Returnal can often be a game about the luck of the draw and is challenging from start to finish. What you were fortunate enough to find while exploring its deadly extraterrestrial world ultimately determines your fate. However, there are many instances where deploying a better strategy or playing a bit smarter could propel you further.
Even though Returnal is a roguelike, you can make a simple mistake that could cost you that run without even realizing it. As with most roguelike titles, the world is mysterious, and you may have to go through many attempts before everything finally snaps into place. Fortunately, there are ways to speed up that process and overcome the early obstacles the game throws at you. Here are some tips for beginners to both the game and genre.
10 Be Patient
One of the most prominent overarching themes in Returnal is that you are expected to die and redo the loop as many times as it takes until you finally prosper.
However, Returnal can be pretty challenging from the initial jump and has many systems that won’t be available until you attempt multiple loops. Patience will carry you much further than most other things in Returnal and is an important characteristic to have before entering its challenging world.
9 Find Your Strengths
Finding your particular strengths in Returnal can prove to be challenging, but it is essential to learn if you prefer longer-ranged engagements or like being up close and personal with your enemy.
There are ten weapons in Returnal and many different abilities that you can gather throughout each loop. Evaluate each choice presented to you with how beneficial it is to your playstyle and, from there, you’ll be able to start finding your rhythm.
8 Do The Daily Challenge
Daily Challenges can be accessed almost immediately when you start Returnal. However, this feature hardly gets mentioned in the game, and you almost have to stumble upon it.
These challenges will reward you with Ether, the game’s permanent currency that carries over between runs and is necessary to open some chests, activate Resolvers, or absolve items of malignancy. Ether is Returnal’s most important currency, so don’t pass on the daily challenges!
7 Learn The Map Icons
The world of Returnal can be incredibly challenging. Fortunately, the game does an exceptional job at letting you know what lies ahead of you in terms of map icons.
In Returnal, each entrance to a new room is marked with a district icon, letting you know what will be in the next room. The critical path doors are different than side-area entrances, and even the mini-map shows healing items, weapons, and currency. When the map gets fully expanded, you’ll also be able to look at the map legend to see what every single icon present represents, which is a great way to learn what everything means.
6 Learn When To Bail
As is the case for most Roguelike games, it’s essential to know when you are outclassed in a particular area and can make a choice to bail on the encounter altogether.
There will be moments in Returnal where you enter an arena and may not be appropriately geared for the oncoming onslaught of enemies. In most cases, you’ll be able to turn around and head towards another area of the map and return when you can tackle the situation. This will ensure you stay alive longer and allow you to get a more comfortable build for these hectic situations.
5 Dash A Lot
One of the more essential tools you have at your disposal in Returnal is the dash. Not only is dashing a great way to traverse the world, but it’s also a great way to avoid incoming attacks and damage as well as keep your Adrenaline maxed out.
When dashing in Returnal, you are immune to taking damage, meaning if you time each dash correctly, you can avoid taking damage in encounters. Learning the enemy attack patterns is an essential part of the game, but understanding precisely the timing of when to dodge them is equally as important.
4 Rest Mode = Save
There is no current way to save mid-run in Returnal, which ultimately forces many players to endure 90+ hour runs and can be pretty exhausting.
However, putting the PlayStation 5 in Rest Mode with the application still open will suspend the game until you awaken your console again. This suspended state is essentially a way to “save” your current location in the run without having to start the loop again by closing the application. Just make sure to turn off auto-update!
3 Master The Overload Mechanic
There are many systems and mechanics in play within Returnal, but one of the more important ones is the Overload system.
The Overload Mechanic is essentially the Active Reload system from Gears of War and is a game-changer when mastered. Essentially, when you empty your weapon’s magazine, it will overheat. A prompt will then appear on the screen where you can then attempt to Overload the gun. Successfully Overloading a weapon will instantly replenish the weapon’s ammunition, while failing to do so – or ignoring it – will take additional time to do so.
2 Use The Melee
In addition to your gun, you will also have access to a devastating melee attack that may go underappreciated.
The melee attack in Returnal is potent and can often one-hit-kill smaller enemies. Even in later biomes. It may not seem like a great strategy to get up close and personal, but once you get into a rhythm, you should be able to dash in and deliver a deadly melee strike with no fear. You can also obtain many different upgrades for your melee attack that can make it even more deadly, and they should always be considered during each run!
1 Malfunctioning Is Often Worth The Risk
Malfunctioning can seem scary, especially when you are late into a run in Returnal. However, in most cases, the risk is often worth the reward.
In some cases, the Malfunctioning downside is that enemies will leave behind a temporary pool of acid when killed or slow your alt-fire cooldown by a couple of seconds, with the positive effect being greater health or better weapon pickups. However, there are some nasty Malfunctions that you should be aware of, such as significantly less health or take damage with every item pickup.
It will be wise to have items that can resolve a Malfunction handy if you fear getting the more devastating ones, but for the most part, they’re pretty mild.
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