Returnal‘s difficulty has been hotly debated this week, but players have found a way to completely nullify most of the challenge thanks to a time-honoured tradition: sleeping.
It’s something you’re only able to do in the game’s first or fourth biomes, meaning it only works in levels where Selene has access to her ship. The good news is that the trick works whether you’re in the first, second or third acts, since each will return you to the crashed Helios at one point.
Being able to repeatedly re-heal for free and without compromising your run isn’t just a huge advantage — it can fundamentally rewrite the entire script on Returnal‘s difficulty. The game is tuned to reward players if they don’t take damage: any health pick-ups will automatically be converted into health upgrades if the player is at full HP. So as long as you can survive the next fight, all you have to do is make sure you’re at max HP beforehand, and then you’ll be able to continually grow your health at the start of each fight.
Thing is: how do you make sure you’re always at full HP?
The answer is pretty simple. All you have to do is travel back to Selene’s crashed ship, the Helios:
Inside the ship, past the computer that records your stats and lets you do daily challenges, you’ll find a small room with a bed. (If you’ve finished the game’s second act, you’ll also walk past another room along the way, but ignore that as it’s not relevant for what we’re talking about here.)
The bed is great if you just want to see.a quick flashback of Selene’s memories, or a short smash-cut scene of the game’s eerie vibe. But it also has an understated benefit that the game never tells you about: every time you go to sleep, Selene will heal back up.
And that’s literally it. Going back and forth to your ship will absolutely extend the length of your Returnal run. If you’re already taking issue with Returnal because the prospect of a two, three or four hour run is too difficult to fit into your day, then this tip totally won’t help. It’s worth noting that if you’ve got an upgraded health bar, you might have to sleep two or even three times. Just note that if you have to do this, you’ll need to leave the ship and re-enter to use the bed again.
In one run, where my HP bar was upgraded to 170%, Helios only healed me to about 130%. But a second nap topped Selene all the way back up, all for the cost of another creepy dream.
But for everyone who is struggling with Returnal‘s first biome, or anyone who has a spare night and wants to make a proper crack at knocking off a huge chunk of the game in a single sitting, this is an absolute lifesaver. It’ll mean you’ll have the biggest health bar humanly possible before hitting that all-important 25 per cent HP upgrade at the fabricator. All you have to do is be patient, not die in a single fight, and have a nap. Several naps, really.