Returnal Black Screen [Quick FIX]

Let's eliminate Returnal black screen bugs and crashing issues once and for all

Returnal just got released on PC on 15th Feb 2022. Before we could take in its dazzling display of bullets and particle effects, players are instead facing the black screen bug. Returnal black screen error is a widespread issue plaguing PC players’ experience and keeping them from seeing the game in action. This happens whenever you launch Returnal and either before or after the opening logos, the game fades to black. Some players have even gotten past the main menu and they either face the Returnal crashing issue or the black screen bug

We’ve gathered all the accounts as we could and tested some of the best fixes that can help you address the Returnal black screen issue. Let’s check these fixes out so you can quickly hop back in your spacesuit and destroy alien lifeforms.

Key Takeaways
  • A Returnal Black Screen bug has been reported by several players as it stops them from playing the game by displaying a black screen at startup
  • This is a persistent bug that happens on launch and also crashes that game on the desktop. 

You can fix the Returnal black screen bug by performing the following fixes

    • Verify Returnal Files Through Steam
    • Run The Game as Admin and Disable Full-Screen Optimizations
    • Install the VP9 Video Extensions from Microsoft Store
    • Disable 3rd-Party Application Overlays
    • Terminate Background Processes
    • Disable Your System’s Antivirus Software
  • You can always wait for the official developer’s patch if none of the fixes work for you. 

Check Retunal PC System Requirements First

Returnal PC System Requirements
Image Source: Sony

Before we dive into the fixes, first we have to rule out the possibility that your PC is powerful enough to handle Returnal. 

Minimum PC System Requirements

  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-6400 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Storage: 60GB HDD (SSD recommended)

This configuration will let you play Returnal on Low Settings at 720P at 60 FPS.

Medium PC System Requirements 

  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 / AMD Ryzen 5 2600
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Storage: 60GB SSD

If your PC has a similar configuration to this, you’ll be able to enjoy Returnal at 1080p 60FPS on Medium settings.

Recommended PC System Requirements

  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super / AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8700 / AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Storage: 60GB SSD

Players with the above configuration can run Returnal on High settings at 1080p 60FPS.

Epic PC System Requirements

  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10GB / AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K / AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Storage: 60GB SSD

If you have higher-end configurations like the above, then buckle up to enjoy Returnal at 4k 60FPS with Epic settings.

Ray Tracing PC Requirements

  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti / AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-11900K / AMD Ryzen 9 5900K
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Storage: 60GB SSD

Players with this beast of a PC will smoothly run Returnal with all settings including Ray Tracing options cranked to Epic at 4k 60FPS.

These are the system requirements for Returnal and include all the different configurations you’ll require to run the game on different settings. If your PC checks out, then the reason for the Returnal black screen or crashing issue isn’t your PC’s lack of capabilities, it’s something else. Let’s explore other fixes you can try to resolve this issue.

Verify Returnal Files Through Steam

Sometimes your game files can get deleted accidentally or become damaged due to unknown reasons. This is one of the biggest reasons why you’re facing the Returnal black screen bug or crashing issues. Instead of redownloading the game again, all you need to do is verify your files through steam. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Steam and access your games Library.
  2. Once inside your games library, locate Returnal, Right-Click on the game, and select properties.
Verify Game Files Through Steam
Verify Game Files on Steam
  1. After opening up Returnal properties, go to the “Local Files” tab.
  2. You’ll see the option to “Verify Integrity of Game Files” here. Click on this option to start the process.

The process will take anywhere from a few to several minutes depending on your storage drive speed. Once it completes, if steam detects any missing or damaged files, it’ll auto-download and replace that particular file in the directory. After that, try launching the game and there’s a good chance you won’t face the Returnal black screen bug or the crashing issue again.

Run The Game as Admin and Disable Full-Screen Optimizations

Games can often have trouble communicating with your system’s hardware or the OS. This is mostly due to a lack of proper permissions and privileges for the game. This is also one of the major reasons for encountering Returnal black screen and crashing issues. 

To grant Returnal higher privileges, you’ll need to run it as an administrator. Make sure that the game’s application has admin access to allow the User’s Account Control (UAC) access to the PC. Here’s how you can run Returnal with administrator privileges:

  1. First, you’ll have to locate the installation folder for Returnal. You’ll find it somewhere in the: 
    C:\Program Files(x86)\Steam\steamapps\common
    In case you have the game installed on another drive besides C, you’ll need to right-click Returnal in your Steam Library and go to properties -> local files -> click on locate local files.
  2. Once you reach the game’s local installation folder, right-click on the main game’s executable and select properties. 
Running the Game as Admin
Compatibility Tab
  1. Once you’re in properties, go to the Compatibility tab and check to mark the option Run This Program as an Administrator. 
  2. While you’re here, you should also check the option that says, “Disable Fullscreen Optimizations.

Note: Fullscreen optimizations force the game to run in a weird hybrid fullscreen/borderless mode which reduces performance and also causes different issues. So it’s best that you disable this option from the main game’s executable file. 

Once you’re done with everything, click “OK” to save the changes. Now try launching Returnal and see if it resolved the black screen and crashing issues.

