Essential Returnal tips and tricks to help you beat the early stages of this brutal PS5 shooter


Returnal is hard. Brutally so. So you’ll need some tips and tricks up your sleeve to beat it.

Between its hostile world and the need for sharp reflexes, Housemarque‘s new PlayStation 5 exclusive is a real test of skill and patience.

What’s more, its limited tutorials and obtuse lore make progression a slow process. 

That’s why we’ve put together these Returnal tips to help you through the early stages of the game. You can also check out our thoughts on Returnal here.

Weapon proficiency tips

The weapon proficiency system is key to success in Returnal. Each run, Selene will start with a proficiency of zero. Killing enemies increases the meter at the bottom left of the screen, as does collecting the various blue calibrators littered throughout the world. Raising Adrenaline to level 4 also gives a boost to the proficiency increase rate.

So what does the weapon proficiency level mean? It represents the minimum level of weapon you’ll find in the world. If it’s at zero, then the chests you open will have weapons at level zero (or sometimes higher). That means it’s often best to ignore chests to begin with and progress with your standard pistol. Raise the proficiency level a couple of times and then teleport back to the weapon chest to find a gun at a higher level than you would have before. Keep an eye on your proficiency level and consider when is the best time to open weapon chests.


Returnal. (PlayStation)

Health upgrade tips

You’ll find green glowing health pickups – Silphium – around the world to replenish lost health. If you’re already at maximum, though, you’ll find Silphium resin instead. Collect three pieces of resin to increase your maximum health for that run.

It’s easier said than done, then, but you’re best off picking up Silphium while at full health and using one-off health items bought at fabricators to replenish lost health. In the first biome especially, you’ll want to focus on maximising your health meter to improve your chances later on. On that note, we recommend saving your Obolites (collected from enemies) for a massive health boost when you discover a fabricator.

Dodge, dodge, dodge

Dodging is another one of our top Returnal tips.

Selene is an agile heroine able to leap and dodge vast distances, depending on how long you hold the buttons for. More importantly, she’s invulnerable when dodging. Often it’s more advantageous to dodge through bullet fire rather than to the side, so you can keep your aim on your enemies. There’s a slight cooldown, though, so you can’t spam it. Instead you’ll need to time it correctly and alternate with jumps – this is especially important when dodging boss attacks where you’ll need to learn the patterns to know the best method of evasion.

Dodging through attacks also allows you to close in on enemies quickly, dispatch them with your melee attack (once you collect it) and immediately grab the Obolites before they disappear. Many enemies in the first biome can be taken out this way.

Exploration is key

Returnal is not a game to rush through. Each of its biomes is a massive non-linear maze to explore, and while it’s possible (eventually) to skip to subsequent levels pretty quickly, you’ll want to explore each level to the full first.

Why? If you skip ahead too fast you’ll be woefully unprepared for what’s to come. Take your time to explore every nook and cranny of each area for potential secrets and items. Destroy every enemy you find. Fall through every floor to find hidden areas. Through this, you’ll gradually collect enough Obolites for upgrades, improve your health, and increase your weapon proficiency. It might seem laborious to repeat the opening biome after each death, but it’ll be beneficial in the long run.


Returnal. (Sony)

Stay calm

Another tip that’s easier said than done! Returnal is an intense game which, if you’re anything like us, means gripping the controller tightly with your hands.

Don’t! A gentle squeeze of the left trigger is all that’s needed to aim down sights, with a full squeeze triggering alt-fire mode. You’ll also need to pay attention to the various rumble gestures as they’ll indicate when to reload and when your alt-fire mode has recharged.

What’s more, it’s easy to panic when overwhelmed with enemies but keeping your cool, dodging carefully, and being mindful of your surroundings are usually the key to success.

More tips

Aiming can help to pinpoint weakness, but often it’s easier to just shoot from the hip and focus on dodging.

Don’t bother with the shotgun-like Spitmaw Blaster for bosses. It’s a powerful weapon, but you’re often too far away to do full damage while dodging incoming fire.

Don’t forget to consider each weapon’s alt-fire mode. Test them out and see which you prefer and ensure you enter a boss fight with a weapon you feel most comfortable using, even if it’s less powerful.

Have you got any other Returnal tips for us that you think we should add? Email [email protected]. You can also contact us on Facebook.

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