Housemarque has announced a major expansion to Returnal, which will be free to download and releasing later this month. The expansion is titled Returnal: Ascension, and will add two new modes to the game: Co-Op and and a new endless mode called Tower of Sisyphus.
The co-op mode will allow two players online to combine their forces and brave the challenges of Atropos together. Players have the option to host or join a public cycle, or you can also host a private cycle instead.
In co-op, the game works in a similar fashion to single-player Returnal. However, if players get too far apart, they will be tethered back together. This is to ensure that the focus remains on cooperative gameplay and both players feel connected to the fates of each other. If one of the players is downed, there is still hope: the other one has the option to revive them. But be wary that this will require some time investment, and in the heat of battle you’ll need to be mindful of the myriad surrounding threats, lest you join your fallen comrade in oblivion.
Tower of Sisyphus is effectively an Endless mode. Players will strive to ascend the Tower as high as possible – however, much like the tragic story of Sisyphus, there is no end to the climb and players are tragically destined to meet their demise as the mode gets increasingly harder.
Each Phase in the Tower will culminate with an encounter with Algos, which will also get increasingly harder as you advance through the mode. Unlike the campaign, in the Tower players will also have a score to chase. You can track your progress and highest score on a leaderboard, and compete against your friends and foes for the highest rank.
Like other Housemarque games, you will also have a Score Multiplier – keeping this up and increasing it will be the key to racking up the highest possible scores. Your Multiplier will deplete if you get hit or if you don’t deal damage for a while, so you’ll need to be constantly dancing on the knife’s edge to ensure you maintain strong forward momentum. While there are secrets and optional routes to take, the Tower is intended to be Returnal distilled into an arcade action experience, where the emphasis is on survival, skill, and focused progression.
Aside from the new levels, our new Boss and some new items to discover, there is also entirely new narrative content to be explored in the Tower as well, which will give players another small glimpse into Selene’s haunting past and gain further insight into her state of mind.