In Returnal you will frequently come across red vines / roots with health items gated behind them. To destroy them you need a sword that you automatically get as part of the story in the 1st biome.
Here’s what the red vines or roots look like:
How to destroy Red Vines in Returnal:
- Play through the 1st biome “Overgrown Ruins” until the objective “Find a way to destroy xeno-tech barriers”. At the end of this objective you get a big red sword called Atropian Blade, it’s an unmissable story item. So just advance the story and you will get it automatically.
- You now get the sword permanently and even keep it when you die. Press SQUARE-BUTTON at any red vine to destroy it. You can even attack enemies with it.