Returnal Act 3 – how to get the secret ending

With Returnal now out on PS5, many of you hardcore gamers will be running loops around the hostile planet of Atropos, scouring this death maze for all its hidden secrets.

It seems that even after you’ve watched the end credits scroll in Returnal, there’s still plenty to do. There’s one particular activity completionists will be aiming to cross off their list but before we go into details, it’s worth noting that there are story and gameplay spoilers ahead.

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Even after descending into the abyss and defeating the sixth and final boss of Returnal, this only marks the end of its second act.

You’ll need to complete Act 3 in order to truly finish the game’s story and earn the “true” ending. It’s also a requirement for the gold trophy “White Shadow” which you’ll need if you’re planning to unlock the Returnal platinum. Here’s a short guide on how to get the secret ending in Returnal.

Returnal Act 3 – how to get the secret ending

Following your battle with Ophion and watching the final cutscene, players will once again find themselves crawling from the wreckage of Helios. Selene is still trapped on Atropos and you quickly get the feeling this alien planet isn’t done with you yet.

The steps towards completing Act 3 are incredibly vague and time consuming – it may take a while for you to find those first initial breadcrumbs.

Embark on yet another Returnal playthrough, using your newly acquired upgrades to further explore and survey each biome. Go back to those first three stages and it won’t be long before you stumble upon your first sunface fragment.

This item is permanent and will appear in your status screen. As the item description implies, this is one of several pieces that combine to form a whole. There are six sunface fragments in total, with one appearing in each biome. It’s possible to recover multiple fragments in a single run, or individually. Some are better hidden than others but you’ll know when you’re in proximity of one, picking it up with a press of the triangle button.

For those with a keen eye who remember Returnal’s first person narrative sequences, you may already have an idea of what these fragments will become. When you’ve collected all six, Selene will realise that she needs to return home.

As you’ll know by now, the house only appears to players in the first and fourth biomes, the Overgrown Ruins and Echoing Ruins. If you have all six sunface fragments, the light inside will be on, inviting Selene inside.

Play through this first person sequence and you’ll see that a set of keys have been permanently added to your inventory. What you need to do next is the most straightforward part of Act 3 but may take some time to achieve.

Make sure you’ve started a run at the Echoing Ruins and proceed to progress normally through these latter stages, towards the final boss Ophion. Don’t rush this part of Act 3 – you’ll no doubt be keen to see Returnal’s secret ending but you should make sure you’re well equipped for the battles ahead.

After defeating Ophion one last time you’ll play through the same ending sequence as before with Selene walking past a sunken sedan car. However, this time you’ll be able to use the keys from Selene’s house. And there you have it – the end of Act 3 and the secret ending for Returnal.


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

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