In this Returnal Walkthrough Guide I’ll do my best to share with you some great tips and strategies for making your way through Returnal. Obviously, Returnal is a rogue-like game, meaning the level layouts shift with each new run through, but there are many things that remain true regardless what attempt you are on. In this Returnal Guide I will share acquired knowledge that I’ve learned first hand as I’ve played the game.
Returnal Walkthrough Guide: Overgrown Ruins, Crimson Wastes, Derelict Citadel and More!
The first area of the game you will spend quite a bit of time in is called Overgrown Ruins, and here you will learn the very basics of the game. How to use Overload, what Artifacts do, what the different Weapon types are and more. Much of this is self explanatory, but if you need some help with this aspect, please check out our Getting Started Guide.
Overgrown Ruins Walkthrough
Your first priority when entering Overgrown Ruins should be to learn the mechanics and make your way towards the main objective. Along the way you will unlock technology and equipment that are permanent upgrades, making your life much easier on subsequent playthroughs.
In order to head in the right direction you need to head for the orange marker on your map, as well as keep making your way through the light blue doors and not the darker blue “V” shaped ones. You can stick your head inside these if you want, but if you don’t recognize it, or it’s a rather large area then I strongly suggest avoiding it until you’ve at least obtained the Atropian Blade, which can be found through the light blue door with a circle above it.
By this time you should also have the Atropian Weapon Charger granting you Alt-Fire modes on your Weapons, and the Hermetic Transmitter which allows you to transport on the glowing blue holographs.
The reason you want to wait until you gain the Atropian Blade is because it allows you to not only melee enemies, which is highly effective, but also because it allows you to cut through the red vines in different areas, providing you with more Integrity. Healing is tough to come by early on, and this opens up a lot more to you, drastically improving your chances of survival. Note that you don’t lose this item when you die.
There are two more items in this zone that you’ll be looking to get, and the first is the House Key. This provides you access to your house, allowing you insight into the story of the game, as well as an Artifact called the “Astronaut Figurine”. This Artifact will save you from dying one time, and heal you for a ton of health. You will find this key in a “V” room past the House where you will fall down.
You will only get this item the very first time you enter the house, so make sure you only do this on a an attempt you feel confident about, since this one item can help you defeat the Boss of this biome on your very first attempt. Be sure to check the house again, on subsequent runs because there are a total of 6 house interactions in the game. Note that you don’t lose this item when you die.
Phrike, Anathema Key & the Crimson Key
The Crimson Key is the last item you will need to find in this biome, and to get it you need to defeat the Boss: Phrike. He is located through the red door and to the end of this area, but be careful not to be spotted by the large eyes. Unlock the door there with the Anathema Key, and head inside and drop down to face Phrike. You will find this Key by exploring and following the light blow doors.
The way to defeating Phrike is having a Weapon with a couple of points of “Bonus Damage”, one that you feel comfortable with, and an Alt-Fire mode that is effective. You may need to farm up your Weapon Proficiency by exploring and killing enemies before you find one.
You want to stay out of melee range when facing him if you can, so having a mid to longer range weapon is ideal. I strongly suggest using the Tachyomatic Carbine, but you can also use the Modified Sidearm SD-M8 if you can find a good one.
Keep moving left and right, and change directions every couple of bursts when he shoots purple balls at you since these lead your movement eventually, and you will get hit if you keep walking one direction. Dodge away when he tries to melee you, and be sure to jump over the red rings when he places them on the ground. And always keep firing while you’re moving, and learn to hip-fire so you can move faster.
If you die you will automatically revive if you have the Astronaut Figurine, and if you don’t have one, you should aim to get at least one Large Silphium Vial before this fight. You can usually find one at a Fabricator on your map if you look hard enough. You only need to beat him one time in order to get the Crimson Key, and once you have it, you need not defeat him again since this item stays with you, even if you die.
Once you have the Crimson Key head back to where you found the Atropian Blade, which is the room with the circle above it and the Crimson Gateway will now open, allowing you to move through it to the Crimson Wastes. Don’t worry if you haven’t fully explored everything in Overgrown Ruins, because I can assure you, it will not be the last time you have to explore them.
On subsequent runs you can just head straight for the door with the circle over it, that contains the Crimson Gateway and go straight there if you wish.
Once you’ve reached the Crimson Wastes you’ll gain a good chunk for Weapon Proficiency from an item there, 1 Large Silphium Vial and an extra Consumable slot. You’ll definitely need these, as this will allow you to get better Weapons, and to be able to fully heal once, as well as take different Consumables with you.
