Returnal – Nemesis boss battle guide

After battling hordes of Automatons in Returnal’s Derelict Citadel level, you will eventually come up against the Nemesis boss and what is the toughest boss battle you’ll have faced yet.

Thankfully, Returnal won’t just drop you into the Nemesis boss arena without warning. Located at the top of the Derelict Citadel, you’ll see a long corridor that has a sidearm highlighted in red. Go beyond this point and a cutscene will trigger the Nemesis boss fight – this one gets pretty wild!

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In this guide:

Nemesis Boss Battle – Best Weapons, Consumables and Artefacts

As with any big battle in Returnal, it’s vital that you are prepared beforehand. Pop open the Derelict Citadel map to see if there are any side paths you haven’t discovered, doors you haven’t opened, chests you haven’t unlocked. If you have Olobites left over, make sure you either exchange them for Ether or spend them at Fabricators to purchase Consumables, Augments, and Artefacts. Top up your suit’s integrity using Silphium, and you’ll be ready to face Nemesis.

Best Weapons

You absolutely need range for this battle, and so you can turn to the ever-reliable Tachyomatic Carbine, the fast firing Hollowseeker, and the Modified Sidearm SD-M8 is also still an option. There is also the new Thermogenic Launcher, which fires a trio of rockets toward your target. You’ll be reloading more frequently, but it’s a powerful weapon.

Of the alt-fire modes, Trackerswarm, Horizontal Barrage and Vertical Barrage, and the Voidbeam laser attack all have good range.

Best Consumables

You will have two consumable item slots at this point. As with the first two boss battles, try to have a Silphium Vial for health and Apex Sphere to get up to Adrenaline Max if you are hit. You’ll be on the move a lot this battle, so just keep things simple.

Best Artefacts

If you’re on a good run, you should have loads of Artefacts. Once again, the Astronaut Figurine is great, as it revives you in place if you are downed. Other useful Artefacts include Recharging Overload (Overloads reduce Alt-Fire Cooldown by 3s), Golden Coil (Grants +5% Weapon Damage for every 200 Obolites carried), and Fractal Nail (Grants +10% Weapon Damage while you have a Malfunction).

Nemesis Boss Battle General Strategy

The Nemesis boss fight starts with you on a relatively small platform with Nemesis towering over you, flanked by four laser emitting enemies. To deal damage, you want to target the red patch on the body below the floating holographic skull – thankfully you don’t need to be very precise. You cannot damage the laser towers, so just be aware of what they’re doing.

Throughout this battle, you will be challenged to avoid damage in increasingly small spaces, as well as to use the Icarian Grapnel that you acquired after the Ixion fight. The lock on for the grappling hook is generous, but you will need to be adept in using it.

Nemesis Attacks and Stages

Nemesis Stage 1 Attacks

Nemesis will send blue floating orbs toward you, while also sending energy to the four floating laser enemies alongside it. Keep an eye out for that to be aware which direction the following attacks are coming from.

  • Blue orb stream (slow) – Nemesis will send a thick stream of blue orbs at you. Just move to the side to avoid while firing at its chest.
  • Yellow homing missiles (medium) – Missiles sprout from Nemesis’ face like whiskers. Keep moving to avoid the incoming attack.
  • Blue orb sweep (slow) – Nemesis emits a wall of blue orbs three orbs high that sweeps across the platform. There’s a gap between each layer that you can sneak through without damage.
  • Vertical laser attack (medium) – Nemesis triggers one of the laser enemies to fire an upward sweeping attack at the platform, diagonally from one side. Try to be aware of the movement and move away from where they are targeting.
  • Horizontal laser attack (medium) – As above, but with a horizontal sweep from a low angle. Some of this attack can be blocked by the platform.

Nemesis combines attacks with four laser-headed allies.

Nemesis Stage 2 Attacks

At the end of this first round your platform will break into several pieces. You’ll need to wait several seconds for Nemesis to reappear at one of the three new, smaller platforms created, connected with even smaller platforms you can jump between. Thankfully you can zip between them using the Icarian Grapnel upgrade. Nemesis can move from platform to platform so make sure you keep up the pressure. Use these moments to top up your health if you have any consumables.

In terms of attack patterns, Nemesis mostly mimics its behaviour from the previous round though you have a smaller area to run around in, making the attacks harder to avoid. That said, there are some new attacks, and it now has four laser friends that will get in on the action.

  • Nemesis laser attack (slow) – Nemesis emits a laser itself that will follow you around the arena.
  • Targeted laser attack (fast) – The four laser-headed enemies will shoot four diagonal lasers around them, that then quickly converge on your location. Dodging horizontally with good timing should avoid them.
  • Laser pulses (medium) – Two of the laser-head enemies will fire lasers into the platform and cause energy pulses to sweep out from those points. Tricky, but try to hop over them and find clear patches.
  • Blue homing orb wall (medium-fast) – Nemesis creates a wall of blue orbs that then fire at you four at a time. Keep moving!
  • Horizontal laser sweep (medium) – A laser enemy comes to the front edge of the platform and creates a laser wall that sweeps across the stage. Jump and dodge over the top of it.

Nemesis’ laser buddies are rather annoying…

Nemesis Stage 3 Attacks

Once you deplete its second health bar you’ll have a moment to catch your breath, though Nemesis will soon retaliate, blasting Selene with a non-damaging wave. This will send you flying through the air with little pieces of platform floating around you.

To beat the third round of the Nemesis boss fight, you need to use your Icarian Grapnel to approach your foe, zipping between platforms as they rise and fall. You’ll need to balance speed and evasion here as Nemesis lets off waves of blue orbs in vertical and spiral patterns. Meanwhile, its pesky alien allies will also shoot pinpoint lasers at you. Make sure you don’t fall too far as you leap between platforms or you will respawn, taking fall damage. Not only that, you’ll be beamed to the back of the arena, away from the frontline.

Zip between platforms to get close to Nemesis and avoid incoming attacks.

As always, your best weapon in Returnal is Selene’s manoeuvrability. Even when you’re in range of Nemesis, you shouldn’t stay on one floating platform for too long, shooting off a salvo of bullets before moving around to one of its flanks.

In addition to previous attacks, we note these two new attack types:

  • Spiralling blue orb waves (slow) – Nemesis makes blue orb spirals like its the Demon Headmaster and sends them your way. Zip to a new platform to get out of their path.
  • Blue orb columns (fast) – Fast moving columns of blu orbs come your way.

When in shooting range, Nemesis will rely on a few fairly easy to read attacks. Blue orbs that you’ll need to sidestep, then yellow homing missiles. Keep up the assault and Nemesis will eventually fall.


Enjoy the pling of a trophy when you beat this one, and a major beat in the game’s story. Three bosses down… but there’s more to go!

Returnal guides & more from TheSixthAxis

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Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

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