Returnal on PC – 15 Details You Need To Know

Housemarque's third-person shooter is coming to PC on February 15th. Here's what you need to know before journeying to Atropos.

Posted By | On 13th, Feb. 2023

Returnal on PC – 15 Details You Need To Know

After months of rumors, Housemarque’s acclaimed third-person shooter Returnal is finally arriving on February 15th for PC, courtesy of Climax Studios. It made an impression with its hefty system requirements but what should first-time players know before jumping in? What exclusive features does the PC version offer? Let’s go over it in detail before you buy.


As a scout for ASTRA, Selene Vassos travels to the planet Atropos to investigate a mysterious signal called “White Shadow.” After crashing and losing communication with the corporation, she begins exploring, and strange things occur immediately. Upon dying, Selene loops back in time to after the crash and begins receiving strange visions. How she escapes from Atropos, the various horrors that await, and more form the crux of her journey.

How Cycles Work


In essence, Returnal is a rogue-like game. You discover weapons, artifacts, health increases, Obolites (the default currency) and consumables during a run. Upon dying, you lose all of that (aside from permanent tools for exploring, like the grappling hook) and must start anew. Atropos changes with each run, referred to as a Cycle, and the placement of certain things – like bosses and the end of a region – remain the same. Selene also has a chance to encounter a strange house, which seems to be her own, and is explored from the first-person, further adding to the various mysteries surrounding the planet.



If you’ve played any of Housemarque’s arcade shoot ’em ups like Nex Machina, then Returnal will seem very familiar. It’s a third-person shooter at heart, and Selene can dodge and sprint. Eventually, she unlocks an Atropian Blade for melee attacks and disrupting enemy shields. For the most part, you’ll be dodging hundreds of enemy projectiles at a time and trying not to die while exploring the various biomes of Atropos.

As Selene slays foes without getting hit and executing perfect reloads (called Overloads), she’ll build Adrenaline and receive benefits like enhanced melee damage, more Obolites, a larger Overload window, increased weapon proficiency from kills, and so on. It resets on hit, so get good with dodging.


returnal pc

There are multiple biomes to explore, each incredibly massive, whether it’s the Crimson Wastes with its deserts or the Derelict Citadel with its imposing structures. There are numerous types of enemies and rooms to encounter. Some may trap you in a room with a powerful mini-boss. Others have platforming challenges or require slaying tons of foes. A boss awaits, and you’ll need to defeat them to access the next biome. However, various shortcuts open up for accessing later biomes quickly, if you’re feeling confident.

Weapons and Upgrades

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Selene initially starts with a standard pistol, but she’ll discover other weapons on Atropos like the Tachyomatic Carbine, which acts as an assault rifle; the rocket-firing Thermogenic Launcher; and the shotgun-esque Spitmaw Blaster. Each weapon has an alternate-fire mode and comes with random perks. As you explore Atropos deeper, you’ll find higher-rated versions of weapons that can deal more damage and even unlock additional perks as they gain Proficiency.

There are also Artifacts, which provide bonuses like Adrenaline Enhancer, allowing you to take a hit before losing Adrenaline, and Wound Seeker, which deals 30 percent more damage to enemies at low health. You’ll also run into Parasites, which provide unique benefits but with random Malfunctions. These can be removed at certain points, either through machines or by completing their challenges, and help spice up Cycles.

Challenge Mode


Challenge Mode is unlocked on your ship after clearing the first biome and allows for accessing Daily Challenges. These add modifiers to a fresh Cycle, both positive and negative while giving you a random starting weapon. You receive Ether for completing a challenge, which is useful when cleansing items of Malignancy (reducing their chance to inflict Malfunctions) and can also be exchanged for Obolites. It’s also spent at the beginning of a Cycle to unlock a new item, thus improving your chances.

Tower of Sisyphus

Added in the Ascension Update, the Tower of Sisyphus is an endless mode where players progress through multiple floors full of enemies and challenges. There’s a new boss and story content tied to your progress, though we won’t spoil everything about it. Clearing floors quickly results in a higher score multiplier, and new Disgorger weapons can help in a pinch. In terms of testing your skill and survival rate, it’s well worth playing.