Install the VP9 Video Extensions from Microsoft Store

Solve Returnal Black Screen from VP9 Extension
VP9 Extension in Microsoft Store

Players have reported that they’ve quickly resolved the Returnal black screen bug and crashing issue by simply installing the VP9 Video Exnteison from the Windows store. You can do it too quite simply by following the steps below: 

  1. Open Windows Store by clicking on the Windows Search and typing in Microsoft Store. Click on the first result. 
  2. Once the store opens up, click on the search bar on the top and type VP9 Video Extension, and hit enter. 
  3. Once you find the application page as shown in the image above, simply add the extension to your library by hitting “Get” and then download and install it. 

Once you’re done, reboot your PC for good measure and try launching the game now. There’s a huge chance you’ll have solved the Returnal black screen and crashing issue.

Disable 3rd-Party Application Overlays

There are several applications installed on your PC that have active overlays during your gameplay session. These overlays may be helpful in certain scenarios, but they’re mostly just resource hogs and also cause issues like the Returnal black screen or crashes. Here are some of the popular overlays and how you can disable them on your PC.

Disable Steam Overlay

Steam has an overlay active whenever you’re playing Returnal. You can use it to access several steam functionalities while playing the game. However, if you don’t need it, here’s how to turn it off:

  1. Launch steam by either expanding the taskbar on the bottom right on the desktop or through the Windows Search bar.
  2. Once you have steam opened up, locate Returnal in your games library. Right-click on it and go to its properties.
Disable Steam Overlay
Steam Properties for Returnal
  1. Here, you’ll see the General tab where you can simply uncheck the option that says “Enable Steam Overlay In-Game.” 

There you have it, you’ve successfully turned off Steam Overlay for Returnal.

Disable Discord Overlay

If you’re playing Returnal with your squad in the voice chat on discord, Discord overlay helps you identify who’s talking at the given moment through the UI. However, if you don’t have any use for this, better disable it, here’s how:

  1. Launch the Discord application by either typing Discord in Windows Search or opening it from the taskbar on the bottom right.
  2. Once Discord is open, go to its settings (gear icon) in the bottom left corner. 
Disable Discord Overlay
Discord Settings
  1. Here, in Discord settings, head over to the Game Overlay tab at the bottom. 
  2. In the Game Overlay, you’ll see a button on the top that will either activate or reactive the Discord overlay. Toggling it will turn it off.

You have successfully disabled Discord Overlay from your PC.

Disable Xbox Game Bar

Xbox Game Bar showed up in Windows 10 as it has several gaming-focused features. The Xbox Game Bar has several features that let you capture different moments in gameplay and also keep tabs on your system resources usage. It’s a resource-intensive utility that can interfere with a game’s operation causing issues like the Returnal black screen. Here’s how you can disable it:

  1. Launch the Windows Settings by hitting the shortcut key WIN Key + I.
Disable Xbox Game Bar
Xbox Game Bar Settings
  1. Inside Windows Settings, go to the Gaming tab, and from there head to the Captures menu. Here, disable all the options shown above.
  2. Once you’re done, go over to the apps tab and then to the Apps and Features section.
Disable Xbox Game Bar
Stop Xbox Game Bar
  1. Here, you should type Game Bar into the search.
  2. Once you search, the Game Bar App will show up. All you have to do is click on its menu button and select Advanced Option.
  3. After opening the Advanced Options, you’ll see the Let This App Run In Background option under Background App Permissions. You should select the Never option here.
  4. Once done, scroll down and click Terminate to close down Game Bar for Good.

This will properly disable the Xbox Game Bar from your system. 

These are just some of the popular Overlays. There are several other applications with their own overlays that you can disable in an attempt to fix the Returnal black screen bug. After disabling these, try launching the game and see if you encounter the error again.

Terminate Background Processes

When you’re playing Returnal, there are a ton of applications running in the background. These applications or processes not only hog your system resources but also cause issues like the Returnal black screen. Here’s how you can stop these applications from running in your background:

  1. Hit the shortcut keys CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to start up the Task Manager. 
Task Manager To Close Background Applications
Task Manager
  1. As the Task Manager opens, you’ll see several applications and processes that are active in the background. If you find a process that you don’t require, simply right-click on it and select End Task. 
  2. Keep repeating this process until you’ve eliminated unnecessary processes. 

Disable Your System’s Antivirus Software

Antivirus software shields your computer from various threats. However, it can sometimes be over-protective towards games and display false positives which lead to deleting important game files. Apart from deleting game files, it can also prevent games from accessing your PC resources properly and interfere with their normal operations.

We can replace deleted files with steam verification, however, to prevent the antivirus from interfering with Returnal, you’ll need to disable it temporarily. After disabling, launch the game again and see if you’re getting the Returnal black screen error or crashes again. If it isn’t happening, it means the antivirus was the issue.

But fear not, we won’t suggest uninstalling your Antivirus software as it will leave your PC vulnerable to virus attacks. You can simply go inside your Antivirus settings and whitelist or exclude the Returnal game folder. This will prevent the antivirus from snooping around in the game files and causing any crashes or black screens. 

If you’ve successfully solved the Returnal Black Screen issue, why not check out eXputer’s complete coverage of the game right here
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Saqib is a Senior Guides writer at eXputer with multiple years of writing experience. His love for RPGs, Roblox, and mobile games knows no bounds. In his free time, Saqib is on yet another adventure with Roblox or free roaming in RPG. Saqib has completed a Journalism degree and worked for notable gaming sites including DualShockers and Gamepur. You can follow Saqib's gaming activity on his Steam profile.
Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor's in Accounting || Previously Worked for DualShockers & Gamepur|| Published 200+ Guides

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