It’s fair to say that few Nintendo Switch fans expected to see Control hitting their consoles in 2020, even if the version they’ve gotten leverages the power of the cloud rather than the Switch’s built-in processing grunt.
Remedy’s award-winning action title is a welcome addition to the Switch library nonetheless, and, alongside Hitman 3, could be the first of many AAA releases to come to the console via the wonders of streaming technology.
We were lucky enough to speak with Remedy’s Mikael Kasurinen (Game Director), Mika Vehkala, (Technical Director) and Thomas Puha (Communications Director) about this landmark release.
Nintendo Life: First off, before we get onto the Switch version of Control, can you tell us a bit about the initial inspiration behind the game and what you wanted to accomplish with it? The project must have started long before Switch was even announced.
Mikael Kasurinen, Game Director: The initial inspiration was to create a game that focuses more on establishing a rich and unexpected world, an exciting place which you want to keep returning to. A place that can be a challenge to understand, but which invites exploration and participation from the player. It was conceptually a very different approach for us. And then everything else came after that, like the desire to establish a bureau that investigates supernatural phenomena, or a location that seems to defy the laws of physics.
We had a number of pop culture references, like the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer or the movie Stalker by Tarkovsky; they helped us with finding the overall tone and design of the world of Control. As always with any ambitious creative endeavour, we stand on the shoulders of giants.
The end result is an interesting mix of these inspirations, Remedy’s existing body of work that we’ve created along the years, and a desire to jump into the deep end of the pool with a strange, unexpected and exciting world.
The game was a real technical showcase on PC and pushed consoles hard when it launched in August 2019. Can you talk a little about the Northlight Engine and some of the ways Control pushes the tech boundaries beyond your previous games?
Mika Vehkala, Technical Director: We wanted to improve our Northlight engine for Control on multiple fronts. One of the big areas for improvement on the engine side was to offer better technology for the gameplay teams to build smooth, action-oriented gameplay.
We developed brand new game AI and animation technology and tools for Control, to suit fast-paced action gameplay in a dynamic world where the player can move around very quickly – not only on the ground but also in the air. Physics and VFX also underwent significant improvements and system changes to allow the game team to create all the beautiful real-time destruction that is central to Control.
We also worked hard on the rendering technology, with multiple significant improvements including ray tracing, which became available on consumer hardware just around the same time as Control was shipping.
Moving to the Switch version, it’s fantastic to see a Remedy game on a Nintendo console. It was one of our most wanted ports at the start of the year, although we also realised it was unlikely. Was a Switch version something you had in mind early on? How did it come to be?
Thomas Puha, Communications Director: We, of course, keep in touch with Nintendo, like with all platform holders, and see if there’s something we could be doing together. Ultimately, it’s always a conversation with the publisher – in this case, 505 Games, us and the partner. All in all, it was a pretty smooth process and really, it’s all about teamwork.
It seems that Control on Switch wouldn’t have happened were it not for cloud delivery – would that be accurate? If so, is the bottleneck purely technical, or also a question of finance or personnel?
Thomas Puha: I think it’s safe to say there would be no Control on Switch without the Cloud.
We did dedicate some time a while ago to doing some due diligence on what it would take to produce a Switch port with an external partner, but deemed it not possible for a variety of reasons. The bottlenecks are all of those things you mention: technical, finance and personnel. It isn’t a question of want. Of course, Remedy and 505 Games want Control on many platforms, the Switch included. If only it would be that easy. Trust me, one of the hardest things in making games is all the compromises you have to make.
Getting games to very different hardware platforms is really time-consuming and tough. Our Northlight engine is really not built to work on the Switch, which I’d say goes for most engines, so you would have to spend a significant amount of engineering time to make that happen. Then you have to think about if all that work is worth it for just one game, when you should be getting the engine ready for next-gen and the future. We would rather ensure that our tools and teams are ready for the future games as well as they can be, rather than going back and doing the kind of work that would be a very one-off thing.
You can’t just easily outsource the port, either. The technology and the engine are Remedy’s, so we would still need to be involved pretty intricately from an engineering point of view. There are so many things to think of, like is a certain middleware available for Switch, how long will it take to update it, and so on. As always, it’s about resources, and we have very few at a company the size of Remedy, where we are working on several very different projects at once.
