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Returnal guide: HUD explainer

Making sense of everything on your screen

A close up of the main character in Returnal Image: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

In Returnal, you explore a hostile planet while relying on information provided by the on-screen HUD. Initially, you might wonder what the various numbers and symbols mean. Starting from the upper right side of the screen, the points of interest are:

The HUD in Returnal
The HUD has a lot of information to relay
Graphic: Jeff Ramos | Sources: Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment
  1. Your current overall objective. This is followed by advice on the next step you must take, which corresponds to a point indicated by an orange circle on your maps.
  2. The mini-map. This excerpt from the area map shows your current position, with points of interest such as enemies (red), items (green), and obolites (yellow) indicated as arrows and plus signs.
  3. Ether. If you die and start a new cycle, this rare ether currency remains with you. Spend it to purify chests and other objects, to activate a device that serves as a one-time checkpoint, or for limited other purposes.
  4. Atropian keys. They unlock certain doorways and treasure chests. Sometimes you have to purify them first, or else risk a malfunction.
  5. Obolites. Unlike ether, this currency is fairly common but doesn’t stay with you when a cycle ends. You mostly spend it at terminals for artifacts and consumable items, plus it sometimes facilitates stat boosts.
  6. Alt-Fire. Indicates which variety of powerful alt-fire you will unleash with your currently equipped gun and offers additional direction if the shot is presently recharging.
  7. Proficiency. It starts at 0 with each new cycle. Find calibrator items and defeat enemies to increase its level, which improves the quality of weapons dropped by defeated enemies or obtained from chests.
  8. Integrity. This is your life meter. When it empties, you die.
  9. Consumable items. Up to three slots display. Use the one currently highlighted by pressing L1, or switch between them with the D-pad if more than one is available.
  10. Adrenaline. For every three enemies you defeat, you’ll gain one level of adrenaline. Each time you raise this counter, you’ll gain a new buff. These stat boosts disappear the moment you take a hit.

Less commonly, the upper left section of your HUD may also reference any malfunctions you have in effect, with instructions on how to remove them. When you are firing your gun, there also is an indicator to show how many shots you have remaining before you must reload.

Make the most of every bit of information that your Returnal HUD provides and learn to glean any info you need from it at a glance. A little bit of familiarity will (probably) carry you far.