Everything you need to know about PS5's Returnal

A mysterious and intriguing sci-fi shooter on a time loop.

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Even at launch, PlayStation 5 already had a strong exclusive lineup. Things will only get better in 2021. While games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Gran Turismo 7, and Horizon Forbidden West might seem like the most enticing, there's a new sci-fi third-person shooter from Resogun developer Housemarque called Returnal that should be on your radar.

While much about the game is still shrouded in mystery, we learned more a bit more about it during The Game Awards 2020 and when it got a trailer during February 2021's State of Play. Here's everything we know about Returnal, the next major PS5 exclusive.

When is the Returnal release date?

The Returnal team revealed the game's initial release date of March 19, 2021 during The Game Awards on December 10, 2020. But as of January 28, 2021, that date was pushed back to April 30, 2021. As far as anybody knows, that will be the final release date as the team polishes the game.

It's now unclear whether or not Returnal will still be the first major post-launch release for the PS5. At the very least, it's still right in the middle of the system's six-month launch window. Its release timing is similar to that of Infamous Second Son back in 2014.

Is there Returnal trailer?

Yes, a new trailer for the game was released during the February 2020 State of Play. It gives us our best look at gameplay yet, including a first person section within a house. You can check out its section of the State of Play trailer below:

The protagonist crash-lands on the planet of Atropos and utilizes alien technology and is caught in some kind of time loop. The combat resembles Mass Effect to an extent, but it's much more dynamic and fast-paced.

If you want to see even more of the game, you can check out the reveal trailer that was released during June's PS5 showcase, which more heavily focuses on the story and cinematics:

Which platforms will Returnal be playable on?

Returnal is a PS5 exclusive. The game is published by Sony Interactive Entertainment and isn't a cross-gen game like Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It'll be one of the first true PS5 exclusives following Astro's Playroom, Demon's Souls, and the February release of Destruction All-Stars.

According to the game's official store page, it will take advantage of PS5 exclusive features like haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and 3D audio to make fighting enemies more satisfying. That will also be reflected in the game's price, as it will cost $69.99 new.

What is the Returnal story about?

Returnal follows a woman named Selene after she crash-lands on an alien planet called Atropos that houses an ancient civilization. The entire planet is in constant flux, so environments are always evolving. Players fight to survive as they try and escape, but Selene is also is revived after every death as part of a Groundhog Day-type time loop. The planet changes form every time that she dies.

Housemarque and Sony are still being very secretive about the game's narrative otherwise, so there are definitely some hard-hitting mysteries for players to solve. Hopefully, it can craft a compelling narrative around death like Hades, with the world slowly revealing more and more about itself to the player after every death.

What genre of game is Returnal?

As you can probably tell from the game's premise, Returnal is a roguelike — every run is different as players will access different areas and items each time. During a run, players will have to manage their resources wisely. Specifically, players will find an alien device called Cthonos that gives a random item at the start of each run and changes as players progress further.

When it comes to combat itself, Returnal is a third-person shooter that also takes inspiration from bullet-hell games. According to a PlayStation Blog post by Housemarque, there are several different weapons and they can all be upgraded with unique Weapon Traits that stack and add bonuses like exploding on impact. Parasites will also give players boons like regenerating health when you're low on it but comes with downsides like having enemies leave behind a pool of acid when you kill them.

Dodging enemy attacks and bullets will be just as tough as dealing damage yourself. It's somewhat reminiscent of Recore, a 2016 Xbox exclusive with a roguelike twist, though this gameplay angle isn't surprising when you consider Housemarque's roots as a developer.

This screenshot highlights the bullethell third-person action gameplay players will encounter during every run of Returnal.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Who is the Returnal developer?

Housemarque is the studio behind Returnal. You might know them best for many of their arcade-style games they made for PS4 like Resogun, Matterfall, and Nex Machina. All of these games were fun and highly polished, with Resogun and Nex Machina drawing widespread critical acclaim.

After Nex Machina underperformed though, Housemarque appeared to abandon the genre that they were known for. In a controversial blog post, CEO Ilari Kuittinen claimed that "ARCADE IS DEAD" in a blog post and revealed that "lackluster sales of Nex Machina have led us to the thinking that it is time to bring our longstanding commitment to the arcade genre to an end."

Their next game announced was Stormdivers, a battle royale, though it was shuttered before launch. Returnal will be their first game since that blog post and shift in game design, so we'll see if this change pays off with a solid PS5 exclusive or was the wrong choice for the developer.

Returnal will be released for PS5 on April 30, 2021.

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