You might have already come across guides and ‘Returnal Tips and Tricks for Beginners’ so now here’s a Returnal boss guide for winning boss fights if you are feeling stuck:
Boss Fights in Returnal General Tips and Tricks
Study the boss’s attack patterns
Like regular enemies, bosses have unique attack patterns that you’ll need to learn in order to effectively dodge and counterattack. Spend some time studying the boss’s attacks as they’re going to be repeatedly used during the three phases.
During boss fights, it’s important for you to stay mobile and constantly move around the arena. Strafe left and right constantly, jump, and make use of the dash’s iframes to evade attacks.
Focus on dealing damage
During boss fights, it’s important to prioritize dealing damage over anything else. Use your most powerful attacks and weapons to deal as much damage as possible, and take advantage of any openings the boss gives you. The shorter the fight, the fewer chances you get a run-ending blow.
Use your consumables
Housemarque’s Returnal has a variety of consumables that can be found throughout the game. During boss fights, make sure to use these items to gain an advantage. We recommend having at least 1 healing item while others can be those that can help deal damage or bring back adrenaline.
All boss fights in Returnal have three phases, and each phase ends when you fully deplete the boss’ health bar. Normally, after each phase, a new attack pattern emerges making the fight even harder. It’s important to keep your composure as usually there are repeating attack patterns from phase to phase.
Don’t get discouraged
Boss fights in Returnal can be tough, and it’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t win on your first attempt. Remember that each attempt will give you more information about the boss’s attack patterns, and use that knowledge to improve your strategy on the next attempt. Stay patient and work on unlocking better weapon traits if you feel stuck.
Now let’s talk about the bosses in-game:
Boss Fights in Returnal Guide
To defeat Phrike
Phrike is the 1st boss you’ll ever fight, and likewise, can get a bit overwhelming due to how fast his attacks can be. It’s easy to see the attacks coming though if you don’t panic as the boss stands quite far away back on the opposite side of the Arena.
Attacks are going to be quite straightforward for the 1st phase. Simply just move to the left and right and you’ll dodge the attacks without even dashing (most of the time).
Attacks to look out for are the barrage of orange lasers when he raises his three hands. Phrike also shoots orbs in a circular pattern that expands and falls towards Selene. It also throws a wave of purple orbs at you which are easily dodgeable by moving left or right.
Lastly, if Phrike’s head glows, it’s charging up a powerful laser attack. It shoots at the floor and toward you, making it predictable enough to dodge.
Phrike will be moving, will attack faster, and combine attacks in quick succession. Just remember to not panic while this all happens and you should be able to dodge most of them.
New attacks include Phrike seemingly teleporting into different parts of the room. It’s easy to spot where he’ll appear if you follow the red wave of light.
In a combination of attacks, Phrike will charge red energy into the ground, creating a laser coming at you. After casting, Phrike will charge at you at high speed and swipe at you. Time this well and dash either left or right.
He also has another attack where he’ll be charging up a red laser from his face, shooting it across the room. Again, simply jump over or dash.
Similar to the previous phase, its new set of attacks is added to its arsenal. He also does red floor rings twice so make sure that you time your jump or dash right to dodge both.
The main attack in this phase is a wave of orbs and a barrage of red projectiles.
To defeat Ixion:
Like Phrike, stay mobile and keep moving around the arena to avoid most of the attacks. Take note though that you might fall off from the platform so always be aware of where you are in the arena.
Every time Ixion dodges it will shoot a burst of orbs from where it came from. He can also shoot this like a shotgun or like a laser at random parts of the fight.
When far away, the boss would shoot a spiral array of orbs at you which can easily be dodged.
Ixion starts this phase by slamming the center of the arena causing a circle of flame, similar to the red lasers.
Shortly, Ixion starts doing airborne attacks. During such, flee to the other side of the arena and prepare for his attack. Make sure you have enough space to run or dodge away as he’ll be charging towards you, together with a load of orbs.
Ixion becomes more aggressive in the last phase, adding in a melee attack that you have to dodge together with the other projectiles coming at you. Similar to Phase 2, he does the ground slam attack that summons a circle of flame.
The boss now has whip-like strikes in its arsenal, one of which is a leaping strike that releases an array of orbs upon contact. Another is a swinging strike that releases a red laser ring. He would then do these repeatedly creating multiple orbs and lasers.
Ixion also adds another projectile attack that mixes slow and fast-moving orbs.
To defeat Nemesis:
The boss area brings you to a platform high up seemingly above the clouds, with the boss floating in the distance. To deal damage, you have to aim at the big red spot in the middle of its body.
