The post-apocalyptic landscape of Nier: Automata is an extremely dangerous place: it’s covered in the remnants of human civilization now occupied by the machines, and the game kicks off with the player in a tricky spot. While working through the first few hours of Nier: Automata, you’ll have the chance to dive headfirst into the human vs. machine conflict as a combat android named 2B, fighting off hordes of rampant machines and helping humanity establish a new foothold on the planet with the help of a local resistance group. But the game features a complex set of mechanics that aren’t explained in the initial tutorial experience.

To help prepare you for the long road ahead in Nier: Automata, here are a few things you should know to make the most of your time during the beginning of the game. If you follow these instructions, the confusing beginning of the game will be a little easier.

Collect Every Item You Find

Even though the open world of Nier: Automata isn’t the same massive scale as say, Horizon Zero Dawn, there are still plenty of different locations to explore while on your journey to rid the Earth of machines. Whether you find yourself walking across the overgrown ruins of a human city or trudging through a lost apartment complex in the middle of the desert, you should always be on the lookout for growing circular pickups and metal chests which contain valuable resources you’ll need in order to upgrade your equipment. Most of the time, these are just standard scraps or basic materials, but occasionally you’ll come across a rare upgrade material or a hefty amount of funds you can use to purchase additional equipment from a vendor; don’t miss these opportunities.

Practice Using Every Available Attack

On the surface, Nier: Automata is an action role-playing experience during which you’ll have the opportunity to collect dozens of different weapons and use them in combat against the machines you’ll encounter throughout the world. The basics of combat — such as combining attacks with dodge maneuvers for combos — are relatively straightforward and easy to master — at first. But if you want to survive the harsh encounters Nier: Automata is going to throw at you later, you must learn to use every weapon in your arsenal. This means you need to combine chains of both light and heavy attacks while dodging and keeping your pod’s ranged weapons going to deal damage to enemies at range the entire time. It takes a bit of practice to get used to, but once you are comfortable engaging multiple targets utilizing your entire arsenal, many of the most frustrating fights in Nier: Automata become more manageable than if you were to focus on using one type of weapon at a time.

Invest in Upgrades

Just like Dark Souls, Nier: Automata features an upgrade system which you can use to improve the quality of 2B’s equipment and customize how she performs on the battlefield. Upgrading weapons and pods is easy enough, provided you have collected the necessary materials from the field. Just head to a vendor capable of improving the weapon you’re using, then pay the required materials and funds to complete the process. Each time you level up a weapon, it will receive a massive statistical boost as well as unlock another section of the weapon’s story in your database. As you boost weapons higher and higher, the cost of these boosts will increase. Eventually, rarer materials will be required, so be sure to invest in a weapon you enjoy using in combat and do it right away.

Death is the Beginning

If you don’t take the time to recover from your mistakes in the field, death in Nier: Automata has serious consequences. See, every time you are killed in action, 2B’s consciousness will be transferred to a new android body from a previous save point, leaving your old body behind on the ground along with most of your equipment and experience. You’ll have to venture back to the location where you died to reclaim your old inventory, chips, and experience. But more importantly, you’ll have the option to repair your old body to fight alongside you for as long it can. When it reaches the end of the line, it will explode, returning the experience it was storing the entire time to you.

What’s great is that this feature also carries into Nier: Automata’s online features, allowing you to recruit fallen players to your party as A.I.-controlled warriors or loot their bodies for additional resources and experience. Every time you find an android body out in the world or die in combat yourself, be sure to pick up the goodies laying with it, including the ones you dropped during the first boss fight at the beginning of the game. Make sure to head back and retrieve those the second you land back on Earth so you don’t lose anything you collected during the prologue.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore, Playstation.com