Saturday, February 24, 2024

How To Fix Returnal Fatal Error Crash On PC


Returnal is an excellent PlayStation exclusive that has made its way to PC. The game is demanding in terms of PC hardware. However, performance is not the only aspect that is bothering players. PC users are experiencing Fatal Error crashes while playing it. In this Returnal guide, I have listed fixes that will help you fix the Fatal Error crashes.

Returnal Fatal Error Fixes You Can Try

As mentioned, Returnal needs a reasonably powerful PC to run at max settings with a 60 FPS lock. With the game’s launch on PC, there are some noticeable improvements like better image quality with upscaling tech like DLSS. Returnal used checkerboard rendering to upscale that, compared to PC, resulted in compromised image quality.

However, that is the topic of discussion here as PC players are reporting Fatal error crashes with Returnal. PC users are reporting that they are experiencing a Fatal Error. Some players report that the game crashes with the Fatal error message popping up, other experience is while trying to play multiplayer. There are multiple reasons why Fatal errors occur, and the following are the fixes that’ll help fix this Fatal error crash.

Switch DirectX

Returnal requires a DirectX 12-compatible GPU. However, DX12 can sometimes cause Fatal error crashes, and since Returnal is using the Unreal engine, there is a chance players can switch the game to DirectX 11 and fix the Fatal Error.

  • Right-click Retunal in the Steam library and select properties
  • Type -dx11 under Launch options
  • Launch the game, and this command will force the game to switch to DirectX 11 if supported, and the Fatal error will be fixed

Note: If the game switches to DX11, you won’t be able to use Ray-Traced effects in-game and DLSS.

Right-click the game and select properties
type -dx11 under Launch Options

Disable Ray Tracing

One of the benefits of Returnal coming to PC is the inclusion of Ray-traced effects. However, these Ray Traced effects can cause the game to crash with a Fatal Error. Disable ray tracing. The Fatal error will be fixed.

If you are experiencing the Fatal Error crash at startup and are unable to change the graphics settings, then use GeForce Experience to lower Returnal’s graphics settings.

  • Open the Nvidia GeForce Experience
  • Select Returnal
  • Click on the Custom Settings
  • Drag the slider to performance and click Apply
  • Click on “Optimize” to lower the graphics settings
  • Launch Returnal and the Fatal Error will be fixed
Click on the custom settings icon as highlighted.
drag the slider to performance and apply.
Click on Optimize.

Troubleshoot Compatibility

Some players report that troubleshooting the game’s compatibility fixes the Fatal error crash.

  • Right-click Returnal in Steam library > Manage > Browse local files
  • A new window will open with the game files
  • Right-click Returnal.exe and select properties
  • Go to Compatibility tab
  • Click “Rum compatibility troubleshooter”
  • Let Windows do its thing
  • Click Try recommended settings and apply them
  • Launch Returnal and it won’t crash with a Fatal error.
Locate the game’s files
Right-click the executable and select properties
go to Compatibility tab and click Run compatibility troubleshooter
use recommended settigns
Test the program before clicking next

Revert Overclock, Enable Debug Mode

Overclocking your GPU is a known reason behind Fatal Error crashes, and Returnal might be crashing. If you have overclocked your GPU, revert it to its default GPU and memory clocks to fix the Fatal error.

However, most GPUs from third-party AIB partners are factory overclocked or use higher GPU and memory clocks compared to Nvidia’s reference models. Enable the Debug mode through the Nvidia Control Panel to force the GPU to use Nvidia’s recommended GPU and memory clocks to fix Returna’s Fatal error crash. Open the Nvidia Control Panel > Help > Debug Mode.

Limit Max FPS

Often PC players run video games at an uncooked FPS. This reduces latency and increases the game’s smoothness. However, uncooked FPS can also cause Fatal error crashes due to increased GPU load. Returnal is a game that plays better at a high FPS; however, this might be causing the Fatal error crash while playing it. I suggest you cap the game’s max FPS which will reduce the GPU and CPU load and will fix the Fatal Error crash. I recommend that you limit the FPS through the Nvidia Control Panel because in-game FPS limiters often cause bad frame pacing.

  • Open the Nvidia Control Panel
  • Click “Manage 3D Settings” and open the Program Settings tab
  • Select Returnal from the drop-down menu
  • Scroll down, enable Max Frame Rate, and set a value for it

Note: Unless you are using a Freesync or G.sync display, your Max Frame Limit should be 1/2, 1/3rd, or 1/4th of your monitor’s refresh rate. Otherwise, the game will feel jittery.

