This article is presented by NVIDIA.
The first thing I notice on returning to the Federal Bureau of Control for the first time in over a year is just how shiny everything looks. Janitor Ahti has clearly done a bang-up job in my absence, despite his – SPOILERS – fairly significant duties in the Oldest House.
Because the laptop I’m using – a top-of-the-line NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080-toting MSI GS66 Stealth – is comfortably the most powerful gaming setup I’ve ever used, ray tracing is maxed out on the 2K screen and it really shows wherever you look.
Ray tracing, for those who don’t know, is an astonishing development in graphical realism, where every beam of light is accurately modelled by NVIDIA’s RTX GPU, leading to incredibly realistic lighting, reflections, and shadows. With this extra graphical sheen, I spend an embarrassing amount of time patrolling the lobby, delighting in the way my body reflects back on the extremely shiny floor.
This would make quite a nice tech demo in its own right, but as anybody who has played Control will tell you, this period of calm won’t last too long. Within minutes, protagonist Jesse Faden is stumbling across the dead body of the Director of the Bureau and stepping into his recently vacated shoes, ready to take on all the paranormal nasties the game has to offer.
Ray tracing – to put it mildly – can be taxing on PC hardware. Fortunately, Control lets you implement it in degrees with five settings to toggle on and off: reflections, transparent reflections, indirect diffuse lighting, contact shadows, and debris. Enable everything – something that most modern PCs would struggle with – and the graphics are truly mind blowing.
On the NVIDIA RTX 30 Series laptop, light reflects gratifyingly in pools of blood, and the generally unsettling shadowy atmosphere of the Oceanview Motel ups to a solid 9/10 on the creepy meter. Even in the chaos of the infamous Ashtray Maze, I still can’t help but notice the shadow of objects as I fire them across the transforming rooms after waves and waves of enemies.
All of this visual splendor might slow lesser hardware to a crawl, but on the high-spec gaming laptop loaned by NVIDIA, these frequent confrontations with the Hiss are fast, fluid, and exhilarating. I first played Control through to completion a year ago on a PS4 Pro, and while it was an enjoyable experience it wasn’t exactly a smooth one. On Sony’s top-end last-gen hardware, Control aims for 30 fps but has some well documented and noticeable dips to the high teens – especially around the power plant section early on.
This isn’t a problem on gaming setups powered by NVIDIA’s RTX graphics cards. Control is a visually demanding game, but it’s no match for NVIDIA’s AI powered DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology. DLSS taps into the power of a deep learning neural network to boost frame rates and generate beautiful, sharp images for your games.
Control is a great showcase for this mind blowing tech. NVIDIA’s own testing on a laptop of identical specs to the one I’m using shows the game managing a respectable 35.3 fps natively at 1440p with high detail and max ray tracing settings enabled, but enabling DLSS is simply transformational. This takes the FPS up to an average of 80.8 fps with the same settings – a rise of 129%. I managed to replicate this once my laptop power settings were fully unleashed and found my fps went as high as 90fps.
A high frame rate is essential to play Control, which requires quick, fluid responses while fighting waves of pesky enemies. While lesser GPUs would require you to choose between graphical niceties and smoothness, a RTX 30 Series laptop lets you have the best of both worlds: fast, fluid gameplay with all of the visual bells and whistles to make Control’s shifting architectural splendor pop.
In fact, it’s a little bit distracting at first – embarrassing as it was, I caught a glimpse of my own ray-traced reflection and instinctively fired off a few rounds at my mirror image. So perhaps my version of Jesse isn’t the best candidate to run and protect the Federal Bureau of Control, after all.
But the one thing I can’t blame for that is the superb hardware that accompanied me on my journey back to the Oldest House. As rusty as I proved to be on my return, it’s certainly nice to be back on top-of-the-range hardware.
Learn more about NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 30 Series laptops here.