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Returnal – What Is Permanent And What Isn’t

Returnal is the brand new 3rd person roguelike IP by Housemarque, out last month. Exclusively for the PlayStation 5.

After crash-landing on this shape-shifting world, Selene must search through the barren landscape of an ancient civilization for her escape. Isolated and alone, she finds herself fighting tooth and nail for survival. Again and again, she’s defeated – forced to restart her journey every time she dies.

Every time Selene dies, she returns to the Helios crash site at the beginning of the game. Until a certain port, she must traverse through the first area of Atropos again and again, the Overgrown Ruins.  Every roguelike replay will change the planet with every cycle, so do the items at your disposal. Selene doesn’t keep all of her gear and items when she dies, but there is some permanent equipment in Returnal.

In order to survive you’ll have to know which items disappear and which ones don’t.


Returnal Permanent Equipment List

Returnal’s story-based upgrades won’t be going anywhere when you die. These range from the melee attack to the grappling hook to swimming underwater. These will all transfer over and can be found in the “Permanent Equipment” part of the menu under “Status.”

You can’t miss any of these items since they’re all story-related and required to move forward through certain biomes. Here’s what carries over between runs in Returnal



Keys to gates, portals, and other important places; (not the Atropian Keys). These items are essential for story events. 

Anathema Key – Opens the Anathema Vault, which leads to the first boss of the game. The vault door will remain open for the rest of your time playing Returnal.

Crimson Key – Powers the Crimson Gateway (which is a permanent gateway in the Overgrown Ruins that always leads to the Crimson Waste). This is dropped by the first boss in Returnal.

House Key – An antique key for a 20th Century house.

Fractured Key – Powers the Fractured Gateway. Opens up the portal in the Echoing Ruins to the Fractured Wastes.

Echoing Key – One of the two keys that together unlock the Echoing Vault.


Xeno Technology

This includes suit augments, such as the Icarian Grapnel and Weapon Charger. These items are essential for navigating certain areas of every biome.  

Atropian Weapon Charger – Grants Alt-Fire mode to weapons.

Hermetic Transmitter – Allows you to teleport between translocation devices and access fast travel points.

Icarian Grapnel – Allows you to use a grappling hook to access grappling points and travel long distances.

Hadal Ballasts – Allows you to walk on the ocean floor. Found in Fractured Wastes.

Delphic Visor – Allows you to see “unseen” platforms. Found in Abyssal Scar.

Promethean Insulators – Allows you to bypass hazardous terrain. Found in Fractured Wastes.

Xeno-Tech Prism – Gain an additional Consumable slot.


Ether & Sunface Fragments

Ether is a rare resource gathered during a playthrough that can be used at various stations and devices, such as the reconstructor. Just don’t horde it as the game currently caps the player at holding up to 30 Ether at a time. Any other Ether gained after that is effectively wasted.

Sunface Fragments are required for the game’s third act and can be found in each biome. These don’t have be found in one life and will carry over.


Xenoglyph Ciphers

This isn’t an item in the same sense that the above are items. Xenoglyph ciphers are found on walls and floors within specific biomes, and they are used to decipher Xenoglyphs. When you find one, the pop-up text will tell you how many you’ve collected in a particular level. 


Item Scans

When players first come across a new item, they’ll have to scan it first. This scan unlocks that item for future runs. This means players don’t have to rescan items for each run. Once it is scanned, it can be found or purchased in later runs. 

Items from Datacubes don’t transfer over unless they’ve been deposited into a repository first.


What Items Aren’t Permanent In Returnal?

via Gfycat

Basically everything else in Returnal.

The long list includes everything from Obolites, health upgrades, artefacts to parasites and translocation spheres. Astronaut figurines disappear when you die, resurrecting you, and none of the suit integrity upgrades you’ve on a run made carry over to the next. 

Once you unlock more biomes, every biome, except the first, has a calibrator at the beginning of the level. This grants you a certain level of proficiency for all weapons for that biome, giving you a head start on your proficiencies and bringing your guns “up to level,” so to speak.  


How to See Your Permanent Items In Returnal

To see which items in your inventory are permanent, click the touchpad on the DualSense and press “R1” to scroll over to “Status.” Underneath “Stats,” on the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see “Permanent Equipment.” This box is broken up into suite augments and items. There are a total of 6 suit augments and 10 permanent items.