If you're anything like myself, you've probably died quite a few times on PlayStation's latest exclusive game, Returnal. Compared to other exclusives, Returnal is unique in that it's a roguelite (I'll explain what that means in a moment), and for those unfamiliar with the genres, you may be finding it difficult to understand what's really happening. That's where this Returnal guide comes in.
Not to worry, as we've put together a list of some essential tips to guide you through the opening hours of the game, and hopefully, to help you stay alive for just a couple of rooms longer, at the very least of course.
Returnal Guide for Beginners - Understanding "Roguelites"
If you're a casual fan of PlayStation's extensive and amazing set of exclusives, you may not know what a Roguelite is, and that's completely understandable. That's why I'm here to explain what it is in brief detail.
Roguelites are a genre made of difficulty and luck. Normally when a player dies, they respawn at a previous checkpoint to take on the same fight again. However, with Roguelites, you'll be taken back all the way to the beginning of the game, losing all gear that you earned during that run.
Don't be frightened of death though, as each playthrough has randomised levels and loot, making for a unique experience each time and a chance that your next run may be the winning time. There's also some stuff that will be kept after death too.
Returnal Guide for Beginners - What Do You Keep
Now you know that you lose most of your earned gear in each run, what's kept?
Well, without spoiling any of the games' many cool and interesting gadgets, some of the gear you earn which is linked to story progression is kept throughout the game. You also keep a currency called "Ether." It's most likely easier to tell you what you don't keep.
When you die, you'll lose artefacts, weapons (returning to using your pistol at the start of each game), parasites, consumables and the main currency, Obolite. These are all easy to find on each run though, so you'll likely find some familiar loot in passing.
Returnal Guide for Beginners - How Do I Stay Alive?
Staying alive in Returnal is not easy. It's a balance between luck, skill and learning. With each time you die, you'll have likely learnt from your mistakes. You'll also have the chance to either be luckier, or worse off, on your next playthrough. And that's fine. It's normal to experience bad luck when you play through any Roguelite, so don't let it bring you down.
When it comes to fighting many of Returnal's enemies, focus on the smaller ones first as you can become quickly overwhelmed. The bigger bosses attack heavier but usually have a longer wind-up time before they shoot or jump at you, which is a lot easier to deal with if there aren't any pestering little aliens around you. Remember to constantly use your dash and jumping to avoid enemy attacks and the "balls" which they usually fire out.
There's also the matter of weaponry. Each weapon has its own stats and also, its own fire rate. Make sure you pick a gun closer to your playstyle. I have found myself constantly using the shotgun-esque weapon to keep enemies away from me and it's worked a charm, but you may prefer getting a better variant of the pistol you start with. It's all personal preference and you can only find ones you like by trying them out. Each weapon also has a unique "Focus Fire", which, when charged and using L2 and R2, cause a special power shot. These Focus Fires have a long cooldown but are insanely useful in tight situations.
Also, make sure you pick up "Silphium", the in-game name of the health drops which are scattered around each "room"of Returnal's ever-changing map that you enter. Some Silphium can also upgrade your maximum health, meaning you can take more hits before you die. And if you're wanting an extra life, which is an extra chance after you die, make sure to read our guide on it
Returnal Guide for Beginners - Explore Everything
The great thing about Returnal is that it offers many pathways which lead to new and interesting stuff that you can find. Whilst there may be a lot of backtracking throughout each run of Returnal's alien environment, finding equipment that may mean the difference between life and death is essential for your survival against these hostile lifeforms.
Check every nook and cranny, as many secrets lie around. Some may just lead you to a small Silphium, which will boost a small amount of your health back, whilst others may lead to exciting artefacts which give your extensive list of stats a boost. It's a lot of fun to try and locate every single secret on each run of Returnal, and it's beneficial too.
There's also the parasites, which are unique risk/reward objects. These usually give you some powerful boost to help you on your journey, whilst also punishing you on something. Make sure to read each parasite so you know what you're being affected by and to make sure it suits your playstyle. You don't want a parasite that affects your dash cooldown if you're constantly finding yourself dashing out of enemies attacks.
And of course, you're free to grab and loot everything you want. It's all trial and error most of the time in both Roguelites and Returnal alike, but you also don't have to grab anything at all, if you want. There's no right or wrong, no rhyme or reason to how you want to play the game so feel free to play however you want.
That concludes our beginner's guide. There are many other elements to Returnal, such as the adrenaline system, weapon proficiency, what doors mean on the mini-map and more. But for now, these tips should give you enough to learn and play around with. Good luck out there. You'll need it.