Sometimes, open world games have sidequests that don’t feel all that satisfying. They can feel like busywork, sending you back and forth from place to place with very little substance or actual rewards. In Mass Effect: Andromeda, there are more than a few of those. Fortunately, there are also quests that feel like you’re actually getting something out of your efforts and making a difference. These are the ones that have you preparing planets for outposts for the people in your care and, you know, actually being a Pathfinder.
While your primary mission in Mass Effect: Andromeda is to follow a set of story missions that send you around the galaxy making friends with Angara, searching some specific planets, and facing off against Kett, there’s also an opportunity to start making the worlds better places. Sometimes, earning the Andromeda Viability Points and awakening the Vaults that make this goal a reality happens naturally. One of the first things you’ll do is get Eos ready for habitation, as an example. But really getting into it and finding a good use for the AVP you earn and getting some outposts involves taking on sidequests.
One of which is AVP Cryo Deployment Perks. After Eos is all set, you’ll be able to take a mission from Foster Addison. This lets you use the AVP Status Terminal. Many of the missions you’ll undertake on planets, such as helping with an occasional fetch quest, scanning items, finding Arks, and so on, will give you AVP. While getting it to 40% for a specific planet is the general goal, so you can establish an outpost, the total AVP adds to your Nexus Level and gives you Cryo Pod Points. Redeeming this in the Tempest or Nexus lets you start waking up people in Commerce, Military, and Science Pods. Once points are expended toward certain areas, you get benefits over time.
Let’s use Commerce Pods as an example. Your first level is Financial Infrastructure, which gives you credits over time from “investments” and “benefits” outposts. Continuing down that line will give you more credits, better prices when buying and selling, greater inventories in shops, and finally a larger inventory. Waking up slumbering citizens in Military Pods will give you boons like regular consumable supply drops, organic and tech materials for crafting, forward station caches, experience boosts, more consumables slots, and finally more credits for APEX missions. Finally, Science Pods give more research points, minerals, more research data, and better mining nodes and opportunities. Each one offers you more resources that give you more options and makes you more efficient.
But it’s the Vaults that really offer some of the best supplemental experiences you can have in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Eos is the only one completed as part of a Priority Op. The Vaults on Voeld, Havarl, Kadara, and Elaaden are tied to side missions. So if you want Voeld, you need to complete “Restoring a World,” Havarl is tied to “A Dying Planet,” Kadara requires you to do “The Outlaw Monolith” and “Healing Kadara’s Heart,” while Elaaden means you’ll be “Taming a Desert.” Each of these involves going around the planet to activate three Monoliths, which can mean fighting Remnants and completing Sudoku glyph puzzles, then going through Vaults that each offer their own little console puzzles where you must activate pillars in order to find your way through. Of course, those also involve platforming, but usually it isn’t anything too strenuous or harrowing. And, once its all said and done, you have a whole new outpost people can call home.
The satisfaction comes from actually seeing progress made on Mass Effect: Andromeda’s planets. You’re actually getting to see things happen with the habitation sidequests. They’re challenging in a way where you’re immediately going through steps that have you proving your fighting and mental skills, since you’re taking out enemies and solving puzzles. You see the worlds change around you, thanks to your progress. You even earn points that offer Ryder and his or her crew specific bonuses that improve their quality of life. They’re a series of events that help round out the experience.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.