Returnal Achievement Guide and Tips
100% Achievement Guide, because no one else has made one yet in English. Will also be a WIP.
NOTE: This is going to be a WIP until someone else uploads a better guide than this onto Steam in English, as no one else has as of writing. Hopefully, someone else who has played this game way more than I have will be able to do the job better than I can. This is also my first time making one of these so hopefully this will end up good.
Returnal is a difficult but very satisfying third-person shooter roguelike developed by Housemarque and published by Sony exclusively for PlayStation 5. However, thanks to Sony’s continuing PC-porting efforts, keyboard and mouse players can join in on the fun. As astronaut Selene Vassos, you’re stranded on the alien planet of Atropos, trapped in a timeloop where every death results in a fresh start at your crash site. The only way to break the cycle is to fight, die, and repeat.
Personally, I’m not that far in but I’m still having a lot of fun with it. So here’s an achievement guide because as far as I know, no one else has done this yet on Steam in English. Most of this guide is based upon PlayStation trophy information.
Main Game – Progression & Skill
Returnal is split into 2 halves with 3 biomes each for a total of 6. You initially start off at the crash site in the first biome you’ll experience, the Overgrown Ruins. After clearing the Overgrown Ruins and the 2 subsequent biomes, you’ll enter the second half, where if you die in any of the biomes here, you’ll be brought back to the start of the second half, not the crash site.
“Learn the basics of survival on Atropos”
Find and equip the Atropian Blade, your only melee weapon. This can be found in the room with the Crimson Gate, attached to a broken automaton upon reaching it for the first time. Unmissable.
“Perform 5 successful Overloads in a row”
Upon firing the last shot of ammo in your gun, it will enter a cooldown state where you have to wait a few seconds before firing off more shots. However, if you time your left-click just right by looking at the charging bar in your crosshair, you can Overload your weapon, or reload instantly. Depending on the weapon you have, Overloading can be easy or difficult.
“Achieve 200% Max Integrity”
Integrity refers to your health. Lose all of it, and you die and reset. Max Integrity can be increased by a number of methods, ranging from technology such as Inert Reclaimers to buying certain augments at Fabricators. However, one of the more reliable ways of increasing Max Integrity is by collecting green healing items found in rooms at full health. What would normally be regular Silphium that can heal you when damaged hardens into resin? Collect 3 resins and your Max Integrity slightly increases.
“Achieve maximum Adrenaline Level”
Adrenaline levels can be built up to 5 times. To gain an Adrenaline level, kill three enemies without getting hurt. Keeping Adrenaline up can be beneficial, giving buffs such as an enhanced Overload for instance. However, take damage even once, and your adrenaline level will be depleted to zero.
Adapting to Circumstance
“Achieve Weapon Proficiency level 30”
Weapon Proficiency affects how good a weapon will be upon finding one, including its stats and weapon traits. However, just because a weapon has a higher proficiency number doesn’t always mean it will be better than the one you have equipped. Proficiency can be increased by collecting certain artifacts or by killing enemies.
“Have 5 Parasites simultaneously”
Parasites are little creatures that provide a buff and debuff upon picking them up. These can be found throughout your runs in all sorts of places such as containers or within flowers.
“Complete a daily challenge in Simulation Mode”
After progressing substantially in the game, a terminal on your crashed spaceship will unlock, granting access to daily challenges. In these, you can compete against other players for the highest score. In the process of completing these challenges, you can also gain Ether. Requires an online connection.
“Finish Calculated Risk”
Calculated Risk is a task that can be accessed in the Progress section of the pause menu. Task progression is cumulative so don’t feel pressured to do it all in one go. To complete this task, do the following:
- Open 3 Malignant Containers
- Pick up 3 Malignant Silphiums
- Pick up 3 Malignant Resins
- Pick up 1 Malignant Key
- Pick up 3 Spoiled Resins
Main Game – Story
These should be unmissable for the most part. In addition, descriptions and methods will all be spoilered. Unless you’re comfortable with spoilers, it’s best to avoid this section.
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Experience a new cycle after death”
Obtained after dying once in the game. Unmissable. Hell, you’ve probably already unlocked this without even knowing it.
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Complete the first House sequence”
During your runs through the Overgrown Ruins, you’ll come across an old 20th-century house. Said house is initially locked, with the keys hidden in a side room. Once you obtain the key, you’ll be able to enter the house. The key will stay with you for subsequent runs as this structure will pop up as you progress more in the game.
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Returned by an Artifact”
Upon completing the first house sequence, you’ll be greeted with an Astronaut Figurine. Though there is not much about this item on first glance, it will prove invaluable, as upon dying, it will resurrect you on the spot. Unmissable.
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Act 1”
Unlocked by finishing the first half of the game. So, finish the Overgrown Ruins and the two subsequent biomes.
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Act 2”
Finish the second half of the game by completing the remaining three biomes.
Sins of the Mother
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Complete all House sequences”
After getting the house key and experiencing the first house sequence, the house can be re-encountered 5 more times; 2 more in the Overgrown Ruins upon making further progress, and 3 in biome 4.