As we understand it, with Ubitus providing the cloud tech, the Switch version didn’t require the kind of input from yourselves that you’d have to dedicate to a native in-house port. How has the process of bringing the game to Switch been from your perspective, and how long did it take?
Thomas Puha: It took a few engineer work months, as well as a producer. We looked at the UI and some input issues, but most of our time was spent on testing what we got back from Ubitus and just communicating. So relatively easy for us. Ubitus did the heavy lifting, but it definitely took work from the lead engineers of Control, too.
To give a bit of background… Remedy’s games were exclusive for a decade to Microsoft and PC. Once we set on our multi-project strategy back in 2016, a big part of that has been reaching new audiences on many platforms. That’s one of the reasons we started working with Smilegate on Crossfire, whose audience has predominantly been in China.
Control is on Xbox, PlayStation, PC and now Nintendo Switch. It is also available on Amazon’s Luna service which is in very limited access right now. We definitely came out at the right time with the game to have these great opportunities to push it on other services and platforms.
Finally, the opportunity to work with Nintendo is great, since we haven’t done that before at Remedy. For a lot of us at Remedy that definitely has been an exciting thing… I mean, it’s Nintendo!
Do you have further plans for Control beyond the AWE expansion? If so, will they come to the Switch version?
Thomas Puha: We are working on the next-gen version of Control but outside of that, nothing to say.
Have your plans and projects been affected significantly by the global situation over the course of the past year?
Even though it’s a bit tough to work remotely and all that comes with this pandemic, we still get to be productive and have jobs when many others can’t, so we are appreciative of that.
Where we have seen impact is with projects years down the line, where the creative process in the beginning is to get a small team together and just experiment and throw ideas around. That is a lot tougher and slower to do remotely. This has definitely come up when we’ve talked with other studios how they are impacted by the global pandemic, too.
Testing our games on various hardware configurations and having the right people have their eyes on the content is definitely tougher as well, as streaming is just not good enough for that, but we’ve done alright so far.
From a marketing perspective, it’s certainly very different as you can’t go show the game to people in person and see their reactions and get inspired by that. We can still do a solid job, but I’m not counting on any physical events in 2021.
What are the chances we may see more Remedy games – perhaps a vintage one – on Switch in the future? And would a Cloud Version of an older game (one that Switch could potentially handle natively) be something you’d consider?
Thomas Puha: A lot of us are playing Ghost of Tsushima’s Legends mode, which is just incredible, but we are all waiting for next-gen and the games coming out in the next few weeks.
We’d like to thank Thomas, Mikael and Mika for taking the time to speak with us.
Gavin loves a bit of couch co-op, especially when he gets to delegate roles, bark instructions and give much-appreciated performance feedback at the end. He lives in Spain (the plain-y bit where the rain mainly falls) and his love for Banjo-Kazooie borders on the unhealthy.
First!I’m sure it was possible to get a native port, if The Witcher 3 can do it, I’m sure almost any game could
Why not make your past games available on a very popular system that could easily run them? I’d be all over a Max Payne for example. They are not the only ones either, eh Rockstar?
Personally I don’t care. Just because the games existence depends on cloud gaming, doesn’t mean I’m about to start supporting cloud gaming.
So it’s existence on the Switch doesn’t concern me at all. I’m sure others will jump on board but I’ll stick this one out.
I’m not a huge fan of paying the price they set. You could find a physical copy without the risk of losing your investment if the cloud service go under for about the same price
Cloud gaming?Well if this is a thing to come, then let us use something else like gamepass so that the price is cheaper
So basically yeah a native port for this game was out of the question. I also wasn’t holding my breath for stuff like Alan Wake or Quantum Break because they seem firmly associated with Microsoft. I don’t even think the former showed up on PlayStation.
Before you say “b–but WITCHER 3” that game was also pretty easily scaleable to begin with. It’s not nearly as graphically demanding as people claim it is considering for recommended specs it lists a 3rd gen core i7 and a GTX 770, which was already kind of borderline going retro by the time that game came out.
@Slowdive rockstar bought the ip so it’s out of remedy’s hands. However I could go with a port of alan wake as they got that back from microsoft.
@korosanbo I’m sure it was possible to get a native port, if The Witcher 3 can do it, I’m sure almost any game couldBest answer so far but I know they will say oh cloud gaming is the best for all. Only if you have and pay for you ISP first.
