Hold onto your hats, Returnal PC system requirements recommends 32GB RAM

Returnal PC screen
(Image credit: Housemarque)

After multiple leaks let the cat out of the bag, Sony finally confirmed at last week's Game Awards that the excellent PlayStation roguelike shooter Returnal is finally coming to PC. Nice. Now, courtesy of Steam, we have the PC system requirements, and I'm sorry to say this but the recommended RAM requirement is probably going to make your eyes water.

The minimum system requirement is no big deal:

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit (version 1903)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-6400 (4 core 2.7GHz) or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X (4 core 3.5GHz)
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
  • Storage: 60GB available space

But the recommended spec is where it gets a little hairy:

  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit (version 1903)
  • Processor: Intel i7-8700 (6 core 3.7 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 7 2700X (8 core 3.7 GHz)
  • Memory: 🚨 🚨 32GB RAM 🚨 🚨 
  • Graphics: Nvidia RTX 2070 SUPER (8GB) or AMD RX 6700 XT (12GB)
  • Storage: 60GB available space

32GB is a lot of RAM for a recommended spec. Right now that much DDR4 might run you $105-$150. The vast majority of gaming PCs are still rocking with 16GB or less: The semi-scientific Steam hardware and software survey, for instance, reveals that fully three-quarters of systems surveyed are running with either 8GB or 16GB installed. (5.72% of people are still rolling along with 4GB RAM, and I'm sorry but come on, people. That is not enough. At this point you probably need a whole new PC, but whatever you do, it's time to do something.) Only 13.38% of respondents have 32GB installed, while 1.42% have 64GB or more.

So why is Returnal such a RAM hog? Sony didn't nail it down to anything specific, but said in the announcement that PC gamers could "rest assured that you will be faced with a cutting edge Housemarque challenge, and the bells and whistles are there to support the gameplay experience." Based on a September leak, those bells and whistles include DLSS and FSR, and quite probably ray tracing. That's all pretty hardware intensive stuff, and 32GB RAM could be helpful in making it all run nice and smooth.

Of course, it's also possible that Sony will dial the RAM requirement back to 16GB to avoid causing widespread panic or PC envy, as EA did. Returnal isn't expected to arrive on PC until sometime in early 2023, so there's still time for things to change on that front.

Returnal isn't the first PC game to recommend 32GB of RAM, but it's still a rarity. Spider-Man Remastered, for instance, also recommends 32GB RAM, but only for its Ultimate Ray Tracing (4K, 60fps) graphical preset; everything else recommends 16GB. EA initially recommended 32GB for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but eventually walked it back to 16GB. Rocketwerkz's sci-fi survival game Icarus still recommends 32GB, but not out of any real necessity: Rocketwerkz founder Dean Hall said in November 2021 that "extra RAM helps, but the game has been optimized to work without it." Icarus also recommends an Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti, too.

I've reached out to Sony for more information on that front and will update if I receive a reply. In the meantime, if you are tempted to make the jump to 32GB, you'll be happy to know that this is a good time to make it happen.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.