Skip to main content

Returnal might be the first PC game to recommend this much RAM

Sony’s Returnal is coming to the PC, and while it does call for a pretty decent computer, only one requirement really raises eyebrows — the amount of RAM.

According to the system requirements on Steam, Returnal calls for 32GB of RAM in order to run on the recommended specs. Does that mean that a RAM upgrade is on the horizon for many PC gamers?

Screenshot from Sony's Returnal, showing a woman wearing a spacesuit.
Sony Entertainment

Returnal originated on the PlayStation 5 and is now making the jump to PC sometime in 2023. It’s a game with stunning visuals, as can be expected from a PlayStation 5 exclusive, but the majority of the system requirements are fairly reasonable.

The minimum specs, as shared by Steam, include an Intel Core i5-6400 CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, which was, up until recently, the most common GPU used by Steam gamers. The 16GB minimum RAM requirement feels hefty when you compare it to the rest of the build, but it’s common in AAA titles.

Get your weekly teardown of the tech behind PC gaming
Check your inbox!

Even the specs that are recommended for optimal, smooth gameplay are understandable for a title released in 2023. A Core i7-8700 processor and an RTX 2070 Super are both hardly new hardware. And then, there’s the RAM requirement, calling for a whopping 32GB.

To put those numbers into perspective, we checked some of the most taxing games available on PC right now. Cyberpunk 2077 only recommends 12GB RAM. Microsoft Flight Simulator calls for 16GB, and the freshly released Marvel’s Midnight Suns recommends the same amount, but 8GB will suffice if you don’t mind playing on lower settings. The same is true for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered.

Looking through more games, the same trend continues — none of them ask for more than 16GB RAM, and a lot of them are capable of running with just 8GB, although most gaming PCs these days benefit from having 16GB.

Even titles that originated on the PlayStation, such as Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves, settle for 16GB. Deathloop, a strictly PS5 game that’s unavailable on the PS4, has the same requirement.

Asking for 32GB RAM might be overkill

Returnal - Announcement Trailer | PS5

The choice to call for 32GB is even more bizarre when you consider that the PlayStation 5 console only runs 16GB RAM. This does make us wonder: What exactly is the PC version of Returnal going to do with all that memory?

RAM is a necessity for smooth gaming, but after a certain point, it doesn’t matter how much of it you have — at least not for the purpose of gaming alone. It may improve your loading times, but there is only so much the RAM can do before stacking it becomes redundant.

With that said, Returnal‘s PC version is certainly shaping up to be quite impressive as far as extra features go. A clip of the game’s PC menu emerged a while back and has since been taken down, but thanks to that little spoiler, we know that Returnal will support both Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR. There’s also resolution scaling and dynamic resolution, unlocked frame rates (which is something we don’t get on the PS5), and top-notch ray tracing. More RAM can certainly help here, but 32GB sounds like overkill.

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 RAM inside a computer.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Picking up some more RAM to upgrade your PC to 32GB is not a bad idea — modern enthusiast computers often come with that much, anyway. However, if yours doesn’t have 32GB memory right now, the upgrade could prove to be pricey.

Some users may have to swap out their existing RAM to install two 16GB sticks instead. If you’re running one of the best AMD or Intel CPUs, you may also be using DDR5 RAM, and that makes the upgrade even more costly. Assuming you spend around $130 to$180 on 32GB of DDR5 memory, it becomes quite an investment just to fulfill the requirements of one title.

Ultimately, you can play Returnal with 16GB RAM, but it’s hard to say what kind of performance you’ll get without 32GB. We’ll have to wait for the PC port and hope for the best.

Editors' Recommendations

Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
I’ve built hundreds of PCs. These are the mistakes I’ve regretted most
The Hyte Y60 with an RTX 4090 installed.

I've built hundreds of PCs, but despite so much time with empty hardware boxes and a screwdriver, I still make boneheaded mistakes. Between rushing, ignoring critical steps in the build process, and simply not paying attention, I've ruined hundreds of dollars worth of hardware and wasted dozens of hours of time.

