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Let’s talk about Mass Effect Andromeda’s story and tone

24 Mar

Mass Effect: Andromeda’s story is satisfying but tonally frustrating. Let’s talk about why.

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I was really glad when Brenna said she’d review Mass Effect: Andromeda. It was a bit of a weight off my mind – I was 50 hours into the game and still had no idea of what I wanted to say. A few days later and I feel obligated to write something – I’m a Mass Effect mega-fan, and back when Mass Effect 3 came out I wrote a gushing editorial about how the game really did feel like saying goodbye to old friends. With that fandom in mind, I’ll reveal that Andromeda was a bit of a rollercoaster for me.

I’m going to talk about story a lot, and while I’m not going to go into detail there will be minor spoilers.

I loved the first hour or so, then hit a bit of a brick wall immediately after the intro: something felt off. As the game progressed, things got better and better. The improvement was significant: characters who felt hollow before suddenly began to spring to life and feel incredibly likeable. The game’s energy in general seemed to shift: it felt like Mass Effect again.

“If you stick with it long enough it earns the Mass Effect name – though yes, there’s a dangerous feeling early on that you’re playing the straight-to-video sequel version of Mass Effect that gets made when none of the original cast want to come back.”

Say what you will about the bugs or structural problems since they’re there and undeniable. I don’t quite get the complaints about Andromeda’s writing, however. People have cherry-picked bad lines for snappy twitter clips, but I’m not going to pretend that the trilogy was any more free of the occasional clunker. Mass Effect has always been more like the pulpy nature of Star Wars than a science fiction masterpiece, though rose-tinted specs might cloud that.

If you stick with it long enough it earns the Mass Effect name – though yes, there’s a dangerous feeling early on that you’re playing the straight-to-video sequel version of Mass Effect that gets made when none of the original cast want to come back. The game eventually throws off that feeling, and thank god for that: nobody wants to be Kindergarten Cop 2 (yes, it exists) or that weird sequel to Donnie Darko. Eventually Andromeda steps into its own, though it arguably happens too late: I’ve seen a lot of media, youtubers and message board folk chatting about those early hours as if they represent the whole game: they don’t.

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“I loved returning to some of the overarching species-related plots that made the trilogy interesting, but in a sense it feels like a misfire: wasn’t the point of Andromeda to discover something new?”

With that said, there’s a generally troubling thread that runs right through Andromeda, and it’s all to do with that setting. Andromeda promised things that were wildly different and new, but the game seems mostly focused on trying to put the status quo of the original trilogy back in place: the same races, working in the same ways. The fact the game teases that the missing Milky Way races such as the Quarians, Hanar and Drell are also on the way is a mission statement of sorts, and it’s a theme that persists throughout the game.

The first encounter with the villainous Kett is masterfully handled, with the simple decision to let you manually control with regular combat controls if you approach with guns drawn – or with hands up – a great representation of how first contact could actually play out. It’s a different type of choice for Mass Effect: actively controlled rather than passively selected from a menu. It feels poignant. First contact with the new friendly Angara also starts out well, tension-filled and exciting, but the game is keen to move you on: there’s a native language but quickly your AI is translating everything and they’re all speaking English. The tension evaporates.

The new Remnant race don’t really offer much narratively – it’s another set of ancient aliens, but without a touch like the strange short story narratives that accompanied Prothean ruins in the original Mass Effect they’re fairly devoid of personality. The game rushes you along: hurry, hurry – and when it does stop for breath, it’s to underline the old conflict between the Salarians and the Krogan or to navigate other politics back with races we already know well.

In a sense it’s hard to complain about this: all the stuff that the game does drag to the forefront shines. The reason that Andromeda returns to those wells is because they were all fantastic. They still are here. Indeed, probably the reason we’re in Andromeda at all is even if you disregard Mass Effect 3’s divergent endings and select a canon one, many of the conflicts are resolved. If the genophage is fully cured, is Krogan aggression as interesting?

I loved returning to some of the overarching species-related plots that made the trilogy interesting, but in a sense it feels like a misfire: wasn’t the point of Andromeda to discover something new? The Angara are a start, but it doesn’t feel like there’s enough. It felt like a race to get to the most iconic images of the trilogy. I can hardly blame Bioware for that, but I also have to wonder.

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There’s a similar sort of tonal misfire around Scott or Sara, Pathfinder and protagonist. One thing I love about this duo is that they are definitely different from Shepard. While you shape the tone of Shepard or Ryder, they’re still characters in their own right. Shepard is a badass that doesn’t stop. Good or ill, they always have a sharp response ready. The Ryders are unsure, awkward. It’s personified best in a team meeting situation aboard the ship: where Shepard commanded absolute attention and respect, the team don’t wait for Ryder to dismiss them before walking off. Ryder is left incredulous. It’s a funny scene.

The problem comes with that title of Pathfinder. There was a lot of talk around ‘space Jesus’ in reference to Shepard, but I always felt like like they earned it: In the original Mass Effect they become Spectre by way of force and they’re consistently doubted, grounded and forced to act alone. In Mass Effect 2 the official powers continue to ignore you, but one man who might well be crazy believes and pumps money your way. It makes sense. By the third game, Shepard is validated and he is space Jesus. Everybody turning to him makes sense.

“How much new Andromeda offers is a disappointment, but here’s the flip-side: when it doesn’t halfway-house it and sips from the cup of fan service unrepentant it is at its best.”

Scott or Sara are nominated as Pathfinder by their father, and while there’s some early resistance around it being seen as nepotism that quickly drains away. Everybody is ecstatic to see you: you’re the pathfinder! This is the space Jesus thing turned up to eleven, except it doesn’t feel like you’ve actually earned it. All you did was have the right dad. Even the Angara quickly transition from ‘these aliens could be diseased’ to ‘this is the pathfinder, from the Milky Way!’ The whole thing rubs me the wrong way, especially when rapidly you’re not even the only pathfinder… except the others seem fairly useless, standard soldier types with access to their own AIs. I don’t feel sold on why the Ryders are special, even if I like them, and it feels like their status mostly exists as a rush to push back to Shepard-status so the player feels empowered – but I just end up questioning it.

The same is true for the tone – the Ryders are funny and quippy in a way Shepard wasn’t. This is likeable, but the way they and the rest of the crew are often feels at odds with the life-or-death predicament ongoing in Andromeda. The tone is weird.

How much new Andromeda offers is a disappointment, but here’s the flip-side: when it doesn’t halfway-house it and sips from the cup of fan service unrepentant it is at its best. I nearly fell out of my seat when in a video log a character related to a major trilogy player began to recount tales of certain trilogy events. When the game teased involvement of a shady third party that was “scared for the Milky Way” in funding the Andromeda project I got impossibly excited about who it probably was; these are the sorts of things that likewise made me excited in Mass Effect 2 and 3.

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Basically, the game is perhaps better off when it focuses on being a simple expansion of that universe rather than, as pitched, something of a reboot.

While Andromeda itself doesn’t feel new enough, the game succeeds in other areas: its cast, for instance, are charming and successful twists or inversions of ideas from the trilogy. Peebee shares the fascination and talent for science with Liara, but where Liara is at first a nervous, innocent and unsure student and later a bad-ass commando, Peebee is a punk. Drack is better compared to Grunt than Wrex: if Grunt is an expression of a Krogan as a teenager, Drack is a grandpa – and a brilliantly written one. Every one is taken in a new direction. Hell, I even like Liam, even if it’s got a big mouth and needs to close it more often.

Perhaps all this was necessary. Mass Effect 3 backed Bioware into a corner and Andromeda has provided a solid out. By the end of the game I was absorbed into this new galaxy and its characters, if a little perplexed it didn’t offer more new. I don’t really care about that now, though: what I now want are more stories.

The basic framework of Mass Effect was ripe to support more stories back in the Milky Way, and if Andromeda just gives us a place to explore these same themes and ideas divorced from the bluster of the trilogy I’m okay with that. I just wish it hadn’t taken ten hours of play-time to get there.

Anyway. In spite of these gripes, Mass Effect: Andromeda is pretty damn good. It’s better, I think, than a lot of the discourse online is giving it credit for – but it’ll take a bit of digging to really understand why. Be patient – it’s worth it.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – Divine Beast Vah Ruta Dungeon

24 Mar

Into the belly of the water-spouting beast.

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If you want even more Breath of the Wild help, we have a full guide hub with plenty of other detailed pages.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Walkthrough – Main Quest: Divine Beast Vah Ruta Dungeon

After that cool little set-piece where you worked with Sidon to get aboard Vah Ruta, you find yourself on your own abroad divine beast Vah Ruta – and it’s massive.

In another Zelda game this would’ve been called a Dungeon or a Temple, and though this is around as close as you get to those ideas in Breath of the Wild it’s still very different.

Let me explain the basics: once you enter Divine Beast Vah Ruta properly, your first immediate goal will be to get yourself a map. You won’t be able to properly progress until you do. Once you’ve grabbed a map, your goal is then much simpler and more open than typical Zelda dungeons – you then need to activate 5 different terminals scattered around Vah Ruta with your Sheikah Slate. Getting to these terminals or making them accessible is, of course, going to require some puzzle solving.

As well as being able to move objects around and interact with parts of the dungeon with your items and rune powers you have one other crucial ability – the ability to move the body parts of each giant beast. For Divine Beast Vah Ruta, it’s the trunk, which constantly spouts water… and you can use that water to help yourself out. Consider this the water dungeon or temple, if you will.

Inside Divine Beast Vah Ruta: Getting a map

Here we are. The belly of the beast. Literally. Head into the first room after the disembodied voice of the Zora’s champion is done talking. There’s a weakened guardian here, so pick it off – it’s weakened, thankfully.

A Terminal can be found in a side room down a ramp. Just want to point out: there’s a terminal in here but it’s useless to you until you activate several sub-terminals.

Back up in the main room, first focus on the water in the middle of the room and the door that was pointed out to you as the dungeon began. Use Cryonis on the water underneath the door to raise the door, then go inside and download the map to Divine Beast Vah Ruta. Handy! This map not only gives you information on where you are, but lets you move Vah Ruta’s trunk.

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Inside Divine Beast Vah Ruta: Terminal 1

Back in the main entrance room look in the water either side of the map room door with your Magnesis Rune equipped. There’s a metal chest here you can drag above water and open for some loot.

In this same room, look for the cogs in a corner. Use your Magnesis Rune to turn these cogs clockwise in order to raise a platform that holds the first of Vah Ruta’s terminal points that you can use your Sheikah Slate on.

Raise the terminal and then use it – this is your first terminal, done! This shouldn’t be so hard, right? Right?

Inside Divine Beast Vah Ruta: Terminal 2

Head upstairs and up the ramp via the side door. Upstairs there’s a big water wheel and a guardian. Kill that guy, then survey this large central room of Vah Ruta.

There are two enormous water wheels in here – a smaller one that’s turning and a larger one that’s stationary.

You should be able to see your second terminal right in front of you – it’s actually inside the smaller cog. The problem: the cog’s base is flooded with water, and it’s constantly moving.

Thankfully we have a power that can handle that. All you need to do is wait for it to be in the bottom of the cog and then use Cryonis on where the water is coming from to freeze it solid. The water level in that part of Vah Ruta drops and the wheel stops turning, freeing up the terminal for use – it powers on automatically.

Take the opportunity to use the terminal when the terminal is available.

Inside Divine Beast Vah Ruta: Terminal 3

Ignore the second larger cog/wheel for now and simply head on over to the other side of the room and up the stairs to the next floor of Vah Ruta. When you see the Ganon corruption there’s a portal thing that spits our endless enemies – look above this for the eyeball to shoot that’ll get rid of the corruption and the spawner with it.

Carry on upstairs until you reach a locked gate on the water wheel at a standstill.

Now use your map screen to adjust the position of divine beast Vah Ruta’s trunk, which is constantly spitting water. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make water pour into the room so that the wheel turns so the orange ball falls into the blue slot. This opens the door, but now the door is out of reach.
  • Freeze the ball into the slot with stasis, then quickly direct the trunk so that the door is turned back to face you before Stasis expires.
  • With the door facing you and open, run in and activate that terminal, your third.
  • Once this is done there are three optional chests to grab. The first is gained by climbing onto the larger water wheel’s fins as it turns. Get to the apex, then look out towards the smaller wheel. There’s a chest on a ledge – paraglide out there.
  • The second chest is on one of the outer fins of the water wheel, so simply wait for the right bit of rotation and hop on.
  • The third spoke of the large water wheel has a chest trapped between two stone blocks. The key here is to use rotation of the wheel your advantage, freezing the top block with stasis for long enough while the ‘chest sandwich’ is parted so that you can run up and open the chest.

Once you’re done, ride the water wheel all the way up to the top and face the opposite direction of the previously mentioned chest – towards Vah Ruta’s trunk. Hop and glide to this new platform, kill the guardian, and press the switch on the left to create a shortcut waterfall that you can swim up with the Zora armor.

