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Returnal getting campaign co-op and new survival mode in big free update

And it's arriving later this month.

Developer Housemarque's moody PlayStation 5-exclusive sci-fi shooter Returnal is returnaling later this month with a big new update for all players.

Ascension, as the free update is officially known, got its unveiling as part of tonight's PlayStation State of Play livestream, but significantly more information has now arrived in a new PlayStation Blog post. The headline, though, is that the update - significant enough to warrant boosting its version number up to 3.0 - will bring campaign co-op and a new survival mode.

Come Ascension's arrival, two-player co-op can be accessed via the Chronosis portal near the crash landing and in other select parts of the game. Players can either host or join a public cycle or set up a private cycle if they'd prefer to play with a friend. Progression will be tied to the host, but visiting players will still get to keep at least some of their progress, including their discovered logs and xenoglyphs, and will see their Scout Rank grow.

Returnal - Ascension Trailer.

Housemarque says the overall co-op experience will be similar to that of solo play, but notes a few changes. There's a player revive option, for a start, albeit one that requires "some time investment", and it warns co-op participants will be tethered back together if they wander too far apart to ensure "both players feel connected to the fates of each other".

As for the new survival mode teased during PlayStation's State of Play, Housemarque has now confirmed it to be a new arcade-style endless mode known as Tower of Sisyphus. Here, players are challenged to claim as high up the tower as possible, moving through progressively harder levels. A new boss, Algos, and new items are promised, as is score chasing (complete with a score multiplier mechanic and leaderboards), alongside new narrative content, giving players a "small glimpse into Selene's haunting past" and "further insight into her state of mind".

Campaign co-op and the Tower of Sisyphus will be making their way to Returnal toward the end of this month on Tuesday, 22nd March.

And if you haven't yet experienced Returnal's punishing, confounding charms, it's certainly worth a look. Eurogamer's Chris Tapsell liked it enough on release to award it a Recommended badge, saying it's "full of real, bona fide video game magic, but with each death it becomes less special, more mundane". Housemarque has steadily been ironing out some of Returnal's launch day quirks, however, so it's somewhat more approachable now than it was back then.

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Matt Wales

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Matt Wales is a writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.