This week, the long-awaited Mass Effect: Andromeda is out everywhere. In the latest installment of the franchise, you take on the role of Scott or Sara Ryder, the children of the human Pathfinder Alec Ryder. After spending 600 years cryogenically frozen aboard the Ark Hyperion, your will wake up to find yourself in the middle of a pretty bad situation: It turns out the planets once deemed suitable homes for the members of the Andromeda Initiative didn’t pan out, and now as the human Pathfinder, it’s your job to locate a new set of habitable planets across the Andromeda galaxy.

This task can prove quite the challenge, especially if you haven’t played a game from the original Mass Effect trilogy before. So, whether you’re out exploring a new habitat for the Andromeda Initiative or fighting off hostile alien lifeforms in combat, here are a few tips to help you get going.

Pick a Proper Training Background

Instead of revolving around dedicated classes like the original Mass Effect trilogy, Mass Effect: Andromeda focuses on a whole new collection of abilities (including plenty of old favorites) you can access regardless of the Profile you end up using most in the field. There are absolutely no ability restrictions based on character creation options, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t entirely useless during your first few hours of the game.

So, your biggest decision during character creation is going to be your Training, which serves as the new “starting class” for your character, granting you access to a few abilities much earlier in the game without having to progress down the skill trees for combat, biotics, and tech. Pay close attention to how these might impact your playstyle and select an option that best suits you. Remember, you won’t be able to unlock some of these abilities until much later in the game, so choose wisely.

Scan Everything You Find

One of the new tools at your disposal in Mass Effect: Andromeda is the scanner attached to Ryder’s omni-tool which allows you to survey your surroundings while exploring the Andromeda Galaxy. Just like the datapad entries scattered about that help provide context from a narrative standpoint, the scanner is a valuable tool you can use to learn about the alien lifeforms, technology, structures, and more. Every scan you complete will then be cataloged with SAM, rewarding you with research points in either the Milky Way, Heleus, or Remnant research categories, which can then be used to purchase augmentations and blueprints for weapons and armor in those respective categories. This not only helps you create better gear earlier on, but it can assist you in understanding the environments throughout Mass Effect: Andromeda if you’re ever curious about something in particular while exploring.

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Develop a Specific Profile

Thanks to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s new Profile and Skill system, you’ll be able to purchase and equip any three abilities at any given time to use in combat. You’re able to create four favorite skill loadouts you can swap between on the fly with the help of SAM which provide you with a ridiculous amount of combat options to use against your enemies. But when you are just getting started, be sure to invest skill points in a set of three or six abilities to make them more powerful, especially if you’re playing on the Hardcore or Insanity difficulties. Since the basic versions of each ability lack any sort of punch without investing heavily into them, you’ll find that enemies in Andromeda will be able to handle most of what you can throw at them unless you upgrade your abilities. So, while it may be tempting to immediately start building four favorite skill loadouts to swap between, you’ll be better off focusing on one or two during your first few hours of the game. But rest assured, because Andromeda dishes out skill points faster than many other RPGs, you’ll be able to fill out additional loadouts as you progress through the game.

Collect Everything You Find

Every single weapon, armor piece, consumable, or crafting component you find while out exploring one of the many planets present in Mass Effect: Andromeda is more valuable than you might think at first glance. As was the case in Dragon Age: Inquisition, equipment and consumables can be broken down into raw materials and then combined to craft new weapons, armor, upgrades, modifications, and various other items for you to use on your journey. No matter how insignificant something might seem out in the field, always pick it up and pull the raw materials from it to use later down the road. While the equipment you’ll be able to create is limited by the research you’ve accumulated from scanning, you never know when you’ll need a few extra units of element zero to build the weapon of your dreams later down the road. Don’t pass up looting opportunities or ignore suspicious-looking caves, because odds are there’s something worthwhile sitting inside.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore

Nicholas is a writer and content creator in Knoxville. He frequently covers video games and other consumer electronics. When he's not writing for Inverse, you can usually find him tweeting about Star Wars or streaming on Twitch.