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Inside Divine Beast Vah Ruta: Terminal 4

Now you’re up where the switch is and where you just killed a guardian, go on through the only passageway here – this leads outside, to divine beast Vah Ruta’s trunk.

If you lower Vah Ruta’s trunk all the way via your map screen you’ll be able to get out to its end. Here you can shoot an eye to remove Ganon’s corruption and open a chest, but then you should raise the trunk again and try to stay on the end as long as possible. When you get enough height, jump and glide so you’re on top of Divine Beast Vah Ruta’s body.

There’s a hole atop Vah Ruta; drop down it and again find one of the corruption eyes to shoot on the ceiling. This frees up a mechanism. Grab this mechanism with your Magnesis rune and turn it clockwise to open a hole in the ceiling.

If your survey the room you’ll now notice that divine beast Vah Ruta’s lovely new sunroof has opened directly above a terminal surrounded by fire. Huh. You get the idea, I’m sure: once the hole is open, preposition the trunk so that it comes through the new hole and douses the flames.

Head on down to the newly extinguished area and use the terminal. This is your fourth terminal.

Turn back towards the cog room and drop down a level to find a chest on your way back down.

Inside Divine Beast Vah Ruta: Terminal 5 (Final)

For the final terminal, head back to the area where you can walk onto the trunk. Now, I’m not even sure if this is the intended way (it sure felt like a bit of a bodge), but here’s how I did this:

  • Bring the trunk all the way up into the position where water is pouring into Ruta.
  • Stand ready at the doorway out onto the trunk.
  • Make the trunk descend, then jump and paraglide towards the end of the trunk. You want to land on the part water is coming from.
  • Now make the trunk curl all the way back up again, being careful to remain on the right side of the trunk in order to not fall and to access the terminal once it’s the right way up – the fifth terminal is on a side of Vah Ruta’s trunk only exposed when it’s fully raised.

With this done, all that remains is to return to the main room and to head into the main control room – the very first terminal we pointed out that was useless before. Prepare yourself, then activate that terminal.

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Boss: Waterblight Ganon

This boss is a big old beast made of Ganon’s corruption and floats around the arena attacking. It has both ranged attacks and some nasty up-close and personal stuff with its enormous sword, but the fact that it’s waterblight is a good clue.

This boss has two phases. In the first phase I found it easiest to get in close and fight; like with the Lynel earlier on in the Zora quest line a priority should be to equip a weapon that lets you have a shield (so not a trident or greatsword if you can help it) and then get in close.

Attack like the blazes and raise your shield any time he begins to look remotely threatening. Be sure to eat to power yourself up in terms of attack and defence. If he goes down, switch to a two-handed weapon briefly and go to town with heavy attacks.

For phase 2 Waterblight Ganon raises four pillars in the water. This is a bit of a pain as it impedes your ability to move around him. Usually he’ll occupy one pillar and he’ll occupy another.

If you didn’t struggle too much on the boarding Vah Ruta mini-boss you now have a use for those other shock arrows – these wreck havoc on this water-based creature, so now you’re separated by water, blast him from afar. Aim for the eye.

If he gets downed by the arrows, run, jump and swim (don’t forget, the Zora armor helps you to move more quickly) to him and once again let rip with a heavier weapon.

The fight will soon be over, and you’re treated to some cutscenes, learn some solemn story information, and are then deposited back into the open world… which is now significantly less rainy.

You’ll also get a skill in for the bargain – this skill, Mipha’s Grace, will revive you once when you run out of hearts. Once used it’ll take some time – half an hour or so – to recharge, but it can be a lifesaver.

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Mass Effect Andromeda guide: Hunting the Archon

24 Mar

Track down your enemy, and take the fight to him.

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With the Angara race joining your cause and giving you some native Heleus Cluster knowledge at the end of the Trail of Hope quest, Mass Effect Andromeda‘s priority ops main quest rages on: and now you’re on the attack in Mission 4, Hunting the Archon.

Find more tips, tricks and explanations in our Mass Effect Andromeda guide and walkthrough.

The same basic rules apply at the start of the Hunting the Archon quest line as in any other time you kick off a new quest in Andromeda: you should take some time out to check in with each of the crew on the Tempest and also head back to the Nexus. If you’re really feeling brave, consider also heading back to Eos, Havarl or Voerl – as each major story planet tends to unlock a few more side quests as you progress the main overall story.

Don’t forget that all the quests we previously listed on Aya, Hvarl and Voeld are still available for you to tackle if you so wish.

With Hunting the Archon unlocking a new solar system, Govorkam, becomes available – and it’s home to a major story planet, Kadara. More on that in just a moment. Other new solar systems become available throughout this quest too.

Compared to A Trail of Hope the Hunting the Archon quest is remarkably simple – you more or less have everything you need to begin the process of an assault on the Archon – a little more intel and you’ll be golden. For that you’ll be heading to Kadara – but Kadara brings with it some challenges all of its own, including a slew of new sidequests and missions. Kadara also has new shops with new gear.

We’ve listed all of the sidequests that unlock on Kadara during this mission below, but do be aware that they don’t all unlock at once. In fact, throughout the course of Hunting the Archon many new quests will unlock: this quest is a launching point for many major piece of side content, from loyalty missions through to new sidequests on other planets. Everything is listed here – so let’s get to it!

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Hunting the Archon objectives and suggested missions flow

  • Optional: visit the Nexus, Hyperion and Tempest to update conversations and side quests
  • Travel to the Govorkam system and land on Kadara
  • Meet with Shena at Kralla’s Song in Kadara Port
  • Talk to Sloane Kelly about the Traitor
    • If you fail to convince Sloane Kelly by being honest or refusing to be complicit in the killing of Vehn you will have to break into Vehn’s cell and break him out. He’ll then be handed over to the Angaran resistance.
    • If you’re honest with Kelly and agree to the execution she will allow you to meet him in order to get the information you need – but he’ll later be executed.
  • Interrogate Vehn Terev
  • Find the Kett Transponder from the Kadara Badlands
  • Speak to Gil aboard the Tempest
  • Find the Kett Flagship, the Verakan
    • Head to the Tafeno System
    • Scan for the flagship
  • Board Ark Paarchero
    • Patch SAM into the Ark computers
    • Locate the Salarian Pathfinder Zevin Raeka
    • Identify the dead Salarian
    • Locate the dead Salarian’s Stasis Pod
    • Revive the Salarian Pathfinder
  • Infiltrate the Kett ship
    • Patch SAM into the kett ship’s systems
    • Survive the ambush
    • Make your way to the Archon’s private chamber
    • Escape the Trap
    • Find the Relic
    • Kill the exalted Krogan and the Kett
  • Escape the Kett Ship, Rescue the captive Krogan / Salarians
    • If you choose the Krogan, Drack will be pleased and the Krogan will help you in a later mission. The Salarian pathfinder will die and they must choose another, however.
    • If you choose the Salarians, the Krogan scouts will die and Drack will be upset, but Zevin Raeka will live.

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Hunting the Archon Boss: The Behemoth – the Exalted Krogan

Before you reach the Exalted Krogan boss you will have another encounter with a Ascendant enemy who is functionally the same as the Cardinal as you encountered back in A Trail of Hope mission. If you need strategy for this shielded enemy and his annoying ball of energy-firing tech that accompanies him, be sure to check back on our guide pages for A Trail of Hope and the first Cardinal Encounter. There’s a second Ascendant towards the end of the mission also.

At the end of this mission you’ll have to face off with a powerful new enemy – the behemoth, a first pass at an exalted version of a Krogan. The Krogan are deadly to begin with, but with Kett technology this guy is fierce. It has lots of armor, so you’ll want to use slow-firing weapons such as pistols or shotguns. Fire attacks are also vital, so equip yourself with some inferno ammo and make use of skills such as flamethrower. Ice effects are a good second option, too – bit biotics are much less useful.

As you’d expect, the behemoth will use its Krogan size to try to get in close, so try to duck and weave around it. Watch out for its gun, too – it explodes with electrical damage that rips down shields in no time. This battle is a war of attrition, so just be careful and take it slow.

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New secondary quests on Kadara

The following sidequests unlock on Kadara throughout the Hunting the Archon quest. Some of these quests are found in the slums, others in the city, and others out in the open world wasteland below.

  • Murder in Kadara Port
    After interrogating Vehn for Hunting the Archon, scan the corpse in Kadara Market.
  • A People Divided
    Complete Murder in Kadara Port, then speak to Reyes in the slums bar.
  • Precious Cargo
    Complete A People Divided, then speak to Reyes in the slums bar.
  • Modern Medicine
    Talk to Dr. Ryota Nakamoto in the Kadara slums – he’s operating a clinic out of a storage crate.
  • Counting Bodies
    Right outside the slums in Kadara’s open world are Saneria and Drexel – chat to them to start this quest.
  • Out of the Frying Pan
    After interrogating Vehn for Hunting the Archon, talk to Grayson Wessler in the Kadara Docks.
  • Behind Enemy Lines
    After interrogating Vehn, talk to Kaetus in the Kadara Outcast HQ, near Sloane Kelly.
  • Mind Games
    Find a small building in Haafel in Kadara’s open world – chat to the exile inside.
  • Mixed Messages
    After interrogating Vehn Terev, talk to Jim in the prison area of Kadara Port.
  • Something in the Water
    Find the settlement that’s home to many dead Angara in Kurinth’s Valley. The quest kicks off automatically when you approach.
  • A Packaged Deal
    Find the Windfarm in Kadara and talk to the Turian on its second floor.
  • Emergency S.O.S.
    Drive through Kurinth Valley. You’ll get an SOS from some… interesting gentlemen.
  • Old Skinner
    Once you’ve settled Kadara, talk to Christmas Tate within the settlement outpost.
  • The Baryte Rush
    Inside the slums bar, look on the first floor for a gangster-looking Salarian. Talk to him.
  • The Collective Base
    Find the cave in the south-west of Kadara – the Sulfur Springs. Tralk to Crux in the Collective Base.
  • The Charlatan’s Charlatan
    After completing ‘The Collective Base’ mission, talk to Crux again.
  • Task: Broken Family
    Chat to a woman sitting on the porch of a building in Haarfel on Kadara.
  • Task: Cold Hard Cache
    South of the Spirit’s Ledge Forward Station is wreckage of a crashed shuttle. Head there and this mission begins automatically.
  • Task: Kadara’s Ransom
    Kicked off by picking up a datapad in a bandit camp – you’ll then have to hunt out more bandit outposts.
  • Task: Outlaw Weapon Crafting
    Talk to the ‘Disillusioned Outlaw’ leaning against the outer wall of the slums bar.
  • Task: Searching for Morga
    Speak to the Angara Jataa near the shops in the Kadara market.

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New secondary quests on Eos

The following sidequests unlock on Eos when the Hunting the Archon quest kicks off – as soon as you’re officially started on that quest, you can go get these quests started too.

  • Making an Impression
    Chat to Hainley Abrams in Prodromos. Discover the deadly source of earthquakes on Eos and fight an enormous optional boss.
  • Drone Recovery
    Check the terminal near Jacob Mittney in Prodromos. Recover some lost Nexus tech.
  • Supply Loss and Recovery
    Found on a terminal indoors in Prodromos. Recover some lost loot.
  • Waking up to the Future
    Found on another indoor terminal in Prodromos. Reunite a family.

New secondary quests on Aya

The following sidequests unlock on Aya throughout the Hunting the Archon quest. Hop back to Aya at any time to grab them.

  • Laws and Customs
    Chat to Arbiter Renaav in Aya’s market place once the city is open to you.
  • Local Cuisine
    As you walk through Aya’s marketplace Lexi will come on the radio and ask you to scan some fruit in the city.
  • Messages to the Nexus
    You’re pointed to this quest as part of Laws and Customs – chat to Enroh Bosaan in the Agara governor’s office on Aya.
  • Test Subject
    As you walk through Aya when you have full access, an Angaran will scan you. Chat to them.
  • The Angaran Initiative
    Once the embassy is founded on Aya, chat to Nexus representative Ambassador Rialla in their Aya office.
  • The Nexus Exchange
    When you speak to Rialla as part of the Angaran Initiative she’ll give you this quest too.
  • Safe Journeys
    Talk to Maariko in the Aya dock control room once the city is open to you properly.

Mass Effect Andromeda guide: Hunting the Archon

24 Mar

Track down your enemy, and take the fight to him.

mass_effect_andromeda_guide_19

With the Angara race joining your cause and giving you some native Heleus Cluster knowledge at the end of the Trail of Hope quest, Mass Effect Andromeda‘s priority ops main quest rages on: and now you’re on the attack in Mission 4, Hunting the Archon.

Find more tips, tricks and explanations in our Mass Effect Andromeda guide and walkthrough.

The same basic rules apply at the start of the Hunting the Archon quest line as in any other time you kick off a new quest in Andromeda: you should take some time out to check in with each of the crew on the Tempest and also head back to the Nexus. If you’re really feeling brave, consider also heading back to Eos, Havarl or Voerl – as each major story planet tends to unlock a few more side quests as you progress the main overall story.

