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Returnal guide: Fast travel

You can fast travel, but it’s not that easy

The main character of Returnal stands in a dust storm Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Returnal features several different biomes to explore. As you defeat bosses, you’ll unlock new areas to survey. Whenever you die, you start back at the very first biome and must fight your way forward again. This begs this question: Can you fast travel to other biomes whenever you want?

In this Returnal fast travel guide, we’ll explain how to travel between biomes and make the process of teleporting between them easier.

Can you fast travel in Returnal?

You’ll realize very quickly that, no matter how much progress you make in Returnal, you’ll always restart your adventure back at the beginning. If you’ve managed to beat a few bosses and have traveled to other biomes, you might wonder if you can travel back to them quickly from the very beginning.

Sadly, the answer is no.

Since Returnal is roguelike, that means all of your forward progress resets when you die. No matter how far you traveled, death brings you back to the beginning. To continue pushing past the furthest point you traveled, you’ll have to retrace your steps from the beginning.

However, starting from the opening area doesn’t mean you have to literally redo everything over and over. For instance, you won’t have to beat the first boss again each time you want to travel to the second biome.

The Crimson Gate in Returnal
Once you have the Crimson Key, you can go back to the second area
Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

After you defeat Phrike, you will receive the Crimson Key. That means that, as long as you find the portal to the Crimson Wastes from the Overgrown Ruins, you can fast travel to the second biome easily.

Similarly, after you defeat Returnal’s second boss, Ixion, you’ll get the grappling hook, a a permanent item you can use it to fast travel to the third biome from the first biome if you find the right portal room. Other areas in the game have similar ways to get to them faster.

So while adventuring through the same biome over and over again may feel a bit tedious, it doesn’t always have to be challenging. Returnal’s maps are always procedurally generated. During some runs, the portal rooms show up fairly quickly in the Overgrown Ruins. Other times you won’t be as lucky, but that’s all part of the cycle.

If you happen to use a Reconstructor during a run, you’ll respawn back at the last Reconstructor you used, instead of going back to the beginning. You won’t always have the option to use this terminal, but if you have the ether and you’re having a good run, it may be worth it.