Returnal: Ascension update adds Co-Op and Tower of Sisyphus mode

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Returnal: Ascension update adds Co-Op and Tower of Sisyphus mode

Bring a friend along for a cycle or dive into an endless tower of challenges in an update coming this month.

Hello again everyone! It’s been wonderful to see players continue to enjoy Returnal long after its release. We’ve provided a few patches and updates so far, but this time we wanted to provide something really special for our players: our Ascension expansion. This free update includes two new modes for you to enjoy, and it’s coming later this month.

Returnal: Ascension update adds Co-Op and Tower of Sisyphus mode


While Returnal was designed as a focused solitary experience, the hostile forces of Atropos can often feel overwhelming and leave us yearning for companionship. With our new two-player online co-op mode, players can now combine their forces and brave the challenges of Atropos together. 

By accessing the Chronosis portal near the crash landing (and in other select parts of the game), you’ll have the option to either host or join a public cycle. Or, if you’d like to share the experience with a friend, you can also choose to host a private cycle instead. Once your connection is established, a Selene from another timeline will join your session and your shared journey will begin.

In co-op, the game works in a similar fashion to single-player Returnal. However, if players get too far apart, they will be tethered back together. This is to ensure that the focus remains on cooperative gameplay and both players feel connected to the fates of each other. If one of the players is downed, there is still hope: the other one has the option to revive them. But be wary that this will require some time investment, and in the heat of battle you’ll need to be mindful of the myriad surrounding threats, lest you join your fallen comrade in oblivion.  

Aside from connecting player stories and building a sense of comradery, the fleeting comfort you get from engaging with other players can also allow you advance in the game if you’re stuck. Progression is tied to the host, so if you’re struggling to overcome a certain boss or biome, bringing in another player to help may open your road to triumph. Client players who join to help will also get to keep some progress they make – such as collecting logs and xenoglyphs – and the more games they assist with the more their Scout Rank will grow. 

Tower of Sisyphus

With Returnal we aimed to create a balance between intense action, exploration and haunting narrative. The procedurally generated biomes of Atropos offer a deep and intricate challenge – with our Ascension update we wanted to offer new content, and also a new way to engage with the game where your survival skills and perseverance will be tested. 

True to our arcade roots, the Tower of Sisyphus is effectively our Endless mode. Players will strive to ascend the Tower as high as possible – however, much like the tragic story of Sisyphus, there is no end to the climb and players are tragically destined to meet their demise as the mode gets increasingly harder. The only question is: how far can you get before succumbing?

One great motivator for pushing forward is a sense of accomplishment. Each Phase in the Tower will culminate with an encounter with Algos, which will also get increasingly harder as you advance through the mode. Unlike the campaign, in the Tower players will also have a score to chase. You can track your progress and highest score on a leaderboard, and compete against your friends and foes for the highest rank. Much like our previous arcade-inspired titles, you will also have a Score Multiplier – keeping this up and increasing it will be the key to racking up the highest possible scores. Your Multiplier will deplete if you get hit or if you don’t deal damage for a while, so you’ll need to be constantly dancing on the knife’s edge to ensure you maintain strong forward momentum. While there are secrets and optional routes to take, the Tower is intended to be Returnal distilled into an arcade action experience, where the emphasis is on survival, skill, and focused progression. 

Aside from the new levels, our new Boss and some new items to discover, there is also entirely new narrative content to be explored in the Tower as well. I won’t spoil anything here, but players will get another small glimpse into Selene’s haunting past and gain further insight into her state of mind. 

We hope you enjoy the Ascension expansion when it releases later this month. We poured a lot of love into this new content, and we’re incredibly excited to see how players respond to it. This was our effort towards expanding the lasting power of Returnal, and we hope to see players engage with our new modes for years to come. 

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  • Greatest news and update. So hype

    • This made the show for me. I would have easily paid $20 for this. Returnal is my game of generation so far.

      I’m happy to get this for free but I feel like this stroke of Goodwill will go unnoticed. I think if they spent a few more months and packed the update even more and slapped a $15 price on it for release early summer with a Game of the Year Edition this September it would have resulted in more success for the game.

      Ultimately I truly care about returnal and I want to see it be successful. It sounds like HM is working on a new IP now and that returnal did not do great numbers despite winning nearly 30 Game of the Year awards and being one of the few true PlayStation 5 exclusives. It’s pretty shameful when Elden Ring is projected by some fools to have already sold 20 million copies and return all can’t even sniff a million.

  • Campaign co-op multiplayer is incredible news! And the Tower of Sisyphus sounds great too. Can’t believe this is all a free update, can’t wait to clean up the platinum trophy by co-oping with my friends!

  • I would have gladly paid for a DLC for this game.
    Seeing this being FREE is basically a steal.
    Can’t wait!

  • Best announcement in today’s show. Any new trophies with this update?

  • Thank you so much. I want to cry right now lol, This game is still on my PS5 right now after all this time because I couldn’t bring myself to delete it. This a special game you guys/gals made and im so hyped to play this update!🔥🔥🔥🔥

    • I’m right there with you. Still have 2 ciphers to find but now that I can tear things up with friends, Imma definitely get that plat.

  • Unfortunate no local co-op. Great free update however congrats on this.

    • Yeah, I don’t care about online stuff. Playing it with my partner in couch coop would have been amazing…
      This could have been the one saving grace of the State of Play. Now it was just 20 minutes of disappointment to me.

