Players are now reporting error messages and messed-up saves after patch 1.3.3.
[Update: What’s in patch 1.3.3? A fix for “certain Trophies” not unlocking correctly (though you’ll have to retrace your steps all over), “multiple stability fixes” for “crashes/hangs,” and a fix for that one nasty bug with the pre-order suits that prevents item and door interactions, along with other “minor” touch-ups.
Housemarque has also upped “the number of scout corpses available in all biomes,” something people had been wondering about — have you encountered any bodies yet? Maybe now you will.]
Not to dive into the whole “lack of saves in Returnal” thing again so soon, but yeah, it’s warranted. In a tweet today, Housemarque warned users to turn off the PlayStation 5’s auto-update feature:
PSA: #Returnal patch and patch notes will go live tomorrow (May 5) at noon PST, 7pm GMT.
— Housemarque (@Housemarque) May 4, 2021
This is the kind of very real what-if situation that players have worried about in light of the way Returnal handles progress. Crashes are one thing — I’ve had a couple — but I can’t say I’ve ever seen this exact heads-up warning before, especially for such a widely-publicized, major-publisher-backed game.
For anyone out of the loop, here’s a rundown. Housemarque says it’s listening to feedback about saves, but as it stands, there isn’t a mid-run backup to protect players from crashes — or an option to let folks “quit and continue” if life gets in the way — so the solution, for now, is to put your PS5 in rest mode when you need a break. (I’d call this a workaround, but the game tells you to do this in a message.)
The idea makes sense in theory, even if it’s far from ideal. Your Returnal run should still be there when you power your PS5 back up. But in practice, my results have been mixed. A lot of us don’t feel like we can count on the console’s rest mode to pull its weight, and when it comes to a game this challenging, with runs that can drag way out without you even realizing it, that’s frustrating. And now this.
The caveat about auto-updates messing with rest mode — something plenty of people are bound to miss — is only going to exacerbate the imminent need for an in-game solution. I’ve had fun with Returnal, particularly in the later biomes, but I’m hesitant to sink more time in the game right now.
As a semi-related aside, on a whim, I ended up buying Returnal and New Pokémon Snap on the same weekend — talk about tonal whiplash. My opinions can and probably will still evolve, but you know what? One of these games exceeded my expectations, and the other fell surprisingly short.