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Returnal guide: How to activate the secret ending

Here’s how you truly finish Returnal

Returnal 20th century house Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Returnal is mysterious, often obscuring things from its players. Returnal’s secretive nature also applies to its ending. In this Returnal guide, we’ll show you how to unlock Returnal’s secret ending to finish off Act 3.

[Warning: This guide won’t go into the story spoilers themselves, but this ending is intentionally hidden from players. As such, there are massive spoilers for Returnal’s endgame in this guide.]

Returnal spoiler image Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Table of contents


Beating Returnal’s second act

Once you’ve found the Delphic Visor, deep in the Abyssal Scar, you’ll be able to face Ophion, Returnal’s final boss. Defeat the giant, tentacled monster, and it will slink into its hole on the ocean floor. Follow its carcass down the hole and walk forward. You’ll find a small sedan with its headlights on. Remember this for later.

Walk to the end of the path, and you’ll wake back up outside the Helios. You should get the trophy for finishing Act 2 (although ours was bugged and didn’t appear until the second time we killed Ophion). When you wake back up on the surface, you’ll be in Act 3.

Nothing changes in Act 3 of Returnal, but you’ll be able to find six new objects that lead to the game’s secret ending: the Sunface Fragments.

Finding the Sunface Fragments

Returnal has six biomes — three in Act 1, and three in Act 2 — and six Sunface Fragments to find. Finding all six of the Sunface Fragments will give you a key, which you’ll need to unlock the secret ending.

Each biome has its own Sunface Fragment. These items are often deep into a biome, so you’ll need to explore every area. Because the map shifts every run, we can’t tell you exactly where to go to find each Sunface Fragment. However, the Fragments seem to appear in specific rooms within each biome, so we can show you what to look for.

For the Act 1 Biomes — Overgrown Ruins, Crimson Wastes, and Derelict Citadel — you’ll need to use the time travel machine in the Helios’ Armory to go back to Act 1. Use the same machine to return to Act 2 once you have all the Act 1 Sunface Fragments.

You can collect all three of each act’s Sunface Fragments in one run, all three separately, or some combination. Once you pick up a Sunface Fragment, you won’t drop it when you die. You do not need to complete a run to bring your Sunface Fragments back to the Helios.

Overgrown Ruins Sunface Fragment

Overgrown Ruins Sunface Fragment map location
The large gap is the sign you’re looking for
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

You’ll find the Overgrown Ruins Sunface Fragment in a room with a long gap.

Overgrown Ruins Sunface Fragment in-game location
You’ll find the Sunface Fragment in front of an old body
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

This gap is impossible to cross until you have the Delphic Visor from the Abyssal Scar. Shoot the orb to make the platforms appear. Cross the gap and search the area for a few items and the Sunface Fragment.

Crimson Wastes Sunface Fragment

Crimson Wastes Sunface Fragment map location
You’re looking for a tall tower in the Crimson Wastes
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Crimson Waste Sunface Fragment appears in the open desert, at the top of a tower.

Crimson Wastes Sunface Fragment in-game location
The Sunface Fragment is on a ledge overlooking the dunes
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

You’ll need the Delphic Visor for this Sunface Fragment as well. Look outside the tower for an orb. Shoot it, and climb the platforms that appear. Now you’ll need to use your Icarian Grapnel to reach the top of the tower. The Sunface Fragment is on a ledge, overlooking the sands.

It’s worth noting that this is the only Sunface Fragment that didn’t appear on our first journey to the Crimson Waste in Act 3. We’re unsure if we got very lucky with the other Sunface Fragments or if the Crimson Wastes is the only area that might not spawn a Sunface Fragment every run. If you don’t see the tower by the time you enter the castle in the Crimson Wastes, restart your run and book it back to the desert portal.

Derelict Citadel Sunface Fragment

Derelict Citadel Sunface Fragment map location
Look for the bridge and find the small dip at the end
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Derelict Citadel Sunface Fragment is in a small body of water just after the bridge.

Derelict Citadel Sunface Fragment in-game location
The Sunface Fragment is under the water at the end of the bridge
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The first time you came to the Derelict Citadel, you extended a long bridge to reach the final boss of the biome. Once you finish the game, you’ll find some water at the end of that same bridge. After you have the Hadal Ballasts that let you go in the water, take a dip into the pool. You’ll find a few items, including the Sunface Fragment, sitting on the floor.

