Returnal Orange Door Explained: How to Get Past Orange Barriers
The procedurally generated biomes of Returnal house many secrets. As you go down the primary path toward your current objective, you'll come across various side paths. These side paths are always marked as blue triangles on the map. Some of these routes are blocked by an orange door. So how do you open the orange doors and energy barriers in Returnal, and what's behind them?
An orange door or an energy barrier can't be opened by just any means. There is a specific item you must get before you can pass through them. Unfortunately, the drop rate for this item is completely random, and sometimes, it won't even show up in a cycle.
What is the Orange Door in Returnal?
The orange door in Returnal is simply an energy barrier keeping you away from (hopefully) an important item, such as an artifact or a parasite, and sometimes a fabricator or other device, for example. What's behind the barrier is left up to Returnal's RNG and procedural generation. The item or station is always different.
Most often, these doors are found in the first biome, the Overgrown Ruins, as well as the fourth biome, Echoing Ruins. Additionally, they're often located across a gap or on a high platform that requires the grappling hook to get to.
It's worth noting that orange barriers aren't just relegated to orange doors. In other Returnal biomes, such as the Crimson Wastes, you will come across orange spheres, which operate the same way. Like the orange doors, these may also show up in other biomes, though I've not made it that far quite yet.
How Do You Open an Orange Door or Barrier?
You open a Returnal orange door or orange barrier with a blade balancer, an upgrade for your Atropian Blade melee weapon. A blade balancer can be purchased from a fabricator for 250 Obolites, and it is automatically applied to your Atropian Blade once purchased. Now, simply return to the orange door, and hit it with your melee attack. It will disappear, and you can claim what's behind it.
Like most other upgrades in Returnal, the game doesn't save your blade balancer if you die (here's how saving works, by the way). You start back at the Helios crash site without it, and you'll have to find it all over again.
However, just because there is an orange door or orange barrier in a biome doesn't mean there will be a blade balancer at a fabricator. Though blade balancers may possibly be found in other locations besides a fabricator, I have not yet found one in 14 hours of play.
Returnal orange doors and orange energy barriers aren't always worth breaking, considering the efforts you may have to go through to acquire a blade balancer. On top of that, your Obolites may be better spent on a silphium vial, integrity upgrade, or the extremely useful astronaut figurine. At the end of the day, breaking open orange doors and orange barriers is a risk/reward decision.