Returnal Weapon Tier List: Best & Worst [2024]

Make every shot count with our expertly crafted Returnal Weapon Tier List!

Returnal Weapon Tier List
Returnal Weapon Tier List

In the hostile world of Returnal, having the right weapon can make all the difference. But with so many choices, it can be difficult to know which guns are worth the effort. Fear not, as we’ve scoured the game to bring you the ultimate Returnal Weapon Tier List. From the explosive power of the Pyroshell Caster to the electrifying precision of the Electropylon Driver, we’ve got you covered.

Returnal Creature
Returnal Creature

Key Takeaways

  • Returnal offers a variety of weapons, including 10 guns and 1 melee weapon.
  • The Tachyomatic Carbine boasts a large magazine size, mid-range capabilities, and an array of useful Traits.
  • The Electropylon Driver causes damage over a period and is highly effective against clusters and bosses. However it requires cautious usage at near range.
  • The Pyroshell Caster is a potent grenade launcher that excels in eliminating groups of enemies with its trajectory mechanics.
  • The Thermogenic Launcher is a rocket launcher that can deal splash damage and take out multiple foes with homing abilities.
  • The Coilspine Shredder is a strong long-range weapon, perfect for battles against strong adversaries in the late game.
  • The Hollowseeker can shoot homing bullets at a rapid rate, ideal for close-range combat against medium-level enemies.
  • The Rotgland Lobber is a powerful weapon that can deal impressive damage, but it requires skill to use effectively.
  • The Atropian Blade is a melee firearm that can penetrate through defenses and hindrances, making it useful for turret defenses. 
  • The Spitmaw Blaster is a shotgun-like armament that’s powerful but has constricted range, making it best suited for early parts.
  • The Dreadbound weapon provides a significant amount of damage and is best suited for experienced players.
  • The Sidearm SD-M8 is a dependable and nifty weapon with unlimited reach, homing missiles, and burst fire.

Updated March 15th, by Nauman Shah:

With each patch update in Returnal after the original publish date of this article, there have been multiple changes made to the weapons, that affects their ranking in the tier list. It is a fluctuating factor but some weapons have been nerfed, but the others got powerful buffs that increased their ranking in my tier list, such as the Electropylon Driver and Tachyomatic Carbine. Additionally, I have taken some weapons down to the C and D tier, as they have been badly downgraded and no one uses them anymore. The takeaway is that my list has been updated with respect to the recent Returnal patch update, so you will not be disappointed. 

S Tier:

Electropylon Driver

Best Weapon For Nemesis

Why did I Choose Electropylon Driver?

Electropylon Driver is a potentially strong weapon due to its unique ability to catch and slow enemies with its devastating beams, making it deadly even without great traits.

The Electropylon Driver stands out as the most outstanding weapon in Returnal due to its exceptional damage potential, user-friendly design, and unique ability to attach pylons to enemies, inflicting continuous damage.

In addition, the weapon’s pylons can be linked together with an electric beam that wreaks havoc on enemies passing through it.

Electropylon Driver
Electropylon Driver

While its strength lies in its effectiveness against large targets, it also excels in crowd control and boss fights, making it an ideal choice for players who want to master every aspect of Returnal’s weaponry. This weapon is widely regarded as the epitome of excellence in the game.

  • Damage over time
  • Nuanced damage application
  • Weapon traits
  • Materials

  • Limited direct damage
  • Magazine size and pylon limit
  • Pylon duration
  • Requires proficiency levels for traits

A Tier:

Pyroshell Caster

Best Weapon For Phrike

Why did I Choose Pyroshell Caster?

Its ability to take out multiple targets and devastate larger enemies, combined with Bouncy Projectiles Trait will maximize its performance and make it a formidable choice for you.

The Pyroshell Caster’s lethal damage output and versatility in obliterating not only swarms of foes but also larger adversaries, elevates it as one of Returnal’s most coveted weapons.

Outshining the Thermogenic Launcher with its superior crowd control capabilities and superior firepower, the Pyroshell Caster, despite having only two Traits, reigns supreme in the game’s arsenal.