You don't have to fall victim to the same mistakes I have. Here are some of the dumbest mistakes I've made when building PCs over the last few years and what you can do to avoid them.
Playing loose with compatibility
It looks like the GPU fits in this photo, but I can assure you that it doesn't. Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Read more
The simple reasons HDR looks terrible on your PC
An HDR demon running on the Samsung Odyssey OLED G8.

HDR on PC is infamously bad, but it doesn't need to be. Following the tumultuous few years after Microsoft introduced HDR to Windows, it's in a much better spot now. With the right monitor, applications, and key settings, you can get a great HDR image out of your PC regardless of if you're watching videos or playing games.

Unfortunately, Microsoft does very little to guide users in the right direction. If your HDR image is lacking, it's probably due to one of the four simple reasons below.
You haven't run HDR calibration

Read more
The best developments to get first in Manor Lords
A town in a valley in Manor Lords.

It feels a little bit like cheating in Manor Lords, but the development upgrades you can get can do some powerful things to improve your settlement. However, to balance things out, the development points you need to unlock these enhancements are given out very sparingly. In fact, you won't get even close to the amount needed to unlock everything on the sphere grid. To make matters even more stressful, there's no way to undo a choice you make, so any point spent in error is locked in until you start a new game. There's none that can make your game harder, but if you pick one that offers no benefit to your current settlement or goals, it might as well be a negative in terms of the opportunity cost. For the best experience, here are the developments you should invest in first.
How to get development points
Before you can spend any development points in Manor Lords, you have to earn them. This is a slightly obfuscated system that you may not fully understand if you're not paying close attention, but it does make sense once you know what's going on. Development points are tied to you reaching new settlement levels. You can incrementally grow to a small village, a medium village, a large village, a small town, a medium town, and -- finally -- a large town. Each one requires a larger number of burgage plots and for you to upgrade more of them to higher levels. In any one settlement, you can earn six development points.
Best developments to get first

The development tree is broken down into four segments: farming, trade, gathering, and industry. Here are some of the best ones you can unlock early.
Heavy Plow
No settlement can survive only on hunting and foraging for food. Farming is the only way to make sure your storehouses are well stocked with food, but even a fully staffed farm is painfully slow to harvest. The Heavy Plow upgrade adds a plowing station to your farms so you can make use of an ox to not only make plowing your fields far faster, but also tospeed up transporting your crops to the storehouse.
Charcoal Burning
Preparing for winter is your primary concern for your first year, if not the first two, in Manor Lords. Lack of food is one thing, but if you run out of fuel to keep your population warm, they won't last long. Firewood is your basic form of fuel, but it is very inefficient. This development lets you build a charcoal kiln that gives you two charcoal for every one firewood you feed into it. That will double your potential fuel reserves in a snap.
Deep Mining
All natural resources will eventually run dry. While you can regrow trees and let berries regrow, ore deposits only have so much material for you to mine before they're tapped out. You can break the laws of nature with the Deep Mining development that lets you upgrade any mine into a deep mine that somehow never runs out of ore. This only works on the slightly rare rich deposits, but is still incredibly powerful to have an unending source of ore to build or sell.
Speaking of getting an unending source of materials and money, Sheepbreeding makes something that you would expect to happen, but by default does not, actually occur. If you have a sheep farm, those sheep will be completely uninterested in mating and having more sheep babies. Snag this development to let nature take its course and get yourself an infinite supply of sheep for materials and to trade for quite a high price.
Better Deals
And while you're trading, unlock better deals to keep from getting ripped off. There's a tariff on anything you import in Manor Lords of 10 regional wealth, but this perk waives that annoying fee. Since you never quite know what resources you will have and what you will need to import to build your next structure or upgrade, importing is essential for reaching the late game. The earlier you invest in this, the more you'll save in the long run.

Read more