Remedy’s Control has always been a Digital Foundry special game. Originally released in 2019, the PC version in particular blew us away with its smooth destruction physics and groundbreaking ray tracing implementation. The studio has since moved on to new projects like Alan Wake 2, but notably one of the developers – Filippo Tarpini – has continued to improve the PC version of the game, adding an excellent implementation of HDR much missed in the original (and the Ultimate upgrade version) along with A host of other improvements, including improved resolution for the already excellent RT, improved texture streaming and a more premium DLSS application.
The HDR upscaling is the most game-changing of the improvements, added because Tarpini is such a big fan of the feature. Always in control of a contrast-heavy video design, HDR delivers greater local brightness and contrast, rich tones without banding errors—and even added detail resolved due to greater dynamic range, along with fewer bloom effects. I wouldn’t waste too many words describing this improvement, because we’ve put together a video captured and mastered in HDR to show the improvement. If you’re watching on a regular, non-HDR monitor, you’ll get a pixelated presentation on it — but what surprised me was that the difference could still be seen to some extent.
In addition to just showing you comparisons of the differences offered by native HDR, I want to comment personally on how the game’s visuals have improved. Considering the number of eye-catching scenes with great color and dark contrast, it’s nice to have HDR that preserves that local contrast in the scene, so it doesn’t look as monochromatic as it once did. I vastly prefer the HDR look to the “gray, elevated” aesthetic you might be used to, but for those who prefer the original look, Tarpini has included this option in the remastered version of the game. And so you get the brightness of HDR, but with a more monochrome look than the original version. There are other tweaks as well, including the ability to tweak the brightness of UI elements – which might be worked out with superhuman intensity.
In addition to HDR support, other improvements have been added to the mod as well. Native control ray tracing typically uses one sample per pixel for most effects. With the mode set to Ultra RT, this is increased to multiple rays per pixel. As for rough reflections, this means that they maintain their true brightness level and shape much better, they look fuller, and the amount of noise is greatly reduced when using something like DLSS. All ray tracing effects should now look more flat at ultrahigh above the old peak, but are usually more noticeable in the brighter reflections captured at grazing angles.
This super setting also increases the resolution of volumetric effects, which looked good before but look better now with reduced anti-aliasing, but this setting is particularly helpful with glass shading which also seems to be related to volumetric lighting – thus improving their quality to very powerful GPU hardware that we enjoy accessible these days.
Another feature of the new patch is how texture loading is performed via a higher texture streaming quality setting. Even in an older game, just running through the world could cause textures to load late, which results in visibly flopping quality. With the new Texture Stream’s Maximum Quality option, this behavior seems to be almost completely eliminated. Again, just another smaller tweak to make the game scale much higher for today’s GPUs.
Additional tweaks target improved image quality, first and foremost with improved texture quality with DLSS enabled. With mods, the texture mipm map scales correctly with the output resolution, whereas before that only the texture streamer itself was biased. This means that in some scenarios, textures at a distance are of much higher quality. On top of that, DLAA support is implemented, which can best be described as working at the native DLSS resolution – rather than the internal sub-resolution -. This is great because it produces better quality than the current TAA solution in many areas, besides reducing ghosting. There are a few other nicks and nicks too, like how film grain now renders correctly with DLSS turned on – whereas before it was basically gone.
In general, we’re looking at iterative improvements to make the visual experience more polished with fewer visual artifacts – but Tarpini is still working on improvements. For example, an issue we saw with RT Ultra reflections was quickly rectified. Either way, these impressive iterative quality improvements come at a cost. As for the new ultra ray tracing setup, there are huge performance hits from using it, even on a big GPU. We’re looking at a 30 to 40 percent drop in performance. Interestingly, DLAA has minimal impact on performance – it costs about the same as a standard TAA, while sounding a lot better.
In the end, this mod is worth a look, even if it’s not technically complete. What is clear to me is that with the features it has and the care and attention that has been given to its creation, it is effectively a casual vamp – the quality is definitely there. It enhances control in several meaningful ways as it future-proofs the more powerful PCs of tomorrow, while offering a decent set of improvements to today’s hardware. Fancy giving it a look? Get the edit here.
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