Don’t forget that all the quests we previously listed on Aya, Hvarl and Voeld are still available for you to tackle if you so wish.

With Hunting the Archon unlocking a new solar system, Govorkam, becomes available – and it’s home to a major story planet, Kadara. More on that in just a moment. Other new solar systems become available throughout this quest too.

Compared to A Trail of Hope the Hunting the Archon quest is remarkably simple – you more or less have everything you need to begin the process of an assault on the Archon – a little more intel and you’ll be golden. For that you’ll be heading to Kadara – but Kadara brings with it some challenges all of its own, including a slew of new sidequests and missions. Kadara also has new shops with new gear.

We’ve listed all of the sidequests that unlock on Kadara during this mission below, but do be aware that they don’t all unlock at once. In fact, throughout the course of Hunting the Archon many new quests will unlock: this quest is a launching point for many major piece of side content, from loyalty missions through to new sidequests on other planets. Everything is listed here – so let’s get to it!

mass_effect_andromeda_4k_screnshot_17

Hunting the Archon objectives and suggested missions flow

  • Optional: visit the Nexus, Hyperion and Tempest to update conversations and side quests
  • Travel to the Govorkam system and land on Kadara
  • Meet with Shena at Kralla’s Song in Kadara Port
  • Talk to Sloane Kelly about the Traitor
    • If you fail to convince Sloane Kelly by being honest or refusing to be complicit in the killing of Vehn you will have to break into Vehn’s cell and break him out. He’ll then be handed over to the Angaran resistance.
    • If you’re honest with Kelly and agree to the execution she will allow you to meet him in order to get the information you need – but he’ll later be executed.
  • Interrogate Vehn Terev
  • Find the Kett Transponder from the Kadara Badlands
  • Speak to Gil aboard the Tempest
  • Find the Kett Flagship, the Verakan
    • Head to the Tafeno System
    • Scan for the flagship
  • Board Ark Paarchero
    • Patch SAM into the Ark computers
    • Locate the Salarian Pathfinder Zevin Raeka
    • Identify the dead Salarian
    • Locate the dead Salarian’s Stasis Pod
    • Revive the Salarian Pathfinder
  • Infiltrate the Kett ship
    • Patch SAM into the kett ship’s systems
    • Survive the ambush
    • Make your way to the Archon’s private chamber
    • Escape the Trap
    • Find the Relic
    • Kill the exalted Krogan and the Kett
  • Escape the Kett Ship, Rescue the captive Krogan / Salarians
    • If you choose the Krogan, Drack will be pleased and the Krogan will help you in a later mission. The Salarian pathfinder will die and they must choose another, however.
    • If you choose the Salarians, the Krogan scouts will die and Drack will be upset, but Zevin Raeka will live.

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Hunting the Archon Boss: The Behemoth – the Exalted Krogan

Before you reach the Exalted Krogan boss you will have another encounter with a Ascendant enemy who is functionally the same as the Cardinal as you encountered back in A Trail of Hope mission. If you need strategy for this shielded enemy and his annoying ball of energy-firing tech that accompanies him, be sure to check back on our guide pages for A Trail of Hope and the first Cardinal Encounter. There’s a second Ascendant towards the end of the mission also.

At the end of this mission you’ll have to face off with a powerful new enemy – the behemoth, a first pass at an exalted version of a Krogan. The Krogan are deadly to begin with, but with Kett technology this guy is fierce. It has lots of armor, so you’ll want to use slow-firing weapons such as pistols or shotguns. Fire attacks are also vital, so equip yourself with some inferno ammo and make use of skills such as flamethrower. Ice effects are a good second option, too – bit biotics are much less useful.

As you’d expect, the behemoth will use its Krogan size to try to get in close, so try to duck and weave around it. Watch out for its gun, too – it explodes with electrical damage that rips down shields in no time. This battle is a war of attrition, so just be careful and take it slow.

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New secondary quests on Kadara

The following sidequests unlock on Kadara throughout the Hunting the Archon quest. Some of these quests are found in the slums, others in the city, and others out in the open world wasteland below.

  • Murder in Kadara Port
    After interrogating Vehn for Hunting the Archon, scan the corpse in Kadara Market.
  • A People Divided
    Complete Murder in Kadara Port, then speak to Reyes in the slums bar.
  • Precious Cargo
    Complete A People Divided, then speak to Reyes in the slums bar.
  • Modern Medicine
    Talk to Dr. Ryota Nakamoto in the Kadara slums – he’s operating a clinic out of a storage crate.
  • Counting Bodies
    Right outside the slums in Kadara’s open world are Saneria and Drexel – chat to them to start this quest.
  • Out of the Frying Pan
    After interrogating Vehn for Hunting the Archon, talk to Grayson Wessler in the Kadara Docks.
  • Behind Enemy Lines
    After interrogating Vehn, talk to Kaetus in the Kadara Outcast HQ, near Sloane Kelly.
  • Mind Games
    Find a small building in Haafel in Kadara’s open world – chat to the exile inside.
  • Mixed Messages
    After interrogating Vehn Terev, talk to Jim in the prison area of Kadara Port.
  • Something in the Water
    Find the settlement that’s home to many dead Angara in Kurinth’s Valley. The quest kicks off automatically when you approach.
  • A Packaged Deal
    Find the Windfarm in Kadara and talk to the Turian on its second floor.
  • Emergency S.O.S.
    Drive through Kurinth Valley. You’ll get an SOS from some… interesting gentlemen.
  • Old Skinner
    Once you’ve settled Kadara, talk to Christmas Tate within the settlement outpost.
  • The Baryte Rush
    Inside the slums bar, look on the first floor for a gangster-looking Salarian. Talk to him.
  • The Collective Base
    Find the cave in the south-west of Kadara – the Sulfur Springs. Tralk to Crux in the Collective Base.
  • The Charlatan’s Charlatan
    After completing ‘The Collective Base’ mission, talk to Crux again.
  • Task: Broken Family
    Chat to a woman sitting on the porch of a building in Haarfel on Kadara.
  • Task: Cold Hard Cache
    South of the Spirit’s Ledge Forward Station is wreckage of a crashed shuttle. Head there and this mission begins automatically.
  • Task: Kadara’s Ransom
    Kicked off by picking up a datapad in a bandit camp – you’ll then have to hunt out more bandit outposts.
  • Task: Outlaw Weapon Crafting
    Talk to the ‘Disillusioned Outlaw’ leaning against the outer wall of the slums bar.
  • Task: Searching for Morga
    Speak to the Angara Jataa near the shops in the Kadara market.

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New secondary quests on Eos

The following sidequests unlock on Eos when the Hunting the Archon quest kicks off – as soon as you’re officially started on that quest, you can go get these quests started too.

  • Making an Impression
    Chat to Hainley Abrams in Prodromos. Discover the deadly source of earthquakes on Eos and fight an enormous optional boss.
  • Drone Recovery
    Check the terminal near Jacob Mittney in Prodromos. Recover some lost Nexus tech.
  • Supply Loss and Recovery
    Found on a terminal indoors in Prodromos. Recover some lost loot.
  • Waking up to the Future
    Found on another indoor terminal in Prodromos. Reunite a family.

New secondary quests on Aya

The following sidequests unlock on Aya throughout the Hunting the Archon quest. Hop back to Aya at any time to grab them.

  • Laws and Customs
    Chat to Arbiter Renaav in Aya’s market place once the city is open to you.
  • Local Cuisine
    As you walk through Aya’s marketplace Lexi will come on the radio and ask you to scan some fruit in the city.
  • Messages to the Nexus
    You’re pointed to this quest as part of Laws and Customs – chat to Enroh Bosaan in the Agara governor’s office on Aya.
  • Test Subject
    As you walk through Aya when you have full access, an Angaran will scan you. Chat to them.
  • The Angaran Initiative
    Once the embassy is founded on Aya, chat to Nexus representative Ambassador Rialla in their Aya office.
  • The Nexus Exchange
    When you speak to Rialla as part of the Angaran Initiative she’ll give you this quest too.
  • Safe Journeys
    Talk to Maariko in the Aya dock control room once the city is open to you properly.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – Into the Vault, clearing the Eos radiation and founding Prodromos

22 Mar

We’re going deeper underground.

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Down into the Remnant Vault on Eos – A Better Beginning

After meeting Krogan grandpa Drack and activating the remaining Remnant Monoliths scattered around Eos, something big happens: the monoliths appear to power up one final ancient building. A new navpoint will be marked on your map: a bunker that’s out in the middle of the large lake that dominates the currently exploration friendly section of the map. Well, that’s interesting.

You can get to the vault either by fast travelling to a nearby forward station (you should’ve dropped a few across Eos by this point) or simply by driving there – it isn’t far, and you might discover some quick combat encounters that’ll reward EXP and possibly hide loot boxes along the way. When you get there it looks hopeless – there’s a big gap between you and the newly-opened bunker-type structure. But… approach.

A bridge forms up in front of you as you drive. An invitation, of sorts. Head on over. Here you’ll meet up with Peebee and see some cutscenes – if you want to perform the narrative action with RT/R2 here you can, it has no ill effects – you just look like a slightly reckless badass.

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Exploring the Vault

You’ll now find yourself down in the vault, a dark, mysterious mess of corridors and neon lighting. At first here you’ll have another remnant console which you’ll need to scan (you guessed it) and follow the cabling. Scan the console where it leads to get the password, then head back up to the console and use it. Don’t forget to scan liberally down here, as there’s lots of remnant tech that rewards remnant research points.

After a cutscene Peebee splits off from the group leaving you with a party of 3 once more. Take a look around – note there’s a room to the West you can’t access right now. On your way out of the vault you’ll be able to get in here and open a container later if you care to make the effort.

From here on in the vault is a pretty linear set of passages and open rooms, and it’s not really worth us exploring the thrill of exploration – you can make it through on your own. As a rule, however, you should be looking, scanning and climbing everywhere you can, as there are a few containers littered around here with decent loot. This loot is welcome but not be-all end-all, so if you just want to get out of here you can forge ahead without it.

As you go you’ll encounter remnant guard units. Some of these can actually be bypassed with stealth if you so wish – voice work will clue you in as to when. If you sneak or not is your choice, but remember that unlike Mass Effect 2 and 3 Andromeda actually rewards you EXP for every single encounter in the game, so if you take the time to fight these remnant you’ll get a decent EXP boon for your trouble. These encounters add up, so if you want to level up fast take every chance you can to fight.

After you cross paths with Peebee again your next destination is a door on the right, but if you continue past it you’ll find a container with loot.

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Clearing the Eos Radiation

Once you head through the previously mentioned door prepare yourself for actual combat. At the end of the hallway you’ll be fighting Assemblers and Observers plus a turret. Observers should be your top priority – they have a powerful laser beam and shields, but they also have a very obvious glowing eye that is an irresistible weak point. Hit them there and hit them hard with a rapid-fire weapon like an assault rifle or SMG, then mop up the assemblers and any other units they’ve assembled while you took on the observer. There are also consoles you can hack in this room – one turns a turret to your side, the other creates cover you can use to protect yourself.

Sweep this area for loot as there will inevitably be some, then use the gravity well in the middle. You end up in a new room – but there’s a water leak. Once Peebee arrives, scan to fix the leak then use the console. That opens a door. Search to the north before you leave to find a chest with some loot inside – a new melee weapon.

The next room is a large chamber with various terminals you must interface with in order to raise and lower platforms. White glowing lines indicate what each terminal will impact, with the currently active section lit up brighter in a glowing white. This room might seem complicated at first glance but it really isn’t: the waypoint shows you where you need to go, and you simply need to wind your way through the area activating terminals in order to build the necessary platforms to get there.

As you go you’ll face off against enemies – mostly Observers and Assemblers. As before, prioritise the Observers as they can tear through your shields very rapidly indeed. Don’t forget as you explore this area to go off the beaten path – most often, there’s a chest. To the south of the area there’s one chest with some static loot – an armor mod that vastly powers up one aspect of your skills while vastly damaging another aspect. You’ll know when you hit this one as it requires solving a Decryption Puzzle.

When you pass the giant plants, scan them for some research data. Keep pushing on through combat. When Liam remarks how cool the plants and self-building bridges are, you’re close. When you enter a room with a giant glowing laser light of bright white in the middle of the room, you’re at the end of this vault-slash-dungeon.

You’ll want to take a moment here: once you activate the vault, you can never come back in here again. If you want to head back and sweep for optional chests, this is your one and only opportunity to do so short of starting a New Game+. (As a note, the door from earlier still won’t be open… more on that in a second.) Once you’re ready, activate the vault.

Escape from the Vault

As soon as the vault is active, run! As you approach the entrance of the dungeon again you’ll pass by that room you couldn’t get into from very early on – it’s now open. Duck inside and grab the items inside, but be damn quick about it!

