/  Reviews / Returnal
Medal of Honor: Airborne


Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc.
Released: 2023
Steam ID: 1649240
Genre: Roguelite
Hosts entries:

Returnal Consent
Privacy agreement:  
Personal data:  
Forced online:  
Third party:  
Social Networks:  
Own service/s:  
Data octopus:  
BREAK THE CYCLE Fight to survive as this award-winning third-person shooter brings Selene’s story to PC. Take on roguelike challenges. Engage enemies in bullet hell-fuelled clashes. Share your journey through Returnal™ with another player.

  Returnal Review

Returnal™ from Sony Entertainment is a fun title that mimics mechanics from Microsoft when it comes to data-mining.

What does the product do?

  1. NVidia Corporation is notified that a game with DLSS has been launched.
  2. Players are presented with a Microsoft-style screen that either allows minimal data collection or maximum. There is no option to say "NO". You will be "telemetried" at all costs.
  3. Registration and regular checks of the players whether they are also logged in and registered in the Playstation Network.
  4. Epic Games, Inc.'s Epic Online service (ETAnalytics) is launched. With everything that goes with it
  5. If you allow the redistributable installation of Steam at the start of the game, the Epic Online Service will be installed as a standalone program on your hard disk. You can find it under "C:\Program Files (x86)\Epic Games\Epic Online Services\".

  6. NEVER DO THIS ON STEAM. If you need redistributables or drivers, download them directly from Microsoft or other related manufacturer sites

Who runs the product?

Developed by Housemarque Oy, Inc (Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc) and Climax Studios (Keywords Studios Plc), published by PlayStation PC LLC (Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc).

Where are the service providers located?

Climax Studios - Portsmouth, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, PO1 3TR
Housemarque Oy, Inc - Kasarmikatu 36 B, 00130 Helsinki, Finland
Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc - San Mateo, California, United States
Epic Games, Inc. - 620 Crossroads Blvd., Cary, NC 27518, USA, Inc - 410 Terry Ave N Seattle, WA, 98109-5210 United States

What data is collected?

Everything ;]

Epic Games is exceptionally "only" responsible for continuous telemetry in Returnal. But that's more than enough.

The main tracker runs under its own domain which may be familiar from games like Horizon Zero Dawn.

For the review, I'll post a few raw data examples. The scheme is simple and therefore abbreviated.

Initialization and base
"client_timestamp": 1693513810056,
"client_timezone": 60,
"session_id": "23C7400240E7B28BFC567EAEE1178A55",
"title_id": "1649240",
"psn_account": "ペンギン", # (my Steam-Nickname)
"device_type": "PC", # (Yes, no potato)
"build_version": "-CL-195864",
"np_account_id": "",
"machine_id": "xxxx" # (Secret penguin technology)
"auth_status": "SUCCESS",
"environment": "Steam", # (Who would have thought it)
"platform": "Steam",
"user_id": "steam:76561198113455411" # (my Steam-Account)
"event_type": "authsuccess",
"game_id": "",
"build_version": "-CL-195864",
"analytics_version": 27,
"machine_id": "xxxx" # (Secret penguin technology)
"event_counter": 1

Based on this structure, different values are added or exchanged (event_type) depending on the user action and continuously transmitted to Sony. Since i play in german language, i have to translate a few names back

All Events, and items including the player position as well, as example
 "world_pos": {
"x": 2195,
"y": 31558,
"z": -100047
"level": "AF_Introduction_Pistol", # yeah, found the first pistol
"x": -2671,
"y": 282,
"z": 2197

so it's like a hidden cam is following the players all the time.

