Returnal, the new Playstation 5 exclusive, is a very ambitious roguelike. The game puts you in the shoes of Selene, a woman who, disobeying the orders she has received, lands on a mysterious planet called Atropos. From the very first steps, however, you will find that the place you landed on is swarming with monstrous creatures, including a whole series of bosses that will test your reflexes. In this guide, I will help you with all the strategies to best face each of them without too much effort. Here is my Returnal boss guide!
Phrike is the first boss in Returnal, and represents a considerable challenge compared to the other enemies you have already fought in Overgrown Ruins. It is a unique creature from all the others in the game, but fortunately, once you defeat Phrike, it will no longer be necessary to fight him.
They divide the fight with this first boss into three main phases. In the following lines, I will tell you everything you need to know to best deal with each of the phases in question. During the entire fight, the best way to damage Phrike is to shoot him in the head. You can shoot any part of his body to do damage, but obviously headshots will cause more damage.
In the first phase of the fight, it will fire many red tracking bullets at you. Dodge them by going left or right, and move away if they get too close. Usually Phrike will fire a volley of two or three rounds. Based on what has just been said, you will have to be ready to dodge with the right timing. After that, the boss will shoot many orange orbs into the airspace above you.
The key feature of this type of projectile is that it spreads across the sky and then falls back on you. Try to avoid being hit at all. While you are intent on dodging these orbs, however, Phrike will not stand idle, and will fire a stream of purple bullets at you. Unlike the red shots, however, these will tend to travel in a straight line, without following your movements excessively. One of Phrike’s strongest techniques, in this phase of the fight, is a red laser beam that will shoot from the front.
It will initially aim the beam at the ground, then quickly rise and shoot towards the sky. Dodge left or right to get as far away from this threat as possible. After this blow, Phrike will probably crouch and hide in the fog. The only way how you can catch a glimpse of Phrike is by spotting his orange glow. Do not let it sit under you, as this could harm you.
This second phase will not differ greatly from the previous one. However, it is good that you know that Phrike will use the laser slash more often, so be ready to dodge. Additionally, the boss will add two fresh attacks to the move set, including a burst of red lightning bolts. Luckily, you will know when Phrike is about to launch this shot, as the boss will start charging the attack.
When that happens, run backwards and get away as fast as possible. The other enemy move, however, will be a charge. Phrike will rush towards you, trying to hit you with the most classic of melee attacks. You must absolutely avoid being hit, as otherwise you will suffer an enormous amount of damage.
As soon as you have exhausted Phrike’s second health bar, the third and final phase of the battle will begin. When the boss shoots the orange orbs into the air, it will practically triple their quantity. The same goes for the purple orbs mentioned above. A new technique of the third phase will consist of orange spheres that will follow a circular trajectory, and which will release on the floor of the arena.
These bullets will expand outward, and the only ways you will have to avoid getting hit are to dodge or jump over them (all while, at the same time, dodging the red bullets the boss shoots at you). Another new move consists of a series of red rings that will expand outward. There will always come two at a time, and there is a high probability that, while you are trying to dodge them, Phrike will rush at you, trying to hit you with a melee attack.
As soon as you defeat Phrike, the boss will reward you with the Crimson Key. This will unlock the portal of the Crimson Waste, the second biome of Returnal. In case you were wondering where this portal is, know that it is highly likely that you have passed it without realizing it. It is a circular room with a circular brown colored platform in the center.
This second boss will be on the top of a tower that you will have to climb. As soon as you enter the arena, it will free itself from the cables that hold it suspended from the ground and will start attacking you. Again, your opponent will have three health bars and, as you run them out, Ixion will become more and more dangerous. Ixion will add new hits to his “repertoire” and will try to attack you with close range hits. Below, I will explain in detail how to deal with this boss, dividing the battle into three phases.
This phase is certainly the simplest to deal with. Emptying this first health bar of Ixion will be relatively simple, as the projectiles it will throw at you will be relatively few. You can easily avoid the other bundles of spheres he throws at you by moving to the right or left. As a matter of practicality, always keep to the edges of the arena, in order to have all the necessary space to be able to move and shoot at the same time.
Here the game will start to get more complex. As soon as you have destroyed the first health bar, the boss will fly up and hit the ground. This will generate both shock waves and spheres. The former will be avoidable by both dodging and jumping, while you can easily dodge the latter simply by moving out of their trajectory. In this second phase, Ixion will add two new techniques. The first consists of a laser beam, which will move from the ground upwards.
This is easily avoidable and predictable, as the boss will move just outside the arena and will start to load the shot. The second, instead, will see Ixion fly and quickly cross the playing field, trying to hit you and taking with a trail of blue spheres and blue shock waves. This second attack will be more complex to avoid, as you will have little time to understand from which direction your opponent will attack. Pay a little more attention!
As also happened with the first boss, in this last phase of the fight, Ixion will tend to enhance the techniques already shown in the previous phases. Attacks with circular shock waves will add more spheres to avoid, and the same shock waves will be more frequent. Here there is also a series of three short-range physical attacks, a series of three quick movements, and physical attacks on the ground of the arena. Pay particular attention to physical attacks. If Ixion hits you, the boss will steal a lot of life points.
Next up in my Returnal boss guide, we have Nemesis. Reaching this third boss won’t be an easy feat. You will find it on the top of the Citadel tower, which, as you will immediately realize, will be quite difficult to reach, given the enormous amount of traps and enemies scattered throughout the lower floors. At the beginning of the stage, don’t forget to take Silphium and the Modular Calibrator.
