My canon playthrough: Mass Effect Andromeda (Part 1)

An overview of my weapons and armour

My Pathfinder, Evelyn Ryder, and her friend Vetra Nyx, enjoying a moment together in Kadara

You know that episode early on in The Office (US) where Jim’s complaining about how much useless information he’ll have in his head, should he ever leave Dunder Mifflin? Pam’s favourite flavour of yogurt, and all that? I’m beginning to feel like that about BioWare’s recent open world RPG games. I devote a lot of time, thought, and energy to these games, and I’m hoping there’re other people who out there who can dork out over the minutiae of them, but I can’t help but feel that most gamers could take or leave these things. So… consider this me playing Jim. Consider this a last ditch effort before I’m left with all this useless information forever.

I started playing MEA when it came out on EA Access for the prerelease, around March 22 (where I live the internet is so slow I have to download games overnight). I wrapped up my initial playthrough on April 29, a month and a week later. During that month and a week, I devoted 181 hours, or just over a week of real time, to MEA. Some of that was a secondary playthrough, but not much. All in all I’d say 175 hours is a safe estimate of how long it took me to be satisfied with my completist, “canon” run. I left my Pathfinder staring at Meridian out the bridge window of the Tempest, awaiting story DLC… sigh.

“So, what comes first? Reyes or the Quarian Ark? Decisions, decisions”

My weapons

Through the game, I decided to stick with the Deluxe Edition’s Pathfinder Elite Weapon set, mostly because these guns, while not quite OP, were still massively more powerful than anything else in the game. Sure, there were guns that could do more damage per shot, and there were guns with higher rate of fire or clip capacity, but there were no guns that were better on average. If the gun I’m using is bested in one stat, but all its other stats are incomparable, I’m going to stick with it. So, all non-crafted weapons — yeah, even the Ultra Rares I got as reward for completing Strike Team missions—ended up broken down for scrap. I used the materials I got to construct each successive tier of the weapon set.

Pathfinder Pioneer V (crafted)
Pathfinder Ranger V (crafted)
Pathfinder Observer V (crafted)
This weapon looks tiny in the UI for some reason, but is actually a full-sized sniper rifle, as shown here on Voeld
Pathfinder Deep Impact V (crafted)

Pro tip: breaking down Milky Way weapons remains the quickest route to Element Zero and Vanadium, by far the rarest elements in the game, especially if you want to fully upgrade the Nomad.

Additional pro tip: the best thing about these weapons is that they don’t need to be researched. The blueprints for each tier automatically become available in Development with each 10 levels you gain.

For my melee, I ended up ditching the somewhat underpowered Omni-Blade in favour of the Asari Sword, a biotic weapon that allows you to teleport yourself forward over several meters. The combo of Energy Drain and then the Asari Sword afterward to finish the job, reminded me very much of the Drain Essence/Teleport Strike combo available to Nightblade vampires in The Elder Scrolls Online. That’s my MO in that game, basically, and I was able to recreate it here, to often devastating effect.

Asari Sword VIII (crafted)

My armour

Tech was my favoured skill tree from the game’s opening, so it was a no-brainer to craft the Angaran Guerrilla Armor. The boosts to Tech powers and constructs from each piece in the set are immense to begin with, and can be made even more incredible with common augmentations. My first set, crafted at Tier III, was called Hello Darkness My Old Friend, which was also the name of my Tier V set; when I hit Level 60 just before wrapping up this playthrough, I crafted a new, Tier VIII set, and called it Parsley Sage Rosemary Thyme.

Angaran Guerrilla Helmet VIII (crafted)
Angaran Guerilla Chest VIII (crafted)
Angaran Guerrilla Legs VIII (crafted)
Angaran Guerrilla Arms VIII (crafted)
I coloured it black, so this is what it all actually looked like in-game

Pro tip: yes, there’s a point to crafting a new armour set so late on in the game. Note that all your items and upgrades are carried over to your New Game+ playthrough. Mine’s going to be on Insanity, so this armour will be a huge boon when the time comes.

Additional pro tip: this armour can’t be crafted until after first contact with the Angarans is made. After that, most of the materials can be found on Kadara or even purchased from a number of merchants on Aya. Or do what I do and mercilessly deconstruct every single piece of armour you find in the wild (see “My weapons” above).

Next up: my character, skills, and moral choices.