Returnal combat details: Upgradable weapons, otherworldly tools, and risky buffs

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Returnal combat details: Upgradable weapons, otherworldly tools, and risky buffs

How Housemarque is equipping you to survive its upcoming PS5 action shooter.

Hi everyone! I hope you’re enjoying the recent videos we’ve shared about Returnal. With this latest update we wanted to share some more details about the gameplay, which we know you’ve all been looking forward to.

With Returnal we’ve aimed to blend a unique mix of game styles. It combines our trademark explosive arcade action, responsive controls and bullet hell gameplay, and this time it’s all presented in third-person. There will be fast and frenetic combat and intense gunplay, and also some rich exploration and traversal as you explore the procedurally generated environments of Atropos. We’ve created Returnal to be a challenging and rewarding experience, with enough variety and depth to keep you always coming back for “one more go”.

Returnal combat details: Upgradable weapons, otherworldly tools, and risky buffs

From lightning to tentacles

Selene will have many weapons and devices at her disposal to survive on the hostile alien planet Atropos. Some she’s brought with her – others she’s found and made her own. The above video shows some of the various abilities you’ll find while playing Returnal which we’ll dive into below.

The game features a number of base weapons that are augmented as you play. For example, the living Spitmaw Blaster weapon starts as a shotgun archetype you all know and love. As you progress, you’ll unlock and add on various Weapon Traits, each providing a unique gameplay modifier to the base weapon’s behavior. These Weapon Traits are custom tailored for each gun type – so your Spitmaw Blaster might gain exploding shells or generate acid pools upon impact; while the Electropylon Driver might extract extra loot from enemies, or generate shields for the player. These Weapon Traits will also stack, so the combined effects can lead to many surprising results that can have unique advantages and playstyles to explore.

Each weapon will also have an alt-fire mode randomly assigned to it from our diverse pool, ranging from the electrical impulses of the Shockstream to the tentacles of the Tendrilpod, and everything in between.

These can be used without ever taking your finger off the trigger using the default control scheme: with the adaptive trigger on the DualSense controller, just press L2 halfway to aim down the sights and use the main fire of your weapon, and squeeze it all the way down to enter your alt-fire mode.

With 10 base weapons, more than 90 Weapon Traits (each with three levels)and 10 alt-fires, there are numerous weapon combinations to test out on your journey.

While new weapon drops are frequent, Selene can only hold one weapon at a time, so your choice is important. Different challenges and enemies will also require different strategies to overcome, so you’ll need to be constantly adapting, experimenting with different weapons, and developing your skills to survive on the hostile planet of Atropos.

Making progress

For Selene, death is no escape. Each death sends Selene to the start of the time loop, just moments before crashing on the planet. Most abilities and items collected on the previous cycle will be lost…but not all of them. Some persist across sessions, so you’ll still make progress every cycle.

One of these persisting elements is the mysterious Cthonos, an alien device that generates a random item at the beginning of each cycle. This otherworldly device is tracking your performance, and when enough progress is accumulated you will be rewarded with a brand new item for immediate use, which will also be permanently added to the pool of available loot from that point on as well.

The items you earn or discover as you explore the planet Atropos will change the way you play and offer a wide array of effects and strategic options for Selene. They can be offensive Tools like the Dismantler, a smartbomb-style explosion which annihilates all enemies around you; defensive consumables like the Kinetic Siphon, which restores Health through melee kills; or more strategic Artifacts that give Selene some unique advantages under certain conditions.   

Risk and reward

There’s plenty of loot to be found on Atropos, but be wary that not all that glitters is gold. Some items, called Parasites, have both positive and negative effects. You’ll need to think twice before picking up a Parasite that, for example, regenerates you while at low health but also causes enemies to leave behind a pool of acid on death.

Collecting Parasites will often feel like a risky decision, but there are multiple other scenarios that can help shift the odds in your favour, like for example carrying an Artifact that can increase your max health for every Parasite you’ve attached.