Open Nvidia Control Panel
Go to program settings
Select the game from the list
Enable Max Frame Rate
Hit apply after making changes

Remove Third-party Peripheral/Software

Usually, PC players have plugged in a third-party peripheral with their driver/software or even third-party tools like MSI Afterburner, RGB software, and more. These thirty-party peripherals or software can cause games to crash with a Fatal error message, and Returnal is no exception. Disable any third-party tool you are using, unplug any third-party peripheral, disable or delete its driver/software, and Returnal Fatal error crash will be fixed.

Delete DirectX Shader Cache

The DirectX shader cache on your PC is corrupt or incompatible with Returnal, which is why the game is crashing with the Fatal Error. Delete the Shader cache and Windows will create a new one when you launch Returnal the next time. This will fix the Fatal Error crashes.

  • Open Windows Settings
  • Go to System > Storage > Temporary Files
  • Select DirectX Shader Cache and click “Remove Files”
Open Windows Settings and go to System > Storage > Temporary files.
Cec “DirectX shader cache” and click “Remove Files”.

Update GPU Driver

Your current GPU driver is either outdated or corrupt, which is the reason for Returnal’s Fatal error crash. Update the GPU driver or install a different driver version to fix the Fatal Error. Ensure you do a clean installation.

Download the driver and launch the setup.
Agree to terms of and conditions.
Select custom and click next.
Check ‘Perform a clean installation’ and click next to install.

Note: If you install GPU driver updates through Windows updates, then the installed driver might not be up to date. Windows update often doesn’t install the latest driver version and you’ll have to manually download the latest GPU driver from Nvidia or AMD website, depending on the GPU.

Install or Repair Visual C++ Redistributables

Visual C++ Redistributables are required to run any program or video game on a Windows PC. You are either missing or have corrupt Visual C++ files, which is causing Returnal to crash with the Fatal Error. Update or install the Visual C++ Redistributables, both x86 and x64 versions, and the error will be fixed.

  • Open the Steam library and type Steamworks in the search bar
  • Right-click Steamworks Common redistributables > Manage > Browse local files
  • A new window will open
  • Go to _CommonRedist\vcredist
  • There are folders with names in years starting from 2010
  • Open each folder and run the VC_redis, both x64 and x86 versions
  • Install or repair Visual C++ Redistributables and restart your PC

Increase Shader Cache Size

Unreal Engine relies heavily on shaders for its visual fidelity without compromising performance. However, the default shader cache size set by the GPU driver isn’t enough and that’s why Returnal is crashing with the Fatal Error. Increase the shader cache size and the error will be fixed.

  • Open the Nvidia Control Panel
  • Go to Manage 3D Settings > Global Settings
  • Scroll down to Shader Cache
  • Select 10 GB and apply the changes.

Run The Game In Compatibility Mode

Games often have compatibility issues with Windows 10 or 11, which results in the game crashing. This incompatibility is the reason for Returnal’s Fatal error crash. Run the game in compatibility mode for an older operating system like Windows 7 or 8 and the error will be fixed.

  • Right-click Returnal in Steam library > Manage > Browse local files
  • A new window will open containing game files
  • Right-click the executable and select Properties
  • Go to the Compatibility tab
  • Check “Run this program in compatibility mode for” and select Windows 7 from the drop-down menu.
  • Launch the game and the Fatal error is fixed.
Browse local files.
right-click the executable and select properties.
Check “Run this program in compatibility mode for” and select Windows 7.

That is all for our fixes for the Fatal error crash in Returnal. If you are facing errors and issues with other PC games or your PC, see our hub for commonly occurring PC errors and their fixes.

Acer Nitro 17 Gaming Laptop AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS Octa-Core CPU 17.3" FHD 165Hz IPS Display NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 16GB DDR5 1TB SSD
David is a highly skilled technical writer with 5+ years of experience in providing fixes for video games and tech bugs. He is an expert in troubleshooting and has helped countless gamers overcome frustrating technical issues. In addition to providing bug fixes, David also specializes in writing technical reviews for video games. His expertise in the industry allows him to provide insightful commentary on gameplay mechanics, graphics, and other technical aspects that are crucial to a game's success.

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