Once you escape the vault fully, the vault’s purpose will be revealed: it’s a terraforming facility, and over time is going to make Eos much more habitable. The viability of Eos will raise by 50% – but if you leave the planet and return later you’ll see a serious improvement over time, which in turn will open up other areas of the planet that couldn’t be explored before due to radiation, thus unlocking more sidequests.

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Settling Prodromos: your first outpost

Once you’re out of the vault, hop back into the Nomad and head to your latest waypoint: a suitable site for a new settlement, away from the mess of Site 1 and Site 2. You can either abuse fast travel or not to get there – your choice.

Once you arrive you’ll find Drack is present and causing a ruckus – fighting a bunch of Chosen and a few Anointed Kett. Anointed have shields and big guns, so abuse shield-restoring powers such as charge and cover in order to defeat them. Remember for tougher enemies you can use the D-Pad to instruct your allies to target specific enemies – you should have everyone focus fire on the anointed.

Once the kett are cleared out, you can now settle Eos with a new settlement that’ll be called Prodromos. This will give you +10 viability but also once the settlement is down offer up a bunch of new quests from the new settlers. But… you’re also faced with a question. Science or Military?

First outpost: Science or Military?

As with every Mass Effect game, Andromeda features some big choices. This is arguably the first big choice you face in Andromeda: If you should make the Prodromos outpost into a science-focused settlement or a military base style settlement. You might find this choice difficult to make.

Let us make it a little easier: Don’t sweat it too much. While this does have an impact on dialogue and the way some NPCs will react to you, the overall outcome for this particular choice is the same. This is more intended to introduce you to big choices – but soon enough you’ll have to make some where those hard choices do matter a lot, so be prepared.

Here are a few new quests you can grab on Eos post-vault:

  • Shock Treatment: access the audio terminal inside the research building. You’ll find entries that lead to this quest on this terminal.
  • The Secret Project: head back to Site 1 (Promise) and find the datapad inside the ground floor of the two-floor building.
  • Pathfinder Armor Crafting: this quest is gathered from Jacob Mittney, a settler in Prodromos.
  • Waking up to the Future: Found on a terminal at Prodromos after it’s founded.

Drack will join you, too – but for now, we recommend not taking on these quests. Instead, take the Tempest towards space and back to the Nexus for a return visit to catch up with Nexus brass and to pick up some new side quests.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – Character Creation: Training, Classes, Profiles and Starting Skills

22 Mar

It’s time to wake up. Andromeda awaits.

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After leaving behind the Milky Way (and the incoming nightmare of the Reaper Invasion) in between the events of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, the Ark Hyperion arrives in the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s one of four arks and part of a larger expedition designed to take the races of the Milky Way Galaxy to a new home – but all isn’t going as planned.

Mass Effect: Andromeda kicks off in earnest when Scott or Sara Ryder (your choice) is awoken from cryosleep. Your first task as player is to decide which to pick: and that involves going through a typical RPG-style character creation system. This is a natural place for our guide to start, so let’s talk about building a character.

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Creating a character and choosing the best class for you in Mass Effect Andromeda

Once you’ve got the business of deciding on a look for your Ryder out of the way you’ll then be given a major choice: you’ll be asked to ‘Choose Training’. Choosing your training is the closest thing Mass Effect: Andromeda gets to picking a class – the game actually doesn’t have a typical RPG class system.

Instead of classes, once you kick off the game Ryder will be able to access almost every single one of the skills in the game freely. You can turn your eye (and your skill points) to any skill you choose, and the skills you pick will then inform the game which ‘Profiles’ you can best fit into. Profiles can be switched between at any time, each carrying bonuses that grow depending on how you invest your skill points.

These profiles are named after and feature similar bonuses to the classic Mass Effect classes such as Soldier, Adept, Sentinel, Vanguard and so on. We recommend that you pick a particular type of combat expertise and focus on it, as doing so will give you a significant advantage in combat.

When you choose to customise Ryder and then Choose Training, you’ll be given a number of options. Here’s what skills they begin with as default. You’ll be stuck with these skills for the first couple of hours but relatively early on will also be able to respec if you so desire – as soon as you have free access to the Tempest just head to the medbay where you’ll find a respec station.

Character Creation: Training Options – how to pick the right training for you

  • Security

    Concussive Shot (A heat seeking round that knocks enemies down), Turbocharge (A boost to weapon fire rate & ammo), Combat Fitness (Increased durability & more weapon slots) – most similar to Soldier in ME Trilogy

  • Biotic

    Throw (Hurl opponents into the air), Singularity (Create a vortex that traps, disables & damages enemies), Barrier (Defence buff) – most similar to Adept in ME Trilogy

  • Technician

    Overload (Electric attack that deals high damage to shields & robotic enemies), Invasion (Infect opponents to weaken defences & damage their weapons), Team Support (Boost the effectiveness of your squad) – most similar to Engineer in ME Trilogy

  • Leader

    Energy Drain (Drain enemy shields & restore your own), Annihilation (Create a mass effect field that damages foes over time), Team Support (Boost the effectiveness of your squad) – sort of similar to Sentinel in ME Trilogy

  • Scrapper

    Charge (Launch at an enemy, slam them, regain shields and damage them), Combat fitness (Makes you more durable & allows more weapon slots) – most like Vanguard in ME Trilogy

  • Operative

    Tactical Cloak (Become invisible and deal large damage bonus on your cloak-breaking attack), Combat fitness (Makes you more durable & allows more weapon slots) – most like Infiltrator in ME Trilogy

The abilities above are the ‘key’ abilities for each class, and the first of these abilities listed for each training option will begin already unlocked when you gain control of Ryder.

Next up, it’s time to head down to Habitat 7 – the first world in Andromeda, and supposedly a potential new home for humanity.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – A Better Beginning and Activating the Remnant Monoliths

22 Mar

It’s time for some alien sudoku, some fighting, and a bad-ass Krogan.

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A Better Beginning: Activate Remnant Monoliths

Now you’ve activated the first monolith and met Peebee in the process, you now have an idea of what to do on the planet: these big alien monoliths are doing something, and you are unique in that you’re able to interface with them and use them. It’d be rude not to make use of this, wouldn’t it?

If you look at your map you’ll have waypoints to guide you to the next monolith, which is handy, but it’s worth noting that each of the monoliths also fires a bright white laser across the sky of the planet. These lasers converge on one point that seems to lead to a whole lot of nothing right now, but you can trace the lasers back to the monoliths you need to find if you want to track them down in a more organic way.

We’re going to focus on the main quest here, and while in the last part of this guide we did tell you to mostly stay in the Nomad and make your way very specifically from story point to story point it might be worth hopping out if you pass anything of interest along the way – you might find some Remnant robots to fight, or some Kett, and many of these places also hold containers that have loot for you to grab.

When you reach the next monolith you’ll have to fight to clear it of enemies – easy enough, just remember to take cover as needed and don’t forget to spend your skill points from levelling up to enhance your powers. When you’re done, you’ll be faced with a console and another little puzzle.

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Reactivating the second Remnant Monolith & solving its glyph puzzle

The first thing you’ll need to do is attempt to decrypt the Remnant Monolith sitting in the middle of this area. When you do it’ll toss up a puzzle screen: it’s immediately clear that this one isn’t as simple as waving a hand and activating it as with the last. You can’t complete the puzzle, however, since you’re missing some of the glyphs.

To get the glyph, pop open your scanner and look at the console. Follow the cabling that comes out of the console underground and watch where it goes: you’ll see it goes up high, but in the same direction as the cable you’ll see another console. Interact with this – platforms will rise, allowing you to use your jump-jets to boost your way up to where the cable leads.

Once you’re high up, activate your scanner again and look around – just as at the last remnant site you’ll find a glyph. From this vantage point you’ll be able to see a second glyph too, so scan them both. Now we’re talking!

Jump down and hit the main console again. The puzzle flashes up: and this time it’s doable! We’ve got a dedicated page that explains to you just how this monolith decryption mini-game works, so if it confuses you and you want to do it legitmately head on over there and read those tips. Basically it’s sudoku, though: each grid and line can’t contain the same icon more than once.

If you want to cheat, well, here’s the answer:
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After you activate the monolith some concerned Kett soldiers will show up – take care of them.

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A Better Beginning: The final Monolith & the Kett Base

Once the second monolith is activated our job is to head to the third, obviously. This one is a little bit more complicated still – it’s surrounded by a force field that you can’t penetrate and is surrounded by a Kett base. You’ll need to storm this base and kill the Kett inside in order to deactivate the force fields and reach the monolith. Head south-east following your waypoint to reach the base.

The base is symmetrical, with one entrance that splits into left and right pathways that are more or less identical. Park up the Nomad and begin your siege. This is your first major combat challenge, so use cover properly, don’t forget to keep moving using your jump jets and don’t rush – be patient and take out the Kett in small waves rather than by rushing too deep into the base.

Don’t forget to scan absolutely everything new that you can for research points. Power generators scattered along the pathways will deactivate cover that enemies use, making them more vulnerable.

Once all the Kett are dead you’ll need to scan for one last power generator – it’s at the far end of the base, right near the force-field that prevents you from getting inside. Deactivate it and you’ll be treated to a cutscene and meet a new character. That old grandpa is cool.

Activating the final Remnant Monolith

With this done, head to the final monolith. The score is the same here as before: whip out your scanner, scan the console, then follow the cables to find the two glyphs. They’re both on the roof of nearby pillars. Once scanned you can interact with the main console.

This time there’s no puzzle – you’ll mercifully just be given immediate access to the monolith and activate it. Once this monolith is active, major changes are afoot here on Eos. It’s time to check out whatever it is the monolith activated. Prepare yourselves…

Incoming search terms:

Mass Effect: Andromeda guide, tips and walkthrough – absolutely everything you need to know

22 Mar

You might be an explorer, but that doesn’t mean you need to get lost: here’s our complete guide to Andromeda.

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It’s hard to believe that five years have passed from Mass Effect 3, but here we are: and we now finally have another entry in the Mass Effect series that’s far disconnected from the threat of Reaper-induced extinction.

Mass Effect: Andromeda has proved to be a polarising game for many, and though we found that it has a heart of gold that’s worth fighting to find, you might have to do some digging to get there. It’s scored a fair bit lower than other Mass Effect games, but we still think it’s pretty good and well worth a look.

One of the things that might make the rougher aspects of Andromeda a little easier to handle is knowing where you’re going, what you’re doing and how to best tackle its various systems. After over 100 hours of play across the VG247 team, we’ve got some strong feelings on some of Andromeda’s mechanics: so here are our tips, tricks and other guide assistance for would-be pathfinders. Good luck out there!

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Tips, Tricks and other vital information

All us to help you get started.

  • Frequently asked Questions answered

    How to change armour, your first outpost, respec, best training and more covered in this guide to some of the most commonly recurring questions during the early hours of the game.

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Main Quest Walkthrough

Fight your way to a new home but keep the stress-levels low.

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Other Notable Pages

Mass Effect Andromeda Patches & Updates

Got any questions about Mass Effect: Andromeda we haven’t answered here? Drop us a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – The Tempest and the strange signal on Eos

21 Mar

Get a ship, get a car, track a signal – not a bad start,

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Getting to know your new ship – The Tempest

After a few cutscenes back on The Nexus and an inspiring speech for your crew (which, sorry Ryder, has nothing on one from Shepard) you’ll now have access to The Tempest, your main base for the game and also your transport throughout the Heleus Cluster. It’s a lovely ship.

You’ll also gain a new squadmate, Vetra, in for the bargain. Vetra has powerful armor that allows her to tank enemies effectively and basically fills the same sort of soldier with tech expertise skill set that defined much-loved Turian Garrus back in the Mass Effect trilogy. Those two probably would’ve got along like a house on fire…

Before you fly: Explore the Tempest and your crew

You’ve obviously met Liam and Cora before in the course of your Nexus and Habitat 7 exploring, but there’s more to the Tempest than that. One thing you should do as soon as you get it is explore – go and chat to all of the crew. There’s Gil, the engineer, science officer Suvi, Salarian pilot Kallo and Asari Lexi. Go and chat to them all. Get to know them – several of them are romance plot interests for Ryder.

Throughout the ship you’ll find some key places. Most important are the following:

  • Email Terminals: There’s one of these on the bridge and one in your quarters. Some quests or quest consequences will be delivered via email, so check often.
  • Repsec station: If you want to respec your character, the means to do so is found down in the medbay. Spend credits to reset your skill points and spend over again.
  • Shop Terminal: Marked as ‘Buy/Sell’, this lets you access a basic shop right from the Tempest. The stock won’t be the same as the shops on the ground in hubs, so be sure to still shop around when on the ground.
  • Research & Development: This terminal lets you spend research points (which are obtained by scanning, so keep scanning) for new weapon, armor and augment blueprints – then develop those blueprints into gear you can use.
  • Strike Missions: A terminal related to missions carried out by AI on your orders and multiplayer missions.
  • AVP Status Control: This will unlock later, and is vital to story progression.

