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Returnal: Release date, gameplay, trailer and more

returnal
(Image credit: Sony)

Returnal will be one of the PS5’s first major exclusives in 2021. This third-person shooter combines sci-fi, horror and roguelike elements to create an experience that players haven’t seen before. (Or, at the very least, they haven’t seen it since 2018’s Prey: Mooncrash.) 

Since Returnal was one of the first games announced for the PS5, players may also use it as a metric to determine whether Sony is making good on its promise of delivering worthwhile exclusives.

While Returnal was originally supposed to debut on March 19, Sony pushed the game back until April 30. That means fans have to wait only a few more weeks until they can play Returnal for themselves. 

In the meantime, if there’s anything you wanted to know about the game, Tom’s Guide has compiled all of the relevant info here. Read on to learn about Returnal’s release date, gameplay mechanics, trailer and more.

returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

Returnal release date

Here’s a simple one to start: Returnal’s release date is April 30, 2021. It will debut on PS5, in both physical and digital formats, and cost $70.

There’s only one potential complication here, and that’s whether you want to purchase the Returnal Standard Edition or the Returnal Digital Deluxe Edition. The standard edition costs $70, and comes with the main game, plus two in-game outfits as a pre-order bonus. The Digital Deluxe Edition costs $80 and comes with everything listed above, plus a digital soundtrack, as well as some in-game weapons and consumables. Since the game isn’t out yet, it’s impossible to say whether any of that is worth an extra $10.

returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

Returnal gameplay

Returnal’s gameplay has captured a lot of attention, possibly because it doesn’t really look like any other game on the market right now. You play as a deep space explorer named Selene, who crash-lands on a planet and has to fend off the deadly creatures who live there with real-time, third-person shooter combat.

The big difference between Returnal and other sci-fi/action games is that each time you die, both your equipment and the world around you reset, and you have to make a new run in an unfamiliar environment. You’ll also learn more about Selene’s personal story as you die and attempt additional runs.

The “die and repeat” roguelike structure is fairly common in indie fare, but it’s rarer to see a big-budget platform exclusive take a similar approach. Likewise, 3D roguelikes in sci-fi environments are hard to come by — although, again, Prey: Mooncrash sort of pioneered that idea a few years ago.

returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

Returnal trailer

We’ve seen a few major Returnal trailers so far. The first one debuted when Sony announced the game, back in June 2020. We’ve had two gameplay trailers, one from December and one from March. There’s also a more extensive story trailer that came out in late March. You can watch them all on the official PlayStation YouTube channel.

Rather than embed all of the trailers here, we’ll focus on the first gameplay trailer, which gives players an idea of what to expect from Selene’s running, gunning and starting the cycle anew:

There’s arguably a lot riding on Returnal’s success. If it’s good, it’ll be yet another feather in the PS5’s cap — and if it’s not, fans will have to hold out until we get Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart in June.