    • The cowabunga ninja turtles collection is a nice announce. My 9 year old son will really appreciate playing it, and considering I was a fan of Ninja Turtles when I was 9 as well there is something special there.

      it’s ports but with some added online and button remapping but still for me was decent considering i don’t expect really anything from state of plays other than E3 time.

  • Does the tower change each run like the campaign or are the levels always the same?

  • Campaign co-op? Now I’m in!
    Fantastic job Housemarque I always loved playing your games in co-op!

  • Nice, hope to see some new cool weapons or different room configurations

  • Returnal GOTY 2021! Thank you!

  • Loved the game. Such a unique experience. The narrative part was extraordinary. I was a little scared that the new content would diminish some of the accomplishments of the story but reading that it offers small additional glimpses to Selene’s past and state of mind sounds great. Love the story as it is, working in both literal and metaphorical/allegorical ways.

  • Looks great! Can’t wait for tower of sisyphus! More returnal please dlc or sequel im cool with whatever!

  • Can Tower of Sysphilos be entered with co op as well?

    • That’s my question too!! It would be a real shame if they added co-op to the story then left it out of this.

    • From what I am understanding, I don’t think the tower is co-op but I hope I am wrong. And if it isn’t co-op, I hope they ass that to the next update. Co-op story will be amazing…but co-op tower is where a ton of replay value would be for me and my friends…

    • It said in the fine print at the end of the trailer that the tower is NOT playable in co-op. Co-op is story mode only

  • This news made my day! Can’t wait. Returnal should’ve won game of the year last year. So excited for fresh content and more narrative beats as well. Housemarque, you made a masterpiece. Thank you.

  • I’m so very excited to jump in and help other people get past their roadblocks! Can’t wait for this update!

  • Yes. Thank you.

  • I am so, so excited for this! Returnal was my GOTY 2021, in a year with some really amazing games (shout out to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart!), so more Returnal is always welcome! This being a free update is even more surprising and welcome! Can’t wait for the 22nd! It’s enough to tear me away from Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, and Gran Turismo 7!

  • This game is so beautiful

  • This made me scream out with excitement when I saw it in the state of play. Can I just say that I reactivated my twitter a few weeks ago, just to ask you to please release a coop mode. And you did! Omg you did. Thank you! A thousand times over, thank you.

    That being said, I feel like the endless tower not being co op is truly a missed opportunity. I mean, what is better than that? Returnal. Co-op. A shared scoreboard. Ad-infinitum. I just think it makes so much sense but to make it even more challenging. If one player goes down in the tower, you can’t revive them unless you use a (rare) consumable. I just think that’d be fire.

    Also, I know this is pushing it, but 4 player co-op? Three player at least?

    And lastly, please. Please. Please. Please. Suit Skins. Please allow us more suit customisation. Free (colour options) and paid (awesome skins), and PS IP inspired. I wanna rock a GoT skin on Atropos. Complete with a Katana.

    Yo Housemarque. Thank you. You’ve made my year. I love Returnal so much and wish you would work on a sequel as well as your other new IP.


    • I’m right there with you bro. As soon as I saw Selene I screamed as well. The a for a tropos made me wonder but when I saw her I said yes!

  • Will Returnal be easier after this update!?!? For me it was a waste off al lot off money! To hard for me. Both Returnal and Demon souls.

    • Hi terrorfred66,

      Did you buy this game Digital or on Disc? If the latter, uninstall and install with out any patches. Your also gonna need a Keyboard. Just search on Google Return Dev Cheats.

      Thanks to the YouTuber TheRandomizer, I made a reddit post on Dev Cheats/Codes he found and many sites picked it up.
      You should find information easy.

      You will encounter crashes etc but since you can drop weapons and level them up or keep restarting at ship and level health up you might have a somewhat easier time. You might also become better at the game in general.

      Again Crashes can happen, so leveling up weapons is best thing you can do, as levels stay even after death. This is the key too later success.

      If all this wall of text doesn’t apply too you because perhaps you have Digital Version. Try Reddit or here to find Co-Op Partner.

      If I had the time I would say add me.


    • Returnal Dev Cheats*

  • I still have Returnal installed even after getting the platinum, I want to fully unlock the databank and upgrade all weapons. This update will make it more fun!

  • Loved the powerful music in this, the game might be more up my alley than I expected. Co op is a great add-on.

  • Returnal is a heart-thumping masterpiece

  • I guess its time to buy a ps5 then

  • Well, this was a great announcement… until I read that the multiplayer is online only and not couch co-op… now it means nothing to me.

  • Considering this masterpiece was my game of the year of 2021, I will make sure to try out the co-op mode and help some people out and definitely want to see just how high I can get in the Tower. You should all be proud of yourselves for making Returnal. I truly hope you make more of this third person bullethell shooter gameplay goodness. *chefs kiss*

  • Exciting! Though with the story, I really wished you would just tell us what the heck is going on. The theories online are not very convincing though not impossible. Wish you would reveal it more or be a bit more straightforward with the plot

  • Can’t wait for this expansion to happen. Love this game! Platinum Trophy was well worth it !

  • Awesome bupdate

  • So many brain washed responses

  • YESSS…

  • Where Returnal2?

  • Thank you, looks great

  • Very nice, looking forward to it


    I will take any reason to get back to this gem.

    Keep it up, good people!

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