There are many other cases where risk and reward will come into play, which can all drastically alter how each cycle plays out. You might encounter a “cursed” container that can be holding valuable loot, but opening it might trigger a random Suit Malfunction which, for example, can damage Selene every time she uses door and chest opening Keys, and can only be repaired by collecting a large number of obolites. Obolites can be exchanged for valuable items to increase your chances of survival, but if you’re on a good run you might prefer to spend them on activating a checkpoint – die and you’ll resurrect there with your current items and abilities, rather than restarting the cycle.

These are just a few quick examples of the many interesting scenarios and tough decisions you will be facing. Returnal will be available starting March 19. Stay tuned as we bring you mode details in the upcoming weeks.

Comments are closed.


  • Let’s see if this holds up to being a good game. Unfortunately I will not be able to try it since I can’t get my hands on a ps5.

    • This certainly looks promising! Hopefully I won’t have to wait for too long to play it. I still have yet to own a PS5 haha

    • I feel your pain

    • I have one but honestly, you aren’t missing much since there isn’t really anything to play other than Demon’s Souls and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, exclusive wise. Spider-Man Miles Morales is on PS4.

    • it’s just astro and demon soul’s, sackboy is on ps4.

      this looks good just not $90cad i had my fill of this with dead souls this past few months.

      i wish the team well and for those excited for it a good full priced game.

      for me it will ne something i try down the line on deep discount. like days gone and other fringe titles.

      edge of tomorrow is the obvious movie watch to get ready for this.

    • I’m sick and tired of people making smug remarks about not being able to get a PS5. This console launch was no different than previous console launches. They always run out and scalpers always get their scrummy hands on them. You just gotta have patience and play your backlog.

    • PS: Housemarque has a really good track record.

  • I love every game from you guys and this game looks amazing as well. Already have it pre-ordered. Can’t wait to finally play it.

  • Oof this is starting to sound like a rogue like. Might have to kill this pre-order. Love housemarque games, but that is the one genre I cannot stand to play. I’ll have to find some people who are big on this genre to buy it, I want you guys to succeed.

    • Starting to sound like a rogue like?! It’s been advertised as one since it was revealed.

    • Dip out now – that is 100% what it is. You might have missed that info all along, but if it ain’t your thing the worst you could do is spend $70 on it (or your local equivalent) to find out you hate it.

    • yeah $70 rogue like

      mmo and mobas are still the back of the line for me, here the price is steep, the production value is high though. these style of games give you hours of replay and moment to moment action. which honestly a lot of games just aren’t fun to play so you might be surprised on trying a few of the “lites”

      dead cells hooked me for well over 100 hours and i never found the sub genre that compelling prior.

  • I really like the look of this. It has a Control feel about it… And the PS5 should be able to keep stable framerates with all the action going on. Sadly the Sony pricing strategy for their exclusives will make it hard for me to get on launch. Most likely I’ll wait until Christmas sales.

  • Stop with the 70 dollar games already

    • Stop living in 2019 already.

    • For real.

      $70 for games is ridiculous.

    • It’s $10 more dollars bro… studios like HouseMarque more than deserve it, Resogun was free!

    • It was going to happen, games are costing more and more to make and people want more and more from them. So a price increase was always going to happen.
      And before anyone says “But Xbox isnt doing it”, Xbox also doesnt have any new gen games yet. Only patched ones.

    • It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves. I’ve read reports that a lot of PS5 consoles have been sold, but a minimum of software. Coincidence? Scalpers? As a gamer I want what’s best for the industry, and I always opted for making games cheaper on launch, so as to persuade more people to buy at full price instead of waiting for a sale.

    • Games themselves don’t “cost more to make”, they cost less due to the tools and software available. I mean, we’re constantly being told how “quicker and easier” it is to develop for the PS5. The main difference now is that you’re paying for a massive team of stockholders, CEOs and their bonuses, not developers.

      If anything, using economic thingies games should be far, far cheaper now. People always forget about economies of scale, and how much bigger games have become. Computers in the 80s cost more than a car, considerably more than computers in the 90s. Because basically no one owned one they cost more, when they became mass market, they got cheaper again, (and even cheaper in the 2000s).

