Mass Effect: Andromeda is a massive — and at times, overwhelming — sci-fi epic that throws a whole lot of tutorials and information at you right from the jump. Even for series veterans who played the original trilogy, the game's many new systems are a lot to handle.
One of the most crucial things you need to understand to successfully play Mass Effect: Andromeda is its updated conversation system. The meat of it will look familiar to anyone who's played a BioWare game before, but there are some very important updates to it that you'll need to understand — otherwise, you might accidentally make a terrible, irreversible in-game decision.
Here's what you need to know about the new conversation symbols — and what effect they have on the game itself.
Mass Effect: Andromeda tone conversation symbols
The most important thing you need to understand is that there are no longer any clear cut "good" or "evil" conversation decisions. Instead, most of the decisions you'll make will be differences in tone.
The four different tone choices you have are as follows:
• Emotional, which is represented by the heart icon
• Logical, which is represented by the gear icon
• Casual, which is represented by the rounded swirl icon
• Professional, which is represented by the square spiral icon
These icons are usually inconsequential to the outcome of a conversation overall, but some characters might not respond well to certain options. For example, some characters might not appreciate the logical option but would respond better to the casual option. This is something you'll have to feel out for yourself based on the responses you get.
But, if you've been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda, you'll know those aren't the only conversation symbols that you'll see. Read on for more information about the branching arrow and the question mark icons.
Mass Effect: Andromeda branching conversation symbols
The other conversation symbols are important to understand because they actually control how the conversation unfolds. Choose the wrong line of dialogue and you might find yourself hurtling down a branch of the conversation you didn't intend to.
Essentially, the main thing you need to understand is that the branching arrow icon will propel the conversation forward down one of many branching paths, whereas the question mark icon usually provides unessential, but interesting follow-up information about the subject at hand.
So, if you're interested in learning all you can from someone, make sure that you select all of the question mark conversation options before propelling the conversation forward with one of the branching arrow options.
Mass Effect: Andromeda friendship and romance conversation symbols
The other icons that you'll see less frequently are related to the type of relationship you have with whomever you're speaking to. The friendship icon, represented by the two conjoined human figures, will help deepen your bond with someone — in the platonic sense. The heart icon — differentiated from the "emotional" tone choice through its dark gray gradient shading — is a flirtatious option.
The flirt option is usually what you want to pick if you're pursuing romance or sex with a character, but some characters will want to be friends with you before they want to be romantic with you. So, don't think of the friendship and romance options as oppositional to one another. Sometimes one is a prerequisite for the other.
Mass Effect: Andromeda conversation interruptions
Finally, the last conversation symbol you need to know is the "narrative action" icon, which appears in the bottom right corner during a conversation. It appears as a sort of pulsing, flashing icon that will prompt you to pull the right trigger.
These are more drastic, interruption-based icons that you can use to dramatically shift how something plays out. For example, if someone is in your face and annoying you, the interruption prompt might let you punch them and stop the conversation in its tracks. Or, if someone is threatening you with a gun, you might disarm them.
Just be aware of the context in which the prompt appears, because it will be different for each conversation.
More Mass Effect: Andromeda news, updates, tips and tricks
For more on everyone's favorite space opera, check out the rest of what Mic has to offer. Here's an essay on the troubling history of colonialism in Mass Effect, a story about the horrifying harassment campaign carried out against a former BioWare employee, a guide on romancing Keri, a guide to romancing Reyes and a quick explainer on the different types of health in Andromeda.