Also added in the Ascension Update is co-op. Two players can explore Atropos together, and you can either play with a friend or matchmake with a random player in a biome. Areas become more difficult, and the host’s progress determines the pool of available items. However, it’s fun if you’re seeking a more punishing, cosmic horror version of Journey. Challenge Mode, the Tower of Sisyphus and narrative sequences in the house aren’t available in co-op, so keep that in mind. Cross-play with PS5 players isn’t supported either.

Nvidia DLSS 3 and Ray-tracing


Returnal on PC supports Nvidia DLSS 3, and Nvidia Image Scaling, along with AMD FSR and FSR 2.0. It also offers metrics for tracking latency, FPS and CPU/GPU usage. Also, unlike the console version, ray-traced shadows and reflections are implemented, and you can adjust their strength using sliders.

Ultrawide Screen Support

Atropos is a dangerous planet, but it can also be extremely gorgeous. Along with 4K resolution, the PC version supports 16:10, 21:9 Ultrawide and 32:9 Super Ultrawide aspect ratios. Even if you’ve played through multiple times on PS5, this makes it worth re-experiencing on PC.

Keyboard and Mouse, and DualSense Support

Naturally, Returnal supports the PS5’s DualSense controller on PC, complete with haptic feedback and adaptive trigger support. You can still use a mouse and keyboard along with other controllers. Button prompts are also fully customizable for maximum convenience.

More Accessibility Options

Interestingly, the PC version gets some new accessibility options, including an alternate-fire crosshair charging notification and ping system for co-op. The latter should be especially useful if you’re matched with a random player to indicate the location of enemies and where to go next.

System Requirements

When the hardware requirements first came out, there was a fair bit of skepticism since Returnal needed 32 GB of RAM for its recommended settings. Housemarque and Climax Studios would since release updated requirements, and they’re a bit more reasonable, though 60 GB installation is required across the board. The minimum requirements for playing at 720p/60 FPS at Low settings include an Intel Core i5-6400 2.7GHz or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 3.5GHz, a GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8 GB) and 16 GB DDR4 RAM. You can use an HDD, but an SSD is recommended.

Medium requirements include a Core i5-8400 2.8GHz or Ryzen 5 2600 3.4GHZ, GeForce GTX 1070 (8 GB) or Radeon RX 5600 XT (6 GB), and 16 GB DDR4. This is enough for playing at 1080p/60 FPS at Medium settings. Finally, we have the Recommended requirements, which include a Core i7-8700 3.7 GHz or Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7 GHz, RTX 2070 Super (8 GB) or Radeon RX 6700 XT (12 GB), and 16 GB DDR4 RAM for 1080p/60 FPS at High settings. Both Medium and Recommended hardware need an SSD.

4K/60 FPS Requirements


But wait, there’s more. Those looking to play at 4K/60 FPS have separate requirements. Epic requirements include a Core i7-9700K 3.7 GHz or Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6 GHz, 32 GB DDR4 and an RTX 3080 (10 GB) or Radeon RX 6800 XT (16 GB). To enable Ray Tracing at these settings, you’ll need a Core i9-11900K 3.5 GHz or Ryzen 9 5900X 3.7 GHz, an RTX 3080 Ti (12 GB) or Radeon RX 6950 XT (16 GB) and 32 GB DDR4. It’s also recommended to run Nvidia DLSS when ray tracing is enabled. As with the Medium and Recommended requirements, an SSD is mandatory.



Due to its rogue-like nature, you can play Returnal for dozens of hours and see new combinations of rooms, enemies and challenges in each run. However, finishing the story will take about 20 hours. If you’re going the extra mile, which is necessary to get the full story of the base game, then it can take upwards of 30 hours (depending on your skill and some RNG). The Tower of Sisyphus is technically endless but contains about nine to ten hours of new story content to discover. Overall, you’ll be getting your money’s worth in terms of playtime.

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