Mass Effect: Andromeda is an action role-playing game in which the player takes control of either Scott or Sara Ryder from a third-person perspective. Both Ryders’ appearances and first names can be determined by the player. The appearance of their father, Alec, is automatically adjusted based on the appearance of the Ryder twins. Upon beating the game, a New Game+ is unlocked, which allows the player to restart the game with certain bonuses and switch to playing as the other Ryder, if desired. Players can also choose to continue playing with their existing character and complete unfinished missions.
Unlike previous installments in the Mass Effect series, where players begin each new game by choosing from six different character classes that each have their own unique set of skills, players instead have free rein to assign any skills that they want and build towards a specialty over the course of the game. For example, if the player chooses to invest solely in biotic skills, Ryder will unlock the Adept profile, which results in bonuses related to that play style. Experience points for spending on skills are earned by completing missions, and there is no cap on the number of points that can be earned. Points assigned to each skill can be constantly reallocated so that players can experiment with multiple gameplay approaches without having to restart their games and build up their skills from scratch again.
Similar to its predecessors, the player can interact with characters in Mass Effect: Andromeda using a radial command menu where the player’s dialogue options depend on wheel direction. Around the wheel are four types of responses that shape each conversation: emotional, logical, professional, and casual. In general, conversations are based on agreeing or disagreeing with participants. During some conversations, the player is prompted with an “Impulse Action” that offers an additional choice to what is available on the dialogue wheel. For example, an on-screen prompt to “shoot” might appear and be momentarily selectable. By conversing with non-player characters, Ryder can develop friendships and, in some cases, romantic relationships with them over time. During both dialogue and quest sequences, the player is sometimes tasked with making moral decisions that do not have a clear good/bad distinction but are intended to be more nuanced, marking a departure from the Paragon/Renegade morality system of prior titles in the series.