Sci-fi horror game Returnal was released in April 2021 as one of the first PlayStation 5 exclusive games. The roguelike third-person shooter follows space scout Selene who crashes on the planet of Atropos and searches for a mysterious White Signal to escape. Along the way, Selense is forced to adapt and survive the hostile planet and face several challenging bosses. You can learn all about the Returnal bosses with our guide here.
How Many Bosses In Returnal?
Although the game features five biomes, there are a total of four bosses in Returnal. All bosses are found at the end of their respective biomes, which means you’ll need to make your way through and survive each randomly-generated biome while collecting upgrades. Defeating Returnal bosses unlocks new items as well as the ability to travel or skip to the next biome via Gateways.
Returnal Bosses In Order And How To Defeat Them
The bosses in Returnal must be fought and defeated in a linear fashion, starting from the first biome through to the final fifth biome. Bosses are marked on your map by a red door with triangles, and you must defeat each Returnal boss at least once to progress through the game and reach subsequent biomes. All bosses in Returnal have three phases, which are triggered by depleting one of the boss’s three health bars. Throughout the phases, the boss’s attacks will change and they can become much more aggressive. Take a look below for detailed information on all Returnal bosses
Boss #1: Phrike
The first Returnal boss can be found in the Overgrown Ruins biome. To reach Phrike, you’ll need to pass a large room filled with tall one-eyed monsters and two sets of staircases leading to the boss door. Behind it is a room with a hole in the ground you will need to jump into to begin the fight.
During the first phase, you’ll have to stick to dodging to the sides as Phrike prefers ranged attacks directed at you and raining from the sky. The attacks include fast red orbs, slow orange orbs, and energy beams. During the second phase, Phrike will combine some of its attacks, forcing you to avoid multiple projectiles at once. It also performs several new attacks, such as teleporting beside you, and shooting expanding rings across the ground you must jump over. In the third and final phase, Phrike shoots multiple projectiles of its original attacks and continues mixing its attacks, forcing you to react quickly.
Boss #2: Ixion
Ixion is the second boss in Returnal, fought in the Crimson Waste biome. To reach Ixion, you’ll need to need to explore the Crimson Waste and climb the mountain and scale several cliffs until you reach an open circular arena, where Ixion hangs suspended. A teleporter can be unlocked at the top of the mountain, allowing you to teleport from the base to the top on subsequent runs.
Like Phrike, Ixion’s first phase will require you to dodge several energy balls, spirals of orbs, as well as a stream of light. In the second phase, Ixion will cause a ring to expand from the centre of the arena while shooting and combining the ranged projectiles from his first phase. In the final phase, Ixion dashes frequently and performs several melee attacks, all of which unleash small ranged projectiles you’ll need to dodge.
Boss #3: Nemesis
The third Returnal boss is Nemesis, found in the third biome; Derelict Citadel. Like with previous bosses, you’ll need to make your way to the red triangle on your map, which can be found at the top of the tower. You’ll need to survive numerous traps and dozens of dangerous enemies before you reach the chamber the boss can be found in. When Selene reaches it, she is knocked out and transported to a dreamlike world where the fight takes place.
The Nemesis boss fight is different from the others in Returnal as the boss is a gigantic floating face. You must target the red spot on its body, which changes depending on the phase; the middle of its chest during the first phase, the arms during the second phase, and the stomach during the third phase. While attacking during the second and third phases, you must jump and grapple between floating platforms to reach Nemesis, all the while avoiding its attacks and the attacks from spawning enemies.
During the first phase, Nemesis will shoot a series of orbs at you, some of which track your movement, as well as an expanding red ring on the ground. At times, two turret-like enemies will appear and shoot lasers across the platform you’re standing on, and this is accompanied by other attacks, such as the orbs. During the second phase, you’ll need to jump between platforms while avoiding orbs, lasers, clusters of orbs, and more. During the final phase, you’ll need to jump between smaller moving platforms while avoiding all of Nemesis and its minions’ attacks, some of which can destroy the platform you’re on.