Once you head into the Crimson Wastes you’ll want to head straight forward as much as possible, ignoring the V rooms on the left and the right as they come. Most need Atropian Keys to open, and you likely won’t have many.
This area is littered with Malignant Resin and some Malignant Keys and Chests. I highly advise not using them unless you have a Nullification Sphere that you can use to remove Malfunctions instantly. Additionally, there are a many flying enemies in this area so you will want to look out for a longer range Weapon if you don’t have one, and be sure to use structures around the map to line of sight enemies down.
I also suggest you pass up the areas that glow yellow and drop you down if you are having a really good run, because sometimes powerful enemies will spawn down there and they can two shot you, ending a potentially good run before it really got going.
Inner Areas & Hollowseeker
Once you get about half way through this area you’ll see a light blue door that will take you into an inside space, and it’s usually guarded by Turrets or ground-oriented creatures. Make your way inside, and up the stairs to find the Hollowseeker Weapon. Once you’ve discovered this Weapon it will enter the pool of randomly dropped Weapons, so you’ll want to make sure to get it. Not long after getting this you’ll face your first Severed.
Severed can be very tough the first time you are there, and the key is to stagger it by filling its stagger gauge as quickly as you can. Use your Alt-Fire if you can, and then unload until it Staggers, even taking a tiny bit of damage if you have to. The Severed will take more damage when it is Staggered and you should be able to burst it down. If not, you’ll need to watch out for his teleport-melee combo, and make sure to dodge if you see this. Stay far away from him if you can, unless you want to try to melee him down, which is also possible if you are careful.
Keep making your way through the light blue doors, ignoring the Vs until you reach the Summit. This is going to be somewhat challenging, so don’t worry if you die a few times attempting this, because you have to go a really long way.
Once you’ve made it to the Summit you will have essentially unlocked a shortcut, and from this point forward anytime you make it to the door that leads to the inner areas, you will have a portal that allows you to teleport to the Summit. This is really good news, as it allows you to skip a ton of the are if you just need to face the boss.
Ixion & Icarian Grapnel
After reaching the Summit you will soon after face Ixion in your second boss battle. He is considerably harder than Phrike, and you will need to heal during this fight in most cases, so make sure you have some handy.
The strategy here is to keep moving and hip-firing, much like Phrike, but you’ll spend a lot more time dodging. He has several attacks that send forth blue waves of energy periodically, that you need to dodge through or you will take damage. And just like Phrike, he shoots a lot of red and pink orbs your way, that you have to constantly dodge. Make sure you have a high damage weapon, and you use your Alt-Fire whenever you can.
Once Ixion is defeated you will gain the Icarian Grapnel which allows you to grapple the glowing orange triangles around areas, which is needed in the next area. You can also use this is in many areas in Overgrown Ruins and Crimson Wastes as well, so subsequent runs will be more interesting.
Head through the portal that will now open on the Summit, in sort of the inner area there where you need to use the Grapnel, and you will arrive in the Derelict Citadel.
Don’t forget that once you have the Grapnel, you can go back to the Overgrown Ruins and explore there to find the Rotgland Lobber, which is a new Weapon you can use to fight enemies, and will be added to your possible weapon pool. This area is not reachable without the Grapnel, so you will not be able to get it before this point of the game.
The Rotgland Lobber is a single shot charge weapon that does substantial damage, but also does damage over time to the enemy, making it one of the best weapons in the game. It excels against smaller groups of enemies, but it works fantastically against hard to kill ones because you can place the DoT effect on them and just keep running while reapplying as necessary. This allows you to use line of sight while still damaging them, often preventing a lot of damage you would take if you were to use another weapon.
When you first step into Derelict Citadel you’ll gain more Weapon Proficiency and another Large Silphium Vial. You’ll likely need to use it right away if you just made it from the previous boss, but if this is a clean attempt since defeating it you’ll want to hang on to it for later.
The Derelict Citadel begins with a lot of Grapnelling to different platforms while you defeat many flying and ground automaton enemies. If you have a long range weapon you can pick some of them off before you use the Grapnel, to save yourself some Health.
Much like the other zones you’re going to follow the light blue doors to the main objective, avoiding nearly anything else that could possible be dangerous. But unlike other zones, there are also little moving arrows on your minimap that show you the way forward.
Eventually you will come to an area guarded by several large eyes up above, and two turrets guarding a door. Inside this door is the Thermogenic Launcher, which you will want to pick up since much like the Hollowseeker, it will allow you add this to your pool of possible weapon drops.
The Thermogenic Launcher is excellent at taking out large enemies, as well as flying ones since it fires homing rockets. It’s not a bad choice to use in this area, just make sure you have use the highest Bonus Damage weapon you can find for best results.