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New Returnal: Ascension gameplay shows off the new Endless Mode, Tower of Sisyphus, and more

Returnal: Ascension revealed 19 minutes of intense gameplay for the upcoming update (Image via Housemarque)
Returnal: Ascension revealed 19 minutes of intense gameplay for the upcoming update (Image via Housemarque)

Returnal has a new update dropping on March 22, 2022, entitled “Ascension,” and it’s free for all players. It will come with two very important features. The first is co-op gameplay, but the other is a new Endless Mode, the Tower of Sisyphus.

19 minutes of gameplay has now been revealed on PlayStation YouTube, where the developers walk players through the upcoming Returnal: Ascension content.

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What is the Tower of Sisyphus in Returnal’s Ascension update?

The free expansion for Returnal will also feature this new Endless Mode, the Tower of Sisyphus. It’s a massive tower and will serve several purposes in the game. It will house secrets to uncover, act as a new endless challenge for players, and provide some narrative content.

The Tower, as shown in the gameplay, has a very foreboding look, but the visuals for the Tower will change quickly enough. As the player makes one attempt after another, the developers pointed out that the Atrium (the beginning of the Tower) will offer some narrative insight.

Depending on where Selena is in the story, she will react differently to the Tower, connecting it directly to the main narrative. If the player has completed the game, she will react in different, subtle ways.

Enjoy this Returnal: Ascension deep dive where Game Director Harry Krueger and Narrative Director Gregory Louden talk in-depth about the up-coming 3.0 update.#Returnal #ReturnalAscension #PS5 youtube.com/watch?v=W0BZT8…

It’s a pretty action-packed series of rooms, where the developers combine the best parts of Returnal’s combat and put them in one place. There will also be a score where the player can track their progress. To get the best score possible, they will need to stay active and keep their score multiplier going.

This isn’t to say that the action is completely non-stop, there are moments where players can stop and breathe, but the multiplier still ticks down. Each run will also be unique, thanks to it all being procedurally generated.

The gameplay loop is simple enough - defeat the enemies in a room, and if the player wants, they can move on to the next floor of the Tower of Sisyphus in the game's update. Doing this quickly will also give the players a bonus for their Obelites, so it’s worth being aggressive and quick.

Returnal: Ascension will also feature a new type of monster, and chasing it down/slaying it will open up a bonus room to explore. They won’t always be “good” bonuses, though, so the player will have to decide if it’s worth the risk.

The Tower of Sisyphus is filled with intense dangers, like the mighty Algos (Image via Housemarque)
The Tower of Sisyphus is filled with intense dangers, like the mighty Algos (Image via Housemarque)

The further the player goes, the more difficult the challenges go, to mimic the struggle of the Greek myth Sisyphus, who is condemned to push a boulder up a hill for eternity. Depending on how far a player goes, it can feel nearly impossible to progress without an incredible amount of skill.

There will also be limited-use superweapons which will most certainly be worth picking up for players. They deal incredible damage and can really turn the tide of a bad situation.

Viewers also got to see one of the major encounters of the Tower, Algos. Algos is the personification of mental and physical pain in Greek mythology. The battle is an incredibly challenging bullet hell, where the player really has to be on the ball to survive.

A bit of back story awaits in the Tower of Sisyphus as well, which may provide insight on Selena (Image via Housemarque)
A bit of back story awaits in the Tower of Sisyphus as well, which may provide insight on Selena (Image via Housemarque)

When a player is defeated, they return to the entrance of the Tower, creating a very low barrier of entry and allowing people to jump right back into the action. There’s also a bed in the Atrium, and using it will give fans a bit more insight into Selena, as well as some background to the Tower’s name.

The Tower has Phases, and at the end of each Phase, players will move on and have the chance to use the Obolites they’ve accumulated. These items will help the player climb higher if they have the skill to use them at the right time.


What players can expect with Returnal: Ascension

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On March 22, 2022, the Returnal: Ascension update drops, and with it comes the co-op mode and Tower of Sisyphus. Players will be able to join a two-player run in the game, be it public or private. It does come with a few restrictions, though.

Co-op cannot be used during House Sequences, Daily Challenges, or the Tower of Sisyphus. But being able to be revived will no doubt be helpful, but the host will keep all of the progression.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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