IF THE FOUNDATION IS ANY INDICATION, AWE WILL BE A TREAT
It’s not a lake. It’s an ocean. And that ocean is awesome.        




COMMENTARY

By JAY TEE
14/08/20

Jesse Faden and Alan Wake. I feel a Netflix series coming on…

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The abundance of cut content being released as DLC makes a lot of gamers understandably sceptical of lofty phrasing like “expansion” and “premium experiences”. Memories of Mass Effect 3’s pre-order DLC character, who at launch filled in a massively important gap in that series’ lore, is just one of innumerable examples where post launch and / or early adopter content can have a detrimental affect on a titles good will.

But here we are, on the cusp of the first official crossover in the newly announced Remedy Connected Universe. Outside of easter eggs and references that have been peppered throughout their games for the last several years, this is a big moment for their narrative ambitions. AWE is the first string of this Marvel style interconnected web, and with a teased return of the beloved Alan Wake, they have a lot of positive sentiment on their side.

Despite Remedy’s exceptional pedigree, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, and much of that can be attributed to silly business decisions made outside of their… control. Publisher 505 Games released the first DLC for Control, “The Foundation”, as a timed exclusive for PS4 and PC, leaving Xbox One players waiting over three months before they could get in on the action. This felt like a bizarre move, and one that made little sense given Control’s solely single player focus.

This wasn’t the same as Call of Duty map packs launching early; the staggered release of a narrative heavy chunk of content not only alienated a large portion of their fan base, but also dramatically increased the risk of Xbox players having it ruined once spoilers entered the wild. 505’s recent confirmation of a next gen upgrade program being exclusive to the upcoming Ultimate Edition left early adopters on all platforms equally burned. Fair enough if those upgrade efforts have an associated cost to consumers, but I don’t think they should have left those who supported the game at launch behind.

Thankfully, Control remains one of the best action titles of this generation, and the “Foundation” is definitely up there with some of the best DLC I’ve ever played. If the bar they’ve set with their first effort indicates what we can expect from “AWE”, it’s going to be something to remember. The Foundation’s greatest success was in its environmental variation, but at the same time, none of it came across as implausible in the world they’d established.

Exploring the underground caverns of the Oldest House, with sprawling cave systems and environmental hazards, lent a claustrophobic feel to exploration, while still retaining open linear spaces that made the base game so enjoyable to poke around. If AWE can retain this fresh yet familiar approach, striking a balance between logical iteration and some broader swings, it will follow in the footsteps of the “Foundation” quite nicely indeed.

Of course, what the future holds beyond “AWE” is anyone’s guess. If Alan Wake is essentially being reintroduced (now that Remedy purchased the IP from Microsoft), is it too much of a stretch to hope for a full blown Control / Alan Wake crossover game, with the strongest elements of both mashed together? I feel like Jesse Faden’s story is just getting started, and with Alan Wake in the mix, the future looks bright for the RCU.

Control’s “AWE” DLC expansion launches on 27th August, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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