Pyroshell Caster
Pyroshell Caster

Despite only having two Traits, they are both exceptionally powerful and compensate for the weapon’s slow fire rate. With the Bouncy Projectiles and Streamlined Chamber, this gun can take on even the toughest bosses and swarms of enemies in the game’s later stages.

It outshines the Thermogenic Launcher and is a must-have for players seeking devastating firepower.

  • Adaptive range and explosive ammo
  • High damage and explosion radius
  • Weapon traits
  • Enhanced overheat limit

  • Slow firerate
  • Reload speed
  • Limited effectiveness against small enemies

Thermogenic Launcher

Best Weapon For Ixion

Why did I Choose a Thermogenic Launcher?

It has significant splash damage, due to which it can take out multiple targets at once and deal devastating damage to formidable foes.

Compared to other weapons that require precise aiming, let’s say such as the Pyroshell Caster, the Thermogenic Launcher is more forgiving in a way and packs a punch. Though not as point-and-click as some other guns, it does have its pros.

It has a wide splash radius and impressive damage making it a force to be reckoned with against crowds of enemies. What makes the Thermogenic Launcher stand out is its ability to deal with crowds of enemies and bosses alike.

With numerous Traits to choose from, you can use this weapon to tackle pretty much any situation.

Thermogenic Launcher
Thermogenic Launcher

The Thermogenic Launcher’s significant firepower lies in its ability to deliver immense initial damage that is further compounded by its impressive splash damage. This makes it a top-notch choice when it comes to clearing out large groups of enemies in one fell swoop, making it a standout weapon in Returnal.

It is worth noting that some of its Traits can be detrimental in certain scenarios. That said, with the Thermogenic Launcher with full auto, you’ll be able to annihilate anything in your path in a matter of seconds!

  • Versatility
  • Offers a variety of weapon traits
  • High-value weapon due to the rare materials used for crafting

  • Slow reload speed
  • Cost and Acquisition

Tachyomatic Carbine

Best Weapon For Ophion

Why did I Choose Tachyomatic Carbine?

It has a massive clip of ammo, allowing for a long stream of bullets to be fired, which is particularly useful in combat situations for me.

The hulking monstrosity loomed in the distance, its grotesque form casting an ominous shadow over the treacherous terrain of Atropos. But with the Tachyomatic Carbine in hand, Selene was undaunted. 

With each pull of the trigger, a torrent of hot lead would spew forth from the barrel, a tempest of unrelenting fury that would lay waste to anything in its path.

Its massive clip size was like a bottomless pit, devouring ammunition with a voracious appetite that seemed insatiable. But the Tachyomatic Carbine was no mindless beast, for it possessed a refined elegance that belied its savage power.

Tachyomatic Carbine
Tachyomatic Carbine

Despite the dramatic tone, everything said is true. This firearm is the closest you’ll get to an assault rifle on Atropos. It has a large magazine capacity and the ability to discharge a continuous stream of bullets, making it effective against a wide range of enemies, including bosses and large monsters.

Its firing modes vary based on its traits and modifications, allowing for both close and long-range combat.

  • Damage Output
  • Weapon Traits
  • Ease of Use

  • Rarity
  • Weaknesses in certain traits
  • Limited range

B Tier:

Atropian Blade

Best Weapon For Biome 3

Why did I Choose Atropian Blade?

This melee weapon that can take out weaker or already-weakened enemies with just a hit or two, making it incredibly powerful for close combat situations.

The Atropian Blade is a melee weapon that players always have with them once it’s unlocked. It’s particularly useful for taking out smaller enemies with a single slash. Since Returnal’s combat moves at a fast pace, players should be careful not to leave themselves vulnerable after using the blade.

Not only is the Atropian Blade a powerful weapon, but it also plays a crucial role in the game’s story. To acquire it, players must interact with a destroyed Automaton, which unlocks new areas to explore.

Atropian Blade
Atropian Blade

The Atropian Blade is a significant asset to players of all skill levels in Returnal. Its ability to deal high damage and breach shields make it an essential tool for navigating the game’s dangerous world. Additionally, it can pierce through red shield barriers, making it an excellent choice for taking down turret defenses.