With Act 1 done, use the time device in the Helios to change back to Act 2.

Echoing Ruins Sunface Fragment

Echoing Ruins Sunface Fragment map location
The Sunface Fragment is on the other side of some poisonous ooze
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Echoing Ruins Sunface Fragment is in a long room with red ooze.

Echoing Ruins Sunface Fragment in-game location
Jump in and out of the ooze while you’re crossing to minimize damage and reach the Sunface Fragment
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

You’ll find plenty of damaging, red ooze in the Echoing Ruins, but you’re looking for a specific room that’s filled with it. The room we found the Sunface Fragment in had a rounded base off the side door you entered from. Past the circle is a pit of red ooze, which will deal damage to you if you touch it. There’s also a pulsating trap in the ooze. But across from the deadly pond is another door and an item.

Jump into the ooze, jumping out and dashing as much as you can. When you reach the other side, jump up on the ledge and grab the Sunface Fragment.

Fractured Wastes Sunface Fragment

Fractured Wastes Sunface Fragment map location
You’re looking for a circular room with a massive turret
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Fractured Wastes Sunface Fragment is in a room with a massive turret in the center.

Fractured Wastes Sunface Fragment in-game location
Climb up to the turret to find the Sunface Fragment
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Fractured Wastes can be pretty deadly if you’re sprinting there from the Echoing Ruins, but thankfully it has an easy-to-spot room that’s hiding the Sunface Fragment. You’re looking for a circular room that has a giant turret on a tower in the middle. Clear the room of enemies, and then use the Delphic Visor to shoot a floating orb. Some platforms will appear, which you can follow up onto the turret platform. You’ll find the Sunface Fragment resting by a long-frozen dead body.

Abyssal Scar Sunface Fragment

Abyssal Scar Sunface Fragment map location
You’re looking for four separated platforms in the Abyssal Scar
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Sunface Fragment in the Abyssal Scar is in a multi-platform room.

Abyssal Scar Sunface Fragment in-game location
Use the hidden platforms to reach the final Sunface Fragment
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

In Returnal’s final biome, you’ll need the Delphic Visor to find the Sunface Fragment. You’re looking for a room that has four separate platforms embedded into cliffs — five if you include the platform jutting off from the main path. Cross the gaps, and use the Delphic Visor to shoot an orb and create some platforms. Jump up to the final platform, where you’ll find an item on a pedestal and the sixth Sunface Fragment.

Once you have all six fragments, you can either die or beat the final boss for fun.

Finishing the House sequences

Returnal Sunface Fragments in the menu
There are six Sunface Fragments, and they all appear as individual items in your inventory
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Once you find all six Sunface Fragments, Selene will mention that the item is complete. If you’re unsure, you can also look in your inventory and make sure you have six. All of them are individual items. They don’t combine in your inventory.

Now you’ll need to complete all of the house sequences. Selene’s house only appears in the Overgrown Ruins and the Echoing Ruins. You need to exhaust the Act 1 house sequences before moving on to the Act 2 sequences. If you haven’t seen any Act 2 house sequences yet, use the time machine to travel to the Overgrown Ruins, find the house, complete the sequence, and restart your run. Once the house locks you out, you’ll need to go to the house in the Echoing Ruins instead.

If the Echoing Ruins house won’t let you in the door because it says the house is “dark,” it means that you’re missing a Sunface Fragment, all six of which are the key to unlocking the final sequence. Keep completing House Sequences in the Echoing Ruins until you get teleported onto a throne when you finish. Here, you’ll find the Car Key, the final item you’ll need to see Returnal’s secret ending.

Remember when we said that sedan was worth remembering?

Take the key to the sedan

The sedan under the ocean in Returnal
Put the key in the sedan to see Returnal’s secret ending
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Once you have the Car Key, it’s time for another trek to Ophion. Yes, this means you need to re-beat Returnal’s second act and defeat its final boss. If you want to get to the Abyssal Scar as fast as possible, find the exit to the Echoing Ruins and turn left instead of right. Jump in the water to reach the final biome.

At the end of the Abyssal Scar, kill Ophion again and jump down the big hole. Follow the headlights back to the sedan. Use the Car Key on the sedan’s driver side door and enjoy Returnal’s final cutscene.

Congratulations on reaching Returnal’s secret ending.