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Returnal: Tips For Surviving Each Biome

Housemarque’s Returnal can be a difficult game if you’re exploring a new biome for the first time, but there are some key things to know that can help make your trip across Atropos a little more manageable.

This guide will show you some general-purpose tips to stay alive, as well as some that are specific to each biome.

Items And Landmarks That Will Help You Out In Returnal

Some of the things mentioned here are fairly evergreen, such that they are located in every biome. Granted, their locations will change on each cycle you attempt. Look out for these items or landmarks to help you out.

The Reclaimer

The Reclaimer is a device that allows Selene to fabricate an Artifact that lasts for that entire cycle, at the cost of taking moderate damage to her Integrity. Although it will never kill you, even if you use it at low health, it’s best not to use it unless you have a significant amount of Integrity stockpiled. Reclaimers are easy to identify because they have red lights.

There are also Inert Reclaimers that are a free-to-use Integrity replenishment. They don’t refill all your Integrity, but they’re still incredibly useful nonetheless. If you can survive exploring the rest of the biome first, save this until just before taking on the boss. This variant of the Reclaimer has green lights.

The Reconstructor

The Reconstructor is a device that allows Selene to revive at its location within the biome it is activated. It costs six Ether to activate, but keep in mind it only works once, then deactivates after Selene is brought back.

Reviving Artifacts

There are two artifacts that you should snatch up during any given cycle, and they both function the same way. The Astronaut Figurine and the Child’s Watch are both artifacts that revive Selene upon death, bringing her back in the exact place she fell.

Containment Rooms

During your trek through Atropos, you will come across doors that have a parasite attached to them, indicated on your minimap as a Yellow Doorway with a star above it. These are called Containment rooms and serve as a mini-gauntlet of sorts that give you the opportunity for better gear, at the risk of fighting tough enemies in a locked room.

There are three waves, each with increasing difficulty, ending in a fight against an apex predator enemy, such as a Titanops or Archonact.

Defeating all enemies will unlock the doors and open a small alcove with several rewards, including Artifacts, Consumables, Ether, and Parasites.

Treasure Rooms

Treasure rooms can be found all throughout Atropos and they can sometimes be tricky to spot if you don’t know what to look for. The entrance to the treasure room is always indicated by a small, glowing yellow orb in an inconspicuous place. If you try to collect it, the floor will give way, and you will fall down into the treasure room.

There are many variations on the treasure room and some even require that you defeat a Malformed version of the apex predator enemies in order to collect your prize, but most of the time they reward you for simply finding the room at all.

Some of the rooms will have multiple chests for you to open, others will have Obolites for you to collect, and others will just have local flora for you to break open to find Obolites and Silphium.


Take advantage of the fabricators scattered throughout each biome. They are incredibly useful for getting Consumables and Artifacts for increasing your survivability.

You can sometimes even find the Astronaut Figure or Child’s Watch in a “Fabricator Store.”

Chests Behind Bars

You will often find chests behind impenetrable bars in each biome, but they can be opened. You just need to find the switch that unlocks them.

Look around for a small, orange, pyramid-shaped switch that flashes red when you aim down your weapon’s sights. Shoot the switch and the bars will raise, revealing your prize.

General Tips

These tips apply to all biomes and may seem simple but are easy to forget once you get into the game’s cycle.

Unlock Weapon Traits

This will be one of the more time-consuming tasks of playing this game, but it is certainly worth doing. Taking the time to unlock new weapon traits for each weapon you pick up will really maximize your survivability.

Unlocking a new trait will increase the chances of it being equipped on the gun the next time you find it.

Take Your Time

This should be a no-brainer here, but it should be noted that you should take your time when exploring each biome.

Rushing through a biome is the quickest way to making a costly mistake, so make sure you pace yourself as you explore every nook and cranny for Silphium upgrades, Weapons, Consumables, and Artifacts

Biome-Specific Survival Tips

These tips are specific to each biome and can help make your runs a little less frustrating.

Overgrown Ruins

The starting area has plenty of cover with trees, archways, and pillars in the ruined areas. Use these to your advantage when fighting enemies early on.

Since this is the starting area, there are minimal environmental hazards compared to other biomes.

The Helios Can Help Restore Suit Integrity

Returning to the Helios at any time while you are in the Overgrown Ruins will act much like an Inert Reclaimer, recovering some of your lost suit Integrity.

Cthonos Unlocks New Artifacts

The Cthonos obelisk appears near your crashed ship after you’ve respawned a few times. Feeding it Ether will unlock a new Artifact for your current cycle and add it to the pool of potential Artifact drops on subsequent cycles.

Enemies To Look Out For

  • Titanops – The Titanops is a terrifying brutish creature that overwhelms you quickly if you aren’t careful. When it pulses bright red, get ready to dash out of the way, because it will charge at you with an upward slash. It will also leap up and smash down from time to time.
  • Lamiadon – These are frustrating to deal with, and can become quite a nuisance if too many of them attack you at once. The main thing to keep an eye out for is when they glow bright orange because they are about to lunge at you with a spinning slash attack. Thankfully, you can interrupt these fairly easily because their stun meter fills almost instantly when taking damage.

