Mass Effect: Andromeda has been a subject of a great deal of conversation in recent weeks. Lots of people are playing, and opinions are mixed on any number of aspects. It's a game that evokes strong opinions. Even as players debate what the game offers with its lengthy new campaign about the adventures of Pathfinder Ryder, BioWare has once again put together an engaging wave-based cooperative multiplayer mode, and you’re missing out if you don’t give it a try.
Unlike in Mass Effect 3, you can’t suffer any ill effects on your single-player campaign if you refuse to engage with multiplayer. However, you can get some solid bonus rewards for the campaign. More importantly, the multiplayer mode is a lot of fun, especially if you can find a few friends with which to play.
We’ve been diving into the multiplayer mode extensively in the days since launch, and we also spoke with some of BioWare’s multiplayer game leads to get their most relevant tips. Between our experience and their suggestions, here is some advice to help you succeed as you confront aliens on those Apex missions.
Use Your Consumables
Many players are tempted to hoard supplies and hold off on using them while in a match. That’s a mistake! “Use your consumables” was the number one tip I heard from the BioWare developers, and I can attest to its value in practice.
In every match, you have access to four consumable supplies, mapped to your d-pad. That includes the Cobra RPG, first aid pack, ammo pack, and revive pack, and you can carry a certain number into each match (which can increase over time). While you can purchase these supply items individually in the item store, that’s not how you should be spending your missions funds (more on that later). Instead, make a point to buy multiple Supply Packs from the Packs tab of the Store by using MP Credits. Supply Packs are very cheap at 2000 credits, which you’ll snag easily from even the easiest match. The Supply Pack contains at least one of each of the four supplies.
In a match, deploying these supplies when you need them is key to success as you move up through the tiers of difficulty missions (each of which gets you higher XP and credit rewards).
But shouldn’t I be stingy, and save my consumable packs and my credits, you might ask? No! Especially if your whole team adopts the approach of using consumables as a matter of course, you’ll be able to move much more quickly from Bronze on to Silver and eventually Gold tier matches. The extra money you earn there will make the paltry 2000 credits you spend on Supply Packs inconsequential.
As for how to use them, be judicious, but not overly hoarding. For ammo packs, pop one if you run out of ammunition in the middle of a pitched fight and you’re not close to an ammo box. For first aid packs, watch for moments when you’ve dropped low on health but you still have a bunch of enemies firing at you from nearby. For revive packs, take a moment after your character goes down to consider if one of your allies could easily revive you, and use your revive if it’s looking like you’re in danger of bleeding out or getting curb stomped, particularly if you’ve been dropped early in a wave. As for your Cobra RPG, save those for later waves when big enemies like Ascendants or Hydras show up on the field; a well placed rocket can mean the difference between winning a match or not. Just be sure to call out to the other players that you’re using a rocket, so multiple allies don’t do the same thing at the same time.
Beyond your supplies, you also have consumable boosters to use. You can afford to be a little more selective here; you probably don’t need to throw on a cryo ammo for every single match. However, anytime you are attempting a difficulty setting that might be just a little above your current class level, it’s not a bad idea. In addition, if you’re on a roll with a good team that is consistently winning matches, consider popping one of your XP boosters before the next match starts, and start climbing the levels.
Prime and Detonate
One of the biggest keys to success in Mass Effect: Andromeda combat is recognizing the ways powers interact. Specifically, many powers can “prime enemies” and other powers can “detonate.” The extra damage dealt means that just a minor adjustment to your playstyle can pay dividends in constant explosive kills.
If you consistently play with friends, this is easy. Talk with your buddies about what classes they are running, and which of their powers prime enemies. Learn to recognize when those powers are active on an enemy unit, and wait to fire off your detonate powers until one of those primers is active. Unlike in Mass Effect 3, there aren’t limitations on how tech and biotic primers and detonators combine – everything works together, so there are lots of fun options for combinations. You’ll encounter combos by accident pretty regularly, but pay attention, and you can trigger them almost constantly.
Even with the starter human classes, it’s quite easy to set up smart combos with just two people working together. For instance, run a Human Adept with Singularity, and then have a buddy bring a Human Soldier for Concussive Shot. Coordinate the timing on those two powers, and you’re all set. I use that example in a non-specific way; almost every class has ways to work together with almost every other class, so take a look.
What if you’re one of those solo types who plays quick matches all the time, and you don’t want to have to coordinate with your fellow teammates? You can still watch for their primers, and be a good (if silent) teammate. But you can also become a real soloing beast by selecting one of the classes that can both prime and detonate your own powers, including the Human Adept, Human Engineer, and several of the rarer unlockable classes.
Examine Your Class, Especially Passive Skills
Most of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer classes are set up with multiple builds in mind, but you need to spend some time examining and playing each class to understand how they’re meant to work. Very few of the classes show their true potential in the first few levels, so you want to think ahead about how to set up and spend your upgrade points. And don’t worry, if you make a mistake, respecs are available in the item store for a relatively cheap sum of 15 mission funds.