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Act 3”
MAJOR SPOILERS INBOUND
You’re not much farther now. Follow these steps to unlock this achievement:
- Experience at least 5 house sequences: The fifth sequence should unlock upon reaching biome 6.
- Defeat Ophion (the boss of biome 6): By defeating Ophion, it will spawn 6 Sunface fragments across the entirety of Atropos.
- Collect all 6 fragments: There will be one fragment per biome on Atropos. They will always spawn in the same location, and they will be saved in your inventory for all runs. They will be required to unlock the sixth and final house sequence.
- Experience the sixth house sequence: Upon completion of the final house sequence, you will unlock the car keys.
- Defeat Ophion a second time: Once Ophion has been killed a second time, you will unlock a new secret cutscene.
Main Game – Bosses
Returnal has 5 bosses in its 6 biomes. Each boss has to be defeated just once to progress in the game, though fights can be repeated. All the following achievements are unmissable.
A Shadow in the Fog
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Defeat Phrike”
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Defeat Ixion”
Trial by Judgement
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Defeat Nemesis”
Silence the Song
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Defeat Hyperion”
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Defeat Ophion”
Main Game – Collectibles
“Scan a Xenoglyph”
“Unlock all translation tiers of a Xenoglyph”
Xenoglyphs are glowing red tablets that can be found in all biomes and are marked by rune-like symbols on the minimap; however, all Xenoglyphs require translation. To translate a xenoglyph, ciphers, which are red runes that can be found throughout all 6 biomes’ rooms, need to be scanned. Once a sufficient amount of ciphers are found, the Xenoglyph can be fully translated, unlocking lore and story in regards to Atropos. These are marked with a green upside-down triangle marker on the minimap. Ciphers are cumulative, meaning collected ciphers will total up, and will be kept upon each run.
“Retrieve 10 Scout Logs”
Scout logs are voice logs of alternate versions of Selene that fell due to some unforeseen cause. Listening to these logs can help understand the underlying backstory of Selene, and the lore of Atropos. They are marked by a suit signal icon on the minimap and in white in the world.
Visions of the Past
“Complete a Xeno-archive set (excluding Tower of Sisyphus)”
Xeno-archives are three-dimensional projections that further explain the lore of Atropos and are sometimes found in side-rooms marked by triangular doorways. To access an entire set, they may require a permanent traversal artifact that can be obtained later in the game.
Environment Surveys and End Game
At this point you’ve probably made it through all 6 biomes and hell, maybe even made it through the game outright, so congrats! You’ve certainly made it further than I have. Pretty much the only thing left is to complete environment surveys if you haven’t already done so. Each environment survey for the 6 biomes consists of 5 primary components:
- Scanning all Xenoglyph Ciphers: Glowing red runes that can be found in rooms of a biome. These are marked with a green upside-down triangle marker on the minimap. Refer to Cryptic Messages and Cryptic Translations for more information.
- Retrieving all Scout Logs: Usually marked by a suit signal icon on the minimap, and marked in white in the world. Refer to Alternate Fates for more information.
- Scanning all Xeno-archives: Sometimes found in side-rooms marked with triangular doorways. May require a permanent traversal artifact that can be obtained later in the game. Refer to Visions of the Past for more information.
- Clearing the Containment Area: Marked with a yellow rectangular door with a star above it, the Containment Area is a marathon challenge that requires clearing three waves of enemies of increasing difficulty. While on subsequent runs the room will be reset, the room itself will need to be cleared just once for each survey.
- Finding a Secret Area: In rooms, you’ll find glowing yellow spheres that aren’t marked on your minimap. These can lead to secret rooms that can contain anything from loose Obolites, containers, or an ultra-tough enemy.
Below is a table for amounts of Xenoglyph Ciphers, Scout Logs, and Xeno-Archives in each biome.
Upon completing each environment survey, you’ll be granted its respective achievement.
Past the Ruins
“Finish Overgrown Ruins Survey”
Ascending the Mountain
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Crimson Wastes Survey”
Through the Forgotten City
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Derelict Citadel Survey”
Echoes of the Past
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Echoing Ruins Survey”
Frozen in Time
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Fractured Wastes Survey”
Submerged in Memories
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Finish Abyssal Scar Survey”
If you’ve managed to get everything in this guide, you’ll be granted Returnal‘s ultimate reward:
“Collect all main Achievements”
Ascension DLC (Tower of Sisyphus)
Introduced for PlayStation 5 players on March 22, 2022, Ascension adds an endless mode in the form of the Tower of Sisyphus, along with its own set of achievements. There’s also co-op but no achievements added for said mode other than stuff for the in-game progress tracker that can be easily accessed in the pause menu.
To access the Tower of Sisyphus to begin with, you need the Icarian Grapnel item (aka the grappling hook) that can be obtained later on in the game.
The following achievements can be unlocked here (spoilered for good measure):
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Die and return in the Tower”
Self-explanatory. Hell, you’ve probably already unlocked this and don’t even know it.
Broken, Restored, Empty
HIDDEN ACHIEVEMENT – “Complete the first Hospital sequence”
Upon dying for the first time in the Tower, you’ll be greeted with a hospital bed to the left. Interact with it to enter the first hospital sequence.