This will allow you to increase the level of the next weapons you find. Nemesis has no melee attacks, and the fight will be only from a distance. For this very reason, I advise against using shotguns, but to prefer pistols and carbines. The first two phases of the fight will be pretty easy to deal with. However, in the third you will have to take a significant amount of life away from Nemesis.
In the first phase of the fight, you will have to aim at the bright red area on the chest of the boss. It is very evident, so you can’t miss it. Don’t focus too much on the five creatures connected to the boss, but focus your fire on Nemesis. Run from one edge of the arena to the other to avoid the orbs that your opponent will shoot at you. Also, don’t worry too much about other enemies’ lasers. You shouldn’t have any trouble avoiding them.
As soon as you have removed the first health bar, the boss will destroy the arena to move elsewhere. Use the grappling hook to move and reach Nemesis again. You will find it in the area with the four flying demons connected to it. Again, the primary strategy is to run from one side of the arena to the other.
In this case, however, you will have to pay attention to a laser attack of the minions, with which they will hit the arena from side to side. The only way to avoid this blow is to dodge. It is also possible that the creatures connected to the boss can hit the ground of the arena with their lasers, generating shock waves that you can only avoid by jumping.
At the beginning of this third phase, you will feel like you are floating in the air, but in reality… you are falling! Immediately look down and grapple onto the first platform that comes within range. In this case, the boss will be at a distance from you, and the strategy will be as follows: approach, platform by platform, using the grappling hook, but try to move around when the minions are about to hit you with their lasers. The moment you move, you will be invulnerable.
Reach the boss and his minions’ attacks will cease. Nemesis will start throwing more bullets at you and possibly throw you backwards, and you’ll have to start the approach phase again. This is not an extremely problematic phase, but know that the boss will have a lot of life points. Therefore, this last moment of the fight may take you quite a while to finish. If you are still in possession of your healing items, it is probably at this stage that they will be most useful to you.
It is possible that, at this point in the game, you have unlocked permanent traits of your weapons. This includes the Adrenaline Leech, which, in short, will convert some of the damage you deal to enemies into recovered integrity by your suit. As you can easily imagine, this will make boss fights much easier. It allows you to achieve victory more easily, especially if you manage to keep the healing items for the last phase of the fight.
In this first moment of the fight, the boss will practically remain stationary on the wall. It will target you with a whole series of attacks. It can generate shock waves, which you have to jump, and red spheres, which you can dodge simply by moving from one side of the arena to the other. The only attack you need to watch out for is the blue tracking bullets. However, even then you just need to run from one side of the arena to the other.
The second phase will be quite similar to the previous one, with the only difference that Hyperion will start moving around the arena. This will decrease the time you have to avoid its attacks. After you have inflicted a certain number of wounds on him, the boss will return to his original position. My advice is to get as close as possible, hitting him from close range. In this way, in fact, most of its spheres cannot hit you, with the only exception of tracking bullets.
In this third phase of the fight, Hyperion will add several fresh attacks to his roster, although the bulk of his hits will always go through ball-based hits. One of these attacks consists of blue spheres that will fall from above. You just need to look carefully at the pattern and walk among them to avoid them easily.
Hyperion’s most insidious attack consists of the bundles of spheres in the shape of an “X”. To avoid getting hit, the only way is to place yourself on the edge of the arena, so that you have more time to avoid / dodge the hit. At the moment in which Hyperion should evoke some roots, all you have to do is dodge them and hit them with the sword.
Finally, the other annoying attack of the boss is always the tracking bullets. You can avoid this by holding down the circle button for a long time, in order to achieve a prolonged dodge. One last tip: avoid getting too close to the boss who, otherwise, will hit you with a physical attack, inflicting a considerable amount of damage.
Next up in my Returnal boss guide, we have Ophion. For the latter boss, there are at least three preparatory tips. First, look to keep your health bar on at least 100%. Trust me, you will really lose a lot of life points. Also, in this regard, I advise you to recover as many healing items as possible, since you will need them all. Finally, find the objects and the weapon that best suit your approach to gameplay. Prefer a gun that has automatic tracking of bullets. With this you can focus more on dodging and avoiding Ophion’s attacks.
The battle arena will remain the same, just as the boss will always be in the same position. However, you will have to move, trying to detect the presence of some white spheres that will appear in the sky which, once hit, will reveal the weak points of Ophion. At this point, you will have to fire, obviously trying to avoid enemy shots, the green spheres, the orange ones, and the blue ones. My advice is to keep yourself on the edge of the arena, to have more time available to dodge attacks.
Speaking of attacks, the boss will also throw green missiles at you. These are not very different from those used by the tree-shaped creatures encountered in the first biome. Avoid these hits in the same way. Finally, Ophion will also use a purple laser beam that, from the top, will go down to the bottom of the arena. As a final tip, do not get too close to the boss, to avoid being hit by a close range attack.
This second phase will be quite similar to the previous one, with the only difference that Ophion will intensify his attacks. This boss will execute them in rapid succession, without major moments of pause. By staying on the move all the time, fortunately, you should avoid most of the hits.
Heal yourself whenever your health is too low. The orange energy spheres, in this second moment, will disperse in the environment following a circular pattern. A new laser beam will be able to track your position. Also in this case, it is nothing impossible to dodge, especially by remaining in motion.
This third phase represents the actual heart of the battle. There will be practically no breath between one attack and another. Ball-based attacks will often happen all at once, making it very difficult for you to remain unharmed. Here too, however, the only key to survival is to always stay on the move. Never stop shooting and destroy the boss in the shortest possible time. Needless to say, if you have any healing items left over, well, it definitely makes sense to drain your supplies by using them now!
Was my Returnal boss guide useful, or is something missing? Please let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments, or make sure to read my Returnal review. Need help with the special secret ending? Here is my complete guide.