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Control beginner’s guide

Our best tips for our fellow directors

Control’s protagonist, Jesse, aims her gun at a grotesque, floating enemy Remedy Entertainment/505 Games

You’ll spend its first few hours in Control easing into your new directorial role, getting comfortable with your transforming gun, and mastering some magic. But things inevitably get tougher and more confusing.

In this guide, we’ll teach you what we’ve learned about skills, mods, the map, and more — all to help you though your first couple of days with Control.

Prioritize Launch

At the beginning of Control, your ability to upgrade your, uh, Abilities is so limited that it’s difficult to make a bad decision. A bit later, though, you’ve got more options, and you’ve got to make some choices. We’ve got a recommendation: Prioritize Launch.

Not only does Launch allow you to hurl chairs and fire extinguishers and fax machines at your enemies, but Control’s combat is designed around the assumption that you’re flowing between magic and bullets constantly. Even better: Launch is more effective (and potentially more powerful) than your Service Weapon in many situations even in the early game.

Upgrade Launch to increase the damage and rip through your enemies. Pair that with some Personal Mods to help you overcome your shortcomings, and you’ll be set.

The best Personal Mods are for health and energy

Health is a precious commodity in Control, and you’ll probably lose it faster than you’d expect. Health recovery mods allow you to turn the table, gaining health faster than you’d expect.

The Health Recovery Personal Mod description — “Health recovery on Element pick up” — just means that you’ll gain a little more health every time you suck in one of those blue crystals that fall out of enemies. We put one on at the beginning of Control, and we only took it off when we found one with a higher recovery percentage.

Prioritize your health here, especially if you’re following our advice to prioritize Launch in your skill tree.

We're also big fans of the Personal Mods called Energy and Launch Efficiency, which allow you to use your superpowers (like Launch) more often. We’d just prioritize health first.

Read everything

The Smoking Pram collectible in Control Remedy Entertainment/505 Games via Polygon

There there are approximately one bajillion collectibles to find and read in Control. That may feel like a lot of reading, and for good reason: It’s a lot of reading.

It’s also worth it. Read everything, and a shocking amount of what you learn will pay off later. Trust us.

If you’re lost, ride an elevator

At a couple of points in Control, we straight-up got lost in the Oldest House. We burned too many of our precious life minutes running around like we were training for an endurance race. In both cases, our destination was hidden behind a short elevator ride.

Control’s protagonist, Jesse, stands down the hallway from the Sector Elevator, with a soldier standing on either side of the hallway
The Sector Elevator leads to new areas.
Remedy Entertainment/505 Games via Polygon

If you’re stuck, consider finding an elevator, pressing the button, and looking for the name of your destination. And we’d suggest starting at the Control Sector Elevator, which you can always access right by the Control Point in the Executive Sector.

Learn how to read your map

Control has maps for every area, but it doesn’t tell you how to get where you’re going. You’re responsible for navigating the bowl of spaghetti that is the Oldest House. When things get super confusing (and they probably will), here’s what to think: Dark areas are generally above or below the lighter areas around them.

Put differently, shading denotes height.

a screenshot of the map of the Maintenance sector in Control, with much of the map pixelated to block out potential spoilers Remedy Entertainment/505 Games via Polygon

Take the (heavily redacted) map screenshot above. The circled area south of the Maintenance Sector Access Corridor elevator is dark. So you might reasonably think that walking south out of the elevator means that you’re walking on the dark part of the map. Not so much. The dark part actually runs parallel (above) the ground when you step off of the elevator.

What you see there and elsewhere is a map referring to two levels — one above or below the other. Again: Shading denotes height. Keep that in mind, and navigation will get a little bit easier.

Side missions have great loot (including Ability Points)

You can mainline the story, or you can take your time, explore, and do some odd jobs for other characters. Control is better when you explore. It’ll also make Jesse better.

Ahti the janitor will mention this early in the game, but let us remind you to return to his office and look at the corkboard on his wall. That’s where you’ll find his side missions. Return to the Executive Sector and head into the boardroom. Talk to everyone, and offer to help them.

The rewards are always worth it — especially the precious Ability Points.

Explore Astral Constructs

It seems super weird to say, but if Control ever explicitly explained Astral Constructs (or Board Countermeasures), we sure don’t remember it. You’ll find both as menu options when you’re at a Control Point. Here’s the deal with the former.

The Astral Constructs menu has two options:

  • Weapon Forms allows you to periodically upgrade your weapon and construct new ones. Keep checking in on the Weapon Forms menu, because Control doesn’t make it obvious that you have a weapon upgrade available.
  • Mods allows you to craft Personal Mods for Jesse and Weapon Mods for her Service Weapon. You’ll be picking up so many mods that we never found a good reason to burn our resources on crafting mods until the very end of the game, when we upgraded the Constructs Level to get high-level mods.

Walk away

A corridor in Control’s ashtray maze Remedy Entertainment/505 Games via Polygon

You can absolutely get yourself to places in the Oldest House that are accessible but aren’t solvable. Move on. Explore more. Go talk to an NPC. Knock out a side mission.

Sometimes, exploration leads to uncovering secrets. Sometimes, we find ourselves in places that look promising but wind up being dead ends. If you find yourself stuck, then leave.

Trust that Control will lead you back when it’s appropriate.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.