Control's Foundation DLC Provides the Payoff for All the Fan Speculation

Control's Foundation DLC Provides the Payoff for All the Fan Speculation

If you want to know more about the Oldest House, the Foundation has your answers.

The Foundation is for a very specific type of Control player. An earlier update, Expedition, was for those seeking to prove themselves in combat with all of Jesse's supernatural powers. The Foundation is more for those who are all-in on the SCP-style intrigue of the Bureau and the Oldest House. If you've been bursting with more questions than an episode of Jonathan Frakes' Beyond Belief, then Foundation is the update for you.

The Foundation picks up at the end of Control's story campaign—you have to have beaten the base game to access the DLC—with Jesse Faden settling into her new role as Director of the Federal Bureau of Control. A message from the mysterious alien Board sends Jesse down into the Foundation, literally the bedrock on which the Oldest House is built. While the Oldest House shifts around constantly, poking at untold Thresholds, the Foundation is supposed to be unchanging. But something has happened, and now the Astral Place is mixing with the Foundation itself.

The Foundation is slipping and you have to fix it. | Mike Williams/USG, Remedy Entertainment

Control's narrative played out like a conversation between Jesse and long-dead Bureau executives Director Trench and Casper Darling. The Foundation carries forward that idea, with one thread being the old journal entries of Dr. Theodore Ash, Jr., the Head of Research for former Director Northmoor. (The one whose body powers the Oldest House.) Ash begins these entries as a reluctant scientist, the son of Northmoor's predecessor, before slowly falling deeper into the mystery of the Foundation. The journals catalogue his descent as he studies the Foundation's centerpiece, a massive monolith known as the Nail.

The other thread is Helen Marshall, the former Head of Operations for the Bureau who disappeared to parts unknown during the campaign. Upon entering the Foundation, Marshall begins to speak to you through the Hotline, an Object of Power that lets Jesse talk to the Board and past Bureau personnel. The driving force in the DLC is figuring out what happened to the Nail and finding out where Marshall went.

Along the way, I'm happy to say the Foundation does answer some questions and continue to fill out the inner life of the Bureau. It dives headfirst in Northmoor through third-person accounts, connecting the former Director to the Board, the Nail, and even Jesse's morphing Service Weapon. This is what I'm here for, the big payoff, and the Foundation doesn't disappoint. The story even sends Jesse and the Bureau off into a new direction with the return of Former, a previous member of the Board. If the lore of the Oldest House lit your soul on fire, the Foundation is more fuel for the flame.

Control's exploration was spread throughout several major sectors with a different focus—Executive, Research, Containment, and Maintenance—and your adventure saw you weaving back-and-forth across them. The Foundation is as big as one of those sectors, but with no real connection to the rest of the Oldest House. Over the course of 4-5 hours, you'll traverse the Foundation, seeking to gather four keys needed to rebuild the Nail. Visually, the Foundation map is a blend between caves and the Astral Plane, the floating white void that features in certain sections of the main campaign. The caves are fine, but they lack the visual pizazz of Control's brutalist architecture and the more twisted, inventive chunks under the control of rampaging Objects of Power. Control is best at its weirdest, and outside of one conceptually inventive boss fight, I feel like the Foundation could do more.

The DLC does offer a few new abilities. The major additions are two powers that are really two sides of the same coin, tied together by the weird crystals that grow across the Foundation landscape. The least impressive of the two is Fracture, which allows you to destroy crystal growths to open new paths. The other is Shape, which lets you control the growth of the crystals. But powers rely on specific patches around the map, where growths either already exist or small sections of the crystals jut out from walls and floors.

Shape is far more integrated into other aspects of Control than Fracture. Outside of destroying crystal growths, you can only use Fracture in combat to destroy platforms and send enemies falling into the glowing void below. Shape lets you make platforms for exploration, and in combat you can make temporary cover, or else use growths to attack enemies with spears of crystal. It feels new and powerful, creating huge misshapen columns of crystal with the same button you use to access Jesse's Launch power. The early part of the DLC makes a big deal about choosing between Fracture and Shape, but Shape is by far the cooler, more useful power. Ultimately though, you'll need both, as each opens up paths towards two of the four keys needed.

Welcome to the Nail. | Mike Williams/USG, Remedy Entertainment

I'm a bit saddened that both powers are contained completely within the DLC. Since they require crystal growths that don't exist in the Oldest House, neither is useful if you transition back. There is one evolved power that works across both the base game and DLC: Shield Rush. This ability lets you dash forward if you evade while using the Shield ability. . Shield Rush can be used to stagger enemies, and a later unlock also allows your Energy to recharge while the shield is active. It's a very cool expansion of an existing ability.

There is one new foe you can use your abilities against, the Hiss Sharpened. This version of the Hiss zombie is very aggressive, focused on attacking Jesse in melee range. They're able to teleport a short distances to dodge your Launch ability, and even Levitating won't save you as they can throw those pick-axes with pinpoint aim. They keep you moving around the battlefield, with a lot more jumping, dodging, and levitating than previous Hiss variants. The melee nature of the Sharpened feeds into your new Shape power, as you can lure them over crystal growths for an instant kill.

Of the few boss fights in the Foundation, only one is against an Altered Item, requiring something more than a liberal use of Launch, dodging, and shooting. It's one of those fights that will probably cause a few people to throw their controllers. I wouldn't say the fight is hard, but it is long and punishes any early failures or missteps in its third phase. It feels like an odd wall for the Foundation, considering the fight isn't optional, like Mold-1 in the base game. If you had problems against Salvador in the main campaign, you've been warned.

Shape is worthwhile for attack and defense, which is more than I can say for Fracture. | Mike Williams/USG, Remedy Entertainment

The Foundation wins in filling out the world of Control. The additional lore and answers about various facets of the Oldest House like Control Points and Power Boxes is exactly what I want from Control. That was what pushed me forward, deeper and deeper into the DLC. Of the two major new powers, Shape makes you feel like the superhero you are, while Fracture is a pretty boring addition. I just wish those powers could be brought back into the base game, for further new combat or exploration opportunities within the Oldest House. If the world of Control is your thing, the Foundation delivers. If you want more fights and cool situations with rogue Altered Items, it sounds like you're better off waiting for the next DLC.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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