Game Guides

Returnal: How to Swim and Get Underwater Items

Water hurts you, so how do you get these items?

by Diego Perez


In the early stages of Returnal, you may have stumbled across underwater items that you cannot retrieve without the ability to swim. Selene takes damage any time she enters a pool of water or any other liquid on Atropos, so you cannot get these items at the start of the game. You’ll have to make it pretty far in the game before you unlock the ability to swim, but thankfully, it’s pretty hard to miss the item you need to safely navigate across water. Here’s how to swim and retrieve underwater items in Returnal.

How to Get Underwater Items in Returnal

To get underwater items in Returnal, you need an ability called Hadal Ballasts. This ability is obtained at the end of the game’s fifth biome, the Fractured Wastes. Once you unlock the Hadal Ballasts, you can safely retrieve underwater items without taking damage.


The Hadal Ballasts don’t actually let Selene “swim” in the traditional sense, but it’s basically the same thing. They allow you to sink to the bottom of a body of water and walk along the floor, which lets you pick up any submerged Obolites or Silphium. The Hadal Ballasts are required to progress through the main story, so you can’t miss them. The Fractured Wastes are near the end of the game, though, so you won’t be able to swim until you’ve made it through most of the biomes.

Still, death is a core part of Returnal, so you’ll likely return to the earlier areas of the game quite often once you reach the more difficult biomes the planet has to offer. Once you acquire the Hadal Ballasts, you’ll keep them permanently, so you can use them in early biomes like the Overgrown Ruins or the Crimson Wastes. By this point in the game, you will have unlocked most of the game’s permanent equipment, so you won’t encounter too many obstacles that you’re not equipped to face.

Returnal is available now on PlayStation 5.

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