One game is not another no matter how big or small world it has, Witcher 3 has a big open world, but is lighter than games like Control or Hitman 3, you just can not compare games that way… not to mention Witcher 3 port is really on the edge what the Switch can handle when looking at graphics, framerate and resolution.
However I do agree with what some people say “if the Switch can’t run it, then skip it on the Switch” because now we get a streamed version of the game, which probably will run bad on wifi, so you want to use a ethernet cable instead… well unless Switch is your only system that already doesn’t make any sense, if you have a gaming PC or any other non Nintendo console you should get the game on those instead.
But again people should stop using Witcher 3 on “potato setting” as a example, I have it on PC and the Switch and in all honesty it is a great port when looking at the hardware running it… but it’s on the edge what I would accept port wise.
Same goes for Doom 2016, Wolfenstein 2 and Youngblood and Outer Worlds, they “run” on the Switch but at what price.
I’m hoping this crashes and burns so that consumer-hostile practices like this avoid the Switch for a little longer. I’m well aware that such sleazy corporate antics are inevitable, but the less the better for the moment. Between Nintendo’s legendary output and magnificient indie games (which sell very well), Switch isn’t a system that needs third-party “AAA” games to survive.
Realistically it was the only way we would get this game on Switch. It has some of the most demanding physics and lighting of any game this generation.
I think Cloud Versions are okay for some games that could realistically never run on the Switch – but I don’t want it to be the easy route for developers.
Witcher 3 is a lot more complicated and advanced than Control which is a quite simple game for the PS4/Xbox1 generation, I don’t think that Control looks any better than RE Revelations 2 on Switch honestly.
I bet that the Switch-running version of Control had looking a lot better than Witcher 3 on Switch.Too many lazy devs out there, they’ll do everything for Sony, but gives zero **** about Nintendo.
I promise that if Switch now were more (or much more) powerful than the others from the same console-generation, yet many of these devs still has refused to release their games on Switch, or even called it way too underpowered, even if Switch had been 2x-5x more powerful than PS4, no doubt!
There are so much BS and foul plays during this generation, and sadly the upcoming next generation too.
Sorry still not worth getting on Switch. Maybe next gen they’ll release the real version that doesn’t need the cloud. It’s nice seeing the game run and plays on Switch but with the game having constant hiccups and performance issues I don’t think it’s worth it. Also the fact that you can’t play the game on the go without the internet is just lame. The least they could had done is let you download a section of the game for on go play but nope don’t get that either.
They come, tell me how great this non-port is and how it is absolutely necessary to use the cloud because they didn’t care to invest to do a proper port and then if I’m not interested in getting it I’m backward-looking?Get lost, I don’t need it, I don’t like it, I don’t want it.
I say it over and over again. The Switch get’s the red headed step child treatment by developers all the time (not all developers I’m aware there’s plenty that treat it very good). I just worry this will be the new standard instead of from the ground up games built for Switch (like Astral Chain and the highly anticipated Monster Hunter Rise) and hard dedicated work games ported to Switch (Doom 2016, The Witcher 3, Alien Isolation, etc.).
I agree with those that say the cloud route is acceptable for those games that are ridiculously way beyond the league of Switch tech. ONLY on a game by game basis though and few and far between. NOT as a lazy way to make a quick buck and those developers can say that nonsense of actually calling it a “Switch Version” or “Our big new game is coming to ALL platforms including Switch!!” when it’s really a cloud version
@korosanbo Control’s environments are a LOT denser. Nearly every object is moveable, and destructable. There’s a ton on going at all times, and the game already runs at minimal specs on the vanilla PS4/Xbox, and it can’t even keep a consistent frame rate. Not to mention, TW3 is four years older.
@SwitchForce Since when did Witcher 3 become the baseline for graphically demanding games? It came out 5 years ago and runs on GTX 700 SERIES CARDS, when the 900 series was like the current flagship from NVIDIA and we were already on 4th gen CPUs from both Intel and AMD
I don’t support cloud gaming.If it can’t run on my console, I don’t want it.I appreciate folks without other systems can now play Control, but this can’t be the future, where all we own is a license to stream so long as the company is still making that title available to stream
@NGNYS You have no idea what you’re talking about. TW3 is empty and sparse compared to Control. I guess you haven’t played it, but nearly object in Control is moveable and destructible. You can literally shoot off the individual boards that make up a table. Try running Control on a PC, it’s a LOT more demanding than a game like TW3, which is already five years old at this point.
