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How to Upgrade Weapons in Returnal | Weapons Tier List

Learn what are the best weapons to choose from!

Romeli Daclizon



How to Upgrade Weapons in Returnal Weapons Tier List

There are various weapons in Returnal, and each is unique than the other one. Aside from that, each weapon has its own traits and strategies you’d want to take advantage of.

However, not all weapons in the game are top-tier. As such, we have made a weapons tier list to help you choose the best weapon to use in the game.

Upgrading Your Weapons and Alt-Fire Mode

Upgrading Your Weapons and Alt Fire Mode

Source: TG Whitta

Before we start, let’s first talk about how you can upgrade your weapons.

Your weapon in Returnal receives a random trait after you pick it up. You can then permanently obtain the trait by using it to kill enemies.

You can do this repeatedly to increase the level of the trait. This is how the weapon upgrade system works in the game.

Then there’s the Alt-Fire mode which is the secondary fire of a weapon. It’s also randomly given and is more like special moves of a weapon with cooldowns.

As such, you must only use it when you are in a pinch.

Now that you know how to upgrade your weapon and what Alt-Fire is, let’s now move on to our tier list from worst to best.

10. Modified Sidearm SD-M8

Modified Sidearm SD M8

Source: TG Whitta

The Modified Sidearm SD-M8 is the very first weapon you obtain in Returnal. This pistol is an all-rounder, and with the right traits, you can turn it into a devastating weapon.

These are the traits you should look for if you plan to use the Modified Sidearm SD-M8:

  • Homing Missile – Turns your bullets into homing projectiles.
  • Shrapnel – Your shots have a 50% chance to explode on contact.
  • Serrated Projectiles – Enemies hit by your bullets deal damage over time.
  • Hit Reload – Gives a chance to reload your weapon upon hitting an enemy.

9. Tachyomatic Carbine

Tachyomatic Carbine

Source: TG Whitta

Another all-rounder on this list is the Tachyomatic Carbine which has a longer range than the Modified Sidearm SD-M8.

It is the most beginner-friendly weapon. Unfortunately, as you find more weapons in the game, this will turn the carbine into a mediocre one.

If you still want to use this, you should pay attention to these traits:

  • Payload Rounds – This will make enemies explode whenever you kill them.
  • Leech Rounds – Every bullet that hits an enemy will restore Integrity.
  • Hyper-Accurate – Reduces the recoil of every shot.
  • Accelerated – Killing enemies will reduce the cooldown of your dash and increase the firing rate.

8. Spitmaw Blaster

Spitmaw Blaster

The Spitmaw Blaster is great in the early stages but will fall off once you get to the game’s later stages.

It’s being held back by its range though, as it has the shortest range out of all the weapons in the game.

But with the right traits, you can make the Spitmaw Blaster a pretty devastating weapon. Here are what to look out for:

  • Slug Shot – Adds an additional shot that deals enormous damage.
  • Narrow Maw – Tightens the spread, which makes the Spitmaw Blaster better in medium range.
  • Rapid Spitter – Makes the Spitmaw Blaster fire shots faster.
  • Backsplash – Every pellet hitting an enemy replenishes your ammo.

7. Pyroshell Caster

Pyroshell Caster

The Pyroshell Caster has a slow rate of fire but is excellent against multiple targets and bigger enemies.

The caveat is that it’s pretty underwhelming until you obtain higher-level traits. If you want to use this weapon, you need to get these traits:

  • Sticky Bonus – Your bullets stick to anything it hits before exploding.
  • Seeking Flares – Gives a slight homing attribute to the bullets you fire.
  • Anti-Gravity Projectiles – Removes the arc shot from the Pyroshell Caster
  • Auxiliary Projectiles – Fire off an additional explosive shot.

6. Coilspine Shredder

Coilspine Shredder

The Coilspine Shredder is a unique gun that shoots out Discs. You can even charge it up to deal more damage.

The downside is that it can only fire one at a time, but it will become a deadly weapon if you learn its Overload Mechanic.

You want to focus on these traits if you want to make the Coilspine Shredder even deadlier:

  • Shattering Discs – This allows the discs you fire to shatter and deal additional damage.
  • Adrenaline Discs – This gives you a slight chance of getting Adrenaline upon hitting an enemy.
  • Retarget – Allows your Disc to damage another enemy.
  • Splitting Discs – This allows your Disc to split off and deal damage to another enemy.

5. Thermogenic Launcher

Thermogenic Launcher

The Thermogenic Launcher has one of the highest raw firepowers in the game.

Unfortunately, it has a small magazine, and its projectiles travel slowly. With the right traits, however, you can turn it into an absolute murder machine.

To achieve that, you want to look for these traits:

  • Critical Rockets – It makes the shots you fire have a chance of exploding twice.
  • Replicating Hits – Has a slight chance of making your homing rockets shoot another rocket.
  • Full Auto – Turn the Thermogenic Launcher into a machine gun.
  • Tail Fire – This makes the Thermogenic Launcher shoot a powerful rocket after using up all your rockets.

4. DreadBound


The DreadBound is a dangerous weapon that you should use in shorter ranges to deal maximum damage. Unlike the other weapons in the game, this one has a unique crossbow-like appearance.

Once you shoot its projectiles, you need to wait for it to return until you can reshoot it. This is why using it in a short range is ideal as it will make the projectiles return faster.

If you want to use this weapon, you should look for these traits.

  • Fourth Shard – Adds an extra shot.
  • Explosive Shards – Causes the projectiles you shoot to explode upon contact.
  • Returning Damage – Deals damage while the projectiles are returning back to you.
  • Damage Steal – Gets bonus damage every time a projectile hits an enemy.

3. Electropylon Driver

Electropylon Driver

The Electropylon Driver is one of the best weapons in the game as it doesn’t rely on traits to become powerful.

However, having these traits can make the Electropylon Driver even more destructive:

  • Pylon Web – Causes you to fire all the Pylons in a web.
  • Finisher – Deals more damage when enemies have 30% health and below.
  • Streamlined Chamber – Increases the firing rate of the Electropylon Driver.
  • Protective Pylons – Increase protection by 25% whenever you are near a Pylon’s range.

2. Rotgland Lobber

Rotgland Lobber

The Rotgland Lobber is a weak weapon after you obtain it, but with the right traits, it can deal more damage and is highly effective against big enemies.

These are the traits you should look out for in the Rotgland Lobber:

  • Durable Rot – Increases the duration of the Rot left by the weapon.
  • Explosive Rot – Causes your shots to explode on contact.
  • Caustic Rot – Makes the Rot deal more damage over time.
  • Portal Rot – The enemies you kill with the Rot will spawn portals that fire projectiles.

1. Hollowseeker


The Hollowseeker is hands down the best weapon in the game.

It is great against almost every enemy due to its range, magazine size, and excellent traits.

To make the ultimate weapon, you want to look for these traits:

  • Retarget – Makes the projectiles you shoot seek out other targets once it hits.
  • Portal Beam – Creates a portal that shoots out a beam and targets nearby enemies.
  • Split Stream – Fires homing lasers in addition to your regular shots.
  • Portal Turret – Similar to Portal Beam.

While your weapon choice can be affected by your preferred playstyle, we still highly recommend using the weapons at higher tiers if you want to have a more efficient playthrough.

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