      Selling 100,000 games sold at 30 (a typical PS1 title) is 1/10th of the money made from 5 million copies sold at 60. So 10x as much is both much higher than “inflation” and more than fair, even before you consider 70 (or 96 in Europe, because why not). If anything, it should be around 30… 😁

    • Misery princess

      You are way off. The tools do streamline modern day development, but the technical requirements for current AA and AAA games is so far beyond anything we’ve seen in the past that new technology and toolsets simply make development possible and realistic.

      Just look at development time table from PS2 to now. Major games would often release in two year cycles. At times sequels would only take a year. Look at the original Ratchet & Clank trilogy. Even Uncharted 1-3 during PS3. Also, team sizes and budgets have increased exponentially. AAA teams used to regularly be under 100 ppl, not anymore.

      Yes, the toolsets and tech help streamline a dramatically more complicated and lengthy development but overall it’s more expensive.

  • I refuse to pay $70 for a procedurally generated game. It’s such a shame..

  • I still don’t exactly understand what this game is or the plot but I love the gameplay trailers. I expect it’ll be like Death Stranding where it won’t make sense till you finally play.

  • Will it be 4k60 with HDR?

  • This looks SOOOO good. All of Housemarque’s arcade-style games were excellent so I hope this game manages to fuse that gameplay vibe with AAA development. It would please me immensely if this game turns out great and that Housemarque can continue to make more games of the kind.

    • I think it looks great, but I’m not going to support at $70. A pity, because this sounds like their last chance to stick to the arcade design they enjoy.

    • If you dont wanna pay $70 then you wont be buying most games of the new generation.

    • Not on launch at least. A month or two later they’re half price.

      The absolute must-haves will still get bought full price, but the average game will have an even harder time to justify buying on launch at those prices.

    • @earth_inheritor

      Only Sony console exclusives are $70. Switch, Xbox, PC, and third party multiplats are $60. That’s a vast majority of games that aren’t going up in price. Only Sony is trying this and I hope it fails.

      Sony ripping you off if you think the gen has gone $70 full out.

  • I remain cautiously optimistic about this game

  • This game looks great. I am really looking forward to playing this in a couple of months.

    • It looks like good shooter fun but my only question, and I guess concern is – will it have any sort of narrative?

  • Would like to play this if Sony ever release any more PS5’s

  • I’m not usually a big rogue-like fan but this looks really interesting and they seem to have executed the gameplay very well. Definitely picking this up!

    Also I love the new PS Studios logo, especially when they implement the game into the letters. Feels simplistic yet familiar.

  • Looks good, but it’s impossible to play PS5 games without a PS5.

  • I like it. I have missed a good third-person shooter like Lost Planet, and this looks like it will fit the bill: third-person, alien monsters, desolation.

    Any chance there’s mechs that combine?

  • Looks like a lot of fun, but I honestly can’t justify $70 for next gen games. Sorry, but I’m going to wait for a sale.

    What is Sony thinking? $70 for PS5 games is too much.

    • The $70 price point is a deliberate strategy from Sony. In contrast to Microsoft, who is focused on delivering “value” with Gamepass, Sony has taken a different approach. They are completely focused on delivering games at the highest level of quality, and developing those games is becoming more expensive. For this model to work, they need to charge more for those games. If you want a lot of games for cheap, jump on PS Now or GamePass. If you want premium content right when it comes out, be prepared for a premium price. As you mentioned though, you can always wait for a sale, games generally get cheaper over time.

    • Yeah, I’ll wait for a sale and buy used. Third party multiplats aren’t going up so maybe I’ll just skip Sony first party. Vote with my wallet and all that.

  • CANNOT WAIT for this game, Housemarque doesn’t miss, this will be a great game I’m fully confident. Thank you for being exclusive to PS5 so we can enjoy every bit of power that the console has. Super stoked for this, already hoping there will be DLC for this game, take my money!

