The secret service's genetic experiments on criminals generated a new type of mutant. A rare mutant seen near to the center of the Zone, it bears a superficial resemblance to a humanoid with a disproportionately large head. Despite their appearance, they are highly intelligent, possess good perception and the ability to control the behavior of less developed creatures. Mature specimens are capable of taking control of a human's mind. This is a formidable enemy, even the most experienced stalkers are afraid of meeting it. According to some stalkers, Controllers can make it seem that you are surrounded by your friends, but actually you are surrounded by zombies; or it might seem that you are walking on a pathway, but actually you are about to fall off a cliff. Fortunately, this is never done by a Controller to the player.
The Controller's main ability is to launch a psychic bolt that deals high telepathy/psionic-based damage to the player from a great distance. In addition, Controllers seem to generate a small psy-field that affects the player's ability to aim and causes anyone close by to slowly lose their mind. There is a high-pitched audio cue before the psychic attack actually happens and avoiding visual contact with the Controller can prevent that from happening.
A player may die if struck by a sufficient number of bolts or if they stay around the Controller for too long. For some reason, if the player gets too close to the Controller, it will cease to launch bolts and uselessly try to walk away from him, which is the greatest opportunity of attack. On the "Master" difficulty level, the Controller is extremely dangerous as its bolts have a chance of killing the player in one shot. This is especially common in Shadow of Chernobyl where there is no way to reduce psionic damage through armor or use of artifacts.
In general, Controllers are extremely dangerous and should be eliminated as soon as possible due to their abilities that can cause instant death. The best way of doing this by taking them out at extreme range using sniper rifles, where they cannot retaliate, near cover where you can avoid their psychic bolts, or bluntly just using explosives, a controller will die from a nearby hit with an RPG-7u or 2-3 direct hits with a grenade launcher/hand grenades. As a last recourse, the player can also attempt to kill the Controller with a melee weapon such as the Knife - this is exceptionally effective in Shadow of Chernobyl, as the Controller will start waddling away without counter-attacking when at melee ranges.
In Call of Pripyat, a Controller demonstrates the ability to communicate with the player through the mind. It also gains a powerful melee attack and can turn certain NPCs against the player.
Shadow of ChernobylEdit
In Shadow of Chernobyl, Controllers did not damage the player's health with their abilities, but the player's mental strength, which functions similar to health. The level of the player's remaining mental strength can be viewed in the inventory screen, located between the health bar and rad counter, but a brain-shaped icon will appear on screen, once their mental strength is sufficiently lowered.
Unlike health, the player cannot quickly recover mental strength through drugs, they must stay away from a controller until their mental strength recovers again. And because telepathy-protection did not exist in Shadow of Chernobyl, there is no real way to defend against or dampen a controller's mental assault, save for ducking behind cover. Getting hit with a psychic bolt will deplete about 1/4 of the player's mental strength while simply being under the influence of its psy field will slowly sap it. Additionally, a controller's psy field in SoC is noticeably noisier compared to later games, thus, along with the in-game mental degradation, the player may find himself slowly being mentally fatigued by the unending noisy static, the longer they remain under its influence.
The controller will kill the player once their mental strength is depleted no matter how much health the player has.
- A Controller can be found in the Agroprom Underground, the first time you are there and will remain there if not killed.
- One can also be found in the Bloodsucker village in Army Warehouses (in the later stages of the game). In the older unpatched versions of the game, a controller always spawns in the bloodsucker village, each time the player enters the Army Warehouses area.
- There is also a controller in Lab-X16, which is notable for being the controller that may have killed Ghost.
- There may be a few other places that Controllers might appear, such as Yantar, Pripyat or the Red Forest. The one in the Red Forest requires the player to have cleared out the Monolith base in Pripyat to appear.
- In S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, a Controller appears in the Agroprom Underground with extreme psy-powers and because mental strength was removed from CS, the controller's attacks now damaged health like normal attacks. It is upgraded to use its hands at melee range. Although its melee attacks are not very powerful, when coupled with the disorientating effect of its mind aura it can kill even an experienced player. Two more Controllers may be found in the marshes at the Army Warehouses after accepting the mission to find a Meat Chunk artifact. There is also a rare melee attack with their legs. A Controller uses this type of melee attack only when the player's head is close to Controller's legs.
Call of PripyatEdit
Controllers remain much the same in Call of Pripyat as they did in Clear Sky, although they are more resilient and powerful in comparison. Its melee attack is now also more powerful in comparison to Clear Sky. And much like the mutants in CoP, the Controller received an upgrade in its AI. If the player hides behind cover to evade the controller's mind bolts, it will now slowly charge at the player to engage them in close combat rather than running away. This forces players to either gun down the controller quickly or keep falling back behind cover-to-cover to escape a controller.
- Controllers found wandering around Jupiter only appear after you do the mission Find The Source of The intermittent Psy-Field sometimes glitching their way inside Yanov Station. They can sometimes be found kneeling or crouching over dead stalkers or creatures, apparently eating them. There are four scripted Controller occurrences, the rest are due to the random A-Life placement. Controllers regularly spawn in the tunnel northwest of the Yanov station after the Intermission Psy-Emissions mission, up to three at a time.
- The first of the scripted Controller can be found in a Dangerous Cave just north of the Burned Farmstead anomaly field in Zaton. Entering the cave causes the player to hear the Controller warning him. Inside is a dead Loner named Mirone, along with a stash of drugs, including the valuable Antibiotics.
- The second controller appears at the end of the mission Intermittent psy-emissions after finding the source in the railroad tunnel. Its psy attacks turn the stalkers who came with you against you in a matter of seconds, forcing you to kill them as well as the Controller itself. (Though if you kill the Controller fast enough, you won't have to kill the mercenaries.)