To shorten it - Replaced or exchanged data/event-types examples in order from my first playsession were

 "event_type": "MenuScreen",
"event_type": "close_menu",
"event_type": "GameStart",
"event_type": "player_enter_room"
"event_type": "objective_begin",
"event_type": "item_collected", "item_name": "Obolit", # (delicious)
"event_type": "item_collected", "item_type": "BP_ColWpn_Pistol_WithTraits_C", "item_name": "Modifizierte Handfeuerwaffe SD-M8", "is_main_weapon": true, "is_sub_weapon": false, "is_melee_weapon": false,
"event_type": "player_enter_room", "level": "AF_Prologue_Mood_01",
"event_type": "MenuScreen", "menu_screen": "Pause_WBP_PauseMapMenu_C", "menu_screen": "Pause", # (A little break ;P)
"event_type": "close_menu", # (Playing again ^^)
"event_type": "item_collected", "item_name": "Silphium (big)",
"event_type": "player_enter_room", "level": "AF_Introduction_LockedDoor", # (Hello, i'm a closed door, nice to meet you!)
"event_type": "target_killed", "target_type": "BP_ForestChaserSmall_C", "level": "AF_Introduction_Chaser",
"event_type": "reload_minigame_failure", (Oh no >.<)
"event_type": "interact", "target_type": "BP_AudioLog_C", "item_name": "Scout-Log", # (Audiolog found!!!)
"event_type": "item_collected","item_name": "Silphium-Resin",
"event_type": "player_enter_room", "level": "AF_Introduction_Dash", # (Hello, i'm Dash. With me, you can dash few meters)
"event_type": "interact", "target_type": "BP_ColHP_MaxHPUpSmall_C", # (Heal me pls)
"event_type": "interact", "target_type": "BP_ColKey_CurseTutorial_C", "level": "AF_Mainpath_03_tutorial", # (Oh, a cursed key Oo)
"event_type": "item_collected", "item_name": "Cursed key", # (Collected at own risk)
"event_type": "suit_malfunction_begin", "codename": "Curse_Small_Small_[Impaired Repairs]_[Kill Hostiles]", # (Traits)
"event_type": "player_enter_room", "level": "AF_Cavern_00", # (Oh, a dark cavern...heelllooo, echo)
"event_type": "interact", "target_type": "BP_AudioLog_C" # (Another Audiolog ^^)
"event_type": "item_collected", # (of course, collected, i'm greedy)
"event_type": "adrenaline_level", # (Berserk penguin)
"event_type": "player_damage_taken", "damage_source": "BP_ForestHulk_Intro_C_2147460118", # (Not the Marvel Hulk)
"event_type": "player_damage_taken", # (More damage taken, poor me >.<)
"event_type": "player_death", "killer_type": "BP_ForestHulk_Intro_C_2147460118", "damage_type": "BPDT_Forest_Melee_HeavySpecial_C", # (Ouch)
"event_type": "GameEnd","end_reason": "game_over", "is_completed": false, "is_online": true, "duration_secs": 746, # (Byebye)

The playing time was about 18 minutes.

  1. In that time, 489 connections were established.
  2. 1 Nvidia Callback (2 IPv4)
  3. 42 telemetry connections by Epic Games, Inc. (58 IPv4)
  4. 222 telemetry connections by Sony (3 IPv4)
  5. 224 connections trying to authenticate with the Playstation Network (spam by Sony), (3 IPv4)

Total data collected: 656,60kb

Can the behavior be blocked?

Yes, with restrictions. Since there are online (COOP) functions, they will be turned off as well.


There is one, english only - Returnal™ EULA  


The game seems to need the VP9 video extensions to run correctly. All download sources point to the Microsoft Store or to an APPX package for installation via Powershell.

Since there are also cases where neither the download from the Store works nor APPX files can be launched, this is quite suboptimal. In that case, users are left squatting in front of a black screen and are allowed to log out of the system, as the game always remains in the foreground. And in the game forum there are some entries as well as guides to this problem.

Thus, the product is an example of how on one side the hand is held out for excessive data collection in favor of bug fixing, but on the other side neither bugs are fixed nor customer support is provided. It is simply taken.

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