  • In a gaming climate where we’re often just chasing waypoints (or pressing triangle for a camel to take us directly to the waypoint), it’s so refreshing to hear a developer talk about this type of gameplay. Housemarque have the game developer mindset that was standard before everyone became obsessed with cinematics, voice acting, realistic animation, and resolution. This game looks like it will involve all of that, so hopefully it appeals to a broader crowd.

    In another interview this developer remarked that we often think of “gameplay” as what is happening on the screen, but really gameplay is what is happening in our mind as we play the game. It’s the second-to-second decisions we make as we battle an opponent or explore. Remarks like that give me confidence that this will be an engaging and dynamic game rather than a slog where I’m looking for a dopamine hit to escape boring gameplay.

  • Controls look responsive and on point as expected from this developer, but I really don’t like the environments… They look bland almost to the point of being procedurally generated.
    I’ll give it a try when it’s on sale later.

  • Returnal looks absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on this game. Sony should ramp up the advertising for sure. As soon as I can secure a PS5, this will be the first game on my list.

  • this reminds me of risk of rain or at least what 3 could look like.. thats if was was made for ps5

    i see lots of people complaining about the price and i too is unsure about the price , now its not that i couldn’t afford it as i have no problem as im still working and have a good job, but to be fair it doesn’t exactly look like a game worth £70 since risk of rain 2 is £20, sure its not a pretty as that indie cheap game but its all about the game play and that what counts for me so i will 100% wait for a review on this one..

    you know what would be nice Housemarque if your listening, if you want me to pre-order this game before release at full price make a playable demo either the first couple of levels or timed for 1 hour and yes i will show you the colour of my money (ahem credit card as i have digital PS5) if i enjoy it .. seems a fair cop do we have a deal ?

  • I’ll be getting this day one as I don’t mind Rogue lite/like games, Dead Cells is a game that I play at least 3 times every month since launch along with PlayStation 1st party games.

  • Anyone else worried about the potential length of this game? It seems like it will be a typical rogue-like based on losing items and all when you die.

  • Make it $50 and I’ll buy it.

  • I’m so frigging excited for this game. Probably one of my most anticipated PS5 titles second to Ratchet and Clank!

  • Game looks amazing! I’m so glad Sony has such a good relationship with Housemarque that we get unique and interesting titles like these. My preorder is in!

    P.S. Stop complaining on every post that you can’t get a PS5, Sony had more consoles ready for launch than any other system from any manufacturer in history. That was a major accomplishment in the midst of a pandemic. Not only that, but they set up a “PlayStation Direct” website and send out targeted emails to PSN account holders to get them guaranteed cues in line for a PS5 (limiting to 1 per household to prevent scalping). They can’t control other retailers. Still, new stock is still flowing out at a pace far above the competition. Waiting sucks but you’ll get one, just be persistent and patient, they really are doing all they can.

    • I agree. It was different also, because stores were not receiving consoles. Before you could wait in line and get one if you were early. To prevent crowds doing this, it went online.

      Also all the price complaints is insane. Just wait. I usually never buy without sale. Some publishers I will support and pay full price to show my appreciation, like giving a tip.

  • I highly enjoyed Resogun, and when I found out the same developer was making Returnal. I knew I would be on board.

    I can not wait to dive into the story and play this game!

  • Please consider adding 21:9 ultrawide (and 1440p) support to the PS5 at a system level. Even though game support would of course be up to individual developers, a lot of games already support that on PC, so just adding system level support could bring a lot of patches over. A lot of us with both have a great ultrawide monitor that’s wasted on our PS5’s, that would be amazing to add!

  • Looking like lots of fun!!

  • 10$ price increase? you are lucky. In Europe Sony exclusives were increased by 20€. From €60 to €80.

  • This game is starting to sound better and better. Still need to find a PS5 stat! But still happily gaming on the Pro.

  • Can you go first person

  • Looks spectacular and seems to run well.
    My partner and I are looking forward to give this a go after playing Control on PS4.

  • This one looks good. Might have to pick it up.

  • Chance of getting a PS5 before this game launches? About ZERO. Gamefly canceled my PS5 order. Been trying for months. I’ve had an Xbox Series X for weeks. At this rate might have to skip PS5. You could have handled this much better Sony. I was able to pre-order my iPhone 12 Pro Max and have it delivered at launch to my house. It’s a joke that you can’t do what Apple can, or even Microsoft, apparently.

