Returnal Tips: Essential Tips and Tricks For Beginners

share to other networks share to twitter share to facebook

Returnal's first area is absolutely hard as nails, dropping players in at the deep end with very little to defend themselves. It can take many hours to clear this first biome, as you'll need to learn a whole host of interconnected systems and gameplay mechanics. To help you start off on the right foot we've put together this essential Returnal Tips guide. We'll list tips and tricks for beginners that'll help take your performance to the next level.

Returnal Tips and Tricks For Beginners

While Returnal can be extremely difficult at first, there are some things you can do to get ahead. Here are some essential tips and tricks for beginners:

An Obolite Chunk in Returnal.
click to enlarge
Collect Obolites as you go

Focus On Adrenaline

Our first tip is a simple one: focus on building Adrenaline. This means spending extra time with enemies, dodging attacks and making sure you don't get hit. It'll take some getting used to, but learning enemy attack patterns and building Adrenaline will make you a better player. Returnal is as much about dodging bullets than it is about shooting.

Hit the Main Path

We recommend focusing on the light blue doors and the main path at first. This is so that you can unlock the sword as soon as possible, giving you a much needed extra tool in your arsenal. Focus on following the main objectives, generally ignoring side-paths and unnecessary skirmishes.

Selene picks up an upgrade in Returnal
click to enlarge

Collect Everything In Each Area

You need to be picking up every Obolite and item you come across in Returnal. Generally, that's everything not infected with Malignancy. Having a good supply of Obolites will allow you to buy items later on. Check your map in each area to make sure you aren't missing anything.

Unlock Translocators

Push through the main objectives until you unlock the ability to use Translocators. These are essentially fast travel points that allow you to backtrack. This can be extremely helpful for picking up missed items and using devices before a boss run.

Experiment With Parasites and Malfunctions

A good tactic to have early on is to load up with Parasites and Malignant items. It'll give you Malfunctions, but this is an important thing to learn to deal with. Get used to clearing Malfunctions and open any chests that have Moderate Malignancy chance. You'll be surprised by how your game changes.

Selene switches weapons in Returnal
click to enlarge

Try Out Every Weapon

There are only a handful of weapons on offer in the first biome, so try out each one to see which ones suit your play style. As you use them you'll unlock new traits for each gun. Do this early to gain access to more versatile weapons.


The overload function in Returnal allows you to instantly reload your weapon. Get used to hitting it every time. This will allow you to keep firing and becomes extremely important later on in the game. Practise with each reload to get the timing right.

Unlock New Items

You can spend Ether at the starting area after the device unlocks. This allows you to expand the loot pool as you go, making your runs much more diverse. Try to spend at this device whenever you can.

Picking up a Datacube item in Returnal
click to enlarge

Spend Your Ether Wisely

While it can be tempting to spend your Ether on cleansing Malignant items, try to avoid doing so. Instead, spend your Ether at the start of each run to unlock new items, it's a much better investment.

Do Your Daily Challenges

Make sure you log in and do your Daily Challenges. You'll get 5 Ether each time you do one, whether you die or not. Challenges will also teach you how to play the game, giving you the opportunity to focus on a single weapon and set of conditions.

Aim for Weak Spots

Most of the enemies you'll come across in Returnal will have red weak points. Aim for these to stagger enemies, allowing you to move in for an easy kill. This is especially important for stronger enemies.

A severed enemy choking Selene. It is glowing red in the Crimson Wastes area.
click to enlarge

Prioritise Turrets

When faced with a room full of enemies, try to prioritise turrets. They can be taken out with a single hit from the sword, and can be great for building Adrenaline. Turrets will fire at you at long-distance, so getting rid of them can open up the battlefield significantly.

Learn Audio Cues

Returnal makes great use of the PS5's controller, with a variety of audio cues to listen out for. You'll get notified when your Alt-Fire is ready, when you can Overload a weapon, and sometimes even be alerted to nearby secrets. Use this to your advantage.


Doge Through Projectiles

One thing to get into the habit of is using your dash to dodge through projectiles. You have a small window of invulnerability when you dash, so use this as often as you can.

That's all of our essential Returnal Tips and Tricks. For more help with the game be sure to visit our guide on Proficiency. Elsewhere there's our guide on unlocking the grapple hook.