Games Guide

Returnal Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Returnal Tips and Tricks for Beginners

    Last Updated on May 8, 2023

Returnal is a challenging game that requires you to navigate procedurally generated environments, fight off hordes of hostile creatures, and defeat challenging boss battles, but you already know this. In this article, we’ll share some Returnal tips and tricks to play the game more effectively and win boss fights to ultimately survive in Atropos.

Returnal Tips: Gameplay Tricks

Mastering the dash

It goes without saying that one of the most important skills you should have in Returnal is mastering the dash. This move allows you to quickly move in any direction and avoid enemy attacks. Essential for dodging attacks, closing the distance on enemies, and quickly moving through the game’s environments.

Practice using the dash frequently and effectively to stay alive and gain an edge in combat. As a tip, you can dash forward rather than at the side in instances where bullets seem to be undodgeable.

The more you kill without getting hit amplifies your adrenaline levels, which grants you more damage in facing enemies.

Maintaining adrenaline

For every three enemies that you kill without getting hit, your adrenaline rises to one. After getting the limit of five adrenaline stats, you get to earn particular buffs, bonuses, and skills. Having those buffs available for most of your runs are key to getting better gear and lasting longer in Atropos.


Whenever the overload instance triggers, always try to fire at the right time to basically have unlimited bullets. Having certain artifacts can give you additional bonuses when doing an overload such as increased movement speed.

Melee Attacks

The term ‘don’t bring a knife to a gunfight’ isn’t applicable here as most enemies in Returnal can be one-hitted by melee attacks. Furthermore, doing so also makes it easier for you to collect ether. For some enemies that have barriers, you could only remove them by hitting them with your melee attack. Use wisely while dodging.

Grappling Hook

This ability allows you to swing across large gaps and climb certain surfaces. You’ll get as you progress through the story. Use it to maintain a safe distance or to get the vantage point to make encounters more manageable.

Unlocking weapon traits

As you progress through the game, you’ll find new weapons and new weapon traits that will make your guns more powerful. Prioritize unlocking weapon traits to gain an advantage in combat. Experiment with different weapons and traits and find the ones that work best for your playstyle. 

Explore thoroughly

Returnal’s environments are ever-changing, meaning that each of your playthroughs will be different. Take your time to explore each area thoroughly, looking for hidden secrets, upgrades, and power-ups. This will give you an advantage in combat and help you progress through the game.

Returnal Tips Exploration

There are also ‘tentacles’ around the map that pull you up which you can use to your advantage to reach those far-up platforms. Some ‘gates’ in the map that are locked can easily be opened by finding a lit-up button and firing at it for you to collect the rewards behind it.

Use alt-fire modes

All of the game’s weapons have alt-fire modes that can be activated by pressing the L2 all-the-way button (depending on your playstyle). These modes often offer unique attacks that can be more effective against certain enemies. Experiment with different alt-fire modes to find the ones that work best for your playstyle.

Learn enemy attack patterns

The game’s enemies have unique attack patterns that you’ll need to learn in order to effectively dodge and counterattack. Allocate some time to studying each enemy’s attacks and find the best strategies for defeating them. As you encounter different types of enemies, you’ll need to adapt your tactics accordingly.

Use the suspend cycle feature

If you need to take a break, don’t quit, just go to the settings and choose to suspend cycle so you can go back to where you were when you have the juice to do so.

Do daily challenges

After making it through the first biome, continue normally until you inevitably go back to the crash site, go in the Helios ship, and there you’ll find the option to access Simulation mode where you can earn ether.

Returnal Tips: Important Items and Currencies

There are several different types of items you can find in Returnal, each with its own unique benefits and uses. Here are some of the most common types of items you’ll encounter:


These are ancient alien relics that can provide valuable insights into the history and culture of Atropos and also Selene herself. Mainly though, they grant upgrades to your Selene’s abilities and stats during your run. Some of the best finds are the ones that bring you back to life so you avoid restarting a run all over again.


These are items that can be used to restore health, increase adrenaline levels, or grant temporary buffs to your weapons and abilities.