Hopefully streaming becomes the norm for AAA third party titles on Switch – it’s definitely better than having to wait years for games to get ported across.The fact Doom Eternal is still MIA shows its not a straight forward process bringing current gen games across to switch in a timely manner.
How high I value ownership of a game really depends on the game itself. I know I’ll be playing MK8 for many years so yes, I would like to just be able to buy something like that outright. There are also plenty of games where this isn’t the case though. I have quite a few older games on different platforms that I haven’t touched in years and probably won’t ever play again. Games get re-released on new platforms all the time and I’m sure I’m not the only one that will double dip if I really like something and want the convenience of playing it on new hardware.
I’ve only played a couple minutes of Control but it seems like exactly the type of game I would play once, have fun with it and then be done with it. And if I doreally love it, who knows, maybe I’ll be the super duper HD version in 10 years time on whatever console I’m playing then. I guess what I’m saying is…I don’t really care about ownership in this case. $40 is still $20 cheaper than what a substandard switch port would have been. I may just pick this up at a future date
I think y’all are putting way too much faith in a Switch revision being anything more than just an incremental upgrade like the PS4 Pro to the PS4
Those last two questions tells you that this guy doesn’t really give a sith about the Switch. Cloud gaming just allows them to get more money for much less of an investmen. Remedy can shove it right back up their mudhole. I won’t even buy this on PS4, now. On principle.
even with super fast broadband that can cope with swiss 4k tv. add in wife working from home kids being home and add in everyone being the same boat. streaming a game isnt a viable option. one thing covid has shown the world is no internet providers can actually deliver their current promises speeds fiction land never mind add in streaming video games.
@nessisonett why do you say that? Did you try to port it? What does Control, which is way overrated and as some people said in here, no better looking than RE Revelations 2, harder than the the Witcher 3? I guess both of them are hard to port, but i remember people saying back then that no way they could pull the Witcher 3 off in the Switch and look at it now, no matter how bad it looks, it’s there. Saber didn’t took the easy route and stuck it on the cloud, or complained that it was too hard; they made some witchcraft mojo jojo and did it. This guys just come here and say: oh, without the cloud you wouldn’t have it, and my question for them is: who asked for it anyway?? I own it on the Ps4 and it bored the hell out of me after 3h because everything looks the same.Another way of getting more money like the PS5 free upgrade fiasco…
This isn’t the 80s/90s anymore where every console and home PC gets its own tailor made version of a game lol. Scarcity of resources. RoI. The end.
@NGNYS i claped for you. Finally someone understands. These people just didn’t want to had the trouble of porting it but still managed to charge 34.99£ for something i consider vapourware at the moment.
@CarlosM87 Witcher 3 is a 5 year old game that is already a lot more scalable and provides an easy way to cut down on RAM use by implementing close levels of pop-in. Control is a whole lot denser with loads of particle effects and it barely even runs on PS4 Pro. Dear lord, read up a bit before mouthing off.
I got burnt buying the ps4 version of this a few weeks before they announced the ultimate edition and that there would be no PS5 upgrade for people with the original version. I still haven’t bothered to play it and the whole thing has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth tbh. Charging so much for a rental cloud copy of it really takes the biscuit though. No matter how good the game is everything around it has been such a stink. I’m guessing 505 has a lot to do with this. I like remedy, but I think they’d do well to distance themselves from 505 before they get a bad reputation.
These commenters are hilarious. What a strange bunch. Looks and controls great thus far, in graphic intense mode. Much better than Witcher 3, which was borderline unplayable. Don’t have to play it if you don’t like how it’s delivered to you.
@nessisonett man, have you tried programming something? Particles?? You’re talking about particles when the W3 literally has a living, breathing world around you? A world that remembers what you killed 300 saves ago? A world that spams miles and miles plus caves and water levels? Compared to that, Control seems like childs play no mather how many flashy effects they’ve crampled into the game, with everything being inside a closed environment that looks so much the same you need a degree to understand were you are in the map. But you are right, W3 is 5 years old and still manages to look way better than recent games.
I sorta get all the complaints… And I wouldn’t buy it on the Switch anyway, PC is the way to go for this game. But I’m happy that people can play it on Switch now, if they want to. It looks like a great game.
