Housemarque’s rogue-lite has several systems at play. Here’s how some of them work.
For all its stunning visuals and production values, Returnal is still a tough bullet-hell shooter. Being a rogue-lite also means starting over in a new cycle when you die. Considering how much time it can take to explore each biome and the lack of mid-cycle saves, it can get a little tiring over extended playthroughs. Fortunately, there are a few ways to survive the ordeal.
The first is the Astronaut Figurine. You’ll find this in the Overgrown Ruins but first, you need the House Key which unlocks the strange house associated with Selene’s past. Locate the house in question, unlock the entrance with the key and enter inside. After exploring, there will be a new item outside – collect it to unlock the Astronaut Figurine. Once it appears like this, it can be obtained throughout a cycle, either as a free item or from the collection of fabricators that constitute a “vendor’ in Returnal. It usually costs 250 Obolites, making it a must-have item during any run.
Long story short, the Figurine gives you an extra life. Dying will respawn you in the exact same location, allowing you to continue fighting. Of course, keep in mind that it’s appearance through a cycle is completely up to RNG.
How to Use Reconstructors
If you don’t get the Astronaut Figurine, the next best option is a Reconstructor. One Reconstructor is located in each biome and provides a “checkpoint.” Die and you’ll respawn at the Reconstructor, keeping all of your items, weapon and upgrades for that cycle (parasites and Malfunctions are removed, however). Any rooms that have been cleared will also carry over, making it easier to trek back to the boss.
Reconstructors require Ether, the same material used for unlocking new items, cleansing Malignancies and whatnot. Though Ether carries over between runs, it’s doled out at a fairly even pace in each cycle. However, it’s worth noting that Reconstructors can each only be used once.
So if you spend Ether on the Overgrown Ruins Reconstructor, die and respawn at it, you can’t suddenly purchase another use. Only spend Ether on a Reconstructor if you’re absolutely certain you need the checkpoint. It also seems that using a Reconstructor in one biome won’t have any effect if you die in a separate biome so keep that in mind.
How to Use Translocators
With how big each biome can be, it’s easy to lose track of the numerous doors, Fabricators, items and so on that you’ll want to revisit. Plus, you don’t want to spend all of your time backtracking on foot. This is where the Translocators come into play. Proximity Translocators will teleport you a short distance away, often within the same area. But regular Translocators can be used to fast travel to different points in the biome.
At the bare minimum, you need to find two Translocators. Once located, you can now fast travel between them. Stand on the Translocator in question, press Triangle and it will bring up the map. Either select the destination from the list on the left or manually from the map with the cursor. Numerous Translocators exist in a single biome and are often in plain sight so don’t worry about missing any. An important thing to note: While you can travel between Translocators in the same biome, they can’t be used to travel to a different biome.
Adrenaline: How to Build it and What it Does
On the HUD, there will be a pulse monitor with a number underneath – this represents Adrenaline. Adrenaline builds up as you kill enemies, hitting level 1 after three kills. As you build up more levels, Selene will receive benefits like increased melee damage, additional projectiles fired, enhanced Overload, enhanced Obolite collection and enhanced vision (which lets you see enemies through walls). The “scan” functionality is also improved at higher Adrenaline levels, making it much easier to locate doors and items throughout the biome.
Various items also play into Adrenaline levels, like healing you for a percentage based on currently Adrenaline level when dealing damage, increased damage per Adrenaline level, or reduced kill requirements to reach the next level. You can also pick up consumables that instantly max out your Adrenaline level.
The catch is that taking damage will reset Adrenaline back to zero. Any kind of damage, whether it’s from traps, enemies or self-damage, applies here. It can provide a good boost to your combat skills and, with the right buffs, tip the scales in your favor against bosses so always try to build Adrenaline whenever possible.