Pop quiz for you PC nerds: A friend wants to build a gaming PC and wants to know how much ram they should get. What would you say? 16GB for gaming is a safe bet, right? Maybe you could even get by with 8, if you only want to play mostly indie games and perform daily computing tasks? Well, you better hope this hypothetical friend of yours (not that you don’t have real friends, I’m sure) isn’t planning on playing the upcoming PC version of Returnal because according to the game’s new Steam listing, recommended specs are asking for an eye-watering 32 gigabytes of ram.
Originally released as a PS5 exclusive, Returnal is one of many Sony games coming to PC lately. Returnal is a third-person roguelite shooter where you play as a space explorer caught in a never-ending time loop. As an early PS5 title that showed off much of the promise of the system’s graphical horsepower, it’s certainly appropriate for a PC release to up the ante. Word of Returnal’s arrival on PC arrived during the epicly long Game Awards last week, where it was followed by a Steam listing that included the recommended specs of a six-core processor (eight if you’re rocking AMD), a 2000 series GPU, 60gb of space (which is modest, actually) and 32 gigabytes of freaking ram in the year 2022. The future is here alright.
To be fair, the minimum specs of Returnal seem a lot more tolerable, but are still kind of high in the ram department. A four-core CPU on either Intel or AMD will do, and the veritable GTX 1060 graphics card will be fine, but you’ll still need 16gb of ram. For minimum specs! I only got into PC gaming around 2016 or so, but even I know that minimum specs are usually tailored to what’s left from previous generations. And that means you, yes you, with the GTX 980 still in the tank, need to move on.
Returnal’s requirements do seem like a pretty sharp spike to anyone paying attention to this sorta thing—which is what I thought of the upcoming Dead Space’s remake’s minimum and recommended specs of 16gb. Let’s put it into some context though.
In 2015, popular titles like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 asked for eight gigabytes on minimum and recommended (min specs on The Witcher were just six gigabytes). Flashforward to 2019 and Resident Evil 2’s remake asked for eight gigabytes on either min or recommended sides. Cyberpunk, which kicks my PC’s 32gb of ram, eight core CPU, and 3000 series GPU’s butt, wanted 12 gigabytes at most in 2020. Just a year later, the gorgeous Forza Horizon 5 had a recommended request of 16gb of ram, as did Resident Evil Village. Now Returnal (which doesn’t have a release date on PC yet) arrives with double the requirement in a fraction of the time.
Sure, a 32gb recommended spec is an inevitability because we can’t get enough of the pretty pixels. But when you consider that Returnal was, at best, a sleeper hit on PS5 and isn’t, I dunno, the next Crysis or the sequel to Cyberpunk, that number feels awfully high. If nothing else, Returnal’s specs are a sore spot as PC gaming in general is getting more and more expensive, even with crypto’s empire burning in the distance.