If you want you can also take your ship to other systems and planets other than your objective, Eos. You won’t be able to land anywhere but by scanning planets you’ll discover resources you can use for crafting and world-explaining flavour text.

When you’re done exploring, take yourself to Eos.

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Arrival at Eos: Site 1

After some more cutscenes and story you’ll find yourself in control in the middle of ‘site 1’ in Eos. Things didn’t go too well at Site 1 – that much is clear. Follow the navpoint to find a locked building, then follow the navpoint again to obtain the access code to unlock the door.

Along the way you may find human bodies – if you scan one, you’ll kick off a sidequest – Task: Naming the Dead.

The story steps here are pretty simple. Enter the locked building and head through reading logs on computers and generally investigating the situation. Soon enough you’ll need to head to the power relay indicated on your map in order to restore power to Site 1. When you reach there you’ll learn one human yet lives – and by turning the power on you’ll attract the attention of the Kett, the alien race you met back on Habitat 7. Activate the power anyway by telling the survivor you’ll take care of the kett.

Activate the two power generators. You’ll need to scan one and then hack it in order to get it working. Once both are active, the Kett will arrive. Take them down with the same skills you practised back on Habitat 7. If you haven’t yet spent your skill points, now’s the time to get to it.

Meet the Nomad

Before you can really proceed you’re going to need a vehicle. In the north-east of site 1 you’ll find a big cargo container. Scan it to find there’s a Nomad vehicle inside. This state-of-the-art bad boy is your transport. You need a code to unlock it – these colonists sure love their password security.

To get the code head to the waypoint indicated to lower a forward station. This is really a tutorial in disguise: forward stations are dropped into the world and act as places you can replenish health and consumables, plus they act as fast travel points. Note what they look like and their symbol on the map – if you see a holographic outline of one of these or a white icon of one on the map you should head there to deploy that station so it can be used as a fast travel point.

The forward station gives you the code you need. Now go get the Nomad. The nomad gives you freedom! Time to use it.

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Investigate the Strange Signal

There’s a signal on Eos that’s of interest – and now it’s time to go find it. From the forward station, hop into the Nomad and head east. Remember that the Nomad has two-wheel and six-wheel drive – you’ll want to swap to six-wheel drive to climb steep slopes then switch back to two-wheel drive when you want to get your speed up.

It’s not advisable to get out of the Nomad between destinations right now – Eos is soaked in radiation, and you don’t want to eat that up. Anyway, you can’t really miss your objective – it’s a big, black alien monolith that dominates the skyline near Site 1. It also has a lovely shiny waypoint.

When you get there, hop out. Shields put up around the monolith mean it’s safe for you to exit the Nomad without it draining your life support here. Use your scanner liberally to pick up lots of research points. Interact with the alien console and then head – as Liam suggests – up the scaffolding to get high on the monolith. Up there you’ll find a strange symbol. Scan it. You might also notice in scanner view that a cable is going from this glyph down to the alien console. Get used to this: you’re going to track glyphs through these cables often in the coming hours.

Once the glyph has been scanned, drop down and use the alien interface. A cutscene ensues, and you meet a new ally.

After this you’ll face some combat against some new robotic enemies. If you have access to any tech skills, remember that they’re more useful against enemies of the synthetic variety. When these foes are killed it’s well worth you taking the time to scan them – while you can only scan each type of enemy once, the first time you encounter and scan them nets you quite a lot of research data.

We now have a new objective – to activate more of these strange monoliths to see what they do. Here’s hoping they don’t blow up the planet…

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – The Tempest and the strange signal on Eos

21 Mar

Get a ship, get a car, track a signal – not a bad start,

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Getting to know your new ship – The Tempest

After a few cutscenes back on The Nexus and an inspiring speech for your crew (which, sorry Ryder, has nothing on one from Shepard) you’ll now have access to The Tempest, your main base for the game and also your transport throughout the Heleus Cluster. It’s a lovely ship.

You’ll also gain a new squadmate, Vetra, in for the bargain. Vetra has powerful armor that allows her to tank enemies effectively and basically fills the same sort of soldier with tech expertise skill set that defined much-loved Turian Garrus back in the Mass Effect trilogy. Those two probably would’ve got along like a house on fire…

Before you fly: Explore the Tempest and your crew

You’ve obviously met Liam and Cora before in the course of your Nexus and Habitat 7 exploring, but there’s more to the Tempest than that. One thing you should do as soon as you get it is explore – go and chat to all of the crew. There’s Gil, the engineer, science officer Suvi, Salarian pilot Kallo and Asari Lexi. Go and chat to them all. Get to know them – several of them are romance plot interests for Ryder.

Throughout the ship you’ll find some key places. Most important are the following:

  • Email Terminals: There’s one of these on the bridge and one in your quarters. Some quests or quest consequences will be delivered via email, so check often.
  • Repsec station: If you want to respec your character, the means to do so is found down in the medbay. Spend credits to reset your skill points and spend over again.
  • Shop Terminal: Marked as ‘Buy/Sell’, this lets you access a basic shop right from the Tempest. The stock won’t be the same as the shops on the ground in hubs, so be sure to still shop around when on the ground.
  • Research & Development: This terminal lets you spend research points (which are obtained by scanning, so keep scanning) for new weapon, armor and augment blueprints – then develop those blueprints into gear you can use.
  • Strike Missions: A terminal related to missions carried out by AI on your orders and multiplayer missions.
  • AVP Status Control: This will unlock later, and is vital to story progression.

If you want you can also take your ship to other systems and planets other than your objective, Eos. You won’t be able to land anywhere but by scanning planets you’ll discover resources you can use for crafting and world-explaining flavour text.

When you’re done exploring, take yourself to Eos.

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Arrival at Eos: Site 1

After some more cutscenes and story you’ll find yourself in control in the middle of ‘site 1’ in Eos. Things didn’t go too well at Site 1 – that much is clear. Follow the navpoint to find a locked building, then follow the navpoint again to obtain the access code to unlock the door.

Along the way you may find human bodies – if you scan one, you’ll kick off a sidequest – Task: Naming the Dead.

The story steps here are pretty simple. Enter the locked building and head through reading logs on computers and generally investigating the situation. Soon enough you’ll need to head to the power relay indicated on your map in order to restore power to Site 1. When you reach there you’ll learn one human yet lives – and by turning the power on you’ll attract the attention of the Kett, the alien race you met back on Habitat 7. Activate the power anyway by telling the survivor you’ll take care of the kett.

Activate the two power generators. You’ll need to scan one and then hack it in order to get it working. Once both are active, the Kett will arrive. Take them down with the same skills you practised back on Habitat 7. If you haven’t yet spent your skill points, now’s the time to get to it.

Meet the Nomad

Before you can really proceed you’re going to need a vehicle. In the north-east of site 1 you’ll find a big cargo container. Scan it to find there’s a Nomad vehicle inside. This state-of-the-art bad boy is your transport. You need a code to unlock it – these colonists sure love their password security.

To get the code head to the waypoint indicated to lower a forward station. This is really a tutorial in disguise: forward stations are dropped into the world and act as places you can replenish health and consumables, plus they act as fast travel points. Note what they look like and their symbol on the map – if you see a holographic outline of one of these or a white icon of one on the map you should head there to deploy that station so it can be used as a fast travel point.

The forward station gives you the code you need. Now go get the Nomad. The nomad gives you freedom! Time to use it.

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Investigate the Strange Signal

There’s a signal on Eos that’s of interest – and now it’s time to go find it. From the forward station, hop into the Nomad and head east. Remember that the Nomad has two-wheel and six-wheel drive – you’ll want to swap to six-wheel drive to climb steep slopes then switch back to two-wheel drive when you want to get your speed up.

It’s not advisable to get out of the Nomad between destinations right now – Eos is soaked in radiation, and you don’t want to eat that up. Anyway, you can’t really miss your objective – it’s a big, black alien monolith that dominates the skyline near Site 1. It also has a lovely shiny waypoint.

When you get there, hop out. Shields put up around the monolith mean it’s safe for you to exit the Nomad without it draining your life support here. Use your scanner liberally to pick up lots of research points. Interact with the alien console and then head – as Liam suggests – up the scaffolding to get high on the monolith. Up there you’ll find a strange symbol. Scan it. You might also notice in scanner view that a cable is going from this glyph down to the alien console. Get used to this: you’re going to track glyphs through these cables often in the coming hours.

Once the glyph has been scanned, drop down and use the alien interface. A cutscene ensues, and you meet a new ally.

After this you’ll face some combat against some new robotic enemies. If you have access to any tech skills, remember that they’re more useful against enemies of the synthetic variety. When these foes are killed it’s well worth you taking the time to scan them – while you can only scan each type of enemy once, the first time you encounter and scan them nets you quite a lot of research data.

We now have a new objective – to activate more of these strange monoliths to see what they do. Here’s hoping they don’t blow up the planet…

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – Arrival at the Nexus – sidequests galore

21 Mar

The Citadel is 600 years away, but its spirit lives on.

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Arriving at the Nexus

After the dramatic events down on Habitat 7, Ryder finds him or herself waking up aboard the Ark Hyperion once again. This time there’s some bad news and a whole lot of story – and we’re not going to describe all that here. Press on with the story, making decisions as you see fit.

You’ll board the Nexus and on there discover the truth of the situation in Andromeda. There’s some hefty exposition drops and character introductions – and while the game only really pushes you to speak to Director Tann, the Salarian boss of the Nexus, it’s highly recommended you complete the optional objectives of talking to Krogan Kesh, Human Addison and Turian Kandros as well. They’re all in this same area – go chat to them. It’ll complete an optional objective and give you some important extra story information.

Before going to speak to Tann you should consider exploring this section of the Nexus as much as possible. Aside from the other Nexus leaders mentioned above there are a lot of other characters to meet. Here are some things you should definitely do since they lead to quests:

  • First Murder: In the Militia Office you’ll find a Turian woman, Mariette, dressed in white, red and grey. Her husband has been accused of a crime she swears he didn’t commit: the first murder in Andromeda. Chatting to her triggers the First Murder quest. You can pursue the first phase of this quest on the other side of this hall right now if you want, and the next steps will take place at your next story destination.
  • First Strike: Chat to Kandros again in the Militia Office to start the First Strike sidequest. You can complete this sidequest right here and now by interacting with the strike mission interface.
  • At the far end of the long hallway you’ll find a Salarian Scientist called Professor Herik. Chatting to him and his other scientist buddies will tick off the ‘Getting to know the Scientists’ Task and then lead into a number of other tasks.
  • Missing Scientists: After chatting to Professor Herik, in the same area chat to Asari Doctor Aridana. This starts the Missing Scientists task/sidequest.
  • Hitting Rocks for Science: In the same area as Herik and Aridana chat to Chief Lucan, the Turian scientist. This starts the Hitting Rocks for Science task/sidequest.
  • Comparatively Alien: Chat to Herik one more time to trigger one last task: Comparatively Alien. These tasks will span a lot of the game.

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Getting the Tempest

Once this is done, go speak to Director Tann in his office. This will push you further along the story, giving you your next main objective on the planet Eos while also giving you the side objective of tracking down the other missing arks from the Salarian, Turian and Asari races.

Your next step in your quest will be to go speak to SAM node aboard the Hyperion – there’ll be an obvious waypoint to take you there. You’ll have to take the tram over there. Do so, and be sure to listen to the optional conversations and explore your father’s quarters to find a figurine of the Normandy SR-2, some voice logs that’ll delight Mass Effect fans and the first details about the murky past of Alec Ryder.

Once that’s done, head to the docking bay to claim your ship, The Tempest. Your next story destination is the Planet Eos, but be aware that by unlocking the Tempest a few more quests have unlocked throughout the Nexus. You should check back to the Nexus regularly, especially after completing main story missions or major milestones in Andromeda. There’s often new stuff to discover.

The extra quests unlocked right away once you have the Tempest are:

  • Station Sabotage: Between Tann’s Office and the tram you’ll find a colonist called Raj Patel working on a panel that’ll explode. Go to chat to him to kick off this quest line, which involves scanning the station to track down a saboteur.
  • The Model of the Spheres: Head to the Nexus Operations area where you found the scientists earlier. This time speak to Doctor Aridana, the Asari, again. You can also interact with the terminal near the scientists to confirm your participation in this quest.
  • Lost Brother: Head to the Hyperion Med Bay, where you woke up. Find a chap called Nigel McCoy here and chat to him – it’ll kick off this quest, which you can then complete down on the surface of Eos, your next story destination.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Guide – Ark Hyperion and Habitat 7

21 Mar

Humanity’s new home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Waking up aboard Ark Hyperion

Now you’ve created your version of Ryder you’ll be thrust into the events of Mass Effect: Andromeda proper. We’re not going to hold your hand too tightly in a story-sense on this guide – there’s no point in describing things you’re going to be seeing yourself.

