Returnal is a hard game with not much in the way of difficulty settings and it doesn’t do much explaining along the way. This means players have to get better themselves to get through the game as they figure out how it all works. Here are some tips for Returnal players who don’t want to keep teleporting back to Helios every five minutes.
Rebind the dodge button
Returnal asks that players dodge at a moment’s notice and it’s hard to do that when that function is on the Circle button. Putting dodge on L1 is much more natural as it can be done quickly while aiming with the right stick. Consumables don’t need to be used in such a rush most of the time and therefore feel better on the Circle button.
Don’t skip earlier areas
It is incredibly tempting to skip past levels after dying but this is a recipe for a disaster. Your weapon proficiency will like by very low and you’ll also probably not have as many perks as you should. Do a quick run of the first one or two biomes before moving on to grab some easy upgrades along the way. It’s not required to do a full sweep of the beginning stage, but spending more time mining the earlier areas saves time in the end as it makes death less likely.
Focus on health and protection upgrades
There are plenty of ways to increase health in Returnal and this should always be a priority in addition to bolstering protection (which is basically defense). Every main Fabricator in every biome lets players spend Obolites on a health upgrade and that is usually a great choice. There are also a few perks that give you multiple ways to heal on the fly, be it through the Adrenaline system or through Obolites. The most basic automatic rifle even has a random unlockable leech rounds mod that gives players a chance to heal with every shot they hit. Getting one or two of these stacked is an excellent way to stay alive long enough to face the last boss.
Protection upgrades a little harder to come and usually temporary, but that shouldn’t dissuade you. There are a ton of perks that grant more protection in certain scenarios like when your alt fire is recharging or when you get a melee kill. Prioritize these kinds of upgrades first along with the health-focused ones.
Don’t always immediately pick up every piece of Silphium
It’s not always the best idea to pick up Silphium — the healing items — if you’ve lost some health. It might be better to find an alternate way of healing first as picking up health items at full health turns Silphium into Resin. Resin lets players work toward upgrading their max health for that run, making every health pickup a strategic decision.
For example, if you’re at half health and there are two small Silphium pieces and a large one, grab the large one first before the two small ones. This will ensure that the two small pieces turn into Resin as the large piece should bring you back to full health. And while it is risky, it’s not a bad idea to just leave most pieces of Silphium on the ground in earlier areas and circle back once you’ve healed later. If you get one of the aforementioned healing perks or stumble across an Inert Reclaimer, you’ll be swimming in Resin.
Be sure to quickly grab Obolites off dead enemies
Obolites are the game’s main currency and they pour out of dead enemies. However, they quickly disappear after the enemy dies so be sure to rush over to recently killed enemies to actually enjoy your hard-earned money. Some guns do have Obolite collector mods so it’s worth keeping an eye on that.
Look out for Obolites in statues and the environment
Obolites are hidden everywhere in the game, particularly in statues with glowing eyes and random things in the environment. Obolite-filled statues are easier to spot since their eyes glow but the plants don’t appear to indicate whether they are a gold mine. It’s worth it to slash every bush or rock, but it doesn’t hurt to swipe at ones nearby every once in a while.
Take risks early
Malignant chests and clusters are everywhere and are a risky proposition as they can infect the player with some sort of malfunction. But they do wield some solid rewards and are a decent way to get ahead early on, which is crucial to a good run. The malfunctions in the early part of the game aren’t as severe as the ones later on and the good almost always outweighs the temporary debuff. Waiting until the later stages to take chances can be harmful as those malfunctions are particularly brutal. Dying early on because a fatal debuff is much more manageable than dying two hours in.
Pay attention to weapon traits
Every weapon comes with its own random assortment of traits, which can make the same weapon feels different almost every time. But it’s up to players to unlock and level up these traits first. Once a mod is unlocked, it is then thrown into the pool of available traits for that weapon and is a persistent upgrade. And given that it is a persistent upgrade, it’s important to level up as many as possible to ensure that your weapons are as strong as possible for future runs.
A weapon’s traits are show in the pop-up menu when standing over it. To see the details of the traits of equipped weapons, press the touchpad and go into the equipment part of the status menu. The ones with a percentage sign next to them are the ones that can be leveled up with use. Traits even have multiple tiers so look out for those and try to prioritize weapons that can be leveled up instead those that can’t.
Parasites are useful
It can seem like parasites are all bad, but they’re always worth weighing. Some might not harm your playstyle and may only provide a buff. Some even completely change the game like the parasite that stops players from using Silphium to heal and only lets them use Obolites. That parasite in particular can be combined with other consumables and perks to great effect. Other parasites are capable or similarly useful benefits and are worth exploring.
Parasites can be found around the environment but seem to be more commonly found in purple pods like the one in the above picture.