The second biome of Returnal, called Crimson Wastes, is a red desert with a long dormant temple at the base of the mountain. Crossing the desert, clearing the temple, and making it to the summit is one of the hardest parts of Returnal. And just when you thought you'd seen it all, a powerful boss named Ixion waits for you at the very top. If you find yourself being bested by the flying fiend, take a look at our guide and plan your next (and final) encounter. Here's how to beat Ixion in Returnal.
How to prepare
At this point, you might find yourself on two different ends of the spectrum. If you've been cruising through, then you probably defeated Phrike and have held onto your artifacts and items, which means you're probably more than prepared for what awaits. If you died at some point and are jumping back into the Crimson Wastes, take your time and explore. While shortcuts do become available to you once you reach the summit the first time, taking them might be ill-advised because they'll leave you not as prepared as you normally would. But where there's risk comes reward.
Do your best to find Hollowseeker or a Tachyomatic Carbine, as the Spitmaw Blaster isn't ideal for this battle. Find an Astronaut Statue or a Child's Watch, and if you want to be extra careful, use the Reconstructor to set a checkpoint.
Ixion has three phases, each one worse than the last.
Ixion attacks with a mix of aerial strikes and ground strikes, but its head is its weakness, and if you do enough damage to it, you'll stun it and can even knock it out of attack animations. Ixion attacks with a spray of orange bullets and a string of blue bullets that go straight towards you. You should be able to easily dodge both, making sure you don't accidentally fall off the stage.
Phase 2 is when things get a little crazy. Ixion starts his second phase by slamming into the center of the area, sending out waves of energy, as well as a blue wall of lasers. You can get over these by jumping normally, but be sure to dash through where appropriate. Ixion will then take to the air, swooping and bringing a huge barrage of bullets along with him. If you're using headphones, you will be able to catch wind of Ixion before he attacks, giving you a split second to prepare. Otherwise, you have to quickly jump out of the way while avoiding the wall of bullets that follows closely behind.
This phase of Ixion is particularly tricky, as he is not only constantly moving, but he's constantly spraying the area with bullets. Keep moving from side to side and hitting Ixion and he lands in the center of the arena. Near the end of the phase, Ixion will shoot blue rockets at you. Time your dash just right to avoid the rockets. Finally, Ixion will sometimes shoot a big blue laser beam right out in front of itself. Move to the side to avoid it.
Ixion takes to the air again and drops right in the center, so keep your distance and jump over the initial wave of energy. The bullets Ixion begins to shoot are angled, which makes it a little harder to jump over. Keep moving to the side to avoid his shots and watch out for Ixion's melee. Ixion will pull a whip from his body and start following the player, jumping straight at you, and pounding the ground, releasing a short burst of energy. Dash away from it and you should be able to steer clear.
Ixion will start slapping the whip against the ground, sending more waves of energy in your direction. If you keep your distance, you should be able to jump over them with no problem. When he starts to melee you, keep moving away from him and keep blasting him until Ixion finally falls.
Another step towards your salvation
With Phrike and Ixion down, Selene can move forward and leave the Crimson Wastes behind. The cycle doesn't break here, though, and Selene will need to keep pushing towards the mysterious White Shadow signal if she wants to break free of Atropos. Be sure to check out our Returnal tips and tricks guide for more helpful tips as you work your way further into the planet. Returnal can be unrelenting at times, but It's one worth taking and is one of the best games on the PS5.
Guide Selene through the mysterious planet of Atropos and break the cycle she's trapped in this difficult but epic roguelike.
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