Control left like it was pushing the last generation of consoles to their breaking points, with loads of performance issues on the old machines. Despite these problems it was a great game, my favourite of 2019. Now, with the next-gen release of Control, many of these problems are gone, and an already-great game is improved with better performance and nifty new features.
Control, developed by Remedy, the folks behind Max Payne and Alan Wake, was released in August 2019 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The PC version, after some patches, was a fantastic way to play this creepy third-person shooter filled with supernatural enemies. The console ports didn’t work out so well. On PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, the more powerful, upgraded machines from last-gen, Control would still struggle to maintain its target of 30 fps. During big fights with lots of objects flying around and particle effects popping off, it could drop well below that target. And on the older base consoles, it was more likely to hitch up or become extremely sluggish to play. Add in long load times and you have a bit of mess.
Control Ultimate Edition, out today for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, is a true next-gen port of the game. It sports ray-traced reflections, improved framerates, faster load times, and a higher resolution. But there are a few caveats. First, if you don’t own Control Ultimate Edition you’ll need to repurchase the game as the original version of Control won’t upgrade to the next-gen port. It’s a whole annoying thing that upset many and is still a shitty situation.
Another catch: Saves from the last-gen versions of the game don’t transfer over. Remedy says this is because the engine is so different that it would have taken a lot of extra work to get the saves to properly transfer over. One last catch is that on Xbox Series S the game doesn’t have ray tracing and will run at an internal resolution of 900p, which is then bumped up to an output resolution of 1080p. Oh and I’ve not played the Xbox Series X port of Ultimate Edition, though Remedy says it should be visually identical to the PS5 game, and I expect that to be true.
So with that stuff out of the way, how does Control on PS5 play? In a word: heavenly.
You get a choice on PS5 and Xbox Series X: performance mode and graphics mode. In performance mode the game targets 60 fps and mostly hits it. I saw a few minor dips during some bigger areas filled with enemies, but these were hardly noticeable and compared to how the game ran on PS4, it’s still a huge improvement.
The other option, graphics mode, is locked to 30 fps but supports ray-traced reflections. The ray-tracing features in Control Ultimate Edition aren’t as impressive as in some high-end PC games, like Metro: Exodus. But they still add an extra level of detail to the world. Shiny walls, glass windows, and reflective marble floors all feature realistic and accurate reflections that add to the game’s visual appeal.
However, in the heat of combat, I found myself rarely noticing reflections, and I missed the smooth feel of 60 fps. Outside ray-traced reflections, both modes seem to look nearly identical. For example, shadows don’t look any better in graphics mode or worse in performance. So it does seem the big decision you’ll have to make is if you want 60 fps action or 30 fps action with ray-traced reflections. I think Control, on all platforms, already looks great, so the ray-tracing features don’t feel like a standout improvement, especially at the cost of halving performance. Still, it’s a nice option to include. Both modes, by the way, render at 1440p internal resolution and output to an upscaled 4k, creating a sharp, clean image.
Load times are also much shorter on PS5, with most loading screens finishing up in under 12 seconds. Though this is fast, especially compared to load times on old machines which could exceed 30 or even 40 seconds, the PS5 load times aren’t nearly as fast as I had hoped. However, this is mainly a result of me getting used to other PS5 games, like Miles Morales, which have lightning-fast loading times of a few seconds or less. Regardless, you’ll be spending a lot less time looking at a loading screen in Control Ultimate Edition, which is great.
Control Ultimate Edition also comes with all the previously released DLC, which is wonderful for me, because I never played Control’s DLC, instead opting to wait for a next-gen port. Lucky me!
If you can get over having to rebuy the game again and not being able to transfer over old saves, Ultimate Edition on next-gen consoles is the best way to play Control outside of a solidly powerful PC. If you didn’t like Control back when it first came out, because it was too hard or you didn’t find the world engaging, this new port won’t change your mind. But if you bounced off the old game due to long load times or performance problems, this might be the best time to jump back in.
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