Returnal may be in the rogue genre, but it is also a rogeulite, meaning there are some permanent upgrades that transfer over between runs. However, it might be overwhelming to nail down what those elements are. Here are all of the Returnal permanent upgrades.
All of the Returnal permanent upgrades
Returnal’s more Metroid-like elements mean that Selene gets access to a host of gadgets that open up new areas and allow for new gameplay possibilities. These range from the melee attack to the grappling hook to swimming underwater. These will all transfer over and can be found in the “Permanent Equipment” part of the menu under “Status.”
Portals to other biomes and keys
While players can kill bosses as many times as they want, they are not required to after the first time. Once they open up the portal to the area that boss was hiding, they can go through that portal without having to kill the boss first. This is because the game stores the keys to these areas. It’s not recommended to run straight to that level since players likely won’t have a high enough weapon proficiency or health, but the option is certainly there.
Ether is the one currency that goes between runs and does not go in the trash upon death. It can be found and spent in a multitude of different ways, too, so it is good that it sticks around. Just don’t horde it as the game currently caps the player at holding up to 30 Ether at a time. Any other Ether gained after that is effectively wasted.
When players first come across a new item, they’ll have to scan it first. This scan unlocks that item for future runs. This means players don’t have to rescan items for each run. Once it is scanned, it can be found or purchased in later runs. Items from Datacubes don’t transfer over unless they’ve been deposited into a repository first.
Weapon traits and trait upgrade percentage
All weapons have a variety of different traits that further changes up how they play. However, these traits have to be unlocked through gameplay. Some weapons have a percentage ticker on their stats screen and once that hits 100% (which will come after killing a few dozen enemies), that trait will have a chance to be in the random rotation of mods for that weapon in the future in other runs. The above picture shows a Spitmaw Blaster shotgun with an “Explosive Spit” trait can be unlocked if upgraded first.
These traits can be leveled up, which is another persistent part of the gunplay. Not every weapon has an upgradeable trait on it, but the ones that do will have a percentage ticker in their stats screen. Players don’t even have to hit 100% for the progress to transfer over as players can also finish that progress if they happen to die before hitting 100%. This is one of the biggest ways to make future runs easier so leveling up traits when possible is important.
Sunface Fragments are required for the game’s third act and can be found in each biome. These don’t have be found in one life and will carry over.
There are a few types of collectibles that players can grab. There are Xeno archives, audio logs, and the Xeno ciphers scattered around the world and thankfully stay in the player’s inventory once picked up or scanned. They’re all semi-random and don’t show up all in one run, which would make impossible to collect them all if they didn’t.
House sequence progress
All players will stumble upon the house in the Overgrown Ruins and Echoing Ruins chapters. There are six sequences inside this house and the game does not force players to do them all in one life. Once one is done, it is permanently done and the next house chapter will unlock in a later run. This is because the house key is one of the permanent items.
Resources dumped into the Obolite repository
There multiple Obolite repositories in the game where players can dump in Ether or Obolites in exchange for the opposite resource. Once dumped into this collective pot, players can’t exchange anything until the community fills that pot, whenever that may be.
What doesn’t carry over in Returnal?
Pretty much everything else in Returnal does not carry over to subsequent runs. Obolites, health upgrades, Atropos keys, Malfunctions, parasites, and consumables all reset to zero upon death.