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How to defeat Phrike in Returnal

A guide to Returnal's Phrike boss battle

How to defeat Phrike in Returnal
(Image: © Sony)
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Want to know how to defeat Phrike in Returnal? Then you've landed on the right page. Returnal is tough as nails on a moment-to-moment basis, but your first major test is the Phrike boss battle. 

After fighting for your life through the game’s first grimdark biome, this evil alien fog monster is waiting for you, ready to cover the battlefield with bullet hell projectiles. 

As you learn the ropes, it’s natural that you’re going to fall to his frantic attacks on the first few runs, but there are ways of making the boss fight easier, mostly by understanding their attacks. In the interest of helping you make it to the Crimson Wastes, here’s our guide on how to defeat Phrike in Returnal.

How to unlock and fight Phrike

How to defeat Phrike in Returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

You’ll find Phrike at the end of Returnal’s first biome, the Overgrown Ruins. Flesh out every area in the biome and follow the game’s objectives until you find the Anathema Key, which will let you unlock the Anathema Vault. This is where Phrike is hiding, and you’ll have to drop down a chasm to brawl them. 

Before you do that, keep in mind that you can use the Translocators to fast-travel around the map, open item-giving Fabricators with your Obolites and pick up any artefacts, consumables and resources you might have missed during your route to the boss door. You may want to grab a few Parasites too - if the pros outweigh the cons.

If there are enemy stragglers, consider building your adrenaline gauge by killing them sequentially without taking damage, as this will provide Selene with buffs. You also want to make sure that you’ve got the best weapon for the job before you drop down, as you won’t be able to change anything once you’re in there.

Tips for fighting Phrike

How to defeat Phrike in Returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

As soon as you enter Phrike’s domain, things are going to get hectic. Phrike is quite a lumbering boss, but his attacks will follow and dominate the player, forcing you to keep moving at all times. The most important tip to note (if you haven’t picked up on it already) is that Selene has invincibility frames when she commits a dash. So like Dark Souls, you want to dodge into or through Phrike’s attacks to negate their damage — use dash as your get-out-of-jail free card. Of course, completely avoiding Phrike’s attacks is most ideal, but that’s not easy.

Then, the next thing you should do is forget holding the trigger to aim your weapon. Yes, you deal more damage when you’re hitting their head-based weak points, but if you’re new to the game, trying to get the muscle memory just right so that you don’t over-aim and enter Alt-Fire is hard. Hipfire works great here — and make sure you’re constantly firing, it’s easy to forget as your brain focuses on dodging particles. You can crank up the auto-aim in the settings if you’re really struggling.

Of course, you also want to be using your weapon’s alt-fire whenever it comes off of cooldown. This is the only point when it’s super beneficial to ADS. Selene’s melee blade attack is situational — handy if you’re up close and Phrike is vulnerable, but it’s also very risky.

Phrike's attacks explained

How to defeat Phrike in Returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

Phrike’s attacks are color-coded. Their red shot is homing on the player, so you need to dodge away from it. Their yellow projectile burst is slow-moving but deadly, so just make sure you’re moving in between the dots. They also have a purple attack that isn’t targeted, but fires in a straight line. 

Phrike will also dip underground to move around the map, so follow the orange marker on the floor to see where they’re going to end up next. In Phase 2 Phrike will shoot out a yellow vertical beam, and also dash towards you to slice at Selene. You want to dash after Phrike dashes, but not before they attack. There’s a charged attack too, a slow-moving red floor wave that you have to jump over. 

In the third phase, Phrike will start firing random red beams from its head that home in on the player, as well as deliver a more all-encompassing beam ray. Phrike can also summon a green circular projectile around its body that will hurt you if you get too close.

Jordan Oloman

Jordan Oloman is a journalist and documentarian with experience across the pop culture/tech spectrum writing reported features, reviews. news, guides, op-eds and more for a wide variety of outlets. He is also an affiliate streamer on Twitch and have previous experience in scriptwriting, podcasting, game consultation and creating video content.