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How to unlock and play co-op in Returnal PC

Return with a friend

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Returnal PC includes that nifty extra co-op mode that the PS5 version got via updates: and it’s playable day one. Here’s how to unlock it, start it up, and a few of the nuances within the game type itself.

To unlock co-op in Returnal, you need to die once

Play Returnal as normal until you die once. This can happen in a variety of ways, but it’ll typically kick off during the Souls-like boss fight with the first big elite creature: which will send you back to your ship and introduce you to the idea of “reliving cycles” until you break the chain. After you die and go back to your ship, head outside. Look over to the left to see the gigantic blue/white Chronosis sphere: that wasn’t there before!

The sphere is the key to co-op, and interacting with it will pull up the menu for it.

There are two options for playing co-op:

  • Join a cycle (join a game and increase your scout rank, but you won’t carry over progress)
  • Host a public/private cycle (you are the host and invite someone else, and will you will carry over progress, you won’t increase your scout rank)

In Returnal co-op, a scout rank is essentially a rating of how helpful you are, starting from scout rank 1. When joining games and playing through them with a host, you’ll increase your rank (which will in turn grant you ether).

You can also ignore this system entirely and just play through the game solo.


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Managing Editor - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step in January of 2009 blogging on the site. Now, he's staff!