New Returnal Update Announced

Returnal developer Housemarque announced on Tuesday plans to release a new update for the PlayStation 5 game this week. The update will be released on May 5th at 12 p.m. PST with Returnal players advised to prep for its release by disabling the PlayStation 5's auto-update feature so as not to lose progress in your current cycle

What’s going to be included in the update? That much we don’t know yet, but we know that it’s at least coming. Housemarque’s link shared alongside the announcement for the game simply directed players to a PlayStation support page that instructed players on how they could set up their PlayStations accordingly so that the update wouldn't mess up progress, but no patch notes were provided. It’s assumed that we’ll get those whenever the patch is actually out so that people can know what changed, but since this is the first Returnal update we’ve gotten since the game launched, it’s hard to say how it’ll be handled.

Judging from examples set by other games that get patches not far out from their launch, this one will likely address any critical bugs players have been experiencing that resulted in crashes or other problems. From personal experience during the review process, Returnal was prone to crashing only seldomly, but because of its structure, any crash can be an extremely detrimental to a player’s motivation. Returnal’s roguelike structure kicks players back to a set starting point whenever they die or turn off the game (you can put the console in rest mode to avoid this), so losing your progress to a crash feels particularly unfair.

That roguelike system is part of a larger discussion going on around Returnal that tomorrow’s update likely won’t address just yet. Due to the length of Returnal’s “cycles” that make up a playthrough, it can take a few hours to get through the game. Having to leave your PlayStation 5 in rest mode and untouched by anyone else who might want to play something else isn’t a particularly convenient option, so some players have been calling for a save system of sorts to be implemented. To a degree, that’d be a system at odds with the game’s whole structure, so if such a feature is to be added, it’s unlikely it would’ve been done so quickly.

Perhaps Housemarque will surprise us though and have some dense patch notes to look over, but we won’t know for sure until the update is released on Wednesday.