Crimson Wastes

The red desert landscape is dangerous if you get caught out in the open. Before you reach the mountain, use the pillars and walls for cover when fighting against Aetheracts and Archonacts outside in the arenas.

Once you reach the inside of the mountain, combat will be more confined, so you’ll need to be more deliberate in your movements.

Enemies To Look Out For

  • Gorgolith – This stone crab monster has several attacks that can make your life miserable. It can launch blue missiles in a large arc from the holes on its shell, it can spin around creating red rings that force you to jump over them, and it can fire a laser from its forked tail in a wide-sweeping pattern.
  • Severed – This humanoid creature has a sword which, can create air slashes in the direction of its swing. It can also teleport, so if you see it disintegrate, just expect it to be attempting to teleport behind you. Be sure to dash right away afterward. The Severed can also launch an orange orb in front of itself, releasing smaller orbs in a spiral pattern that disperses quickly.
  • Archonact – This horrific Tetris T-Block from your nightmares is a sight to behold. It hovers high in the air and can release hundreds of blue orbs in a spiral pattern as it spins. It also has a quad laser beam that it can fire at you, so prepare to dodge to the side.

Derelict Citadel

Be careful as you traverse the Derelict Citadel because the entire biome takes place on building tops with long drops. You will also need to be careful not to miss your mark when grappling from point to point in the open areas, otherwise, you’ll plummet to your death.

Enemies To Look Out For

  • Automaton – These hulking behemoths have rapid firearm cannons that can tear you to shreds very quickly. It can grapple you from afar, so be ready to dash out of its hold. It can also leap to your location, creating a shockwave upon impact.
  • Armored Machina – These unassuming metal spheres don’t look like much, but they have some of the most treacherous firing patterns in the game, second only to bosses at the end of each biome. Most of its attacks are meant to spread around the area instead of targeting Selene, with the exception of some projectiles that cause malfunctions upon impact.

Echoing Ruins

This biome is very similar to the Overgrown Ruins, including the enemies you encounter, but this time they all have new attacks and do much more damage. Starting in this biome, you will also notice that Ether are found more frequently.

The Helios Is Back

Just like in the Overgrown Ruins, Selene can return to the Helios to refill some of her suit Integrity.

The Cthonos Also Returns

Once again this obelisk is located near where you respawn. Spend some Ether to unlock new Artifacts for subsequent cycles.

Enemies To Look Out For

  • Strixera Matriarch – This flying nightmare is an oversized version of the smaller Strixera that you fought in both the Overgrown Ruins and Echoing Ruins. It fires four purple lasers in a pattern that moves upward, and the scary thing is that purple projectiles cannot be dashed through. When you fill the stun meter on this enemy, it flips over, revealing a bright red weak point. Use this to your advantage to dispose of it quickly.
  • Proto-Titanops – A much deadlier version of the Titanops, this one uses the same moves from before, but with some new surprises. It will occasionally pound the ground in quick succession, creating purple shockwaves that must be jumped over to avoid.

Fractured Wastes

A frozen version of the Crimson Wastes, just about everything here is trying to freeze you to death. The variant of the turrets in this biome lob ground-freezing projectiles, so be careful to avoid those when you get surrounded by enemies.

Enemies To Look Out For

  • Frost Severed – A more aggressive version of the Severed from the Crimson Wastes, this enemy has the ability to create a shield that resists projectiles. It also uses several attacks that creates purple projectiles that cannot be dashed through.
  • Frost Machina – This variant of the Machina has a slow purple beam attack, and a projectile that explodes into expanding energy circles.

Abyssal Scar

The final biome in the game is the only one that has modified gravity, and this is due to it being entirely underwater.

Selene jumps higher and further, but her jump and fall speed are also slower. Because of the gravity change, she can cross much larger gaps than before.

This biome has very low visibility, and a lot of the flora looks like the enemies you encounter, so it can be challenging to know the difference at first.

Enemies To Look Out For

  • Abyssal Archonact – This monstrosity looks like the T-Block’s head exploded, creating something even more terrifying than before. It has a split laser attack that starts low, than raises upward. It can also create a tunnel of blue projectiles that fire straight at you, so be sure to dodge to the side before you get caught in it. It also launches red projectiles that chase you and cause malfunctions upon impact.
  • Abyssal Machina – Just like the two before it, this Machina is very armored and takes a while to kill. It can teleport just like its brethren, and creates the most complex projectile pattern of any normal enemy in the game. It will explode into a spread of orange projectiles when it dies, so be sure not to be close to it when that happens.
  • Typhonops – This is an aquatic version of the Titanops from the Overgrown and Echoing Ruins. This variant has a projectile attack that causes malfunctions on impact, and is more aggressive with its melee strikes.
  • Abyssal Trichozoid – While this enemy isn’t inherently a threat on its own, it creates smaller Anomos enemies indefinitely until you kill it. These squid creatures will follow you and charge at you, but they are easily dispatched.

An important thing to note: The shielded versions of the Abyssal Trichozoid are the best way to farm kills for unlocking weapon traits late in the game.

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