You wake up on the Ark Hyperion – this story sequence is pretty simple, and the first thing you’ll have to actually worry about is your first response to an in-game conversation prompt. Here’s one way in which Andromeda differs from past Mass Effect titles – rather than the Paragon and Renegade system which of course dates back to the Light and Dark-side responses in Knights of the Old Republic, Andromeda features ‘tone’.

You’re not responding for nasty or nice or good olr evif you want to take on a casual tone, a professional tone, an aggressive tone and so on. This follows through right the way through your play-through, so get used to the concept of it here.

Once you’re given free control you’ll get your first optional objective: to check on your twin. If you want to, head over to where the doctor who woke you up is standing. The doctor, Lexi, will have another chat to you and then you’ll be sent on your way.

In the next room there’ll be a small explosion that means the doors won’t open. Open your scanner (down on the D-Pad) and use it to scan the orange-glowing objects on the left of the room. Once that’s done, reset the terminal that had exploded (also on the left, halfway up the stairs) and then continue on.

Story sequences abound here – but once done, you’ll find yourself heading down to Habitat 7: a potential new home for humanity. Except… things don’t look that good.

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Mission 1: Planetside – Floating Rocks

Did you notice the rocks are floating?! The game really wants you to notice this. Liam and Ryder really want to talk about it, repeatedly, forever. The path here is honestly pretty linear, and so there’s little point in me telling you to ‘push forward’ over and over again for the whole of this mission. So let’s just say it once: push on.

When you reach first contact, you’ll be given a choice: to follow the rules of first contact or to expect the worst from the new aliens. What you say to Liam actually doesn’t matter as much as your actions – either pull out your weapon and engage them in combat or approach them without doing so. The game will acknowledge if you or they attack first later on, but the ultimate outcome is combat either way.

Once the enemies are down, check on Fisher. For an optional objective, scan the corpses of the two aliens you just killed with your scanner using the same method you used to identify the fault back on Hyperion. Do the same to the nearby shuttle wreckage to check it for supplies. There are some crates and containers around here containing basic loot, too.

From here things open up: there are a variety of things around in different locations, and while the game makes your next objective quite obvious for story purposes if you explore a little you can find some extra items to worry about. Here’s a checklist from our play-through:

  • To the North you’ll find another member of your squad, Kirkland, under attack from more of the aliens. It’s too late for Kirkland, but you can avenge him. Inspect his body for a story scene. You can also scan some stuff around here – items you can scan glow orange when viewed through the scanner.
  • The path to the north-west of Kirkland’s position features a new enemy. Kill, scan, keep moving.
  • To the north-east as flares go up there are platforms you can jump jet across (Ryder asks ‘what do you think is down there?’). There’s more to scan down here, plus a cave with a captured animal and a tree. Scan!
  • Continuing on from the cave towards the West will lead to a crashed enemy ship with more enemies. Take them out and explore and scan.
  • A tower symbol on the map designates the position of an alien facility. This is in the north-west before the flares. Access the ‘weird alien machines’ inside to turn on the lights and power up a door to a sealed room on the left of the exit from the building. Investigate this room.
  • Greer is found under attack from more aliens in a cave in between the two alien tower icons on the map. Hug the giant pit as shown on the map and you’ll find the entrance around the halfway point of the pit.

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Habitat 7: One final push

With these optional objectives tidied up, head to the clearly indicated flare waypoint. This will lead you to Cora and company. Here you’ll need to hold off a few waves of enemies – easy enough, since this level is nice and simple – and then you’ll get a chance to meet up with your dad.

Papa Ryder has a plan. Listen to him and when he executes it do as you’re told – stick close to him, as he’s a badass N7 and absolutely annihilates enemies as he goes. You can take out the enemies if you want, but your dad basically dashes on ahead cutting a path through them and you should aim to do the same.

When the game tells you to order Liam and Cora to two opposite sides, this isn’t optional, so do it. Nothing is going to happen until you do this.

The following combat encounter is the most tense yet, but simply help out one squadmate on one side and them the other – be methodical and it won’t cause any problems. When enemies begin to retreat, simply head back to your dad. Watch the story sequence – and when you wake up again, you’ll be waking up into a very different world… it’s time to head to the Nexus and see how the rest of the Andromeda Initiative went.

Mass Effect: Andromeda isn’t all bad faces – it’s gorgeous in 4K, so here’s 33 screenshots of it in action

20 Mar

30 lovely eyeball melters from our Mass Effect: Andromeda play-through.

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Yeah, yeah, we know: the human faces. The animation. Mass Effect: Andromeda has it rough visually in these areas, and fans and internet message board pundits have made a pretty big deal out of that over the last few weeks. But here’s the thing: That stuff feels like the exception, not the rule. Generally speaking (and when it’s not bugging out) the game is bloody gorgeous, with art design and technical work in Frostbite that’s enough to make any science fiction fan squeal with delight. Like the rest of the game, if you push past the bad what sits beyond is rather enjoyable.

Your mileage will vary a little based on platform, but from what we’ve seen it’s a looker by the standards of any of its three platforms, with Xbox One the worst looking and the PS4 and PS4 Pro sitting comfortably in the middle. The rough side on consoles comes in performance, with dodgy frame rates and pop-in issues. The best, of course, is PC – provided you have the rig.

I’m lucky enough to have one such rig and I feel like pre-launch discussion of Andromeda has focused a little much on its (sometimes admittedly very crap) faces – so here are 33 4K, ultra settings screenshots I took of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Keep in mind that these screenshots showcase a number of the story-critical planets from the game but are pretty much free of context, so unless the simple fact that the game has a desert planet is a spoiler to you, they’re safe to call spoiler-free. (Two of the shots are of pre-rendered sequences – spot which.)

These shots were taken on NVIDIA’s new GTX 1080ti graphics card, which by all accounts is an absolute beast. This card can run Andromeda at 4K and a fairly solid 60fps, which is how I’ve been playing. Combat is eye-melting on it. You should be able to reach close to this visual fidelity at 1080p on a regular 1080 or 1070, too.

Anyway, screenshots! If you want to see them at full 4K, save them or right click and open in a new tab once you click the shot in the gallery below.

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – how to get the climbing gear armor set

15 Mar

Grab this armor to make mountaineering much easier.

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – how to get the full climbing gear armor set

You spend quite a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild clinging to the sides of ancient ruins, mountains or castles – climbing is a huge part of the game, and being able to climb well really opens up a lot of doors in terms of areas of the game you can reach and exploration you can do.

How far that you have the ability to climb is determined by the size of your stamina bar, and stamina is increased in the same way as your health/hearts – every time that you gather 4 spirit orbs from shrines you can spend that valuable capital to gain another stamina vessel, and each vessel puts you one fifth closer to having another complete bar of stamina to spend. Basically, building up stamina takes quite a while, and stamina can sometimes frustrate.

There’s another way to increase your climbing ability, however: the Climbing Armor Set. That’s made up of three pieces: The Climber’s Bandana, the Climbing Gear, and the Climbing Boots. Having it makes an absolute world of difference to exploration.

Each item of this set that you equip gives you a boost to your climb speed. It doesn’t feel all that significant when you have only one piece of the set equipped, but as this bonus stacks it begins to become a serious improvement, with Link clambering mountains like a spider. It’s better still if you want to combine it with a speed buff via an elixir or a cooked meal.

This armor also has a set bonus, meaning that if you’ve upgraded it all twice at a great fairy fountain you get an additional bonus. For the climbing gear set bonus stamina consumption when climbing is reduced, further making this an absolute must for your exploration in search of shrines.

Each piece of the Armor is found in a different Shrine. Here’s where you can track it down:

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Climber’s Bandana Location

The Climber’s Bandana is found in the Ree Dahee Shrine – that’s a shrine adjacent to the river that passes through the duelling peaks, inside the duelling peaks as you pass through the two mountains. You likely pass this one on your journey through Breath of the Wild’s story.

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Climbing Gear Location

The body piece of the Climbing armor set, the Climbing Gear, is found inside the Chaas Qeta Shrine. This shrine is on a small island off the far South-Eastern shore of Hyrule. Look out for an area of the land that curves into a tip and follow that tip up – there, out in the Necluda Sea, is the shrine you need. There are plenty of rafts you can use with korok leaves to carry you out, or spots to glide from.

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Climbing Boots Location

The final part of the set are the climbing boots, and these are found in the Tahno O’ah Shrine. This is found on the eastern edges of Mount Lanayru, again on the eastern side of the map, this time closer to the middle. A good place to start is the Hateno Research Lab, then head to the north-east.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – how to get the Hylian Shield

15 Mar

Kit Link out with an old classic.

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If you want even more Breath of the Wild help, we have a full guide hub with plenty of other detailed pages.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – how to get the iconic Hylian Shield

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a weird addition to the Zelda narrative for a lot of different reasons, but one of the primary reasons it’s a bit strange compared to some of its peers is because so much of the iconic Zelda imagery is suspiciously absent.

That’s by design, of course: it turns out you can have a Zelda game without Link being clad in the green tunic all game, with the only tunics available in the game amiibo bonuses or late game unlocks. It works fine without it. The same is true of even the Master Sword, which only shows up in Breath of the Wild as an entirely optional pick-up – you can storm Ganon’s lair without it.

Add another Zelda icon to that list – the Hylian Shield. This bad boy debuted in Ocarina of Time, though the basic elements of its design also appeared in A Link to the Past. It’s appeared in some form or another in most Zelda games since, and is considered a piece of the most iconic Link gear. But in Breath of the Wild it’s very rare. Here’s how to find it…

Where to find the Hylian Shield

One of the coolest things about Breath of the Wild is that it’s a very open, free-form game. As noted earlier you can head into Hyrule Castle (which here doubles as Ganon’s lair) at any time from the moment you escape the Great Plateau in the game’s opening – and the Hylian Shield can be found within.

The shield is found within an area of Hyrule Castle known as the Lockup – it’s in the basement on the West side of the castle. You’re best off approaching from the rear of the castle – so to begin with loop around the castle (the Woodland tower is pretty close) to the rear side.

If you look at the castle, five bridges extend out from the land across the moat towards the castle. Most of these bridges are broken, but they would’ve formed a sort of star shape before Ganon struck. You need to stand at the back of the castle near the top of the star shape, or the single bridge in the middle of the top of the castle.

Once near this bridge, you need to head to the right of it when facing the castle – this will take you West on the map of Hyrule. Look out for an area you can glide to on the castle grounds – a ramp that is low and close to the moat. You might be able to make out some blue-glowing luminous stones in the distance. Jump and glide over there.

This is where the lockup is. Head up the ramp, run past the guardian and head into the lockup.

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Inside Hyrule Castle’s Lockup & beating the Stalnox

Once you get into Hyrule Castle you should be on alert – this is a very late-game area, after all. Our aim is to get in, get the gear, and get out. Through the door you’ll encounter a locked metal gate; lift it either with Cryonis on the puddle or with Magnesis and walk through.

In this area there are enemies in cells, and you can let them out with the switches in the middle of the room. The cells contain some good high-end stuff, so if you want to head inside and take the enemies out do so, but be careful.

At the end of the lockup (which is a long corridor) you’ll find a side room on the right. There’s some bones in here… walk in the room and the gate will slam behind you and you’ll have a battle against a Stalnox.

This guy actually isn’t that hard – all you need to do is aim for his eye with a single arrow. Hit him there, then when he falls over go in hard with melee weapons. When he stands up, repeat the process. At the end of the fight his eye will fall out – smash the eye to pieces to finish it.

If you have the upgraded version of the Stasis Rune that can freeze enemeis in place, use that to make hitting the Stalnox eye even easier. This fight is doable – it’s downright easy with better gear, but even if you’re weaker you can do it if you’re careful.

Once the Stalnox is dead, the Hylian Shield will drop. It’s a good shield – it has the highest durability and parry ability in the game. It’s also a one-time deal – you can’t get it in this method again, and this is the only place in the game it appears naturally.

Alternative methods to the Hylian Shield

If you lose your Hylian Shield, a character in Tarrey Town will sell you another version of the shield – but it will only be available to you if you’ve already picked up the shield from Hyrule Castle or via an amiibo.

Speaking of amiibo, yes – as detailed in our guide to the game’s amiibo, the official Breath of the Wild Zelda amiibo drops chests containing shields when she’s scanned – and there is a chance that she can drop a Hylian Shield. As with the Hyrule castle shield, she’ll only drop this once, and unlike the one above it’s not a guaranteed drop, but you can keep scanning Zelda once a day and crossing fingers.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – how to get the Master Sword

15 Mar

Obtain the legendary blade.

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If you want even more Breath of the Wild help, we have a full guide hub with plenty of other detailed pages.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – The Legendary Master Sword’s Location

The Master Sword is one of the most iconic images of the Zelda series – to the point where it has been an outright focus in a lot of the games in the Zelda series. It’s not so in The Legend of the Zelda: Breath of the Wild, however. Obtaining the Master Sword in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is no simple story progression task. Things are actually as different as can be in this game, in fact – the sword of legend is actually entirely optional, and it’s easy to get very late into the game without knowing anything about it, though a lot of NPCs talk about it.

