Returnal Items Guide – Parasites, Artefacts & Consumables, what do they do?

Every run into the dark and foreboding world of Returnal comes with new and different things for you to encounter. When you’re not blasting away at enemies, it can initially be a little bit tricky to know what all of the pick ups are and how they work, even with Returnal having a suite of tutorials to hold your hand.

Here’s our run down of the types of pick ups you can encounter, but before we dive into them all, an important note about ‘Malignant’ item variants.

Need to know: Malignant Items

Many of the pick ups and chests in the game can be coloured purple and come with a warning that they are ‘Malignant’. When you interact with Malignant items, you might acquire a Suit Malfunction that affects your abilities until you complete a gameplay-based objective. If you take three Suit Malfunctions, you will be overloaded and one will become permanent. Beware!


Integrity (health)

Coloured green, Integrity health pick ups come in two different types: Silphium and Resin. Silphium will restore lost Integrity, while Resin will increase your maximum Integrity, though this requires three charges before it will actually add to your overall health. Both are pretty common throughout the game world, but it’s easy to grab a max Integrity increase and wonder why your health hasn’t been restored.

Obolites (currency)

The yellow Obolites are the most common pickup by far in Returnal, acting as the basic currency for interacting with some mysterious alien fabricators in the game. Enemies sprinkle them on the ground when killed, and these disappear after a few seconds. There are also small Obolite chunks that can be tucked away in the environments, and large Obolite chunks that need you to unlock the melee attack before you can break them down.

Ether (currency)

Ether is a game-wide currency that can be spent at certain alien machines and cleanse other items of their malignancy. Your Ether persists between runs, but it is a rare pick up and should be used with some consideration.


Weapons are a regular pick up to find through Returnal. Starting off with a standard service pistol, Selene will acquire new alien weapons through weapon rooms, from chests, prior to boss battles and from defeating powerful enemies.

The quality of the weapons you find will depend on Selene’s Weapon Proficiency level. All guns come with their own core stats, a randomised Alt-Fire mode, and Traits – bonus effects that you can unlock by mastering each weapon over a period of time.


Calibrators are blue pick ups that give a boost to your Weapon Proficiency during a run. Proficiency determines the minimum level that you will find weapons.


Keys can be pretty important for your progress through the game. You require Atropian Keys in order to open locked chests and locked doors, both of which are coloured red instead of blue.

Additionally, you will require a specific key – an Anathema Key or Echoing Key, for example – in order to reach a biome’s climactic boss battle. These are found within the biome and are not transferred between runs.

Xenoglyph Cipher

Glowing red markings on the walls of Atropos’ biomes. These are collectables that help to unlock parts of the game’s narrative through translating Xenoglyphs.

Scout Logs

Messages recorded by Selene delivering a dose of story.

Consumables – Single Use Items

There are tons of single use items that you can find as well, whether they’re picked up in chests, from fallen enemies or found lying around. These stay with you until you use them up, replace them or die.

Using single use items is done with the L1 bumper button, and once you’ve unlocked additional item slots, you can select between them with left and right on the D-pad.

Here are some examples:

Silphium Vial – Repair some suit Integrity
Nullification Sphere – Fix any suit Malfunctions
Parasite Harvester – Turn a random Parasite into Obolites
Shield Vial – Gives you a shield that will block the next attack that hits you
Shocking Springs – Create explosions whenever you jump (30 seconds)
Ground Surge – Create a ground-based spike to impale the closest hostile in sight
Anti-Energy Pulse – Turn all projectiles into Obolites
Apex Sphere – Boost Selene to Adrenaline Level 5.0


Parasites give with one tentacle, and take with another. These little alien critters will attach themselves to Selene’s suit and give both a buff and a debuff to the character, and can only be removed with single use items or a machine in the game world.

Here are some examples that we’ve encountered:

Gain health from melee kills – cannot regain Integrity from Silphium
Reduce Alt-Fire Cooldown by 3s – Increases Malfunction probability
Fabrication costs reduced by 15% – Suffer damage when picking up items
Find Salvage from hostiles more often – Reduces Protection by 10%

Suit Artefacts – Run Items

Suit Artefacts will stay with you through an entire run, giving you a permanent buff or a conditional ability until you die and restart the cycle. Some permanent items are related to parts of the game’s story, while others are more generic. Simply put, though, these are some of the most useful pick ups in the entire game.

Here are some examples:

Explosive Response – Getting hit causes the suit to emit an explosion
Golden Coil – Grants +5% Weapon Damage for every 200 Obolites carried (Max bonus 20%)
Astronaut Figurine – Will revive you one time when you are downed
Music Box – Plays a sound when near secret locations
Fractal Nail – Grants +1-% Weapon Damage when you have a Malfunction
Extinction Rush – Melee kills briefly increase Speed by 25% & Protection by 25%
Obolite Stabiliser – Dropped Obolites last 3s longer
Adrenaline Enhancer – Take one additional hit before Adrenaline levels drop

Suit Augments – Permanent Items

As you progress through Selene’s looping story, you will find some items and abilities that enhance Selene permanently. These are often given to you through cutscenes and key story moments. They include a sword for a melee attack, the Icarian Grapnel grappling hook, the ability to use translocators, and more.

Returnal guides & more from TheSixthAxis

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