Returnal is the second major exclusive game to land on PlayStation 5. Is the new title from Housemarque worth enough to justify buying a PS5 console?
The transition to the new console generation has been slow, with the scarcity of the new hardware and the relative lack of first-party exclusives. The PlayStation 5 has just seen the release of its second exclusive AAA game, Returnal, a whole six months after the console came out. Many gamers are eager to get their hands on a new system, keeping a lookout for retailers getting more PS5 stock, but those wary of spending the money when there are so few current-gen games may wonder if Returnal is actually worth buying a PS5 for.
The latest title from Housemarque, Returnal certainly justifies its $70 price to the right kind of player, but whether it’s a system seller is a whole other question. The game could fairly be classified as a “next-gen” experience, smoothly running at 4K with a high framerate and ray tracing, all while taking advantage of every new feature in the PS5’s DualSense controller. The only caveat is that Returnal isn’t for everyone; those who like difficult games or the bullet hell genre – a Housemarque specialty – will find Returnal potentially worth the high cost of entry, but it could be tough to love for the general gaming audience.
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To those with the required funds and tastes, though, Returnal is a compelling entrance into the new console generation. Especially coming from a base PS4 or Xbox One, Returnal‘s consistently high resolution and framerate are huge leaps in gaming quality. The immersion gained from the DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, combined with the near non-existence of load times, makes for a significantly enhanced experience. It’s just unfortunate that Sony’s first two exclusives for the PS5, Demon’s Souls and Returnal, are both difficult to the point of being potentially unwelcoming.
It’s Hard to Justify Any One Game, Even Returnal, As a System Seller
Either way, since game consoles like the PS5 cost so much money – $399.99 to $499.99, in the PS5’s case – one game can rarely be pointed to as the sole reason one should buy a system. It seems many people bought a Nintendo Switch just to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but the Switch also had a robust backlog of exclusive (or exclusively portable) games at that point. Some diehard Souls fans might take issue with the statement, but Demon’s Souls and Returnal alone are arguably not worth the price of a PS5. Spider-Man: Miles Morales was also released alongside the new console, but it’s available on PS4 as well.
Ultimately, unless Returnal appeals to an individual as a must-have, it may be better to wait on buying a PS5. The upgraded hardware is nice to have and makes PS4 games even better if they’ve received an update, but the system simply doesn’t yet have a very large catalog of games that utilize its expensive hardware. Returnal is a very good addition to the list of PlayStation 5 exclusives, but it may not have a broad enough appeal for those on the fence.
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