The key with the Master Sword is that you can actually run right to it from the moment you start the game. There’s a catch, however: you need to be powerful enough for the sword to deem you worthy of being its master, and if you’re not, well… the sword kills you. That’s some sword of truth, justice and light there, huh.

First thing’s first: where to find the sword.

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Heading to Korok Forest – the location of the Master Sword

The location you want is the Lost Woods, as pictured above. If you’ve played A Link to the Past (or indeed Twilight Princess) this location might not come as much of a surprise to you.

The Lost Woods are found directly north of Hyrule Castle, to the left of Death Mountain. The nearest tower is the Woodland Tower. To the East of the Woodland Tower there’s a path; follow this right the way up and around until you enter the Lost Woods.

When you do, you’ll find lit torches laid out. It’s foggy and creepy.

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How to get through the Lost Woods and reach Korok Forest

The path for now is simple: follow the lit torches. It’s fairly dark, so it’s not a bad idea to bring and light a torch of your own, or a wooden weapon that can double as one.

Pretty soon you’re going to come across the image above. Two torches and a creepy face. From here on out you’ve no more torches, though this is a checkpoint. Zelda fans will know the Lost Woods well – venture too far off the stated path and you’ll be returned to this point.

In order to get through the Lost Woods what you have to do is simple, but not necessarily easy: look for the trees with the creepy faces. Look at their ‘arms’ – you want to follow the directions their creepy arms are pointing.

This can involve a bit of trial and error, but I managed to do it on my second attempt. Here’s the path I took:

  • Keft at the two torches and the first creepy tree
  • Hook a right towards where there are a lot of face trees
  • When there’s a cliff face rising to your left, you want to turn left and follow it around as it curves.

Eventually you will pass through the Lost Woods and into the Korok Forest area. Walk straight forward and you will find the Master Sword waiting…

How many hearts you need to get the Master Sword

But wait! Before you do anything, consider heading to the right from the Deku Tree. Just around the corner is the Keo Ruug Shrine. Even if you don’t plan to do it, go activate this shrine – it then means you won’t have to travel through the Lost Woods again when you want to come back! If you decide to do this shrine, it’s a tricky one… it involves examining the constellations on the wall.

Anyway. Head up to the Master Sword for some lovely story exposition with the Great Deku Tree. How many Links has this guy known? (Could this be the same sproutling planted at the end of Ocarina of Time? Did this one live through Wind Waker?)

Ah, anyway – the sword won’t let you pull it. The sword requires 13 hearts to be pulled. To be clear, each and every one of those have to be real hearts, bonuses from cooking or other buffs don’t count.

To get hearts, you need to do some more shrines. Each shrine you complete will net you a spirit orb, and every 4 spirit orbs can be traded for a heart container – a small price to pay for the sword of legend…

When you return with the right number of hearts, you’ll be treated to the sword – and of course an iconic cutscene and the iconic music.

How good is the Master Sword? Does it have infinite durability?

The Master Sword is unbreakable, and if you have full health and ‘throw’ it, it fires a beam classic Zelda style.

It glows blue whenever it’s in the presence of an evil being it’s more powerful against, such as a dungeon boss or Ganon himself. In these circumstances it doubles its power stat from 30 to 60. Inside Hyrule Castle, home to some strong end-game bosses, it will consistently glow blue regardless of where you are.

If overused the sword will become unusable and need recharging, however, so you should use it sparingly and save it for those big encounters with demonic beasts. It will never break, but in this regard it sadly doesn’t have infinite durability. It’s still an amazing sword, however.

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The best Nintendo Switch games, according to us

10 Mar
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Switch – our favourite launch games

Nintendo Switch has been out for a while now, and while we had a bit of a lead-up thanks to Nintendo to sink our claws into Zelda and the machine itself, much of the launch line-up remained a mystery to us until launch day. On launch day, while most of you were probably playing Zelda, we sunk our teeth into everything else. A week later, we can report in.

While people might say the Switch has no games, it actually launched with over 15 different titles – the catch being that many of them only launched on the eShop. Yes, many of them are also ports – but still. Games! They exist! And it’s not just, y’know, Just Dance.

Here we list our five favourite Switch launch games (including the obvious one, yes), plus the three most important ports on the system here at launch. There’s some stuff you might not know much about such as the F-Zero like Fast RMX and portable-only rhythm game Voez, so maybe you’ll learn something. Here goes…

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

$59.99 / £59.99

Well, duh. I mean, I don’t think you need me to really write too much more about this one – I covered it in detail in our ridiculously long review, but the upshot of it is this: not only is this the best Switch launch game, but it’s actually a competitor for the best Zelda game ever made and also a strong competitor for one of the best video games ever made period.

Yeah. It’s that good.

The thing about Breath of the Wild is that it’s brave; it takes a Zelda formula that’s worked fine for Nintendo (even if it’s struggled to dazzle in recent years) and completely tosses it away for something different.

That different concoction takes influences not just from the original Legend of Zelda but also clearly has been developed with one eye closely trained on some of the best the industry has to offer. There’s the exploration antics of The Elder Scrolls and Assassin’s Creed clearly visible in its massive world, the sort of tight gameplay loop of Portal found in a great many shrines, the challenge and fear of survival games in its difficulty and weapon degredation.

Anyway, the point is, it’s excellent. It’s a special game. Read our full review for more.

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Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together

$19.99 / £17.99

While Zelda is the perfect game to sit down and play on your own in massive nine-hour binges, Snipperclips offers the inverse experience: something small and bite-sized that’s ideal for multiplayer either on the TV or on the built-in Switch screen.

When I first played this at Nintendo’s pre-launch hands-on event for the Switch the game was set up that way – console out with the kickstand deployed, Joy-Cons detached and ready to go. This makes sense: Snipperclips is the perfect little example of how those controllers can be split by the machine and used by two players in simple games that are ideal for train journeys.

In many ways Snipperclips is a lot like some of the best 3DS download titles – a puzzler with a unique sense of style and a finite but good value set of puzzles to play through. It’s all about physics, and while things start out relatively simple it escalates in a brilliant fashion towards complex and rewarding puzzles – but without becoming frustrating.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about Snipperclips is that it feels such a natural fit for the Switch despite essentially being an indie game. This is an indie that caught Nintendo’s attention, prompting Nintendo to pick up the game – and the resulting product feels like it could’ve come out of Nintendo SPD in Japan. That’s a big complement.

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1-2-Switch

$49.99 / £39.99

The thing about 1-2-Switch is that, well… it isn’t exactly brilliant. It’s a game that undoubtedly should’ve been a pack-in, but if you get the opportunity to pick this one up at a reduced price even much later on in the Switch’s life span, it’s probably worth your attention. That’s why it places here on this list.

Like Snipperclips, 1-2-Switch is another perfect example of part of the Switch’s X-Factor – the fact this machine can do both such a sprawling Zelda and these simple Wii-like mini-games on the same devices comfortably is a great advantage.

The games vary in quality but they’re broadly speaking good, clean fun. I had guests over and after a fair amount of alcohol deployed 1-2-Switch – the resulting laughs were pretty much exactly what Nintendo likely envisaged. The game is fun, but that fun is almost entirely dependent on the company you keep while playing it.

1-2-Switch isn’t going to sell anybody on the machine, but it does make a compelling argument for the other, non-hardcore side of the Switch. If this game had launched at the height of the Wii it probably would’ve been enormous, and in that regard it’s another strong string to Nintendo’s bow and a good (if expensive) way to demo the machine to friends. So here it is – third on our list.

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Fast RMX

$19.99 / £16.99

Whenever he’s asked about F-Zero, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto always seems a bit confused. I read an interview with him once where he expressed confusion that people would want a new F-Zero without the series finding a significant new gimmick to change things up – he’s not so much about the samey sequels. So there’s no F-Zero on Switch, or at least not yet. Enter Fast RMX.

Fast RMX is exactly what you’d expect, basically: it’s an F-Zero or Wipeout style racer to its very core. If you owned a Wii U you might be familiar with FAST Racing NEO on that machine; RMX is actually a remastered, Remixed version of that game – thus the RMX.

It’s a more aracade-like feel and isn’t anywhere near as punishing as the harder elements of the excellent F-Zero GX, but as an approximation of that style of game it’s a decent, worthy contender from an indie studio.

It’s pretty too, and mostly runs as smoothly as you’d want for a racer with this speed – 60fps is occasionally rocky, but not by much. There’s split screen plus online multiplayer – for its tiny eShop price this one is easy to recommend.

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Super Bomberman R

$49.99 / £49.99

Coming off the back of Fast RMX’s tiny retail price Super Bomberman R is… difficult. Bomberman is 33 years old (as the box proudly proclaims), but he really hasn’t changed much. Simplicity can be a good thing, but one does have to wonder if Bomberman is in dire need of a Pac Man Championship Edition style kick up the backside to really rejuvenate the franchise – especially if they want full retail price for these games.

Super Bomberman R is a difficult package to recommend in terms of value, but the actual game itself is a pretty compelling Switch experience when divorced from its price. In many ways Bomberman is the perfect 4-player local multiplayer game, and this is a deliberately stripped-back experience that harks back to the classic entries of the series, with superfluous and more ridiculous power-ups removed from the game.

While there is online, Bomberman is really all about that local play, sat around a TV or huddled around the Switch itself somewhere. The controls are simple enough that the small Joy-Cons aren’t an issue as they might end up being in some games (I look forward to seeing how Street Fighter 2 holds up on those things) – making it another perfect game to break out to show off the Switch.

But, man – that price. There’s a single-player mode complete with cutscenes and the like, but none of this makes the sting any lighter considering we’re all attracted to Bomberman for much simpler, basic pleasures – the sorts of experiences that feel like they’d be better off as a cheap download. Still, Super Bomberman R is pretty tempting, but be aware of what you’re getting for your full-whack price tag.

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Honorable Mentions

The Switch launch has been focused for the most part on Zelda and 1-2-Switch for good reason, but scattered among the launch are a selection of other games that are worth a look, most of them ports that you may have played elsewhere. Here’s a quick run-down of the best ones:

I Am Setsuna

This little gem was released on PS4 and PC last year, but it’s now cropped up here on Switch – which seems an appropriate place for it given its inspriations. Setsuna is basically a modern attempt to recapture the magic of SNES-era Japanese RPGs such as Chrono Trigger, and while it can be a little one note it’s a pretty excellent first attempt from new Square Enix studio Tokyo RPG factory. (£29.99 / $39.95)

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is already an indie darling, and it’s already one that’s closely associated with Nintendo – the titular character even has an amiibo! Switch has two Shovel Knight experiences available – the complete package or the new Specter of Torment standalone add-on. Both are excellent call-backs to the 16-bit glory days… which is becoming a bit of a theme on the Switch already. (Treasure Trove: £22.49 / $24.99 | Specter of Torment: £8.99 / $13)

  • Voez

    Voez has been out on mobile phones for a while, but there’s a fair chance you’ve never heard of it. It’s the first handheld-only Switch game – it requires the touch screen, so can’t be used at all in docked mode. This is basically a cute rhythm action game with some story stuff layered on top. The artwork is some standard anime stuff, and rhythm games are tactile and fun to play on the Switch screen. If you’re commuting with the machine, this is a decently-priced eShop pick.

Othello

It’s Othello. (£4.99 / $6.50)

Switch feels unfinished, but after a few weeks with it I’m completely sold

10 Mar

One week on from the Switch launch, we examine how it holds up.

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When the Nintendo Switch launched last week I was still fairly unconvinced of the machine’s unique selling points. I’d been absolutely loving Zelda on it but the machine itself still left me perplexed – and at that point I’d had the console for almost two weeks. More than anything I just felt uneasy, and that’s one of the reasons you didn’t see a Switch hardware review from us earlier – I wanted to solidify my opinion on it all.

“It took time to click with me, but for many types of game this has the potential to be the ultimate machine.”

Despite having the machine early, launch week was when the the Switch really clicked for me. Now, several weeks from the day I first plucked it from its dinky box, I get it. Not only do I get it, but I love it: I’m convinced. It took time to click with me, but for many types of game this has the potential to be the ultimate machine.

I loved the concept from minute one, but for a long time I was unsure of its validity. It was never the idea of a hybrid machine’s utility that excited me most but rather the idea of Nintendo’s immense first-party talent at last being focused on just one machine – but as it turns out, the utility is pretty fantastic. It’s portable gaming that I can get behind.

Utterly key to this is the simplicity of the concept and experience. The Wii U’s concept was one that often required extra explanation, from the ‘is it an add-on’ confusion surrounding its terrible name right through to games needing to instruct you way too often: Look at the screen! Now look at the tablet, and so on.

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Few games actually managed to use its unique concept as well as the tech demo collection in Nintendo Land, and the mess that is Star Fox Zero served as the perfect underscoring of where the machine failed: for a Nintendo product it was, in truth, surprisingly complex. When you think about it not many DS games actually require focus on both screens, and when you extrapolate that to a TV and a tablet with a mega shitty display it’s not surprising it ended up a bit broken.

