Returnal dev aware of players’ need for mid-run saves, but has “nothing to announce”

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VG247 03 May, 2021 - 03:16am 10 views

Is Returnal a ps5 exclusive?

Returnal was revealed at Sony's PlayStation 5 reveal stream on June 11, 2020. The game was exclusively developed for the PlayStation 5. The game was initially scheduled for a release on March 19, 2021. wikipedia.orgReturnal (video game)

Part of this is my fault. (I’ve played a lot of the game, and should know better by now.) But it’s also the result of how Returnal is designed. Returnal, a roguelike that kicks you back to the start with every death, has no official way to save in the middle of your runs. Developer Housemarque suggests putting your PS5 into “rest mode,” a patchwork solution that creates a whole bunch of other problems at the expense of solving a seemingly simple one. To lift from Kotaku’s review of the game:

A run in Returnal can last hours, especially if you’re combing through every room in every biome for as many resources as you can scrounge up. That you can’t save your game and pivot to something else smacks of a design decision from a prior, less accommodating era of gaming. If, for whatever reason, your PS5 turns off, you’re screwed, out potentially hours of carefully earned progress.

The lack of save options is a cold wakeup call for some Returnal players, who’ve taken to the internet en masse to air rightful grievances. One popular Reddit thread thoroughly detailing the matter has garnered hundreds of responses, many of which come from users sharing experiences of how they’ve been screwed by the game’s lack of save options. Today, some users have mentioned the very same issue I ran into, where the game updated overnight, erasing progress. You basically can’t look at the game’s dedicated subreddit without seeing a post about how desperately the game needs a save feature.

Complicating matters is the fact that Returnal, as with any game released in the era of day-one patches and post-release updates, doesn’t run flawlessly. Plenty of players have reported instances of crashes that have spiked otherwise terrific runs. One Reddit post headlined “When you’re on a 4 hour god-roll run with 200% integrity and an inventory full of artifacts, and then the game crashes” caused me physical pain to read. (Duuude, 200 percent integrity?! Oof.)

The truly flummoxing aspect to all of this is just how easy it is to imagine a version of Returnal with some degree of save functionality. Each region starts with a “safe” room—a chamber devoid of enemies where you can catch your breath (and maybe score a free item or two). An auto-save function in those rooms would absolutely make sense.

There are also machines in every biome called “reconstructor” units—which allow you to create a respawn point in exchange for six Ether, the sole rare resource that is not wiped between runs—that could pull double duty as save spots. That way, Returnal would retain its gauntlet bona fides, where you’re forced to make crucial decisions at nearly every turn: Is that a run worth saving? Or do you save your Ether for a future attempt? Bonus: Using the reconstructors as save spots would root save functionality in the game’s lore. Just spitballing here!

Read full article at VG247

Review: Returnal - Chris Carter

Destructoid 04 May, 2021 - 04:01am

Yes folks, you heard that right, Returnal is a bonafide PS5 release. Is it worth (gulp) $70? It really depends on your penchant for roguelikes.

Housemarque is back and I'm into it. Ever since Super Stardust HD they immediately appeared on my radar and haven't left ever since. While people are quick to point out more well-known games like Resogun when talking about The House, I'm particularly fond of a few of their lesser-known titles like Outland, which was a fantastic take on Ikaruga meets platforming.

This time around the studio is reinventing itself with a third-person shooter roguelike/roguelite. The latter bit is important, because like Hades, you're going to be keeping permanent upgrades, and in the case of Returnal, shortcuts. So if you loathe the idea of "starting all over" upon every death or failed run, that's not as much of a concern here. The gimmick involves a very Prometheus-esque setup of a woman (Selene) crash-landing on an alien planet filled with creatures that would make H.R. Giger squirm.

Every time Selene dies, she appears right back at the crash site, and needs to figure out why she's there; amid a bit of coming to terms with personal trauma added in for good measure. As a result, Selene feels more like a character than a lot of similar genre staples, but there is a good degree of subtlety to avoid Returnal descending into cloying shlock.

Mechanically, you'll get to your eventual endpoint by huffing it and air dashing through a handful of biomes, as you upgrade both an in-run track (that you lose after death) and an overarching permanent track. It takes some getting used to, but the adaptive triggers and rumble are neatly used here, allowing for regular fire if you slightly press down on L2 to aim, and alt-fire if you slam down hard. Each biome pits you against a big boss at the end, then you move to the next biome, get more upgrades, and try your luck again.

It's very addictive because the "lite" bit of the rogue moniker is prevalent in the minute-to-minute design. Returnal doesn't feel overly oppressive for the sake of it, as enemies can be handled through pure skill and twitch action and don't have many opportunities to cheese or otherwise one-shot players so long as you have situational awareness.

Weapons also pack a punch, as do the vast majority of upgrades. Returnal uses a clever risk-reward system too, which can grant you access to better equipment if you chance that a marked item might give you a "malfunction" penalty. Typically you can heal these off with other items and/or some sort of imposed challenge goal, like "collect 200 currency."

With this gambling system in mind, the pacing is extremely on-point. Typically upgrades are always within reach, and if they aren't, I can try my luck with the curse mechanic that can also be adapted to with enough time and skill. Even the chance-based systems of Returnal can feel fair and balanced. A helpful map that marks items without guesswork is a huge plus.

