Review: Control Expansion Pack 1: The Foundation (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Control Expansion Pack 1: The Foundation
Format: PSN (24.46 GB)
Release Date: March 26, 2020
Publisher: Remedy Entertainment
Developer: 505 Games
Original MSRP: $14.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Control‘s first expansion, The Foundation, may not stray from the game’s formula but is a welcome return to the Oldest House.

The Foundation requires players to have beaten the game, and picks up right where the game left off. The Astral Plane is leaking into the bedrock of the Oldest House. Jesse is forced to stop rebuilding the Federal Bureau of Control and to investigate The Foundation.

A new patch, available for all players, was released right before the launch of the expansion. Remedy Entertainment added a new ability and made a few tweaks to the ability tree. They also made some quality of life improvements, including improved map readability.

I beat Control five months ago and my memory of the game isn’t perfect. That said, the map was one of my biggest complaints about the game and the “new and improved” map isn’t much better.

I am sure I would notice some difference if I saw the new and old maps side by side. Before diving into the new content, I spent some time running, completing a few side missions I had never finished trying to get familiar with the controls again. Even with the update map I still had some troubling figuring how to get from one area to another.

The expansion introduces two new abilities, Shape and Fracture. Shape allows Jesse to pull crystal formations out of the wall to create temporary platforms. She can also pull spikes out of the ground to spear enemies. Fracture gives Jesse the ability to break crystal formations.

Pulling spikes out of the ground aside, these are not meant to be primarily offensive or defensive abilities. These abilities are required to reach new sections of the cave or access hidden areas. While this provides a good reason to backtrack and explore the full extent of the cave system, the combat is mostly the same as the original game. On top of that, the new abilities are specific to The Foundation and can’t be used anywhere else in the Oldest House.

Like the main game, The Foundation is full of collectibles to read, watch, and listen to. If players want to really dive into the lore or understand the depths of what is going on, consuming the collectibles is a must. However, it constantly forces the player to stop and read or stay still and listen to all of an audio clip.

The Hiss are back with a new enemy type, the Hiss Sharpened. Their primary attack is a melee attack with a pickaxe, but they are very aggressive, can teleport short distances, and can dodge the launch ability. I quickly started levitating around the new enemy to avoid their melee attacks and to give myself some time to line up shots, and they started throwing their pickaxes with surprising accuracy. It seems that only a well timed dodge was the only way to avoid them.

The Hiss Sharpened usually appear in groups or waves. Their aggressive nature means they can quickly surround Jesse, attacking from all sides. This leads me to my biggest complaint about Control, difficulty spikes. Unfortunately I encountered a number of them in the expansion as well.

There were a handful of encounters that I had to replay over and over again to succeed. Many of the check points were not in good spots and required thirty seconds to a minute of traversing to get back to the arena. The bosses and some large enemies took most of my health in one or two hits. While dashing around looking for health or a weak enemy to kill for health, a pickaxe would come out of nowhere to finish me off. The few areas where I was hitting my head against a wall to progress certainly diminished some of my joy with The Foundation

Visuals:
When Control launched, it was a showcase for ray-tracing technology. Unfortunately Remedy’s big graphical improvement for The Foundation is also only for PC players and is now supporting DLSS 2.0.

For console players, especially for the base PS4, the frame rate was a common complaint at launch. On my Pro, the game still grinds to a halt when going into and out of the menus. However the moment to moment gameplay runs smoother. I only noticed a few big frame rate drops, even during explosions that sent objects flying everywhere.

The new environment where the expansion takes place is a large cave system. After a while it starts to feel a little repetitive. The expansion could have used more variety from the original game.

Audio:
Jesse delivers another great performance. However since Jesse is off on her own for most of the expansion, the cast of characters from the game (or new characters) is missed.

The board and director continue to be vague when communicating with Jesse. Still after they speak to her, Jesse often talks to herself, basically repeating everything that was just said. I understand the mysticsm and obtuseness of the board and director, but if their message is too unclear, and the protagonist is forced to translate for the player, then the dialogue could have used a few more passes.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The Foundation is safe return to Control, but it’s still more of a good thing. If you fell off of Control before beating it, there is nothing new that is introduced in the expansion that will change your mind. Anyone hoping Remedy would build up the original game and add meaning game play changes will be disappointed.

However, with the update, The Foundation runs better and better quality of life matters. Shape and Fracture are fun additions to Jesse’s repertoire. If you loved Control and wanted a reason to return, then there is no reason to not dive deep into another adventure exploring the Federal Bureau of Control and the Oldest House.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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