It would be an understatement to say fans were excited for Control’s second expansion, Altered World Events (AWE). Initially, it stemmed from the belief this would finally bridge the gap between Control’s universe and Remedy’s previous game, Alan Wake. As The Foundation added more mystery to the fascinating world of Control, the first trailer for AWE finally confirmed one thing, we will see Alan Wake. Naturally, this created a huge surge in interest, not to mention an upcoming complete edition and next-generation support giving this fantastic adventure a much-needed boost but can it match expectations?
Unsurprisingly, AWE is less the conclusion to Control or even a continuation of the threads revealed in The Foundation, but instead, a couple of hour long teaser for something in the future. Alan Wake is a big part of the expansion, one that has some massive implications that have the community divided, but it all builds to an event that will likely take place in some kind of conclusion. Perhaps not Control or Alan Wake 2 but something. This alone can be rather unfortunate but the biggest struggle is getting there.
Most of this expansion is spent dealing with Hartman, a name that should be familiar for Alan Wake fans, in a huge and grotesque form. Instead of a bunch of rather climactic battles, not that there aren’t several gauntlets, the expansion relies on two elements consistently.
Whenever Hartman is present, you need to illuminate the room to make him flee and then eventually defeat him. These sections do a decent job of bridging the ideas of Control with those found in Alan Wake, with some new puzzles and mechanics to deal with. None of them are particularly challenging, though a few sections where you need to use light to destroy the darkness to progress is fun, allowing it to stand out in its own way.
The rest of the time is spent in the mysterious motel and some of the more fascinating elements of Control. As a fan of Twin Peaks, these sections are welcome and despite being rather minimal in execution, it’s really more concept and story implications that make the return to the motel interesting over the actual tasks there, it’s a reminder of what made Control so interesting in the first place. It’s just a shame it takes place in such a weak expansion.
To put it simply, AWE is basically the video game equivalent of a Marvel end tag. The Foundation is really the conclusion to the main adventure. At this point, you’ve assumed the role of Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, completed what you set out to do initially, and were introduced to a larger narrative. The mysterious board of directors, feeling rather reminiscent of Counterpart’s unknown board of dubious characters, is presented as something we should watch out for and our possibly first encounter with a former board member adding plenty of theories as to what is going on. It also included most of the characters, a new setting, and, of course, something really weird and out of place that only makes sense in The Oldest House. And then you have AWE appearing and feeling disconnected from the core adventure.
In what could easily be a new way to bring back some of the most interesting characters, we have the aforementioned Alan Wake reveal that exists only to bring the two together. Due to how random this last run through The Oldest House is, it feels less like it needed to be the focus of expansion and something closer to a literal end tag.
Unfortunately, due to what occurs, a lot could be said about where the two franchises are going. This alone makes whatever the continuation is something of immediate interest, it’s just unfortunate it didn’t come with anything more than what was initially known.
Outside of the actual expansion, the latest update also added some challenges. On one hand, they can be rather frustrating given they’re various somewhat random tasks, involved fighting some annoying enemies, you start with some kind of disadvantage and are time but it does make the most of Control’s best element, combat. You really need to play smarter if you want to be successful and that alone can give players a bit to do when you’re not exploring new locations.
Control – Altered World Events Verdict
Perhaps the hardest thing about this expansion is that it fits in a weird place. The new weapon and locations don’t add a whole lot, with limited new gameplay elements. It really relies heavily on bringing the worlds of Control and Alan Wake together and introducing a new boss that seems far more threatening than he actually is. As a result, enjoyment really relies on what you enjoy about this franchise. If it’s the overarching story and seeing the conclusion of various storylines, you’ll probably be disappointed, unless you care about a now even larger picture. Those looking for more things to shoot and toss stuff at will probably have fun though. Regardless of where you stand, I will say if you loved what came before, I would suggest it just because it says so much about where the series is going. Whether it will succeed or crash and burn like some players are expecting has yet to be seen but it is a journey I am excited to take.
[Editor’s Note: Control AWE was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]