These are creatures that attach themselves to your character and provide both benefits and drawbacks. They can grant increased damage or defense but also come with negative effects like getting damage when falling or having increased cooldown on dashes. The latter will definitely make your run harder so I advise not picking that up at all.


These are items that unlock secret areas and locked chests, which in turn gives you better gear to progress further.


This is one of the things in Returnal that is permanent and carries over from run to run, the other being unlocked weapon traits. Basically, it acts like a currency that you can use to remove malignancy from items, unlock new artifacts at the start of a run, and alien machinery.

Weapon Experience

Not items per se but more points to boost your weapon efficiency level. The higher this is, the better weapons and traits you get when you open weapon chests.


Obolites are Returnal’s currency in the game that lets you buy artifacts or consumables. Obolites are dropped by enemies and disappear quickly. One tip I can give is to get close to enemies before they die so no Obolite would go to waste.

Malignant items

These are types of items (health, chests, keys, etc) that you can find scattered throughout the game world. These items are marked with a red aura and can have both positive and negative effects on your character. You may spend ether to cleanse these items but I would advise against it and just use ether for other items.

When picking up a malignant item, you must choose whether to use or leave it. If you use the item, it will provide a beneficial effect, such as refilling health or unlocking weapon chests. However, using a malignant item also comes with a downside. There is a chance that it will give Selene a negative buff.

Some buffs are easy to dispel, such as opening chests or using items, while others require you to collect 200 Obolites which can take longer. This is part of the game’s risk and reward mechanic, making each run unique.

Returnal Tips: Best Beginner Weapons

Returnal Tips Weapons

One of the most important aspects of Returnal is the wide variety of weapons you can discover and unlock. Each weapon has its own unique properties and abilities, making them useful in different situations. Here is the list of beginner-friendly weapons in the game:

Sidearm SD-M8

Returnal’s standard weapon, a handgun, and the one you always start with every run. It can shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger and has an almost infinite range.

Spitmaw Blaster

This will likely be one of the first weapons you use other than the Sidearm SD-M8. Basically, a shotgun that shoots slowly is also short-ranged and is limited in ammo, but it hits with an impact. I personally don’t use this as my playstyle is the run and gun, but you might have fun with it if you’re into the get close to the enemy’s face kind of playstyle.

Tachyomatic Carbine

The machine gun of Returnal, plain and simple. With a massive clip of ammo, meaning that you can fire a long stream of bullets right into the face of an enemy. Not the strongest (unless you have good weapon traits) but definitely shoots a ton of bullets in one clip.


One of the more unique guns in Returnal that shoots a bunch of needle-like bullets quickly and has a moderate homing effect. One of my favorites that actually helps me navigate the game easier with less panic. It also has some of the game’s most OP weapon traits allowing you to create portals and turrets just by shooting.

Thermogenic Launcher

The rocket launcher of the game usually has a clip of three rockets that have moderate homing abilities doing serious damage. It’s very important to hit the Overload with this gun because otherwise, it takes quite a while to reload its three rockets.

This weapon can easily take out hordes and large enemies. The only tip I can give is to master your overload timing. One way to help with this is to increase the size of your crosshair in the settings (which is what I did).

Returnal Tips: Final Thoughts

Lastly, I can add that while it is great to explore every biome, it is worth noting that you don’t have to fight everything, if you enter a domain that you don’t feel well-equipped enough to handle, you can always sprint out of it and leave the enemies behind, something that I usually do whenever I panic or feel fatigued enough. The goal is to always enjoy the game that we’re in, okay?

Overall, Returnal is a complex and challenging game that offers a wide variety of items, abilities, and weapons for players to discover and master. Truly, Housemarque outdid themselves with this title!

Whether you’re exploring the depths of Atropos or battling hordes of alien monsters, there’s always something new to discover and experiment with. So get out there and start exploring and I hope Returnal tips help!

Written By
Sushi Diaz

Is always looking for friends to play games (and dnd campaigns) with, your resident writer, cosplayer, model, actress, barista, and favorite seafood all rolled up in one ball!

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