Hit with complaints that there’s no way to save a game midway through a run, Returnal developer Housemarque is deciding what (if anything) to do.
Housemarque is reportedly considering ways to address the issue of saving mid-run progress in Returnal, since skipping the option may be discouraging some owners of the PlayStation 5 exclusive. There’s no clear direction this might take, the developer comments because players seem to be after different experiences.
The game’s premise finds its protagonist, Selene, crashed on a planet with just a semi-automatic pistol and no immediate chance of rescue. In fact, Returnal‘s gameplay loop is designed to kill players over and over again, with each run giving Selene a chance to upgrade weapons and learn more about her situation. There are ways to shorten its roguelike structure, such as defeating bosses unlocks new areas without having to cover the same ground each time. But runs can’t be saved mid-stream, despite sometimes taking several hours to complete. This is a problem for newcomers to action games, or just people whose work, family, and social commitments don’t allow for uninterrupted stretches.
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“We understand that there are some systems in place that are currently a hindering factor,” says Housemarque marketing director Mikael Havari in an Axios Gaming newsletter cited by VGC. As for a solution, Havari notes that the studio is stuck because “we just don’t know exactly what it is,” further adding that it’s “very difficult to announce anything” with what he sees as “a lot of different people looking for different things.” Indeed for some Returnal players, the problem may be less mid-run saves than a lack of difficulty levels. This not only stretches runs out but can force players to grind if they want to survive new challenges.
A workaround for some gamers has been putting their PS5 in Rest Mode, which can temporarily suspend Returnal. This of course has its own problems, both consuming power and being a non-starter in homes that share a single console. A housemate wanting to watch HBO or play another game could easily destroy hours of progress, somewhat reasonably assuming that like many games, progress was autosaved at a recent checkpoint.
Returnal is Housemarque’s first story-driven action game. It’s also unusually important to Sony since there are few other games exclusive to the PS5. Most of the console’s library consists of PS4 titles, just a fraction of which have even been upgraded to take advantage of the new hardware. Some other “true” PlayStation 5 exclusives include Astro’s Playroom – a preloaded game – and the remake of Demon’s Souls.
Next: Why Returnal Might (& Might Not) Be Worth Buying A PS5 For
Returnal is available digitally and at retail for PlayStation 5.
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