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Control: The Foundation impressions - Debunking & spelunking

Remedy returns to its outstanding sci-fi world for a little more of the good stuff.

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The release of Control marked the culmination of countless years and man-hours of development over the course of multiple games and platforms for the team at Remedy. The final product clearly carried the DNA of the studio’s past projects and managed to streamline all the things they did the best and package them into a sci-fi action-puzzle thriller that was easily one of the best games of 2019 and, arguably, this console generation. The team is now back with the first expansion content for Control, known as The Foundation. It is a direct continuation of the events in the main game and retains everything fans love while delivering improved combat and puzzles. It’s ambitious visual presentation and the resulting performance on all but the absolute best PC hardware hurts it a bit but also leaves the game in perfect shape to be rediscovered and appreciated in the years to come.

Look at me, I’m the Director now

The Foundation DLC wastes no time in continuing the story of Jesse Faden, the protagonist of the main game and her escapades as Director of the Federal Bureau of Control. For players who have been away from the game in the months since it released, the lack of any refresher material on the story or game mechanics can be a bit jarring at first, but moving through The Oldest House and the crimson-lined caves of The Foundation mission quickly becomes second nature after a few minutes.

This expansion requires players to have completed the Control campaign and drops you directly into Director Faden’s form-fitting blue pantsuit with instructions to hit up the hotline and get right to work on the new task. Thankfully, The Foundation avoids the tired video game trope of stripping away powers and equipment earned from the original playthrough. You will have access to all abilities and mods that were previously unlocked and will find yourself totally capable of kicking ass in any situation presented.

New abilities for a new assignment

Faden must descend into the depths of The Oldest House at the start of The Foundation and enter a door that leads into a cave system that most of the expansion’s action takes place inside. For players who were starting to grow tired of the myriad shades of grey that covered virtually every inch of The Oldest House, the vibrant crimson sand and mysterious crystals that adorn the caves will be a welcome sight. Trips to the Astral Plane are also in store for returnees and have also received a slight makeover by the inclusion of the previously mentioned crystals.

These crystals are one of the key components of the new expansion and can either impede progress or be manipulated to reach previously unreachable places. Players will be presented with a choice to gain a new ability to manipulate the crystals. The abilities, known as Create and Fracture, determine where you can go and how progression in certain areas will be facilitated. Create allows Faden to pull the crystals out of surfaces in order to make new stairways or ledges for reaching new heights and Fracture allows her to destroy the crystals that already exist. The expansion has many new platforming puzzles that require the use of crystal manipulation in addition to a basic mastery of the traversal mechanics from the base game. Figuring out the new puzzles is very rewarding.

Hope you like the Hiss

You spent lots of time in Control dispatching the Hiss. The Hiss is an interdimensional force that will invade the Oldest House and FBC personnel in an attempt to impede the player’s progress. They can be dispatched by way of firearms, having in-game objects hurled at them, or wicked-awesome combinations of both. The Foundation offers a slight mixup to the Hiss enemies encountered, the highlight being the new pickaxe-welding speed rusher variety. These Hiss force you to make fast decisions during combat and close ground very quickly. Even taking to the air offers little safety as they will hurl said pickaxes at Faden. Their aggressive behavior is a welcome wrinkle to combat encounters that would often be frenetic with the old enemy types.

The major new addition to Faden’s combat arsenal is the ability to use the Evade button while holding up the rock shield. It offers more protection across the new combat encounters and a new way to approach fights. I will abstain from talking about boss encounters due to spoilers, but fans will be happy with the climax of the Foundation.

Checking out The Foundation

Control is still arguably the best-looking game on the market, making use of state-of-the-art effects and art assets. Gameplay was adversely affected by the aging PS4 and Xbox One hardware and, like the main game, The Foundation is best experienced on a very powerful PC equipped with one of NVIDIA’s RTX graphics cards. When maxed out, the visual presentation is second-to-none and The Foundation introduces NVIDIA’s new DLSS 2.0 technology that allows enhanced visuals and increased performance. In some cases, the game may look better and run up to 75% faster when enabling DLSS 2.0, though the feature is exclusive to RTX graphics cards. I’d expect an enhanced version of Control to make an appearance on the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X with steady frame rates and ray-tracing features enabled at some time in the future.

Overall, players can expect to get five or six hours out of The Foundation expansion. It offers more of what was delivered in Control, which will be exciting for Control fans but will offer little to those who never had the main game click for them. You’ll get the same outstanding writing and world-building, with some of the most-satisfying, frantic combat around. If you liked your first stroll around The Oldest House, you’ll be right at home in The Foundation's caves.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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