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Hands-on first impressions for Control on PC with RTX ray-tracing

Back in July, in centre of London, Nvidia invited members of the media to an RTX Quake II LAN event. As fun as Quake II is, it wasn't the most exciting thing there, instead, the bulk of my attention was eaten up by Control, Remedy Entertainment's new third-person action game. I got to play quite a bit of the game in an early pre-release build so today, I would like to share some gameplay footage and first impressions with all of you.

For Control, Remedy has partnered up with Nvidia to introduce real-time ray-tracing. We were fortunate enough to capture some gameplay footage while at the event, which will give you a look at some of the section we played and see RTX toggled on and off. For reference, the game was played on a PC featuring an Intel Core i9-7900X CPU, 32GB of RAM, a Samsung 970 Pro 1TB NVMe SSD and an Nvidia RTX 2080Ti with a DualShock 4 controller instead of keyboard and mouse. I did not have a frame rate counter, so I can't give any detailed performance analysis but I can say that the game seemed to be running close to 60 frames per second at 1440p. Of course, this is early pre-release code, so the game will end up being optimised further as we get closer to launch.

As a side note, this was my first time ever playing this game, so keep in mind that this gameplay is coming from a PC gamer, using a PS4 controller, with no knowledge of the map or enemies. Expect a few deaths as I frantically try and see as much of the game as I can and show off RTX on/off comparisons.

RTX ray-tracing impressions:

Before digging into the game details, we'll go over what RTX is doing and how it impacts Control's visuals. So far, each major RTX title has done things slightly differently, with Battlefield V focusing on reflections, Shadow of the Tomb Raider focusing on shadows and Metro Exodus opting for full global illumination. From what we can tell, Control is ray-tracing reflections and shadows, so you will notice RTX throughout the environment.

RTX can be a subtle effect at times but based on what I got to play, Control might have the best implementation to date. This will vary from area to area but the section of the map I had access to featured lots of glass windows and metallic surfaces, which really show off ray-tracing well as light bounces around from various sources and casts realistic shadows. In some areas, the change to RTX lighting really helped bring out additional detail in the environment, particularly on objects scattered through the room and walls/floors.

We have reached a point with PC gaming where resolution is no longer a limiting factor for fidelity. There have been some stumbles getting ray-tracing looking its best in games but developers appear to be catching on quickly. So far, Control looks like the best showcase for the technology to date and as more developers get involved, we will be seeing more improvements in future games, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs Legion.

Gameplay impressions:

Remedy is flexing its third-person action muscles once again with Control. Some of the gameplay mechanics will be familiar if you have played Quantum Break before. This isn't a sequel, but the shooting and powers/abilities are similar. Control puts you in the shoes of Jesse Faden, director of the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), tasked with studying a supernatural, reality-bending phenomena discovered by the US government. This is where your powers come from, meanwhile, you will be fighting against the ‘Hiss', a secretive enemy invading and corrupting Earth's reality.

I played roughly one hour's worth of Control, doing the same section that other members of the press talked about back at E3. This particular part of the game is light on story, so there won't be any major spoilers for plot. As Jesse, we roam the FBC's lower sections searching for a janitor and fighting some enemies along the way. Once the janitor is located, we are tasked with going further through the level to find out what is wrong with the HQ's power generator and fix it.

Gameplay-wise, Control feels like Quantum Break 2.0, offering improved and tighter shooting. I can't praise the shooting enough, I only had a handgun for this section of the game but it felt really good to use. I didn't have a ton of powers unlocked yet either but I did have the ability to telepathically pick up objects and launch them around the room. Targeting for this felt easy enough, I never had to fight my gamepad to pick up a certain object and target it at someone, it all felt fluid and seamless. Later in my session I also unlocked the ability to dash, which helps with dodging enemies and will be required periodically for platforming sections.

Remedy has done a great job with the mechanics but the overall atmosphere deserves praise too. The section I played through definitely has a creepy, lonely vibe to it, almost as if you are walking through an empty office building at night. This is not a horror game but there is a sense of tension, which hopefully carries on throughout the rest of the game.

Control officially launches on the 27th of August on PC, Xbox One and PS4.

KitGuru Says: I don't know enough about the story yet to recommend Control based on that alone, but I can say that the game feels great to play and what I did experience has me wanting to pick it up again at launch. If you are an enthusiast with an RTX GPU already, then that would also make this worth checking out as this game makes really good use of those RT cores.

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