Control: The Foundation
The Astral Plane is colliding with our reality. Jesse Faden, as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, must travel through the caverns of the Foundation to prevent the Astral Plane from consuming the Oldest House. The missing Head of Operations, Helen Marshall, may hold some answers to the mysteries surrounding this threat. As she travels deeper, Jesse will learn more about Marshall's disappearance, and the enigmatic Board.
March 26, 2020 (PS4, PC)
June 25, 2020 (Xbox One)
Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
The Foundation, the first expansion for Remedy’s latest game Control, takes players down to, well, the Foundation of the Oldest House, offering new mysteries and adventures. While PS4 and PC players have had this expansion since March, it has finally landed on Xbox One as well. Be aware that this review of The Foundation contains spoilers for the main game, as it all takes place after those events.
As this is a review of an expansion, everything noted in our review of the base game applies to The Foundation; thus, there is nothing to add based on the new content. Click here to read the review of Control.
Jesse Faden, now embracing her role as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, receives a call from the Board informing her that there is a problem in the Foundation of the Oldest House, and that she needs to head down to fix it. Upon arrival, Jesse discovers a giant obelisk called the Nail that has been shattered, causing the Astral Plane to bleed into the material world and threaten to consume the entire Oldest House. The Hiss have also started invading the Foundation, thus once again gaining access to the Astral Plane. In the midst of it all, Jesse receives messages from Helen Marshall, the Bureau’s Head of Operations who went missing during the events of the main game. But Marshall is contacting Jesse through the Hotline, a form of communication used by those drifting across dimensions, or perhaps even dead. What happened to Marshall? How is she connected to the problems in the Foundation? And what might the enigmatic Board be hiding about the Nail?
The Foundation adds a few new wrinkles to the gameplay formula established in the main game. The most prominent feature is the ability to create and destroy large crystals that jut out from the floors and walls. These crystals primarily serve as a gating mechanism, locking you out of certain areas until you receive the requisite powerup, but they also appear in combat sequences to be used as traps to defeat your foes, allowing you to either break a crystalline floor above an abyss, or summon crystal spikes out of the ground. Some crystal formations are tied to simple puzzles as well. In each case, the locations of these crystals are entirely static and thus only accessible when you are near them; you can’t summon crystals anywhere you want, in other words. This makes them a very limited and situational addition to your arsenal, and one that only matters in The Foundation, which is disappointing compared to your other ever-useful suite of powers. I imagine that implementing these new abilities in a more free-form manner would have likely been a programming nightmare, but as it is, they feel tacked on rather than an organic growth of Control’s existing design.
The other big gameplay change is the addition of a new enemy faction: rock-like humanoids which are native to the Astral Plane. While these stony warriors technically appear in the main game during tutorial sections as fodder for your new abilities, here they actively oppose you as you traverse segments of the Astral Plane. However, they also come into conflict with the Hiss that have made their way into the Foundation, leading to some three-way fights that give you a chance to better control battlefield dynamics (pun intended). The expansion also introduces a new pickaxe-wielding Hiss which can dash along the ground just like you, and have a penchant for throwing their weapons at you if you levitate above them. These agile fighters keep you on your toes and mix well with both the old and new enemies featured here.
The Foundation nails the tone set by the base game (just like I’m nailing these puns), sprinkling bits of offbeat humor amidst the supernatural mystery. Emily Pope, the Bureau’s new Head of Research, makes her way down to the Foundation and provides her typical exuberant commentary on all of her findings and your activities. The world’s lore deepens as you discover files and recordings of Bureau agents who explored these depths in the past, shedding light on former director Northmoor and the origins of the Service Weapon while simultaneously raising new questions about the Board and their motives. The expansion also features a handful of side quests, one of which contains an awesome sequence that stands alongside the Ashtray Maze as one of the most entertaining moments of the whole Control experience.
The Foundation is a great new addition to Control, peeling back the curtain on elements of the lore and providing more of the supernatural thrills that made the base game so well-received. While the crystal powers prove underwhelming, the intriguing new story threads and rock-solid action sequences more than make up for it. Remedy have laid the groundwork for a long-lasting franchise in which many stories can be told, and I’m excited to see where they will take the world of Control next. Now, bring on the AWE expansion!