Control's Clever Combat Tweaks Make Every Fight Feel Fresh

Control mixes Remedy’s signature quirkiness with mind-bending architecture and super-powered combat. One of the first things protagonist Jesse Faden does is find a transforming gun call the Service Weapon, a paranormal device with regenerating ammo and other tricks. It removes busywork from combat and makes each encounter exciting.

In order to establish a solid rhythm, Control removes factors that would otherwise bring combat to a screeching halt. The Service Weapon regenerates ammo, preventing encounters where you can’t use it or have to hunt for resources. It’s able to shift forms with the tap of a button, going from pistol to shotgun to whatever else. No need for a slo-mo weapon select wheel or other interface. You have easy access to whatever you need, and you’re only ever temporarily locked out from using it in the time when the weapon needs to recharge. It’s a convenient bit of design that allows players to focus on what’s in front of them.

This combines with the fact that Jesse’s various powers recharge quickly as well. The Service Weapon can temporarily run out of ammo, yes, but there’s always alternatives like using telekinesis to hurl objects at enemies. The result is that players can easily alternate between attacks, ensuring that the pace of combat remains brisk. Sure, if there are a lot of enemies you might temporarily hide behind cover and slow things down, but there’s never a bind where players are sitting ducks without options. Control might end up best remembered for its shifting world design and a moody atmosphere, but the delicate combat balance is one of its most powerful pieces of game design.

I’ve only played Control for a handful of hours, but the combat has stuck with me. Fights never feel like a chore because the designers have gone out of their way to ensure I always have tools. It’s a welcome consideration, and it raises the game’s combat from serviceable to something really great.

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About the author

Heather Alexandra

Staff writer and critic at Kotaku.