There will be 2 minions together with the boss who’ll be doing standard attacks. Run or dash away to dodge them while dealing damage at the same time.
There will be times when the minion shoots a diagonal laser across the field while the boss shoots a wave of bullets. You want to time your dashes here so that you can dodge both attacks. A good idea is to run toward one side to avoid the laser and dash through the blue bullets.
During this phase, the environment transforms with numerous platforms floating in the wide open space. The goal is to find Nemesis in this open space by following its robot minions.
Phase 1 attacks will still be regularly thrown so prepare to dodge those. What’s new would be the 2 minions throwing out 2 circular lasers so be prepared to time your dash or jump to evade the attack.
In cases where Nemesis disappears, you’ll have to find him again by chasing the minions again.
The last phase turns the level up to 11 as Nemesis wrecks the whole battlefield with you floating in midair looking for a floating platform to grapple and land on, closely inching your way to Nemesis. Depending on your weapon, you should be able to damage Nemesis as you start approaching him.
In terms of attacks, they are quite few compared to the previous phases but they pack a punch. A good tip here is to leverage the use of grapple to also dodge bullets or attacks as they give you I-frames similar to dash.
Similar to previous phases, the minions still do laser attacks, except this time they’re more powerful. There’ll be a yellow laser attack when the minions’ eyes glow yellow and shoot into four beams of light. When the eyes glow red, jump off to another platform as the massive red laser will destroy the platform you’re currently on.
To defeat Hyperion:
Hyperion is the fourth boss in Returnal. It’s a giant robotic creature that can shoot powerful lasers. Hyperion has two main attacks: a laser attack and a missile attack.
Also, the soundtrack of the fight and its build-up is probably one of the best in all of gaming (in my opinion).
Hyperion first sits in front of a coral-like “organ” playing the theme from Echoing Ruins while shooting different colored projectiles at you.
A key attack to watch out for is a blue-colored homing projectile that quickly comes at you occasionally. These must be dodged as getting hit by them grants a malfunction. Luckily, you only need to dodge a few of them as opposed to the regular bullet hell attacks.
Hyperion also does this laser-like attack which you need to jump over. Normally it’s together with a barrage of red and green orbs that covers the whole battlefield. Best to dash forward past the orbs to dodge the attack.
Lastly, when you get close to Hyperion, it will throw a purple laser that cuts across the field. Either jump or dash through to evade.
The next phase is quite similar to the last one except that it has a few more attacks to note of.
A new attack is that Hyperion shoots a massive wave of blue orbs at Selene in a repeated manner. There will also be a spiral of red orbs from the middle of the battlefield. Time your jumps and dash wisely as these attacks can go at the same time leaving little room to stand on.
This is the part where Hyperion goes all ballistic, shooting different orbs and attack patterns at you.
A new arsenal of his is a spiral orb attack that starts from the air and slowly makes its way to the ground. It will also occasionally shoot “+” shaped waves of orbs plus some erratic orbs shot in different directions your way.
At different points of the last phase, Hyperion will dash at you and trap you within a tight corridor of vines where it can shoot you with a steady stream of orbs. You have no choice here but to just dodge your way out of the orbs, closely watching its trajectory.
To defeat Ophion:
Ophion is the final boss in Returnal, found in Abyssal Scar. It’s a massive serpent-like creature that can shoot powerful energy blasts. In order to deal damage to the boss, you have to watch out for the little red “eyes” that pop up on its body. Also, watch out for the blue balls that hover around in mid-air as shooting them can damage Ophion as well.
Start the fight by shooting at the floating blue orb above Ophion.
The boss’ first attack is with several ventricle-like parts that shoot orbs at you. These are easy to evade. Occasionally Ophion will also unleash a wave of purple lasers from random areas of the arena. You will need to jump over these as you will be damaged when you dash through.
Ophion then follows with a stream of projectiles that track you, followed shortly by five purple lasers that cut vertically down the arena.
Ophion now shows his skeletal face and massive bony body.
Not a lot of changes from the 1st Phase except that it’s more erratic in its attacks. It will also occasionally block off parts of the arena with its claws.
This is where it gets a bit tough as Ophion throws new attacks at Selene.
One of those attacks is an array of purple lasers which as mentioned before is something you can’t dash through. There are multiple of these during this phase of the fight and would be together with the attacks so the timing of jumps and dashes is important to not get hit.
Lastly, another attack that Ophion has is a barrage of orbs and projectiles that follows you around the arena.
Killing Ophion means killing the last boss in the game, allowing you to reach the final phase.
By following these steps and strategies, you should be able to defeat all boss fights in Returnal. Remember to stay patient, experiment with different strategies, and keep practicing to improve your skills. Good luck!