Returnal: Best Starter Weapons
Developer Housemarque's latest title, Returnal, is sending players for a loop as more of the game's secrets and strategies are uncovered in its opening weekend. While your own skill with Returnal's combat is the key factor to victory, as with any roguelike, the best weapons you take with you into that fight are just as imperative.
It can be difficult to know which Returnal weapons you want to use in your early hours, especially since there's always the possibility that a new weapon you've just found could fit your own personal playstyle more, you just don't know it yet.
This guide will outline some of the key weapons found within the first two biomes of the game, where you'll be spending most of these early hours. They're listed in no particular order since there can be certain exceptions where a seemingly less capable weapon with a powerful modification/alt-fire can create more of a balance based on your playstyle.
However, due to the procedurally generated nature of Returnal, there's no promise you'll come across any weapon mods mentioned here, so it's best to just stick to what's the better overall weapon.
Best Returnal Starter Weapons
The Spitmaw Blaster is your best life-saving weapon in Returnal when you first start. You'll find it in the first biome, and it's one that you'll want to pick up almost every time you see it.
It's a short- to medium-range weapon that has a clip size of six shots and primarily functions as a shotgun, though well-placed shots over a longer range can still deal a fair amount of damage.
Thanks to the haptic feedback from the DualSense controller, it's easy to know that the Spitmaw Blaster is a weapon to keep your hands on. You feel how hard each shot hits, and when you're clearing multiple enemies with no more than two shots each, you see how quickly it can turn things around for you.
The only thing you need to watch out for is that with Returnal's active reloading, you'll need to be careful to time your next overload on R2 after running through the Spitmaw Blaster's clip. At the very least, though, it's good practice for every other weapon in Returnal, since a timely active reload can be the difference between life and rebirth.
The Tachyomatic Carbine is Returnal's standard-issue xeno-type assault rifle. It's a do-all-type weapon and a good pick-up whenever you come across it. You'll also find it in the first biome.
There are specific upgrades you'll get with each weapon the more you use them. These are some of the permanent upgrades in the game, so they won't disappear after you've achieved them -- you just have to find a weapon with them active to make progress with them. Enough practice with the Techyomatic Carbine can unlock very powerful armor-piercing rounds that can really pack a punch when it comes to damage.
Unlike the Spitmaw Blaster, the Tachyomatic Carbine has no issue with the active reloading in Returnal. In fact, there's a serious argument to be made that the Carbine works with the reloading system better than other weapons.
The Carbine's transition from reloading to firing is lightning quick, and the large clip size means you can keep a consistent stream of bullets to clear every enemy in your path.
These weapons are in no particular order, but it's important to be particular about the Hollowseeker. You'll want to pick this up and keep this weapon over every other weapon mentioned in this guide because this rail gun has a rate of fire and clip size that just cannot be matched.
You find the Hollowseeker in the second biome, Crimson Wastes, though as with all weapons in the game after finding it there, it can potentially be found in the beginning area of the game, the Overgrown Ruins.
The thing that puts the Hollowseeker a cut above is how quickly you can tear through an enemy's health bar. With the fastest rate of fire in the game, it can feel entirely effortless taking out an entire room full of enemies.
It also has some rather choice upgrades that can deal even more damage on top of your regular bullets, like a horizontal energy blade that fires simultaneously with your normal shots. Not as an alt fire, but just as an addition to your regular firing output.
The Hollowseeker is a true powerhouse perfect for getting a strong footing and moving past those first two levels.
Last and certainly least, Selene's Modified Sidearm is a bit like your ol' reliable, except it can't always be that for you. The automatic rate of fire is too slow for the fast-paced combat and firing faster manually causes more problems with active reloading, making it easier to mistime your button press causing you to wait for the cooldown.
So why is it on the list if it could potentially cause you more trouble? Well, for a few reasons. One, because you start every run with this pistol, and you have to be able to use it for at least a few fights -- maybe more.
Two, because you could potentially grow perfectly accustomed to the pistol's specific timing for the active reloading. And three, because there's more to this pistol than meets the eye, you just need to work for it.
Having the killsight alt-fire for the Modified Sidearm can entirely change the way you use this weapon. This alt-fire mode lets you zoom in more than you otherwise would, what was once just a pistol is now a mini rifle as you can practically snipe Atropos' dangerous fauna from across the entire battlefield.
There's no promise you'll consistently come across a Modified Sidearm with this alt-fire active but if you do, and the power level makes sense to upgrade, then I can't recommend it enough.
So there you have it! A full run-down of which weapons to focus on when you first load up Returnal. For more on Returnal, check out our other guides helping players understand Sony's latest exclusive, like what actually stays with you after you die, and how you can respawn in the middle of a run without getting sent back all the way to the beginning.