The developers at BioWare told me that one of the biggest mistakes they see in player builds is ignoring passive abilities. Sure, it’s amazing for your Asari Duelist to have Lance fully powered up with no recharge on the power, even if it expends your shields. But match that ability up with a Barrier Drain ability that recharges your shields on melee, and your close-range fighter is all of a sudden a real contender. Examine each of your passive abilities (the bottom two on the upgrade screen) for ways in which they might synthesize well with your more active powers. In most cases, you’ll find a lot of great ways that each passive feeds into your other powers.
Run Your Strike Teams, Prioritize Equipment
As you play through the single-player campaign, you can slowly build up Apex squads that tackle missions around the Andromeda galaxy, and they bring home rewards in the form of credits, items, and other goodies. These teams also bring home mission funds, which can offer a big help to your multiplayer endeavors, if you desire.
Apex strike team missions can be managed in the single-player campaign, from the multiplayer menu, or even from a dedicated mobile app called Apex HQ, available on iOS and Android. These missions unfold in real time, so if it’s not a bother to you, multiple check-ins to start new missions during the day can get you a lot of mission funds.
No matter where you start the strike team missions, I recommend the following. First, get enough mission funds to support buying a second strike team, which doubles your earning potential, and is also enough to tackle the bronze (and even most of the silver) missions that crop up at any given time. After that, your next purchase is one of the pieces of equipment available in the “Item Store” tab of the Store.
Once purchased, a piece of equipment can be equipped onto any and all of your multiplayer characters, and they provide huge benefits. As of this writing, both items up for sale can be game-changing. The Juggernaut Shield boosts your shields by 10% and your melee damage by 75% – a virtual essential if you’re running any melee-focused class. The Thermal Clip Storage equipment boosts your max ammo by 75%, meaning you are far less likely to run out in the middle of a big fight.
BioWare says these equipment pieces will begin to rotate out one piece at a time beginning this Thursday, April 6, and new equipment options will rotate in every week. That means that if there’s a piece you really want, it’s smart to pick it up while it’s available, as it may be a few weeks until it shows back up into the rotation.
Also, note that you can run through some of these Apex missions yourself as an actual multiplayer match, which is a great way to get those bonus rewards even if you don’t have a high-level strike team yet. Always make a point to note the special modifiers on a mission before starting; it’s foolish to bring an assault rifle into a match in which shotgun damage is boosted by 100%. If you don’t have buddies to join you in the fight, simply select the mission from the “Custom Match” menu, and then click “Join Match.” If the game can, it will match you with an existing group that is trying to tackle that specific mission.
A lot of the tips above have been about how to set up your kit ahead of a fight, but what about once you get into combat?
Every class plays a little differently, so watch more experienced players to see how they approach specific classes. If you’re playing a Vanguard, your default position should be in the thick of close-range combat, using Charge to leap between enemy groups before triggering your Nova. That same up-close-and-personal approach will lead to disaster if you’re running a Salarian Operator, who is best suited to debuffing foes from a distance, with only occasional close-range encounters when enemies breach. If you’re controlling a Sentinel, take advantage of the Barricade power to create smart blocks to enemy pathing, like in a doorway. Have a class with a stealth effect? You should almost always try to be the one to disarm devices when that objective comes up. If you’re not sure how to take advantage of a class’ strengths, the class description often offers explicit clues.
Beyond learning your class, use common sense. Mass Effect: Andromeda has cover points for a reason, but one of the biggest mistakes you’ll see (especially in Bronze tier difficulty missions, before they know better) is players who run out in the open all the time, and never recover shields in cover. Use cover consistently while attacking, but recognize that most enemies have a hard time hitting you while you’re running, boosting, or jumping, so take advantage of that.
Smart teams often use a fortify-then-move mentality as they play. On survival waves (which is most of the waves except for 3, 6, and 7) choose a place on the map that is easily defensible to begin the wave, ideally one that is near to an ammo box. Hold that point for a time, but recognize when it’s time to break cover and move to a new section of the map as an area gets swarmed.
Another big mistake that inexperienced player groups make is to head straight for the extraction zone at the beginning of Wave 7. Generally speaking, your better bet is to actually start at the far end of the map. Draw enemies to your location and kill as many as you can in the early moments of extraction. Then, break as a group for the extraction zone in the final minute of play, being careful to get revives for dropped teammates as you go. Trying to hold an extraction zone where all four players are standing for more than 30 seconds is a real challenge, so do yourself the favor of keeping that zone mostly clear until just before your ship arrives.
Most of the advice above is oriented toward players who may just be starting at Mass Effect: Andromeda’s multiplayer mode. But the way to really climb the ranks is through experimentation with different classes, weapons, equipment, and builds. The aerial-focused Turian Havoc Trooper simply won’t work for many players, as it’s a very different playstyle, but some players fall in love with those differences. Take time to find out what playstyle and class works for you. Once you get at least one character to the max level 20, you should be able to comfortably tackle Gold tier missions, and that in turn you will get lots and lots of credits, which in turn can lead to more weapons and classes to try out. That variety of play is at the core of Mass Effect multiplayer’s fun. If you already have a copy of Andromeda, don’t miss out on it.