Boss #4: Hyperion
Returnal’s fourth biome – Echoing Ruins – is home to the game’s Hyperion boss. The Echoing Ruins is similar in design to the Overgrown Ruins, and Hyperion can be found at the top of the Echoing Vault. Before you can unlock the door, you’ll need to explore the two paths diverging from the Vault door, each of which holds one key at its end. You must then climb to the top of the Vault, where you’ll find Hyperion.
Throughout the fight, Hyperion can swap between aggressively attacking you and playing the organ. During the first phase, Hyperion will shoot tracking orbs, red rings, lasers, clusters of orbs, and more. During the second phase, Hyperion will shoot a mixture of fast and slow-moving orbs, tracking orbs, expanding rings, vines, and can perform a melee attack. In the final phase, Hyperion can perform all of the above, as well as spiral rings, X-patterned orb attacks, floor-based orbs, and plenty more.
Boss #5: Ophion
The final Returnal boss is Ophion, found in the game’s sixth biome; Abyssal Scar. The final biome is dark and set underwater, where vision is limited but Selene can jump higher and further than before. To reach Ophion, you’ll need to have unlocked the visor that allows you to see and shoot silver orbs to create platforms. Like previous bosses, head to the triangular red door on your map and jump into a pit, where you will find the octopus-like Ophion.
During the fight, you must shoot silver orbs to reveal Ophion’s weak points highlighted by red orbs. The first two phases will have four weak points each, while the fifth will have five. During the first phase, Ophion will attack by shooting green orbs, columns of orbs, streams or orbs, tacking orbs, and can slam its tentacles to create stacked expanding rings. During the second phase, Ophion can do all of the above with an increased number of orbs, as well as sweep the arena with its tentacles, shoot lasers, and more. In the final phase, Ophion will shoot beams, clusters of orbs, spirals of orbs, tracking orbs, and more.
What Happens After You’ve Defeated A Returnal Boss?
Once you’ve defeated a Returnal boss, you’ll unlock the next biome. If you die in a subsequent biome, you will not need to defeat previous bosses as you keep any equipment, tools or shortcuts acquired by defeating the boss. The tools and upgrades you get from some of the bosses are as follows:
- Phrike: Crimson Key for the second biome
- Ixion: Icarian Grapnel grappling hook
- Hyperion: Fractured Key for the final biome
Whenever you die you will need to run through previous biomes to reach Gateway for the next biome, but you won’t need to run through the entire biome. However, we suggest you explore as much of each biome as you can and defeat as many enemies as possible to acquire multiple upgrades and new guns for boss fights.
Once you’ve defeated all of the above Returnal bosses, you’ll have completed the game’s first two acts. To complete the third and final act and unlock the game’s true or secret ending, you’ll need to collect the six Sunface Fragments found across the game’s biomes and return to the 20th Century House for a final sequence. In it, you’ll pick up some car keys. You’ll then need to defeat Ophion once more and head to the car at the end of the game.
We hope our Returnal bosses guide has helped you. As explained in our Is It Worth It? review, Returnal is a challenging game, but addictive and generally entertaining to play. If you feel stuck on a boss or in an area, focus less on trying to complete the boss fights and focus more on unlocking new parasites, weapons, and weapon traits. Finding a weapon that works with your playstyle can be the difference between winning and losing a boss fight.
Is there a boss in Returnal biome five?
There is no Returnal boss in biome five. The fifth biome – Fractured Wastes – revolves around a hub area filled with fabricators and a reconstructor, and three main doors that lead in various directions. You’ll need to explore all three to obtain three Hadal Vault keys to enter the vault and collect the Hadal Ballasts to explore the final biome. Each direction is filled with tough enemies, and one door is a Containment Door, where you’ll have to face waves of tough enemies, so stock up on your upgrades!
Do I always have to fight Returnal bosses?
No, you don’t need to. Once you’ve defeated each Returnal boss, you can simply skip them as defeating them permanently unlocks the next biome. However, we suggest you explore each biome to its fullest before moving to the next to acquire good guns, upgrades, parasites, and gun traits.
Do Returnal bosses respawn?
Yes! Returnal bosses always respawn, but as we mentioned above, you do not need to fight them again as you permanently unlock the next biome.