Returnal is hard. The roguelike third-person shooter puts players through their paces with the aggressive Bullet Hell aesthetic. Hundreds of energy blasts can simultaneously fly your way, making it feel near impossible to dodge them all.
To win, you have to make sure that you chose the right build, pick up the right weapons, select manageable parasites, and more micro-decisions that can be overwhelming. Even after making all those choices, you still might lose.
Returnal gets much easier if you just focus on three specific stats to make the Bullet Hell feel more like a Bullet Purgatory — it’ll still be a challenging punishment, but you can make it through.
Here’s what to focus on to optimize your runs in Returnal.
What’s the best Returnal build?
The best build in Returnal is one focused on survivability. When you pick up items, prioritize ones that enhance your Suit Integrity, Protection, and grant you a second life. Despite all the options that you have available, simply surviving another second can be crucial in reaching a new Biome or defeating a difficult boss.
How to increase Suit Integrity in Returnal
Returnal calls it “Suit Integrity” to sound smart and science-y, but the term just refers to your health bar. Suit Integrity is the green health bar found on the lower left of your HUD.
To enhance your Suit Integrity, try keeping your health as full as possible. This can be achieved by using consumables like Silphium Vial and Large Silphium Vials regularly.
With a full health bar, all the health pick-ups around the map, which are denoted by green plus-shaped icon on your minimap, become Resin. You need resin to boost your Suit Integrity. After collecting three Resin, your Suit Integrity will grow. You can expedite this process by finding the Resin Enhancer artifact, which reduces the number of Resin needed to boost your Suit Integrity to two.
If you’re confident-ish in your Returnal skills, challenging rooms that appear to have a golden door with a star on the minimap can be helpful. These rooms contain challenging encounters, but they also contain numerous bits of Resin. If you have a full health bar, these can be used to quickly increase your maximum suit integrity.
How to increase Protection in Returnal
Like the many other Returnal stats, Protection is just another word for defense. This is an amount of damage that’s subtracted from each blow before it goes into your health bar.
If you increase your Protection, you’re effectively increasing your health bar and making it easier to build Suit Integrity. If you lose less health per hit, you won’t have as much to build back up.
When you find things like Fabricators (the shops where you can spend points) around Returnal, make sure to prioritize purchasing protection.
How to get a second life in Returnal
In Returnal, you die when your health bar is depleted — unless you have the right item equipped.
Certain items like the Astronaut Figurine found exclusively in the first Biome will let you survive a fatal blow and live to fight another day. Other than the Astronaut Figurine, you can also utilize specific Parasites, which allow you to survive fatal blows for a price like drastically reducing Suit Integrity.
You should always try to get your mitts on a second life item.
On the off chance you don’t bump into such an item, try using a Reconstructor. It looks like a play-doh mold of an alien and costs six Ether. If you perish against an enemy, you can use a Reconstructor to respawn at that location.
It should be noted that Reconstructors aren’t nearly as useful as the other forms of getting a second life. It’ll rob you of all your Parasites and you’ll spawn a significant distance from where you died. Only use a Reconstructor if you’ve made it particularly far into a run and don’t want to lose your progress.