Welcome to the Things to Do First page of the official IGN Wiki Guide and Walkthrough for Returnal on PlayStation 5. Returnal is a rogue-lite-like game set on the mysterious and always-changing planet of Atropos.
The game does not tell you much at all when you start and you might find yourself building a list of questions you have about the game. We did the same, but now that we’re farther in the game, we have the answers and they’re compiled below. Check out our tips below for things to do first in Returnal.
20 Things to Do First in Returnal
- Die! Seriously, die and don’t feel bad about doing it. Much of the game’s story is told in the flashbacks and quick cutscenes that play in between dying and your next run.
- Look for the Atropian Weapon Charger equipment piece. This is a permanent equipment piece that unlocks the Alt-Fire mode for every weapon you have on your person and every weapon you pick up in the future.
- After finding the Atropian Weapon Charger, practice using your pistol’s standard weapon fire and alt-fire mode.
- In order to use the alt-fire mode of your weapon, you must pull L2 all the way down, or at least past the trigger’s halfway point. You’ll feel the trigger “unlock,” as it were, and you’ll see the reticle on screen change to reflect the alt-fire firing mode.
- In order to use the standard fire of your weapon, you must either fire from the hip by pressing R2 without pressing L2 or by pulling L2 down about halfway — when you feel the trigger lock, that’s as far as you can go before activating the weapon’s alt-fire mode.
- Get familiar with the game’s many items and item icons on the mini-map. Returnal can get frantic quite fast and in those moments, you’re likely going to be running around looking for Silphium to increase your health or a consumable. Knowing exactly where that item you need is on the minimap will make things much easier.
- Stop and feel the rain. Seriously. The DualSense’s haptic feedback really shines in Returnal in a lot of ways and the first time you’ll likely feel that is the game’s rain, which is heavily present in Returnal’s first biome, the Overgrown Ruins.
- Take some time to get used to the speed of Returnal: Returnal is an extremely fast-paced game. Selene’s standard movement speed is as fast as some games’ running speed and her running speed (press L3 to run) is even faster. Aiming while running around — not to mention dashing — can be quite jarring at first so take some time to get used to how this works.
- Give the enemies some time to attack — it’s easy to immediately attack an enemy on sight, but doing so will often trigger an animation from them that prevents them from attacking. Give yourself some time to view what an enemy’s attack looks like because you won’t have time to do this when you’re being slammed with multiple enemies on screen later in the first biome.
- Observe the game’s map: press the large touch button on the DualSense to pull up the map. Look at what the map looks like and figure out how that translates to the minimap. You should also try and memorize each of the minimap symbols (which are also present on the map) — it’s important to know that teal rectangular “door” symbols mark golden path doors while purple triangular “door” symbols mark optional areas.
- Explore every nook and cranny of the first biome. Doing so will introduce you to how the game’s biomes work and how they’re laid out. It’ll also demonstrate to you how critical it is to explore every room in a biome at first. Many important items can be found in those rooms.
- Explore your ship after you die a couple of times — eventually, after you die a couple of times, you’ll be in your ship with a first-person view. Check out your ship’s log, ignore the open hole on the left (this starts your next run), and give the Daily Challenges section a look when you unlock that.
- Practice dashing: Dashing is so, so, so important in Returnal. It’s a move that can make or break a run because messing up one dash in the middle of some serious otherwise-high-damage attacks can end with you dead. You’ll want to become a dashing pro as quickly as possible. Dashing also gives you a brief window of invincibility and you can probably guess how helpful that is in this game.
- Search for the Atropian Blade: this is the game’s melee and when you find this blade, you’ll unlock it permanently. It’s necessary to advance through the game’s first biome and it’s necessary to destroy walls that are often blocking you from getting items like Silphium pickups and more.
- Ignore enemies with red shields around them if you don’t yet have the Atropian Blade: you won’t be able to destroy them.
- Look for anything and everything on the ground glowing purple: this is more than likely an Atropian Key, which is a key used to unlock red locked doors scattered throughout the first biome in the game.
- Read any and every entry in your personal log. There are a ton of items and enemies in Returnal and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with each of them. The best way to do that (other than reading IGN’s Returnal Wiki Guide and Walkthrough), is by reading the entries in your log.
- Check out the Cthonos pillar by the ship after dying. The small circle on the front of it will glow white. When it does, interact with it. You’ll learn that you can put Ether into it to receive a random item — this random item is often extremely helpful on a fresh, new run.
- Don’t stress out over Datacubes: you’ll pick these up during your first few runs in Returnal and you might find yourself confused with what they do. That’s ok because you won’t learn more about them until after beating the first boss.
- Give each of the weapons you find in the first biome of Returnal, the Overgrown Ruins, a spin. There is no set weapon that’s better than the rest — it all depends on how proficient you are at using a weapon and you won’t be able to figure that out until you give each weapon a good try.