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Returnal: how to play online co-op

How do you play online co-op in Returnal? How do I access Returnal’s co-op mode on PS5? The Ascension update added two-player online co-op to Returnal, allowing a pair to team up and tackle Atropos together. As part of our return guidewe will explain to you how cooperation works.

Returnal: how to play online co-op

Below we’ll walk you through how to access online co-op and start playing with a friend.

How do you access cooperation?

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After downloading and installing the latest Returnal update, online co-op will be added to the game. If you have existing save data, you will be able to play co-op immediately. However, if you are starting the game for the very first time, you will only be able to access co-op after your first death. Once back at the crash site, online co-op will be available.

You can start online co-op play from the crash site. Approach the large glowing orb, located to the right of Chthonos and the door that takes you to the main game. This orb is called Chronosis. Press Triangle to activate it.

What are the cooperation options?

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When you activate Chronosis, you will be presented with three options. These are:

  • Host public cycle: Organize a public cooperation session. This can be joined by any other player.
  • Organize a private cycle: Set up a private co-op session by inviting someone from your friends list to join you.
  • Join a cycle: Matchmake with another player’s public co-op session.

What happens to your progress when playing co-op?

If you’re playing co-op, you might be wondering what happens in terms of in-game progression. It depends on whether you’re hosting a game or joined a game.

Host players will retain all progress made while playing co-op. However, their Scout Rank will not increase.

Join Players won’t keep any permanent gear unlocks, but they will be able to keep things like Xenoglyphs and Scouting Logs. Moreover, their Scout Rank can increase.

What is Scout Rank?

Scout Rank is new for co-op mode in Returnal. This is about your helpfulness and skill when joining other players for co-op. Basically, the more cooperative partner you are, the more your Scout Rank will be.

How is returning different when playing co-op?

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The co-op experience in Returnal is largely the same as the single-player experience, just with a second player helping you out. However, there are a few small differences to note.

First of all, you are able to revive yourself. If a player takes a fatal blow, the other player can revive them by reaching into them and holding Triangle for a few seconds. You can do this as often as needed. If you both die, you won’t be able to resurrect each other and the cycle is over.

Second, the game balance is changed in co-op to account for two players. Don’t expect cooperation to be a walk in the park.


Did you enjoy Returnal in co-op mode on PS5? Join us in the comments section below and check out our return guide for much more help.