Back in September, Valve revealed the results of one of their regular hardware surveys. Something surprising was mentioned; the number of PC players plugging in a controller of some kind.
Like many PC players, I used to think of controllers as a console only affair. I assumed most PC players still felt that way. Why would you use a controller when you have the “superior” option of keyboard and mouse available? Simple, because it isn’t always superior.
Yes, you can aim, without help, with a mouse. Yes, it is definitely more accurate, movement and 180 degree turns are often more fluid and rapid. My aim is still dreadful, even after twenty something years, with a mouse and keyboard. Why not accept that and be comfortable instead?
Git gud? Get lost.
My avoidance of controllers on PC stems back to not wanting to play an FPS with a controller, back in the day that was mostly what I was playing and I did so exclusively (until recently) with a mouse and keyboard on PC.
A couple thousand hours of controller use on PC and various consoles over the last several years has seen me re-evaluate my stance on that, after bitter disappointment with the Wii and Valve’s Steam Controller, both now gathering dust.
I ran through Tomb Raider, Battleborn and The Division solely with a controller on PC, I have played a fair bit of Borderlands 2 and have done some of that with a controller, to the point where I can swap between inputs when it suits. I do this frequently on GTA V too, a game which is significantly responsible for my improved controller skills, after more than a thousand hours of flying, driving and shooting my way around the streets of Los Santos, once I repurchased the game on PC. I’d already played it with a controller on the PS3, so it seemed completely natural to me to do so again.
I started to feel more comfortable with a controller, compared to how it felt playing The Last of Us and GTA V on the PS3, the first time I had personally owned a console. It wasn’t pleasant back then, I was all fingers and thumbs, it almost spoiled my enjoyment of both games, but I persevered. These were two games for which I absolutely had to put all my reservations about consoles and controllers behind me to experience.
Sort-of accidentally, particularly over the last few years, I’ve slowly become a more console orientated gamer, who happens to own a PC. I find myself increasingly, for almost every game, using a controller on said PC, which is hooked up permanently to a 42″ TV in my home office since the move.
You may notice I wrote “almost” every game. This week I’ve blitzed playthrough 1 of Borderlands GOTY Enhanced, solely with the controller, stunned at my own abilities, but despite that, I can’t bring myself to play Overwatch with a controller. It simply isn’t quick enough to keep up with the pace of the game for me.
Rather than try to improve my mouse and keyboard skills any further, with things like KovaaK’s FPS Aim Trainer, I’ve just become increasingly better with a controller and accepted that I’m average with both inputs. Sometimes it’s nice to chill in front of the TV with a bit of aim assist, sometimes you want pinpoint accuracy. It’s good to have options. Increasingly, I find myself choosing comfort and aim assist.
Catching up instead of missing out
Recently, Killzone Shadowfall was an absolute delight on PS4; I enjoyed it so much I’ve started hunting down all the installments that came before it, grabbing bargains in the process.
I’ve started Halo The Master Chief Collection and that is proving to be a blast too, I’ve repurchased and played the main story in Fallout 4 on the Xbox One X, enjoying the enhanced visuals on my 4K TV.
I don’t regret my stealth move into heavy controller and console use, because I’m now in the position where I feel comfortable using any input on any device, which comes in handy at gaming shows and when your mate hands you a PS4 controller for a quick go on something.
Do you enjoy PC games with a controller? How do you feel about keyboard and mouse support coming to consoles? I would love to hear from you in the comments!