Major Returnal update transforms it into a serious GOTY contender
One of 2021’s best games just got better.
One of 2021’s best games is Returnal, a creepy roguelike PlayStation 5 exclusive from Finnish studio Housemarque. Along with its striking visual style and tight controls, Returnal is known for its unrelenting difficulty, though thanks to the game’s new 2.0 update, things will be slightly easier. On October 26, a Returnal update went live implementing a photo mode and allowing players to suspend their run and come back to it later. This is a major improvement, as it means players will no longer be locked into a run that might take several hours to get through. This new feature addresses Returnal’s most pressing issue.
The Returnal Suspend Cycle is a much-needed improvement
The difficulty debate came to light once again when Returnal launched in 2021. The best Returnal runs can end in the blink of an eye, even if you get lucky with excellent power-ups and item drops. Since it's a roguelike, no two runs are the same, leaving some of your fate to chance. Many players argue that Returnal is too difficult, while others insist that its challenge makes it fun.
Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, one thing plagued Returnal since day one: The inability to come back to a run later. Sure, you could simply pause and come back afterward, but what if you wanted to play another PS5 game in the meantime? This wasn’t possible, meaning you had to complete a run in one sitting, which is much easier said than done.
Returnal also crashed rather often at launch. This was doubly frustrating for a game like this because it wipe all progress during a run. With no option to save and come back later, an entire run would be squashed due to a development error and not lack of player skill.
Now, most of those issues have been addressed thanks to the Returnal 2.0 update, which allows you to create a suspension point in-game. This doesn’t work like a traditional save point, though. Instead, it preserves your progress so you can quit the game without worrying about losing your progress. Once you load back into the game, the suspension point is deleted, meaning it’s gone forever after you die.
After you die in Returnal, you don’t get to pick up at the start of the latest biome you’ve reached. Upon death, you have to restart at the beginning of the first area, even after making it to other biomes. You can warp to other areas after you’ve reached a certain point in the game, and there are checkpoints you can utilize if you have the right items, but these features are all tied to specific milestones that may not be reached if you aren’t an expert player. Now, you’ll at least be able to shut the game down when you reach a new area instead of leaving it running.
This new feature doesn’t change the game’s difficulty, but it still makes Returnal more accessible. Being able to pause a run will also eliminate the need to rush through the game’s stages, which could also help players perform better. If you explore thoroughly, you’ll likely be better equipped, but looking through every nook and cranny takes time. Now, players can take their time with each run.
In order to preserve the integrity of Returnal’s design, Housemarque has disallowed the ability to create a suspend point in the middle of a boss battle or during “intense combat scenarios,” which is understandable. This makes it so that players can’t get a second chance during the most challenging sections.
However, you can still exploit the suspension cycle system by uploading and downloading saves from the cloud. Doing so will ensure you can keep restarting from your suspension point, which is a great solution for players who have been struggling with the game. Returnal was already a Game of the Year contender, and now it will attract even more players thanks to its 2.0 update.
Returnal is available exclusively for PS5.