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Returnal On PC Wants A Massive 32GB Of RAM

Returnal is still one of the best PlayStation 5 exclusives, if not the very best. If you don't believe it, just give it a go. The game is exceptionally well made, from its sound design to the way it uses the DualSense, to the tight gameplay and interesting story, it's a stunner. But soon it won't be exclusive to the PS5 as it is getting a PC port. However, those wanting to enjoy Housemarque's roguelike shooter on PC will need some hefty hardware.

Over on its Steam page listing, we can see the system requirements and it makes for eye-watering reading. Minimum requirements lists 16GB of RAM. However, to get a better experience the Recommended specs call for 32GB of RAM. This is unusual. Most laptops for general work nowadays includes 8GB RAM as standard, while gaming laptops and PC might have 16GB of RAM. But 32GB RAM is still quite uncommon and means Returnal might run sub-optimally for many PC players unless they want to upgrade their RAM.

As The Verge notes, demanding titles such as Microsoft Flight Simulator recommends 16GB RAM and requires only 8GB, while other graphically impressive games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077, and A Plague Tale: Requiem don't indicate anything more than 16GB RAM. So why is Returnal so needy on this front?

A leaked video might hold some answers (although it has since been removed). PC Gamer notes that Returnal could support Nvidia's DLSS and AMD's FSR upscaling tech, ray-traced shadows and reflections, and unlocked framerates. However, this doesn't explain everything since other Sony first-party ports for PC such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Spider-Man Remastered also supported ray-tracing and DLSS but both games ran comfortably with just (just) 16GB of RAM. The Returnal PC port will include some advantages over the PS5 release, however, with "specific tweaks and upgrades to make sure that the experience is as fluid as possible", according to a Sony blog post.

This is just mere speculation but perhaps it has something to do with the mechanics of the game. Returnal features a time loop, with Selene, the game's protagonist, waking up each time the player dies to replay the game's levels, which have been subtly altered. To get the best experience the game needs fast memory to run smoothly. On the PS5 since it's a fixed platform Housemarque could optimise the game well for the console. On PC perhaps a more brutal requirement is needed, hence the recommended spec for 32GB RAM.

We can't be sure. We know Sony is also planning to bring The Last of Part 1 Remake to PC in 2023 and perhaps that could also include a large RAM requirement, but 32GB recommended still seems unlikely.

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