From the vast deserts covering Eos, to the neon jungles of Havarl, Mass Effect: Andromeda is an awe-inspiring game to explore.

Exploration is, thankfully, a big part of the game, which was released this month by BioWare. As a member of a civilian multi-species project called the Andromeda Initiative, you’ll wake up aboard the human Ark Hyperion after 600 years to find everything hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Following the Initiative’s first contact with alien life on a prospective planet, everything takes a downward turn, and bullets start flying. This results in you taking on the role of Pathfinder — a Captain Kirk-like explorer tasked with finding a new home for the people of the Milky Way to settle on and call their own. To do so successfully, you’ll have to explore five major planets capable of supporting life, which is easier said than done in a galaxy filled with dangerous environmental hazards and alien civilizations seeking your extinction.

Setting down on these planets for the first time is nothing short of amazing since they each feature their open unique biome and open world environment covered in stuff to do. Whether you uncover a new set of secrets about an ancient civilization, complete a series of quests for a companion, or fight off a gigantic robot, you’ll be earning Andromeda Viability Points too — which allow you to further develop the surface of the planet and come closer to successfully colonizing it. Unfortunately, Andromeda doesn’t very clearly guide players on how to get started, so here’s a few tips for expert exploring.

Explore and Activate Remnant Vaults

Every planet you visit in Andromeda will come with a Remnant Vault you can explore and activate by reaching its control console, which will immediately provide a hefty boost to planetary viability once you complete it. As a bonus, these Remnant Vaults also remove any hostile weather conditions such as radiation from the planet’s surface, opening up new areas of the map for you to explore during your free time. In most cases, Remnant Vaults will be tied into the main quest on the planet, but if you don’t notice them as your first task upon landing, make sure to complete it before exploring because of the environmental gates they remove from the map. Just remember to bring a good set of equipment and abilities, because these are among the toughest encounters in the game.

Collect Resources for Yourself

While it’s obviously important to roam around the surface of a planet and complete various activities which boost your planetary viability, you’ll also want to invest some time into yourself. Thanks to Andromeda’s new crafting system, the game has a huge arsenal of weapons, armor, and other equipment you can build yourself with the proper materials and research — all of which you can find during your time exploring a planet’s surface in-game. Spend some of your exploration time to visit mining locations scattered about the map, and use your drones to harvest resources from deposits, or just run around to smaller nodes, and do it yourself with the omni-tool.

Drop Forward Stations

The planets in Andromeda are very much like the different regions or areas available throughout Dragon Age: Inquisition in the sense that they feature a handful of main quests which introduce you to the location alongside dozens of activities, side quests, resource deposits, and more. While these contribute to your planetary viability and personal progress , you’ll want to take the time to drive around in the Nomad and deploy a few Forward Stations around the planet when you first touchdown. These little pods let you change your loadout without visiting the Tempest and serve as fast-travel points, providing a small boost to viability in the process.

Clear Enemy Bosses and Outposts

Regardless of how friendly a new planet surface might seem when you first set foot on solid ground, there are going to be a few enemy outposts or bosses hidden about the map for you to deal with. Once you’ve established a few Forward Stations and have activated the Remnant Vault on your planet of choice, begin to look around for large bases or leads on the gigantic bosses known as Architects (you’ll know them when you see them; trust us) to pursue with your squad. Eliminating these dangerous threats takes a lot of patience and dedication but can provide you with a decent boost to planetary viability while rewarding you will some excellent equipment drops in the process.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore