Traversal is a big part of Returnal. Staying on the move and performing well-timed jumps and dashes are the key to survival. But one tool will add an entirely new layer to the mix once you pick it up. We’re talking about the Returnal grappling hook, the Icarian Grapnel. Just like the astronaut figurine, it’s a literal game-changer.
Like many of the other permanent items, tools, and keys you pick up in Returnal‘s biomes — the ones that stay with you even after you die — the grappling hook isn’t immediately available when you start the game. Instead, you have to make your way through a few boss fights to get it.
How Do You Get the Returnal Grappling Hook?
You get the Returnal grappling hook after beating Ixion, the second boss in the game. This boss is found at the end of the Crimson Wastes biome. To get to the Crimson Wastes, you first have to beat Phrike, the first Returnal boss found at the end of the Overgrown Ruins.
The Icarian Grapnel is a piece of Xeno technology that’s found on a body in the middle of the arena once Ixion is defeated. Pick it up, and Selene attaches it to her suit.
Since Returnal‘s save function logs all permanent story-related items and those necessary for progression, you don’t have to worry about losing the Grapnel when you die. You’ll always have it once you pick it up.
How to Use the Icarian Grapnel
The grappling hook will let you get to out-of-the-reach places in each of Returnal‘s procedurally generated biomes.
As you’ve made your way across Atropos, you’ve likely seen platforms and ledges with a circular yellow light. As well, you’ve also likely seen floating spheres with yellow light. These are all grappling points. When you get close enough to these yellow orbs of light, the “triangle” button prompt will appear. Press “triangle” to use the grappling hook.
Many of these points lead to side areas that hide important upgrade items, such as resin, silphium resin, parasites, ether, and artifacts that can greatly affect your run. If they don’t hide items, tools, or fabricators, for example, grappling points allow you to gain the high ground, which is extremely beneficial when facing a flood of ground-based enemies, such as Kerberon, Titanops, and Automotons.
The Returnal grappling hook is a piece of permanent equipment that completely changes how the game is played. Luckily, all you have to do to get the Icarian Grapnel is beat one boss in the Crimson Wastes, though Ixion can certainly be vexing, depending on your weapon and item loadout. But once you have it, you’ll gain access to a bevy of upgrade items, artifacts, and workstations like fabricators.