  • I was quite excited by the trailer for this game, so though I would pre-order it. When I read about the £70 asking price for this game, it made me stop and look in more detail at exactly what I would get for the money. Having looked into more about the plot, I will not pre-order this game. I will wait a few weeks to see how this one turns out. From what I have now read, Returnal just goes on and on to see how many cycles you can get through? If the game has no ending, it is just about the infinite torture of a human being. Not sure that is my cup of tea. Deathloop though does look fun and the end goal seems to be escaping! No infinite torture! That one will be pre-ordered!

    Maybe once Returnal is out, it will become clear there is an end to the game and more of a storyline to progress though, which for me would make it more interesting. Otherwise it just seems like (some will love it) an arcade shooter (I thought they declared those were dead?)

  • As much as I love Housemarque games, the £70 price tag is gonna kill this.

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  • Game looks really interesting.

    I know people don’t wanna hear it but.. £70? Come on.

    This would have been a £29/£39 game if it launched on PS4 last year, but now it’s £70? Really? By all means inflation is a thing and a jump from £55 to £60 is somewhat reasonable but a £15/20 jump just because?

    For anyone else defending this about costs going up, yes. Yes they are. Now look at Sony’s financial results over the last 10 years. The gaming division is taking more money then ever before, game prices absolutely don’t need to go up.

    It’s also not supporting the developers, Housemarque are not ‘in house’, future success for the depends on games like this selling. The game is a solid £35 release, not £70. It’s a massive shame that this will just kill more independent developers who decide to parter with Sony.

    This will be the 2nd time it has been proven £70 games down work, distruction all stars pre-orders are so bad it’s now ‘free’ on PS+

    Personally, I buy most First Party games at launch, as Demons Souls was £70 I waited a few weeks and got it 2nd hand on eBay for £45. Because of corporate greed Sony lost £55 because they wanted £70.

    It’s not going to work.

    • You’re completely off base here. No this would not have cost 35 bucks last gen. Because it could not have been made on last gen hardware. We are now on to the next generation of hardware and this game was built from the ground up to take advantage of it. 3D sound, haptic feedback, and the adaptive triggers will all be fully supported. It has been in development for over 3 years and is a full, complete game. It is well worth 70 bucks based on all that alone. To your other point, it absolutely is about supporting companies you like by supporting them with your purchase. If we don’t support companies we like that do amazing work, they will cease to exist.

    • @Spotted Badger

      No, you may need to re-read what I wrote.

      Yes, it’s only on PS5 but that isn’t the point, those features do not warrant a price hike… like at all. This game will cost not only less, but significantly less then titles such as The Last is Us 2 & God of War. It’s not even in the same ball park.

      The point is, Sony are taking cash in and making profits like never before, there is no reason for games to go up in price. Hell, Sony just beat there own record for Gross on a game with TLOU2.. and that was £45/£50 at launch.

      These games, including the sequels to the ones names above shouldn’t be £70. If you want to support these developers you need to let the publishers know (who set the price) that the higher the price, the less people will buy the product. If you wanted to support the dev, you would advocate for this to be the price it would have been if it was on PS4 6 months ago.

      Stop defending mega corporations that hate you.

  • It’s astonishing how cheap people are, and frankly clueless. This game was built from the ground up for Ps5 and is a true exclusive. The 3D sound, haptic feedback, and adaptive triggers will be used to the fullest. In addition it will have a fully fleshed out narrative. The creature designs, graphics and gameplay look top notch. The cost of games has not increased for 2 generations, despite game production costs going up exponentially. 58 bucks during Ps3 generation is equal to 69 bucks now. Housemarque has always made great games and they have appeared to take it to the next level here. They deserve to be supported. So it’s easlily a day one purchase for me.

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  • This game looks good.

  • It looks interesting but the price is going to hurt this game.

  • Sony really has done it with this game on a Technical level with this game

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