Returnal PC version seemingly all but confirmed with tech showcase at GDC 2022

The hardcore third-person shooter has been rumored to come to PC since a while and this has now finally been confirmed (Images via Sony/GDC)
The hardcore third-person shooter has been rumored to come to PC and this has finally been confirmed (Images via Sony/GDC)

Since its release, Sony's Returnal, the 2021 sci-fi roguelike, has quickly become one of the must-have games on the PlayStation 5 console. It is developer Housemarque's most ambitious game to date and leverages the PlayStation 5 hardware to deliver spectacular visuals, solid performance, and impressive particle effects.

Returnal's presentation from GDC on its VFX and particle work is really cool - but I enjoy the bonus it has of once again confirming the PC version. Debug, readout!Link to…

Studio members Risto Jankkila and Sharman Jagadeesan recently took to the Game Developer's Conference 2022 stage to speak about the title. Here, they discussed the inner workings of the proprietary engine used for Returnal as well as the efficient particle systems they implemented for the Unreal Engine 4 game. Based on the presentation, this is certainly a step in the right direction for gamers.

Returnal PC announcement seems inevitable at this point


The nitty-gritty of the GDC talk largely consisted of tech-heavy jargon, something most gamers would find trivial and boring. However, the key takeaway here is that it is another notch amongst the handful of clues we have seen thus far that confirm the existence of a PC version. The build showcased to the GDC crowd was, of course, in-engine running on PC as Housemarque's developers demonstrated the implementation of their features in real time.

The PC screenshots of #Returnal and #SackboyABigAdventure leaked.Credits: glockpopp (Reddit)

Interestingly, a leak from a couple of months ago revealed PC settings screens for the game (as well as for another PlayStation title, Sackboy: A Big Adventure). The cherry on top, though, are unmistakable references to the game that have been spotted on SteamDB's databases, which have also seen several updates thus far. To wrap it all up, there are two questions:

When is it coming and how will it perform?


Realistically speaking, it should be released sometime between this year and 2023. Sony already has a few games lined up for PC in 2022, but they will need more to fill that gap to keep the PC Master Race happy. As for performance, we already know that Returnal pushes the PlayStation 5 hard.

As showcased in the GDC highlight, Returnal is all about particle effects. These range widely, from fluid simulation techniques to volumetric fog and several other similar instances. Considering all of this, it is bound to be a more GPU-dependent game, one that could be as demanding as it is impressive. After all, even Sony's latest console behemoth renders at a measly 1080p (which is upscaled to higher target resolutions) to maintain a steady 60 FPS with all the action and chaos erupting as the protagonist swerves around enemy projectiles to dish out damage.

Furthermore, there is a matter of ray tracing, which was already seen in the leaked screens in the form of ray-traced reflections which should go above and beyond the console implemenetation. Support for modern image upscaling techniques is a given for current-gen PC versions of games, which would require Nvidia DLSS and AMD FSR support for players to squeeze out a few more frames for rock-solid gameplay. This would mean most mid to high-end PCs would be alright, but it would be a curious experiment on older machines.

What are your thoughts? Would you buy Returnal on PC?

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Edited by Atul S
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