Atropos is a dangerous place. Best be sure you’re well equipped with our guide to the best and worst weapons in Returnal.
The newest roguelike on the block, Returnal is proving to be an intense challenge as it tasks you with avoiding a myriad of glowing orbs, bolts, and waves – and death means you have to start it all over again. In short, Returnal really wants you dead. (At least you don’t need to reinstall the game again now, though.)
With runs through Atropos easily surpassing a couple of hours, you’ll want to ensure you are properly equipped to take on its hideous light show bosses. So, we have a rundown on the best and worst alien-blasting guns found throughout Returnal, to help you escape the loop.
Your first weapon upon every cycle, the SD-M8 sidearm is… OK. With a slow auto-fire, easy to miss-time reloads, and lacking damage output, it can be hard to manage enemies if the game throws more than one at you – which is all the damn time – but it does the job. Barely. You’ll want to swap this gun out for something bigger as soon as possible.
This sturdy shotgun is a dream in Returnal’s first world. With decent range – dependent on specs – and a glorious hip-fire, the Spitmaw is a must-have for the earlier hours of the game. Its weighty shots also feel the true benefit of the DualSense controller’s much-lauded haptic feedback.
A bit of an all-rounder, the Tachyomatic Carbine is a great mix of medium-to-long-range combat. With a decent magazine size and swift reload, this is a great one for crowd control – especially when partnered with a Shockstream alt-fire.
Unlike the other weapons in this list, you’ll always have the Atropian Blade clipped to your side. It’s an easy weapon to forget about but with high damage, swipes of this red-tinged blade – with most smaller enemies being one-shot – can be an invaluable asset when you are being swarmed.
This beast is the one to beat them all: A railgun with relatively low damage output but enough ammunition to supply an army, and a fire rate to take one out in seconds. There is nothing more satisfying than watching health bars glide to nothing, and the Hollowseeker ensures you feel like a complete badass when you do it.
Simply put, the Rotgland Lobber is the worst gun in Returnal. After a few minutes of trying it out, I decided to never touch it again. The Lobber deals acidic damage and has to charge up each shot, which in theory can be useful, but it does so at the expense of pacing. Combat slows to a halt and you may struggle to keep on top of the glowing hordes with this limited clip size.
Much like the Rotgland Lobber, the Thermogenic Launcher is a far slower weapon, that can considerably stall the pacing of combat in any encounter. However, as a rocket launcher, its immediately damaging blasts can be effective against some of the bulkier enemies in the later stages of the game.
The Electropylon Driver fires out bolts that can steadily build energy fields that deal damage to enemies passing through. While not as immediately effective as some of the other Returnal weapons, the Electropylon Driver chip away at enemy crowds as its pylons begin to stack up.
The Pyroshell Caster goes a long way to counter the issues of the heavier weapons by increasing its fire rate while maintaining decent damage. With six double shots to blast off, you’ll still need to keep an eye on well-timed reloads but, much like the Spitmaw, you’ll feel the weight of each of its shots as it tears through the enemy.
Another charge rifle, the Coilspine Shredders fires discs that bounce off of surfaces and enemies. As with other charged rifles, the longer a shot is held the more damage it deals out.
The Dreadbound is the middle child between the Tachyomatic Cabine and the Hollowseeker, as it mixes steady fire rates with seemingly never-ending magazines. What makes the Dreadbound so special is that it essentially boomerangs firing shards back into your clip, so the closer you are to your target, the quicker your rounds fill up. This can be especially useful for those pesky bosses.
While this rundown on the weapons of Returnal accounts for them in their most basic form, with certain alt-fires acquired – dependent on your luck on each run – their usefulness can vary, and will likely make any ranking of them a vastly different list from another. So the best advice is to experiment, and discover which will be your go-to weapons! (But not the Rotgland Lobber. It’s rubbish.)
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