The game's pacing also highly benefits from a moody atmosphere that is haunting with 3D audio on PS5. It's unsettling pretty much at all times, which is a very cool way to play a tense roguelike. At one point I had to pause Returnal because it got too tense. It sounds hyperbolic, but it was a good run! The real ones understand.

It's all good so far right? Well likewise, the more you play, the more you learn and adapt; the more it can become too familiar. In each individual biome I didn't find the enemy or environment variety to be as interesting as I'd like, and if you're stuck on a particular area for a while, it can start to get very samey. It's exacerbated by lengthy periods between permanent upgrades, which can result in a lack of tangible in-game progress: a problem for people who don't feel like picking up mechanics is its own reward. Daily challenges and leaderboards might coax more out of a specific audience (but I'm going to ignore them).

Then there's the rest mode requirement. In Returnal, you need to rest mode your PS5 in order to save progress during a hiatus. So if you're on a really lengthy good run and want to play something else, you're pressing your luck. Given how many issues I've had with rest mode since launch, I'm always uneasy using it, even if all my tests haven't seen any issues. 

Returnal is a mostly thrilling sci-fi action romp that suffers from a lack of scale at times. In the moment, I'm completely fixated on my run, upgrading like a fiend, and dashing around for iFrames like I was playing a Capcom game. But after that run ends and I'm looking at the bigger picture, Returnal can feel a little smaller than it actually is. Keep that in mind before you take the pricey plunge.

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Returnal reviewed by Chris Carter

Returnal: How to Beat the First Boss, Phrike

Happy Mag 04 May, 2021 - 04:01am

HDR | PS5

PlayStation 04 May, 2021 - 04:01am

4K-TV Gaming | PS5

PlayStation 04 May, 2021 - 04:01am

Returnal isn't the must-have PS5 exclusive you think it is

CNET 03 May, 2021 - 06:59pm

PlayStation 5 owners have few games really pushing the hardware. Returnal looked like the big game in the post-launch window for Sony's new console, but if you haven't paid attention to the previews, you might have high expectations that won't be met.

Developed by Housemarque, Returnal is a roguelite. Roguelites are games that change their level layouts when you die, placing you back at the beginning -- potentially with additional, more powerful gear. Think Dead Cells or the award-winning Hades

In Returnal, you will die a lot. Players control Selene, a space pilot who crash lands on the planet Atropos. When she awakens from her crash and leaves her ship Helios, Selene finds her own dead body. She comes to realize something strange is going on after she dies and reawakens at the same crash site only to do this again and again and again. 

If that already sounds like a chore, it's safe to say Returnal isn't the game for you. Roguelites can be frustrating because death is central to gameplay. And when you revive, you start at square one. The gameplay loop of most Roguelites incentivizes death. The idea being that players slowly level up, or acquire new gear that makes the opening section of the game easier. Each run gives you a little reward -- a piece of the narrative, a permanent power-up, or some leftover currency to buy better items. 

Slowly but surely, the earlier sections become easier and you learn how to progress deeper into the game. But this isn't necessarily the case with Returnal, which is sure to disappoint players. Returnal's most glaring issue is the lack of rewards.

Every time you start, Selene has her handgun, the suit whose integrity acts as her health, and the same stats. You proceed through the first biome, with the goal of powering yourself up to fight its boss. Once you take down the boss, you receive a permanent upgrade that stays with you after each death and is required to enter the next biome where you go through the same process again. Doing this over and over again gets you familiar with the area, the enemies, the weapons and available powerups. 

This is where strategy comes into play. Do you want to grab each and every possible item and upgrade available in the opening biome? This makes Selene tougher but can take a lot of time and be risky if you don't get the power-ups you want. You can rush to the next biome although you'll be stuck with weaker weapons and not as much health. 

It's this planning and preparing combined with your mastery of the level and enemies that are designed to ease the frustration you experience early in the game. At least, that's how it should feel, but it doesn't. 

Too many times when I died it felt like a waste. I may have pulled off some dazzling moves, but that means nothing unless you defeat a new boss or find a permanent upgrade. Aside from a few creepy moments and discovering a new item or weapon, most runs will have you reawaken as Selene, frustrated that you have to start all over again. 

By the time I reached the third biome boss, I was playing for longer periods of time with nothing to show for it. No permanent upgrades, no unlocked items or weapons. With rewards in short supply, it's tiring to start over and over and over again. 

Returnal looks beautiful with its 4K visuals and its slick frame rate. Alien enemies that shoot dazzling projectiles that light up the area are thrilling to fight at first, but there comes a point where you die and realize not only do you have to start all over again but that the last run meant nothing. 

Some players shared their frustrations with the game on the Returnal subreddit. One particular issue is the lack of autosave, which many felt Sunday night when an update for the game caused the game to restart, leading to runs being lost. Housemarque tweeted Friday saying it's listening to the community about the feature but doesn't have anything to announce yet.

Returnal misinterprets the incremental progress integral to the success of the roguelite. These games are supposed to carry a level of frustration and feel difficult early on in order to challenge players. But Roguelites are supposed to carry a glimmer of hope: Next time will be easier. Next time I'll be stronger. All too often, Returnal denies players that hope and that makes it difficult to keep going when it feels like all is lost. The game is about being stuck in a time loop, but it's not supposed to feel like I'm actually stuck in a time loop.

Read more: GameSpot's Returnal review

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