A strong Foundation or out of Control?
It’s fair to say that the first quarter of this year has been… well, mad. It’s a crazy world we live in right now, some people are living in lockdown and some people think that bleach and a flashlight constitutes legitimate medical advice.
Gamers have always had a bit of a reputation for being “indoorsy”, but even as a Vitamin D deficient shade worshipper I admit, I miss people. Thankfully we button bashers have at least been blessed with some top content recently to occupy the time. Unless you’ve been self-isolating in a lead bunker on the Moon, you will no doubt have heard of Doom: Eternal, Final Fantasy VII: Remake, Resident Evil 3 (I’m not angry, just disappointed) and of course Tom Nook: Thug Life, otherwise known as Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
However, there have been a few other nuggets of gaming gold that have flown in under the radar including the first instalment of the Control DLC, The Foundation.
I’m fond of being in Control.
I even listed it as one of my top games of 2019, despite my frustrations around frame rate lag and texture loading issues. Since the game’s release in August last year there have been a number of updates and patches and I was looking forward to getting back into my Director’s outfit and uncovering more about the Oldest House and the Federal Bureau of Control.
As it turns out you can only access The Foundation DLC once you’ve completed the main game. I’d already done this of course, but because I am a slave to storage optimisation I had no saved game to return to. This wasn’t too much of a problem as it gave me the chance to learn the ropes again and pick up and complete a few side quests I’d completely missed the first time, including unlocking the Golden Suit – nice!
It was an opportunity to see what those patches had actually done.
Not a great deal. The completely pointless map is still completely pointless apart from being a shade of bluish grey instead of just grey. The textures are still a bit glitchy and the frame rate does still struggle when there’s a lot going on, but it does feel like the game recovers itself a bit quicker. To be fair I do have a standard PS4 and part of me can’t wait to see what this game could look like on the PS5.
Once you’ve completed the main story you can go straight into starting The Foundation which picks up on one of Control’s unanswered questions. What the hell happened to Marshall?
If you need a reminder, Marshall was the ex CIA now Bureau Head of Operations hardass who went off on her own solo mission after you sorted out the whole HRA situation. Marshall is then not seen again, even after the credits roll. So off you go in search of her in the mysterious and favourite holiday destination of Ahti, The Foundation.
Before you can even start your search for Marshall however, the ever-present and hilariously inscrutable Board give you the task of repairing an artefact known as the Nail, as the Hiss continue to be a threat and the astral plane is now bleeding into the real world. This makes up much of the main questline for this DLC, although there are a couple of side quests; a collection quest for the eternally perky Emily Pope, and an Altered Item cleansing quest which is brilliantly 80s sci-fi, but certainly no Ashtray Maze.
A word for lore hunters.
Read every scrap of information you find and listen to every audio recording, you’ll also find out more about the Bureau and the Oldest House before Trench. This lore focuses on Northmoor’s time as Director and his Head of Research, Theodore Ash. It’s all intriguing stuff as you uncover the origins of the Service Weapon along with a few other secrets about The Board. If you took on the Fridge and the Flamingo in the main game you should be familiar with The Former, who also makes a cameo appearance.
All the action takes place in the caves of The Foundation rather than have you run around the same environments of the main game which adds a bit more interest. The brilliant white rock face and bright red ground is a visually striking environment at first, but it does lack the non-Euclidian awe of the Oldest house and it does get a bit samey after a while.
The Foundation is also host to a new breed of Hiss, “The Hiss Sharpened”.
These are shirtless, pickaxe wielding pain in the asses which also have the power of dash and cause a huge amount of damage if you let them get close. However, you don’t have to go into battle alone. In certain areas of the cave system you can use your Directorial authority to call on back up and receive an AI sidekick to use as tactical support or cannon fodder.
As far as DLC goes, The Foundation is an absolute stomper. It’s substantial in terms of story and gameplay, and the new location and enemies make it feel like another chapter of the game instead of a shallow bolt-on. If you do decide to get the season pass you will also get an exclusive side mission called “Isolation”. This one is a bit of a bolt on to the main story, but if you find it, you should absolutely play it, and you will be rewarded with a beautifully brilliant side mission gloriously voiced by the great Hideo Kojima.
With the exception of the Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC and the Dragon Age Inquisition Trespasser DLC (mark my word Solas, I will eff you up!!) The Foundation is up there as a brilliant addition to an already great story that answers some questions but raises so many more.
This is a good chunky bit of DLC and well worth getting the season pass. Jesse continues to shine as the protagonist and her character gains a few more layers as she grows from self-doubting, angry big sister to sassy director on the brink of rebellion.
The story continues to be fascinating, faintly creepy and damn it I need more! So well played Remedy, now can you be a bit more specific about when the AWE expansion is coming out pretty please?
Review code provided
Release Date: 26/04/2020
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: 505 GAMES
Download link: PSN