I don’t know how anyone made any progress in video games before save features were implemented. Like, who had the time to just sit down and play through all 16 stages of Super Mario Bros. in one go? Thank goodness modern games have made it easier to save your progress, though in the case of rogue-lites like Returnal, not too easy. Here’s how to save in Returnal.
As a rogue-lite, Returnal prioritizes run integrity. That is to say, once you’ve started a new run, you gotta commit to it. There is no way to save and suspend the run, then come back to it later; if you open the pause menu, the only option is to restart the run from the Helios. The only way to actually save your progress in Returnal (for a given degree of progress, obviously) is to trigger the game’s built-in autosave.
How to Save in Returnal
The autosave will save your progress whenever you do something really important. For example, if you beat a boss, obtain a permanent skill, or increase your stats, those will be saved, and you’ll still have those marked down even if you restart the run. On the other hand, temporary items like weapons do not trigger the autosave, and thus cannot be carried over between runs.
Now, the million-dollar question here is what are you supposed to do when real life comes a’ knockin’? You can pause the game, but if you turn the console off completely, you’ll lose your run entirely and will have to start over back at the Helios. However, thanks to the PlayStation 5’s built-in Rest Mode, you can pause the game, put the console to sleep, and when you boot it back up, still be right where you left off. This is the only way to “preserve” a run, as it were, though it also means that you can’t open any other game software on your console until it’s safe to close Returnal. So make sure that when you start a new run, you’re ready to commit to it for a little while, ‘cause it’s probably going to be a little while before you make any autosave-worthy progress.