's chock full of new locations to explore and various challenges to overcome. With that in mind, we thought we'd collect together some handy pointers to help you get the best possible start to your life in this new galaxy.
Start Slow: It might feel like an anti-climax to start the game by taking your time and talking to non-essential NPCs about your new home, especially when there's more pressing matters to attend to, but trust us, it's worth spending a bit of time at the start of the game getting to know more about your surroundings. Quite a lot has happened in-between the Nexus (the giant ship that houses all of the Milky Way species) arriving in Andromeda and Ryder and company waking up from their 600-year slumber aboard the Ark Hyperion. Take your time, talk to everyone, and make sure to fill in the gaps before getting stuck into the adventure proper, because you'll have a much better time later on if you know about the main factions and what they stand for.
Know Your UI: There are a lot of systems that interlink in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and it's only once you've got to grips with all of them that you're be able to make the most of the options they give you. The first thing you should do is spend a bit of time familiarising yourself with the journal and codex. As with our first tip, reading up on recent events will arm you with essential knowledge that feeds into you having a greater understanding of your surroundings and its recent history. The codex offers background on everything, from your journey so far to the people/aliens you meet along the way, while the journal is where you keep track of your many, many quests.
Scan Everything: Andromeda has a deep upgrade system, and gathering resources to improve your gear, your ship, the Nomad, and the Nexus space station all at once can be a tall order. The most crucial upgrades relate to your character's gear, and it's here that the scanner is your tool of choice. When you traverse and explore the many environments that the game has to offer, remembering to scan new objects is of the utmost importance. Doing so gives you the necessary resources to research and develop more potent weapons and stronger armour. These alien worlds are bursting with strange technology, bizarre local flora, and even the odd acid-spitting monster, so pay attention and scan whenever you can.
Pack Your Jetpack: Whereas Mass Effect: Andromeda offers many structural, mechanical and narrative additions to what was an already stellar formula, the most important new feature is by far the jetpack, as it completely changes your approach to combat. This gadget lets you to jump, dash and hover in order to get the drop on your enemies, and using it appropriately is very helpful once a fight breaks out. Use the speed of the dash to traverse the breadth of the battlefield quickly, or charge into cover ahead, but remember that shooting from elevated positions gives you an advantage, so searching for higher ground or using the hover should be your first priority.
Profiles: Early on in the game you're given the chance to select a profile, and these dramatically alter the way your character works in combat. Choosing a Soldier increases the damage you do with weapons, your accuracy and even an escalating damage bonus as you kill enemies, whereas the Adept will let you do more damage with biotics. The various profiles present new opportunities for every player, but they are switchable on the fly, should you choose to take your character in a different direction during the game. However, make sure to read through the descriptions of each one before selecting them, and if you're still having doubts, Explorer is there for a jack-of-all-trades approach.
Build with Purpose: There are two ways that you can level up your Ryder. One option is to unlock lots of different abilities, with a mixture of weapons training, tech skills, and biotic powers all unlocked and ready to go, allowing you to tweak your build at regular intervals and add in new abilities whenever you feel like a change (make sure to use this approach in conjunction with the profile system). The other, less flexible option, is to focus on a small number of abilities, and max them out with the skill points you earn as you level up. You'll have less options to choose from, but the powers you have will be more potent on the battlefield.
Weapons and Mods: There's an almost overwhelming number of weapons to choose from in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and they come in three distinct flavours. You can specialise in one area, or look to mix and match between Milky Way tech, and the gadgets and gizmos inspired by the technology discovered in the Heleus Cluster (Heleus and Remnant tech). Ryder can research and develop new weapons as well as finding them in the field, so make sure you use the research points earned by scanning the world around you, and then spend them with purpose. Weapons can even be adapted or enhanced using mods, so don't forget to check that your gear is optimised and ready for action. It might just save your life.
Team Talk: This is Mass Effect, so half the charm is getting to know your crew and taking them out on adventures. Make sure you level up your colleagues before sending them into harm's way, though. They each have a limited number of abilities that can be upgraded, but not as many as Ryder, so it won't take long to get them fighting fit. Of course, you can automate this if you want a less hands-on approach to squad development. Like past entries in the series you can also tackle loyalty missions to help earn their trust, and on top of that your actions in the field may well influence how they feel about you. This extends to romancing certain members of your crew, and whether you like girls or boys or aliens from another galaxy, there's something here to suit most tastes.
Pick Carefully: Between missions it's always worth taking a tour around your ship and talking to your crew, not only to find out how they're feeling, but also because doing so can potentially open up new missions to tackle later. You might also get a sense of who would be best to take with you on a particular assignment, and if a certain character brings a mission to your attention, the chances are that you'll get added value in the form of extra dialogue and additional insight if you take them with you.
Check the Map: The galaxy map lets you easily move around the Heleus Cluster, as well as giving an easy overview of what's still to be explored. Scanning planets and systems is pretty boring work, though, and the rewards aren't always worth it, thus our advice is to not spend too much time on this repetitive task. Sure you'll miss out on some mineral deposits, but you can always level up the Nexus so that you get a selection of minerals added to your collection at various intervals. Of course, if you're a completionist and you want every corner of every system explored to the fullest, you'll find that there's plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered.