Game Time

Here's exactly how long it takes to beat Returnal

If you're looking to grab Returnal this weekend, here's how long it'll take to beat.

Returnal is a blast. The latest PlayStation 5 game is already getting rave reviews thanks to its fast-paced combat and excellent time-loop premise. That has Sony fans excited to finally get their hands on this promising new exclusive.

For those looking to dive in on launch weekend, you might be wondering how long it will take to beat the game. After all, this is a $70 title, so are you really getting your money’s worth? For those who have lingering questions about what exactly they’re getting into, we’ve got some answers. Here’s how long it’ll take to beat Returnal, along with other essential — but spoiler-free — details about how the game is structured.

How long is Returnal?

This is a complicated question. Returnal isn’t quite like most story-driven AAA games. It’s a roguelite, which means that players go on individual “runs” and try to get as far as possible. That means that mileage is going to vary from player to player when it comes to final playtime. Those who find it difficult might have to spend dozens of hours to get through the entire game. Seasoned pros might blaze through it all in 10.

In our personal playthrough, the game took about 20 hours to complete. Returnal does have a definitive ending, so it’s not quite like Hades in that there are no story reasons to keep going after you finally complete a run.

Naturally, that won’t be the same across the board, so consider it an average. Expect a full playthrough to take anywhere from 10 to 30 hours.

How many biomes and chapters are in Returnal?

Returnal is split up into three acts, which create a basic structure. Players will travel across six biomes, including the Overgrown Ruins and Crimson Wastes.

The act breaks are generally very clear, so players will know when they’ve hit them. The biomes are essentially grouped together in two sets of three. So players will spend the first act tackling the first trio of areas, which are linked together. Acts 2 and 3 cover the second set of three.

Does Returnal have an endgame?

For anyone hoping to get continued enjoyment out of Returnal, it does have an endgame per se. For one, you can continue doing runs after you complete the story. There are more story details to discover after the credits roll, so there’s certainly a reason to dive back in. On top of that, players have a logbook that tracks every single enemy, item, and scrap of lore. Part of the post-game is filling that out, which can take a long time.

Selene fights an alien in Returnal.


The only other extra piece of content are the game’s daily challenges. Like many other roguelites, the game features a set “seed” every day. Players race through a biome with a specific loadout and certain conditions. Points are awarded and substracted from the run for completing certain objectives. There’s a daily leaderboard for these challenges, so hardcore players will be able to log in every day to begin climbing the charts. It’s a nice touch that calls back to Housemarque’s arcade gaming days.

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