  • High damage output
  • Breaks through shields
  • Permanent inventory
  • Versatility

  • Requires close combat
  • Lack of weapon traits and Alt-fire mode
  • No permanent upgrades
  • Limited Buffs

Rotgland Lobber

Best Weapon For Atlas Prime

Why did I Choose Rotgland Lobber?

It’s effective at mid-range attacks, excelling at taking down crowds due to its damage-over-time mechanic.

The Rotgland Lobber is a powerful weapon in Returnal that has a unique firing mechanism. The longer you hold down the trigger, the further the shot will go, but this also slows down the rate of fire. Despite the impressive damage output, this weapon is best suited for smaller foes due to its strange range and fire rate.

The Rotgland Lobber does have some unique Traits like Caustic Rot, Explosive Shot, and Tendril Rot that help compensate for its drawbacks. The weapon is also useful for mid-range combat and crowd control.

Rotgland Lobber
Rotgland Lobber

While the Rotgland Lobber may have some downsides, it is still a deadly tool in your arsenal if you can master its quirks. Nonetheless, players must weigh the risk of learning to use the weapon against the possibility of an untimely demise in Returnal.

The Rotgland Lobber is a strange but potent alien weapon that functions like a grenade launcher, making it an excellent addition to your collection of weapons and artifacts.

  • Adaptive range and continuous damage
  • Fast reload speed
  • Versatile weapon traits
  • High damage potential

  • No impact damage
  • Inconsistent spawn rate
  • Limited effectiveness against flying enemies
  • Complexity of traits

Spitmaw Blaster

Best Early Weapon

Why did I Choose Spitmaw Blaster?

Spitmaw Blaster is particularly effective against enemies that require multiple hits to down, and its ability to stagger enemies with its spread of projectiles.

The Spitmaw Blaster is Returnal’s equivalent of a shotgun, and it excels at what it was designed for: close-range combat. Its high damage output and wide spread make it an excellent choice for taking down enemies at point-blank range, and its ability to fire quickly allows players to dispatch smaller foes with ease.

Additionally, the weapon’s unique Traits, such as Narrow Maw, Piercing Spit, and Quick Spitter, can further enhance its effectiveness and make it a valuable tool in a player’s arsenal.

Spitmaw Blaster
Spitmaw Blaster

However, as players progress through the game and encounter tougher enemies, the Spitmaw Blaster’s limitations become more apparent. Its range is severely limited, and makes it difficult to engage enemies at medium to long distances.

Furthermore, its damage output struggles to keep up with the increased health and defenses of the game’s tougher foes, making it less effective against them. As a result, players will need to adapt their playstyle and either switch to a different weapon or use the Spitmaw Blaster in conjunction with other tools and abilities to maximize its effectiveness.

  • High Damage
  • Stagger Power
  • Explosive spit

  • Range limitations
  • Reload time
  • Limited Ammo

C Tier:

Coilspine Shredder

Best Multiplayer Weapon

Why did I Choose Coilspine Shredder?

Its ability to deal significant damage even when uncharged, combined with the option to charge for even more damage, makes it a potent weapon for both close and long-range combat.

The Coilspine Shredder is a coveted weapon in Returnal, with players constantly seeking it out for its devastating power. While its slow projectile firing rate may be a drawback for some, its increased range and ability to ricochet off surfaces make it a formidable weapon in the hands of a skilled player.

With only four Weapon Characteristics, the Coilspine Shredder still manages to pack a punch. Adrenaline Discs, Retarget, and Twin Discs all contribute to its lethal potential, particularly in late-game encounters with tougher enemies and bosses.

Coilspine Shredder
Coilspine Shredder

Mastering the Overload feature is crucial to maintain a steady stream of fire and maximize its effectiveness. Despite its strengths, the Coilspine Shredder’s rarity can make it difficult to obtain, and its reliance on the Overload mechanic may be a challenge for some players.

Nevertheless, its versatility and power make it a valuable addition to any player’s arsenal, particularly for those who prefer long-range combat.

