Returnal How to Complete Biome Surveys Guide PS5 PlayStation 5

How do you do the Surveys in Returnal? How do you complete the biome surveys and unlock the survey Trophies? In Returnal, there are six Gold Trophies that you only unlock when you finish surveys of each of the game's areas. Trophies such as Past the Ruins, Ascending the Mountain, and Through the Forgotten City require you to finish the surveys of every biome. But what do you have to do to complete these surveys? As part of our Returnal guide, we're going to explain what these surveys are and what you need to do to finish them and earn those Trophies. For more on the game's Trophy list, see our guide β€” Returnal: All Trophies and How to Get the Platinum.

Returnal: How to Complete Biome Surveys

Returnal Surveys Trophies

Below, we're going to explain Returnal's surveys, including what you have to do to earn those Trophies.

What Are Surveys in Returnal?

The game never tells you about surveys, but they are integral to earning certain Trophies if you want to get the Platinum. Basically, the surveys in Returnal are optional objectives that encourage you to explore each biome fully. They are not referenced in the game itself, but they do appear in the Trophy list and in the game's PS5 Activity Cards.

There are six surveys and six related Trophies:

  • Past the Ruins: Finish Overgrown Ruins Survey
  • Ascending the Mountain: Finish Crimson Wastes Survey
  • Through the Forgotten City: Finish Derelict Citadel Survey
  • Echoes of the Past: Finish Echoing Ruins Survey
  • Frozen in Time: Finish Fractured Wastes Survey
  • Submerged in Memories: Finish Abyssal Scar Survey

How Do You Finish Surveys in Returnal?

In order to complete the surveys, you need to find all the collectable things in each biome. You will need to find all the Scout Logs, Xenoglyph Ciphers, and Xeno-archives in a biome to finish its survey and earn the respective Trophy. In addition to these collectables, you will also need to beat the challenge room in each biome at least once. The trouble is, we can't tell you precisely where you will find all these things. The game's maps are randomly generated, so there's no telling where and when exactly these items will show up. You will need to go on several runs through each area searching high and low in every room. Here's a little more detail about the things you need to find to finish surveys:

Scout Logs

Returnal Scout Logs

Scout Logs are the audio logs you will find near Selene's corpses. Many of them are found in "scripted" parts of the game β€” you will find many of them very easily just playing through the game naturally. However, some are only spawned at random, making them harder to locate. As with most things in Returnal, there's no guarantee you'll find the Scout Logs you're looking for on a given run, so you will need to persevere and keep trying.

Scout Logs are represented on your mini map with a little broadcast symbol, as highlighted above.

Xenoglyph Ciphers

Returnal Xenoglyph Ciphers

Xenoglyph Ciphers are glowing red symbols that will appear in certain rooms. You need to find these in order to translate Xenoglyphs. They're fairly easy to spot, as they give off a red glow and produce a sound that grows louder as you approach β€” they usually stand out. Again, random generation means they could show up any time.

Xenoglyph Ciphers are represented on your mini map with a small blue triangle, which is used to pinpoint various types of items, so always check out those blue triangles just in case.


Returnal Xeno-archives

Xeno-archives are a little different, as these are entire rooms found in each biome. If you find a room filled with blue, swirling particles, these are Xeno-archive rooms. To "collect" the Xeno-archives, approach each of the particle swirls until they construct a 3D image. In this state, they are collectable with Triangle, like anything else. You need to collect every Xeno-archive in the space β€” there are about four or five of them in each biome, so interact with all the ones you can reach. You might need to find the room again another time after you have more permanent equipment in order to reach some of them.

Xeno-archive rooms are represented on your mini map with the above highlighted symbol, but it'll be fairly obvious when you step inside the room that you've found them.

Challenge Rooms

In each biome, you will always find a challenge room somewhere on the map, also called a containment room. These are large arenas that lock you in and spawn three increasingly challenging waves of enemies for you to deal with. After you beat the third set of baddies, the doors will unlock again and you'll be rewarded with lots of useful items. In order to complete a biome's survey, you will need to find and complete the challenge room.

These rooms are signified by a yellow rectangle with a star above it on your mini map, and you can only get through the door by killing a small enemy on the door itself.

How to Keep Track of Survey Progress in Returnal

As we've mentioned, there is no mention of these biome surveys within the game itself, so it can be difficult to know how much progress you've made towards completing a survey. However, there is a way to find out.

Activity Cards

Returnal Activity Cards

While playing the game, tap the PS button on your DualSense controller to bring up the Control Center. Here, you'll see the game's Activity Cards. Some of these will refer to the biome surveys, and if you hit X on one of these, it will show you progress bars for finding all the Scout Logs, Xenoglyph Ciphers, and Xeno-archives in a biome. This comes in very handy if you need to know what you're missing from your surveys.


Returnal Databank Ciphers

Alternatively, you can try to work out for yourself how close you are to completing a survey using the Databank within the game. Press the touch pad to bring up the map, then scroll along to Databank. Here, you can view which Scout Logs and Xeno-archives you've collected, and therefore work out which ones are missing. It won't tell you which biome they'll appear in, but you can at least see where the gaps are in your collection.

As for Xenoglyph Ciphers, select Resources and scroll to the bottom of the list. Near the end should be the entry for 'Xenoglyph Cipher'. This page will tell you how many Ciphers you have found in each biome, which is pretty handy indeed.

Have you completed all the biome surveys and unlocked the survey Trophies in Returnal? Tell us in the comments section below, and check out our Returnal guide for even more help and tips on the game.