Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place some 600 years after the events in the trilogy. Alien races from the Milky Way galaxy, including Humans, Asari, Krogan, Salarians, and Turians, dispatched several arks toward the Andromeda galaxy after discovering several suitable planets for new colonies using deep space scans based on Geth technology.
After modeling your protagonist, male or female, and setting some very basic info in regard to the original trilogy, basically just setting whether Commander Shepard was a male or female, you start the game by being awoken from a 600 year cryosleep. Due to malfunction, your twin sibling (brother or sister, opposite of your character selected sex preference) didn’t wake up and ended up in a comma.
The arks have reached the Andromeda galaxy and it is time to visit those promised new worlds. However, it turns out that none of them is habitable as the climates changed in the last 600 years, some naturally, and some due to terraforming by an AI-like race of machines known as Remnant. Their technology is far beyond anyone else’s, but their goal is unknown and other races you meet in the Andromeda galaxy all seem eager to unravel the mystery behind Remnant technology. Things didn’t go as anticipated upon your arrival to Andromeda galaxy, and your father, the Pathfinder on your vessel, is tasked to find out new worlds that could be colonized. But after giving his life to save yours, you end up being the next Pathfinder and hope for mankind.
Following the plan to regroup at Nexus station, which is basically a smaller version of Citadel from previous Mass Effectgames, you find out that none of the other arks were heard of and that Nexus is in dire need of food and supplies – which initiated riot and fight among militia and other personnel. Not many are eager to put faith in you, being new and unrefined Pathfinder, but you are assigned a spaceship called Tempest, and a crew to help you search and explore uncharted new worlds.
Similar to previous games in the series, in between missions your crew may have new things to talk to you about, and you can try and pursue a romantic relationship with some of your crew. You can upgrade your character’s skills, you can trade weapons and items at various merchants in Nexus, and travel between planets.
Mining is not done in a typical way, and you only send a probe when you have an alert of possible minerals in the area or some stranded ship or some other phenomenon. Moving between planets and asteroids is done completely in 1st-person perspective (not free movement, but navigating pre-set paths) and can be skipped.
Research and development is also supported, but this time you have technologies from different galaxies that can be researched and developed. Weapons also support mod slots which vary from having bigger ammo clip capacity to doing more damage or having better stability. Armor works in a similar way to before, and also support removal of your helmet during cut-scenes, assuming you’re not in a hazardous area which requires a helmet. While on board the Tempest, you have your personal outfit which can support full color radius change, though you can only change your own outfit while in your captain’s room, and not the outfit of your crew.
While your armor has the ability to act as a semi-jet-pack, in order to explore the planet in full you will also be given a rover, similar to that in the original Mass Effect game, which has the ability to jump, boost speed, or make itself more capable of traversing steep terrains. It can also have different paint jobs if you don’t like the default white one.
The rover also gives you additional protection from the planet’s hazards such as radiation or extreme cold. But this time, exploring planets isn’t just for gathering resources and materials, but also for building colonies on a suitable places. You can select what type of colony you wish to build, whether it should be military outpost or a scientific colony, but make sure you don’t leave your colonists unprotected against the Kett, a new hostile alien race you will first encounter in the Andromeda galaxy.
Aside from weapons, the Pathfinder has a scanning tool which helps you scan objects and people and it also interacts with SAM, an AI that is part of every Pathfinder, and can help give you necessary information almost instantly.