My Thoughts On The Steam Controller
Thankfully @madjunir on Twitter pointed me to a collection of YouTube videos for setting up your controller for FPS games... I'll give that a try :-D
Here's the link: EXTERNAL LINK TO YOUTUBE!
So I've played with keyboard and mouse, all the Xbox controllers, all the PlayStation controllers and all the Nintendo controllers and I'm fairly proficient with all of them, but this controller was a little different and takes some time to get use to.
I tried to go into this with an open mind, but I didn't want to be an apologist if it wasn't good, if it's not good then it's not good.
The machine I tested this on is my Steam Machine that I built a year or two ago, I’ve just did a little upgrading over the years.
Look And Feel
The ascetics take after the Xbox controller, and a bit of the PlayStation controller. Although I will say if you have the muscle memory for the Xbox controller you will be pressing the wrong buttons (X, Y, B, A) more often than not until you get use to the fact that these buttons are not in the exact spot that the Xbox buttons are located, and they are smaller—I can press all three buttons with my thumb. The controller feels light at first when you take it out of the box, but when you throw your batteries in it will feel a bit heavier and not so much like a toy.
I don’t know how I feel about the D-Pad, it’s not bad, it’s just different and I haven’t yet made up my mind about it… although it doesn’t really get in the way of gaming. You can't really feel when you're no longer on the UP direction and moved over to the LEFT or RIGHT direction unless your finger is on the edge and know what a circle feels like ;-).
The matte finish on the controller makes it look good, and the glossy part isn’t big enough to really annoy you with fingerprints. My palms don't even touch that part, it’s not going to be a headache like a tablet/phone touchscreen.
The vibrations are pretty good, especially when you’re using the haptic feedback. It feels nice in the hands.
So this is something I never really thought about for a controller, because controllers that I’ve used have been pretty standard over the years. But this controller has some things that I thought was pretty cool. First of all it has two buttons on the bottom that can be mapped to any keyboard and mouse button you want, or controller button.
Gyroscope isn’t anything new for controllers, but I thought it was pretty cool they added it anyway. It will let devs add some new inputs we haven’t really seen too much of ( I say too much of because I know devs have added features like that in games before but it’s not really something you see in most games).
Controller profiles... this is great. So if you try to play a game that wasn't made for a controller it will warn you. Then if the game you're trying to play has has profile (bindings) made by either the devs on the community it will allow you to pick one. It will also let you know how popular a certrain profile is. If the game doesn't have community profiles or a profile set recommeneded by the devs then Steam will prompt you to select a template which is preset profiles that the controller would mimick.
Touchpad… now this is what really makes me love and not like this controller. It’s awesome because it opens you up to some games you wouldn’t normally play with a controller; however, it has problems that I will cover later on. You can also use it as a mouse allowing you to play games that don't have an interface setup for consoels.
This is more of a software plus, but you can’t really do this with any other controller easily on the PC or SteamOS. All the buttons, plus touch pad, can be remapped to any button or keyboard/mouse button. This makes multitasking like jumping and looking without having to move your thumb easy. This feature makes the controller more exstensable too, you can setup the controller however you want even if the devs mapped the controller in some weird way you don’t like and don’t give you any options to change it. Want to play Gears of War with COD controls? Go right ahead lol.
Now time for the meat and potatoes. This controller is awesome, but also sucks. It’s awesome because when I want to play my games on the couch I have traditionally only been able to play with a controller I can. This opens you up to more couch games, I went from ~32 games to ~53 games that I can play on the couch with a controller which is AWESOME. I can play games like Rust, Cities Skylines, Dota 2, Planetary Annihilation, Terraria and other games that aren’t designed for a controller just fine. However, when it comes down to games that need precise aiming, or games that was designed for the controller it’s mostly a miss… literally.
When I tried playing games like Borderlands 2, Alien Isolation, Just Cause 2, GTA V, COD BO2 and other games that require more precise aiming it wasn’t all that good. I tried multiple profiles and I still had a bad experience. The problem I had was it is either too sensitive, or not sensitive enough. It would also jump around a lot. If I just touched the touchpad in some instances it would jump around. I tried tuning the sensitivity settings but I just couldn’t tune it just right.
It kind of makes me think it’s a configuration problem, and nothing they couldn’t fix as I was able to play Rust just fine, and that’s a first-person game that requires some precision.
So, would I recommend others buy this? Yes and no… if you only play FPS games like COD, Borderlands, Fallout 4, etc then no; or at least not yet. Maybe they can update the controller to fix the extreme sensitivity, but right now it’s too much and very difficult to play games like that.
If you play MMO, MOBA, RTS, Simulation (like Cities Skylines), third-person and other non-fps games that require precisions then this would be GREAT.
This was a good buy for me as it’s now allowing me to play at least 53 of my games from my couch on my Steam Machine, which is GREAT! I can play games I never would have thought would be playable on a controller. I’ve seen games like SMITE be ported to the console and that’s as close as these games have come, but this will allow you to do so much more. Valve did a really good job with this controller and hope to see the setbacks fixed in a future update that would then make this an amazing controller.</body>
Let me know what you think of this article on twitter @martinoj2009!