  • Rare and unique
  • Long range and Richochet
  • Versatile traits
  • High damage potential

  • Slow projectile speed
  • Rarity and spawn rate
  • Limited Accuracy at long range

Hollowseeker

Best Weapon For XP Farm

Why did I Choose Hollowseeker?

Hollowseeker weapon has the ability to create a beam-firing portal that targets nearby enemies, which can be particularly effective against bosses.

The Hollowseeker in Returnal is a weapon that requires significant skill and practice to master. With its unique firing mechanism that shoots homing needles, it’s one of the fastest firing weapons in the game.

However, it falls short in terms of damage output and range, making it difficult to use effectively in many situations.

Hollowseeker
Hollowseeker

Despite its high rate of fire, the Hollowseeker’s lack of damage and poor range limit its usefulness in Returnal. To make matters worse, it requires sustained fire to do any real damage. That can be challenging when dealing with the game’s aggressive monsters.

The Hollowseeker can be effective against low to medium-level enemies and even some bosses with the right Weapon Traits. However it’s ultimately a weapon that requires a lot of effort to use well. It may not be the best choice in many situations.

  • Unique traits
  • High rate of fire
  • Homing mechanism
  • Ricochet Ability

  • Rarity and slow projectile speed
  • Short range and low accuracy
  • Limited Effectiveness Against Small and Nimble Enemies

D Tier:

Modified Sidearm SD-M8

Best DLC Weapon

Why did I Choose Modified Sidearm SD-M8?

The ability to customize the weapon with traits enhances its effectiveness, allowing me to tailor the weapon’s performance to their playstyle.

The Sidearm SD-M8 is a versatile and reliable weapon in Returnal. It offers players a range of Traits that make it a force to be reckoned with in the early and late stages of the game. As the default weapon, it has virtually unlimited range, making it capable of hitting any enemy in the biome arena.

Its Burst Fire Trait combined with Homing Missile and Serrated Projectiles Traits give players a potent combination for dealing with enemies and bosses alike.

Modified Sidearm SD-M8
Modified Sidearm SD-M8

However, while the SD-M8 is an excellent starting weapon, it falls short when compared to the game’s other guns. It can be deadly with the right combination of Traits.

But I can tell you, some might want to switch it out as soon as possible to access more powerful weapons. Its automatic firing option is convenient but lacks the speed of manual firing. That makes it less effective in some situations.

  • Damage Output
  • Forgiveness 
  • Burst fire
  • Charging shot
  • Hit reload

  • Limited range
  • Automatic Firing
  • Trait dependency
  • Less powerful than others

Dreadbound

Best Late Game Weapon

Why did I Choose Dreadbound?

Dreadbound’s projectiles deal damage not only upon impact but also as they return to the player, significantly increasing its damage output and more accurate.

The Dreadbound in Returnal is a weapon that is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s a crossbow that shoots a handful of needles that embed themselves in enemies and detonate half a second later. While it’s a powerful weapon, it’s also the most difficult to master.

It is not the best choice for new players. The weapon’s slow firing rate and high learning curve make it challenging to use. That may not be worth the risk for most players.

Dreadbound
Dreadbound

The Dreadbound’s unique selling point is its retractable shot and returning projectile, which deals damage on its path back. The weapon has strong damage output and can take out multiple enemies with a single shot.

That makes it a valuable addition to Selene’s arsenal for experienced players who are willing to master it. Its limited shards require pinpoint accuracy and precise timing to use the Overload ability. However the shards are incredibly powerful and can wipe out any enemy in the game.

  • High damage output
  • Returning Shards
  • Fourth Shard Trait
  • Ideal for Late-Game

  • Difficulty to master
  • Limited Ammunition
  • Punishing for misses
  • Not ideal for all environments

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My Opinion On The Weapons

In Returnal, players face an unforgiving world, but they will have an arsenal of 11 guns to help them survive. Our Returnal weapon tier list tailors to your needs. From the blazing flames of Pyroshell Caster to the electric shock of the Electropylon Driver, Returnal offers a thrilling selection.

However, my opinion is that in the end, it’s up to you to master these weapons and uncover the secrets of Atropos. Are you ready to face the challenge and claim victory in Returnal? The fate of Selene and the planet Atropos rests in your hands.

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