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Returnal guide: What items are permanent?

Only a few items return with you

The main character of Returnal stands in front of an item Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

If you’re not familiar with the roguelike genre, you might be surprised to learn that many of the items you pick up in Returnal disappear after you die. Try again, and you need to recollect items.

However, there are some items that survive your repeated reincarnations.

In this Returnal guide, we’ll explain what items are permanent and which ones disappear with each death. Knowing what items follow you throughout your journey will help you better understand how to stay alive in the dangerous world of Atropos.

Permanent items

The most straightforward way to know which items are permanent is by bringing up your menu and heading to the Status screen.

Permanent items list in Returnal
These are the only permanent items
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The Status menu shows you plenty of details, like your current suit integrity, your adrenaline level, your current parasites, and which permanent equipment you have. There isn’t a lot of permanent equipment in Returnal, but the pieces you find come from several milestones.

Many of Returnal’s suit augments come from story progression. For instance, you’ll get a grappling hook after defeating the second boss, Ixion, and you’ll keep it throughout the rest of the game. Items — like the Crimson Key you get for beating the first boss, Phrike — will also become a part of your inventory as you progress through the story.

Other items you pick up in the game, like obolites and keys, are impermanent. However, ether does carry over between playthroughs. Ether is a valuable resource used for exchanges at the Obolite Repository or for paying the fee to use the Reconstructor. It can also cleanse malignant objects.

The only other permanent items in the game are the Xenoglyph ciphers you pick up in each biome. These glowing red pieces of alien text help you decode messages scattered throughout the landscape. As you find more, you’ll more accurately decrypt the message plates in each of the game’s worlds. Finding all the Xenoglyph ciphers is important for getting some Returnal trophies.

Non-permanent items

Just about everything else you pick up in Returnal disappears from your pockets when you respawn. Whenever you restart the cycle, the only thing you keep from previous runs is your handgun and whatever suit augments, key items, and ether you have.

One thing worth noting is that items you unlock at the Cthonos at the start of new runs not only get added to your inventory that run, but also begin appearing in future playthroughs.