Control: Everything you need to know about the new Expeditions game mode

During the recent Game Awards 2019 ceremony, developer Remedy managed to sneak in a bit of a surprise mini-announcement regarding its sci-fi shooter Control. A new update that’s free for all players has added a brand new mode to the game, a mode called Expeditions.

Control was already a pretty great game even before the Expeditions update, but now endgame players looking to push the limits of their Hiss-battling skills have a whole new series of challenges to overcome. In this guide we’ll explain what the new Expeditions mode is, how to access it, what sorts of rewards it offers, and, perhaps most importantly, how to survive the mode’s relentless wave-based format.

Accessing Expeditions

The new Expeditions mode is actually tied to a specific Object of Power that was teased in Control’s main story: the Jukebox. By interacting with the Jukebox, players are teleported to a brand new part of The Oldest House called The Formation where they have a limited amount of time to complete a series of structured objectives, all while fending off waves of powerful Hiss opponents. Randomized modifiers also add a bit of a wildcard component to each Expeditions run since they can either help or hinder the player’s efforts.

Remedy has made it clear that Expeditions are meant to be an endgame activity and are thus suitably challenging. Players can’t even access Expeditions until they beat the late-game mission ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ and even then they’ll want to wait until they’re kitted out with the best mods, ability upgrades, and weapon forms they can find. Once a player is ready to attempt their first Expeditions run, they’ll find the Jukebox in its own dedicated room near the Central Executive control point.

Tiers and Tokens

Even with ready access to the Jukebox, players can’t start up an Expeditions run whenever they want. They have to first feed a Jukebox Token to the Jukebox, and additional Tokens are needed for every subsequent run a player attempts. A single Token is given to players for free when they attempt their first run, but additional Tokens can only be gained via crafting, Board Countermeasures, Bureau Alerts, slaying named enemies, or successfully completing an Expedition.

There are also three Expedition difficulty tiers, with higher difficulties costing more Tokens per attempt. The first tier costs one Token per run, the second tier costs three Tokens, and the third and hardest tier costs five tokens. Also, players can’t skip tiers, they have to do them in order from easiest to hardest (so the second tier, for example, can’t be attempted until a player successfully clears the first tier).

Even the easiest difficulty tier will prove to be quite the challenge, but the rewards for successfully clearing an Expeditions run are well worth the effort. All difficulty tiers grant completion rewards such as rare mods (including some that can only be found in Expeditions), high-end crafting materials, and additional Jukebox Tokens. If a player manages to complete the third and final tier, they’ll also unlock a new ‘Expedition Gear’ outfit for protagonist Jesse Fayden. Clearing an Expedition run also grants a scorecard with stats that players can show off to their Control-playing buddies.

Into the Unknown

After a brief introductory quest, players can venture into The Formation in earnest by activating the Jukebox and depositing the requisite tokens. Regardless of the difficulty tier chosen, every Expedition run plays out the same (aside from whatever random modifiers are assigned of course). Players have 25 minutes to complete four separate encounters where they have to complete both a specific location-based objective and combat waves of incoming Hiss.

The specific encounter objectives a player needs to complete remain virtually the same on a given difficulty tier, but there are different groupings of objectives depending on the difficulty tier chosen. One encounter might involve having to “cleanse” three large floor plates by standing on them, then the next might task the player with tracking down the bodies of dead agents hidden around the arena, and yet another could involve lifting and tossing Hiss-corrupted materials into a large furnace.

No matter what the encounter objective is, players can be sure that the Hiss will show up, and that they’ll be in top fighting form. Players will face virtually every type of standard Hiss enemy during each encounter, and they’ll be relentless in their efforts to bring the player low. The Expedition doesn’t fail if the player is killed, but the player will have to start that particular encounter over from the beginning, and they don’t get back any of the time they lost. If the timer runs out and all four encounters haven’t been successfully finished, the player is kicked out and their Token is essentially wasted, though they do at least get to keep any mods that dropped from enemies defeated during the encounters.

Given the somewhat random nature of the Expeditions mode’s modifiers and encounter combinations, it’s tough to offer any specific advice other than that players should do their best to prepare for the unexpected. Even a single random modifier could throw a player’s best laid plans into disarray, so they should be ready to adjust their strategies accordingly. One modifier, for example, might lower the damage of a particular Service Weapon form, rendering it virtually useless. Another modifier might boost the Hiss’s resistance to ability-based damage, making it essential that a player go in with a solid Service Weapon loadout to compensate.

If you’re attempting the harder difficulty tiers, we definitely recommend that you first take some time to farm Jukebox Tokens. This is mainly because it’s virtually impossible to finish a higher Expedition difficulty tier if you die more than one or two times due to the strict time limit. If you’ve been neglecting abilities like Shield or Seize, now’s also a good time to work them back into your muscle memory since you’ll need every advantage you can get against The Formation’s unrelenting Hiss waves. Other than that, the best advice we can offer is to keep your cool during each encounter and don’t be afraid to make a tactical retreat if the Hiss are bearing down on you. Taking a few seconds to catch your breath is definitely worth it if it means not dying and having to waste time redoing the encounter from scratch.

Control’s Expeditions update is available now as a free download on all platforms.