- The third scripted encounter occurs at the old grocery store in Pripyat while looking for the missing lieutenant Stetsenko. After the soldier kills himself, it will emerge from the backroom. Killing him is obligatory - if the player retreats from the store, Kovalsky will ask the player to finish it off.
- The last encounter occurs in Lab X-8 and will wait for the player at the main door if they collected all the documents. Due to a spawn glitch, it might spawn behind the locked door, which forces the use of explosives in order to kill it.
Shadow of ChernobylEdit
- The Controller in the Agroprom Underground can be completely avoided if the player escapes up the ladder. The fight is difficult due to the long mostly-empty hallway the encounter occurs in (an extremely disadvantageous situation to fight a Controller in). It is possible to duck behind some of the sections of the corridor just before the controller attacks. Firing and taking cover is an alternative solution if you have the ammo to spare. An easy way to dispatch of the Controller even on higher difficulties is to hang close to the doorway where the Controller emerges, equip a shotgun and sprint right next to the Controller. This way it will be unable to use its attack and only one or two shotgun blasts are needed to get rid of it.
- If you are a good shooter, you can use covers in the doorway and kill Controller even with a sawn-off shotgun provided you have about 20 slug or dart rounds.
- If you're willing to risk its psy-aura, you can also climb up the ladder before the exit ladder and wait for the Controller to walk beneath you, jumping down and stabbing it several times.
- Grenades (handheld or launchers) are an easy way to deal with Controllers. Two well-aimed RGD-5 grenades can execute him quickly.
- In Lab X-16, the Controller by Ghost's body is quite far away and will spot the player immediately, so luring it into range and then tossing several grenades at its feet is a good way to go. Mixing in some accurate assault rifle fire might earn the player a few harmful psy bolts, but it may be necessary unless the player has a large stock of grenades at hand or is very accurate with them.
- Inboxes found through lab you can find some 9x39 rounds and in first WC closet in room with Controller, you can find hidden Tunder S14 behind doors. With a bit of luck, you'll get enough ammo to dispatch this Controller without damaging your primary weapon. This may be risky, however, since Controller tends to walk to your position and if you will be too slow, it may block your escape path.
- Sprinting straight towards a Controller while looking down (where your feet would be) is perhaps the most effective fight strategy against alone one, you will likely not catch a single psi-bolt this way. Once you're face to face with the creature he will growl and try to lumber away from you, but since he doesn't have any melee attacks in Vanilla SoC, you can dispatch him with a couple of point-blank shots or with the use of your trusty combat knife if you'd rather preserve ammo. Just be sure you don't run past him or stop just short of "melee range" from him though.
- Keep in mind that some game mods give the Controllers the ability to use melee attacks in Shadow Of Chernobyl as in subsequent games, if you're playing one such modification, you should be wary of using the knife, try to run in circles around the controller to avoid his swipes and shoot at his head point-blank.
- The high-frequency tone that can be heard when a Controller is about to launch a psy bolt is not limited to its target and can be heard by the player with the same volume and intensity regardless of distance from the Controller. It can serve as a useful and harmless (albeit pretty annoying) indicator of a Controllers's presence on the map.
Call of PripyatEdit
- Controllers are frustrating to fight at mid-range without very good cover, but there still are a variety of options available to stalkers looking to eliminate this beast. In general, if there is time, downing some Psy-block before the battle will help greatly. After the battle, the player should always glance at his or her health bar and apply healing if necessary, lest a wounded player suddenly expires from unnoticed and untreated bleeding.
- The player's ears will ring in a telltale manner just before the Controller attacks with a psi-bolt. The Controller, however, cannot attack if it cannot see you, and will abandon the psychic attack and attempt to move to a position where it can see you. Leaning in and out of cover is enough to keep it bemused.
- One way to deal with the mutant would be to keep a high powered sniper rifle handy, such as the SVDm-2. With a steady hand, even an RP-74 could suffice. As soon as your vision starts to tint – the telltale sign of a Controller's presence – try to target the beast and fire as quickly as possible before the first psy-bolt hits.
- "A controller may be able to stop your mind, but it can't stop an RPG round to the face". An RPG-7u that hits anywhere near a controller is almost guaranteed to liquify it, even on "Master" difficulty.
- Another way to deal with the Controller is to take advantage of its lumbering pace. Grenades work well if the player can find suitable cover from its ranged attack. The Controller in the Dangerous Cave in Zaton can be dealt with this way by luring it out slightly and then tossing as much explosive in its direction as possible using the cracked hillside as cover. Also, if you get close enough so that it will not use psy-bolts and far enough so it cannot melee attack, it will just saunter towards you. At this point, a shotgun or assault rifle will down it with ease.
- If such heavy or explosive weaponry is unavailable, the next best choice for a character with decent armor and psy protection would be close-quarters combat. The player will take at least one psy-bolt, so it would be wise to pack Medkits, as well as the ability to regain bearings quickly. Simply sprint at the Controller and unload as much automatic fire as possible into its head before it can attack again. With steady aim and a high-end assault rifle, it may drop in one magazine if all bullets find their mark, possibly less. The Storm can drop a Controller on Master difficulty in about 40 rounds. Having to reload will give the enemy a few more precious seconds to lash out again, so beware. The Controller may slash with its claws, but the easiest way to lower potential damage would be to kill it before it can try another psy attack or melee attack. If the player has tough armor but low psy-resistance, the melee attack may be quite easy to take compared to the devastating ranged one. However, on higher difficulties, this strategy can be deadly to the player since its melee attack does very high damage (more than the psionic attack), so it is best to keep out of point-blank range.