This isn’t so for Switch. It doesn’t need those explanations. It’s one screen, one game. The stuff that looks complicated, such as sliding out the joy-cons and changing the ways you play are for the most part incredibly intuitive. It’s the sort of thing where you could probably hand it to your grandparents and they could figure out how to make it do what it does in the adverts easily enough (so long as they don’t put those wrist straps on upside down). That’s reminiscent of the Wii.

Then there are the lovely Nintendo-like touches throughout the machine. The way it makes that click noise from the commercials when you slide the JoyCons into place is sublime, and the build quality of the buttons speak to the experience of a company who set the standard for what game inputs are. This is paired with a build quality that is without doubt the best Nintendo has ever managed: gone are the crap screens and the cracking hinges.

Basically, it feels as though it’s built to last, something best demonstrated by a stomach-turning video from JerryRigEverything who destroy a Switch so you don’t have to. Their conclusion seems fair: this thing is well-made. (But get a screen protector.)

I think in power terms the machine seems well-pitched, too: It’s very pretty for a handheld and not as impressive as other consoles, but when you consider that the machine can be taken with you the throttled power is much more acceptable. I think much of the Switch’s market will be found either with those who don’t care about visuals or with those for whom it’ll be a second machine, making that a much easier thing to accept.

Across the course of the last few weeks I’ve slowly become convinced: sliding my switch out of the dock to take it to bed for late-night Zelda, or even fulfilling the advertisers’ dream in taking it over to a friends’ house to show them and then playing four-player Bomberman off the console screen, crowded around the display like the old days of Goldeneye split-screen. It works. I typically played my 3DS favourites like Fire Emblem and Ace Attorney in bed or sprawled out on the sofa, and the joy of the Switch is that it allows me to do that with huge console-sized games. I can play Zelda properly, and then in an instant switch to a lazy sprawl if I fancy.

“When I think about some of the massive games coming out, I’ve caught myself a few times wishing they were on the machine that’d make life easiest – and very rapidly that’s beginning to look like the Switch.”

It just works – and that’s ‘just works’ in the same sort of way that swinging a tennis racket just worked, albeit for a more gaming-focused audience. It’s intuitive and natural.

In this the Switch slots in around your life more than any other fully-fledged console ever has. When I think about some of the massive games coming out, I’ve caught myself a few times wishing they were on the machine that’d make life easiest – and in light of how effortlessly I pumped 100 hours into Zelda that’s very rapidly beginning to look like the Switch. If I end up putting 80 hours into Persona 5 as I did into its predecessor, I have no doubt the Switch would be the best place for me to do so – and I think in the future Nintendo’s latest could be a goldmine for the massive Japanese RPG in particular.

With all this glowing praise it still has to be said that the Switch feels unfinished. The machine boots into a barren wasteland (though boy, it’s fast and snappy) with a vague approximation of an online service powered by awful friend codes. Saves can’t be shunted around. Considering the machine proposes to be a tablet-like device the lack of a media player or any media apps at all is jarring. Basically, it feels like it launched a little early, like we’re a few firmware updates and additional downloads away from it feeling like a complete machine. The anemic launch line-up speaks to this, too – it seems like developers didn’t have much time to prepare.

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The same is true for the hardware itself – good as it is, there are all those weird issues and questions about the dock scratching the screen, heat issues, JoyCon wireless woes and so on. This is the sort of stuff that’s commonly widespread on any initial hardware launch, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a little more to it all here. It also feels to me like the Pro Controller is an absolute must for when you’re docked, at least for traditional games like Zelda. Again, maybe we’re a revision and a bundle away from true greatness, but that’s been true of Nintendo’s handheld hardware for years.

From the lack of launch games through to the anemic operating system, Switch early adopters might feel a little more like they’re participating in a beta than your average console launch. That’s a pain, but if you know what you’re getting into I think that’s acceptable, and what’s been presented on day one is still pretty damn good. You get the better version of one of the best games ever made in for the bargain, and on top of that I think the future looks pretty bright.

The Wii U’s concept was good on paper, but difficult to execute on. All you need to do on Switch is make good games – they’ll then translate naturally to being able to be played in a variety of scenarios. Zelda is the perfect example of this – we need more of that. Software and updates are now the key – but if Nintendo can keep plugging away on those, I’m sold.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide: Death Mountain, Goron City and the Abandoned Mine

9 Mar

Goron a journey up Death Mountain.

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If you want even more Breath of the Wild help, we have a full guide hub with plenty of other detailed pages.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Walkthrough – Divine Beast Vah Rudania Main Quest: Goron City, Yunobo and boarding Divine Beast Vah Rudania

To get the Goron portion of the Free the Divine Beasts quest underway you’ll need to head to Death Mountain. Things are going to get warm.

To go up Death Mountain start at Eldin Tower and follow the path to the West and then North. Before you go, however, you need to keep in mind it gets real hot up there. You’re going to need some heat-beating elixirs to put out the flames.

A few things to point out here: First off, the heat-resistant effect (indicated by a Sun and a downwards arrow) isn’t the buff you need for Death Mountain. You actually need Fireproof, indicated by a flame icon for the buff.

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Getting Fireproof Resistance for the trip up Death Mountain and to Goron City

If you need access to some of these elixir and are struggling to create them, head to the Foothill Stable, just down the road to the south of Eldin Tower and next door to the Mo’a Keet Shrine.

There an NPC named Gaile (she’s usually carrying a broom) will sell you some: one for 60 rupees, two for 110 rupees and three for 150 rupees. Buy three.

When ready, start heading up the path to Death Mountain. You’ll pass through the Southern Mine, then the Goron City. Head past the Goron City a little way to find the Shae Mo’sah Shrine – it’s worth at least activating (if not completing) this so you have a warp point.

Head back down into the city and talk to Bludo – the older, bearded Goron. He’ll give you a new objective – a younger Goron called Yunobo has a history of doing battle with Divine Beast Vah Rudania, and he’s gone missing after heading to the Abandoned North Mine.

Looks like we need to help out… so let’s step to it.

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Mounting a rescue: fetching Yunobo from the Abandoned Mine

The Abandoned Mine is even hotter than Goron City, and so in order to survive there you’re going to need two layers of protection.

The easiest way to get this protection is a combination of Fireproof Elixir (available for purchase from Gaile at the Foothill Stable next to Mo’a Keet Shrine) and a piece of the Goron-made Flamebreaker armor set. If you’ve got the cash you could always buy two parts of the flamebreaker set – that’ll be enough protection for you to walk around up there.

Head up the hill out of the city, past the Shae Mo’sah Shrine. Follow the path towards the Abandoned Mine. Oh, and – if those Octorocs with rocks on their head give you trouble, here’s a tip: stasis will beat their fast reflexes.

When you reach the Abandoned Mine chat to the Goron at the entrance. Beyond him, there are a lot of enemies with fire arrows – they’re tough.

Here’s the key here – Ice arrows are your friend in a big, big way. Anything ice, in fact – melee weapons too – will one-shot the enemies here by freezing them to death. The volcano’s heat will then make them shatter. That’s the way to go.

One way you can take our enemies in the abandoned mine is using the cannons scattered about. The way these work is pretty simple – drop a circular bomb into the hole to act as a fuse, and detonate to fire. The switch on the right of the cannon can be hit with weapons to make each cannon switch between two positions.

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Abandoned Mine: Using the cannons

Any bright red rocks in this area can be shot and destroyed with the cannon. Some have loot underneath them, while the main one atop the hill is your objective. Yunobo has gotten trapped inside a mountain at a peak – the tallest place in the mine, obvious to find – and you’ll have to blast the red rocks away.

Several of the red rock deposits including the one trapping Yunobo will require you to detonate a cannon’s fuse when it’s mid-way between turning between positions, so look and aim carefully. If you want the optional loot be sure to check out every cannon, as each has a use.

When you rescue Yunobo he’s very grateful. The next step is to return to Goron City and the boss – there the boss will remind you of the Goron’s champion and push you onto the next phase of the quest: go meet Yunobo at the Bridge of Eldin.

Fight your way up the hill. Remember my tip about using stasis on Octoroks. When you reach Yunobo he’s surrounded – beat them to a pulp. Once that’s done, Link will be able to explain his plan.

Yunobo hops in the cannon. Put a bomb in, move the cannon, detonate… the Bridge of Eldin will lower. It’s time to board Vah Rudania. Prepare yourself for… well… some stealth. Uh-oh.

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild guide – Reaching Zora’s Domain

9 Mar

It’s time to befriend some fish people.

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If you want even more Breath of the Wild help, we have a full guide hub with plenty of other detailed pages.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Walkthrough – Main Quest: Reach Zora’s Domain

One of the four races of Hyrule you need to visit in order to talk about their divine beast is the Zora. Once you’ve visited Impa in Kakariko Village in the early stages of the game you’ll be able to tackle any of the four divine beast quests – and here we explain how to reach Zora’s Domain and kick off this slice of the main quest.

In another Zelda, we’d call this the road to the Water Temple or Dungeon… but things are a little more complicated in Breath of the Wild. Let’s get started.

Meeting Sidon, Prince of the Zora

To kick this quest off you’ll need to meet Sidon, Prince of the Zora, on Inogo Bridge. As soon as you get remotely close to this area you’ll begin to bump into some Zora who’ll point you that way – there are a number of them out exploring the nearby lands, and every one will tell you the same thing: the prince is searching for a Hylian. The closest tower to this is Lanayru Tower. The bridge crosses – unsurprisingly – Zora River. This should be easy to find on your map.

After a cutscene and a chat Sidon will task you with making your way up the river towards Zora’s Domain on foot – you’re not strong enough to swim. There are a range of enemies here, and many attack with electricity. Keep in mind you can make elixir potions that you can take in order to lower the damage taken from electricity, and regardless you should take plenty of supplies as this is a decently long journey.

The path should be clear to you, as though it’s not an obvious and proper paved road the entire route to Zora’s Domain is littered with blue signposts and blue lamps. Keep following them.

Watch out for the Octoroks and don’t be tempted to jump in the river after their loot; the current will sweep it (and you!) away downriver and you’ll have to start again. Their loot is valuable, but it’s not that valuable, and there are certainly better places in Hyrule to farm it.

As you continue moving up the river Sidon will interrupt you a few times – and the further you go, the more challenging it becomes.

When you reach a cave that’s covered in thorns, you can climb around it by heading left. If you have access to a fire rod or fire arrows however, set the thorns on fire to get to the chest within and clear the path.

The first big encounter features a shed load of enemies with shock arrows. Try to pick them off at a distance – if you rush in close you’re asking for trouble. Remember that headshots are critical hits – with good bows this should one-shot enemies, and even with less brilliant bows it’ll knock the enemy down.

When you reach Zora’s Domain, explore and definitely at least activate if not complete the Shrine (Ne’ez Yoma Shrine) nearby so you have a fast travel point to get back here at ease. Once that’s done, go meet the king! Story stuff abound.

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Main Quest: Divine Beast Vah Ruta – Taking out the Lynel

Your first task in this objective is to go down to the main square of Zora’s Domain and talk to the guys down there. You’ll learn you need shock arrows, and you’ll learn that there’s a beast nearby who keeps a stockpile of them – a Lynel, half man, half lion. He’s deadly. These enemies date back to the first Zelda on the NES.

The first thing you’ll want to do is head to a cooking spot (there’s one in Zora Domain’s inn) and prepare yourself some food. Prepare stuff that’ll give you attack and defence boosts if you can, plus health-restoring meals.

Anyway, follow the waypoint and make your way towards the Lynel’s lair by swimming up the waterfalls – remember, you’ll need the Zora Armor equipped in order to use that skill.

Once you reach the top, don’t forget to swap out the Zora Armor – either for your best stealth or best combat gear. Which you go for is going to be largely determined by the choice below…

Getting Shock Arrows from the Lynel

You have a choice with the Lynel – you can either go in geared up and prepared for combat or you can stealth around the arena.

Consider this a mini-boss – he hits hard, has 2000 HP and some very good attacks. Up-close he smashes fiercely so you’ll want a high quality shield, while at range he’ll breathe fire and charge you. Basically: be careful.

I found the best way to tackle him was to stay relatively close and near his hind legs at all times, and to use weapons I could attack quickly with so I could quickly get my shield back up.

If you go the stealth route, sneak around the combat area without Lynel noticing you. You’ll find shock arrows he’s presumably been using for target practice slammed into most of the trees around the area. You can get the 20 you need to continue this way easily enough.

If you fight, however, there’ll be decent loot in it for you plus even more shock arrows since after the fight you can pick up all those all around the arena and Lynel drops a bundle. Do what you have to.

When you’re done, go meet Sidon at the waypoint near where Vah Ruta is resting. It’s time to execute your plan – even if it’s all a bit crazy-sounding.

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