@CarlosM87 Well considering I’m graduating next year on track for a first in Software Engineering, yes I have tried programming something. Witcher 3 doesn’t load in the entire map, same as any game. It uses data streaming to load nearby areas so map size isn’t relative. The Elder Scrolls Arena which is a DOS game has a bigger map than any game ever released on console. Control has entirely destructible environments which is far more taxing on a system than foliage on Witcher 3 which looks like garbage. The Witcher 3 is not anywhere close to the graphical level of Control which is just a plain objective fact. Not just that but in terms of gameplay mechanics, Control blows it out the water in terms of the tech required to even attempt to run it. Witcher 3 runs on potato PCs, Control absolutely does not.
Got it and played it last night. Latency was a bit of an issue, but overall I had a good time. I was able to take it and play it in my bed after my back started to hurt in my chair playing docked, so in that respect it works well on Switch.
I will be buying this. Some people are so dead against streaming they would rather Switch have no access to this game at all than have a streaming version. Not everyone has all the consoles. Some people only have Switch. If you have the other consoles, play this game there.
Personally, I would find a cloud version of a game acceptable if it was available for other systems without buying it multiple times. This is a decent solution for people who have older platforms or laptops (for example) who can’t run graphically intensive games but I can’t imagine a streaming application has to be platform exclusive. Wouldn’t be keen to have a cloud version when I have a system which can run the game natively. And definitely not keen to pay full retail price for something that won’t run on my platform without high speed internet.
@nessisonett well, I’ll trust your word and honest to god, i don’t care. If the game wasn’t running, don’t release it. But everyone’s free to buy it. I for myself opted out of any cloud service since i dislike not owning what i pay for.
I gave the cloud version a go on 56mb internet. Performance mode is infinitely better than graphics mode. It played well with no issues. However,with the fact that,realistically being able to only play this docked at home,then the better option is to buy the ultimate edition on PS4 for cheaper,as well as actually owning it but also having the next gen upgrade thrown in so its a no brainer. If Switch is your only platform then it could be tempting but not at what they’re currently charging for it. Personally i have no interest in supporting a stadia business model. I like to actually own my games
I think the cloud option is great. It gives Switch only users or switch preferring users a chance to play big games without buying a new system. Of course not everyone can do so, but the point of this is options and 3rd party exposure. If devs can offer cloud games instead of beating their heads to optimize I say let them do what is more comfortable for them.
These cloud based options will allow the Switch to extend a few more years while Nintendo works on a successor and it builds partnerships. People need to look beyond the current game. Devs that see that Nintendo gamers want to play their games may include Nintendo systems from the start in future projects.
Port your games natively, then we’ll talk. If you can’t get it to work, why not make something original for the platform instead?
@FatHedgehog so the Witcher 3 would be “bordline unplayable”, huh? LOL if the rest of the comment is believable like that part, be sure I’ll never play this non-port.
Witcher 3 is an older game. And Control is MUCH more demanding on the hardware. Even the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro struggle running the game. So it would be impossible for the Switch to run the game, no matter how much you lower the resolution.
After playing through the demo, I was surprised at how well it ran. The cutscene has more frame drops then the gameplay. I am not about to give any money towards cloud gaming since I just refuse to accept it is the future. But I also accept it is the future and we all will need to deal with it someday. People still buy dvds(kind of) but who really buys or burns cds anymore? My kids want all their games digitally. But one thing I can say is the my dream library is several PCs old, and my iTunes has been around since the beginning, and each iPhone I get still has my music on it. So maybe their is hope for cloud/digital gaming to co-exist with physical games.
@korosanbo The Witcher 3 was from 2015 and not really pushing boundaries tech wise at the time of launch. Control was 2019 and pushing limits at the time. (According to this article, I’ve not played it.)
I think it is technically impressive that the game can stream to my switch handheld so effectively. That said, I wouldn’t pay 39.99 plus the cost of Nintendo online to play it.
Witcher 3, Doom, Doom EternalThey received great ports. What is the difficulty and laziness of the developers?
@Donutman “I am not about to give any money towards cloud gaming since I just refuse to accept it is the future. But I also accept it is the future and we all will need to deal with it someday”.
Nintendo Switch, Control, Resident Evil, PlayStation 4
World news – GB – Interview: “There Would Be No Control On Switch Without The Cloud,” Says Remedy