Phrike is the first boss in Returnal, and is located at the end of Overgrown Ruins in the Anathema Vault. It can be tough to beat as Phrike is the first enemy to really drive home that bullet hell shooters inspired the developers. Fortunately, defeating Phrike mostly comes down to pattern memorization.
How to defeat Phrike in Returnal
Killing Phrike in Returnal isn’t too arduous. Players just need to memorize his attack patterns. We recommend a longer-range weapon like the Tachyomatic Carbine. However, even the Spitmaw Blaster will work if players have unlocked the Slug Shot trait.
The Phrike boss fight has three phases. Each time the player drains Phrike’s health bar, it will become faster and add attacks to its loop.
Phrike starts the fight by rapidly firing homing projectiles toward the player. Players can avoid these by running toward Phrike at around a 45-degree angle.
It’ll then launch a large group of projectiles into the air in a wide circular pattern. Players can avoid these by running into the middle of the circle where there’s a wide gap.
Phrike will then start launching streams of purple balls. These are harder to avoid than the red projectiles. For the first two attacks, which come from its right hands, run right, then for the last one, which comes from its left hand. juke left.
Sometimes after this attack, Phrike will charge a beam that fires very quickly and covers the entire arena directly ahead of it. Before it does so, it’ll gather energy in the air in a diamond pattern. This is the player’s cue to dodge to the side quickly.
Phrike will also randomly dive into the fog and swim to a new location. During this phase, this isn’t a real threat.
When Phrike moves into the second phase of the fight, all its actions will be faster.
It’ll open this phase with the wide-area circular attack and fire one of its quick beams as the energy balls are descending. That means running quickly to the gap in the middle of the first attack while being ready to dodge the second.
Phrike will then fire its red projectiles and follow up with a new attack which creates an expanding, medium-range shockwave. While players are trying to dodge these, Phrike will dash toward them and try to hit them with a melee attack.
After this will come the purple balls again. However, they’re much harder to dodge because of how fast they’re firing. Instead of changing directions, it’s now best to just keep running a circle around Phrike and use the dodge button to avoid them.
Following this, Phrike will charge and fire two beams in a circular arc around the entire arena. This happens very quickly, but players can avoid it by dodging forward.
After this, Phrike will attempt to melee again and then start the cycle over.
Phrike becomes more handsy in this phase. He’ll start by attempting to smack the player twice in a row. After this, he’ll try a new attack.
This phase’s new attack is an arena-wide circle of energy balls followed by firing red homing projectiles in the air. It can be challenging trying to dodge the red projectiles while also avoiding the energy balls along the ground. However, the gap is wide enough that players should be able to escape fairly easily as long as they stick to the outer edge of the arena.
The rest of the pattern are just more powerful versions of Phrike’s previous attacks. It’ll shoot two rounds of energy balls into the air and attack with its beam twice. Players just need to keep up the damage while avoiding attacks to beat it.