Until about three years ago, I played shooters with a controller. I’ve been PC gaming all my life, but most of the time those PC games were the best MMOs (opens in new tab) and strategy games (opens in new tab), while shooters (namely Halo) were always played on console. It wasn’t until I started playing Overwatch on PC that I finally took the plunge and started aiming with mouse and keyboard.
Now I can’t go back.
It was tough to adapt at first. My aim was erratic, headshots were rare, and anything even close to reliable tracking was damn near nonexistent. But I stuck with it, gradually learning tracking, flickshots, and other techniques to improve my aim.
After a lot of practice (and a lot of deaths), I’m much better now. Evan still does the lion’s share of the work when we squad up in Apex Legends, but I can hold my own. The thing I didn’t see coming is how much harder it is to play with a controller now.
I recently started playing Void Bastards, a single-player FPS with a sweet cel-shaded aesthetic. Since I’d only be dealing with space baddies instead of players with 5,000+ kills and ‘TTV’ in their name, I decided to try playing with a controller again. As great as mouse and keyboard is, there’s something to be said for kicking back with a controller instead of sitting upright at a keyboard, and controller triggers give a nice tactile connection to firing a gun that clicking a mouse never will.
I lasted about five minutes.
Seriously, how the hell do you aim with a controller? How did I ever aim with a controller? I know I’m preaching to the choir here on PC Gamer, where mouse and keyboard is king, but I know there are millions of gamers out there—PC and console alike—who play their shooters with a controller. (I’m looking at you Tim: It’s time to add a mouse to your list of essential Destiny 2 resources.)
Movement on a controller is fine, but tilting a joystick to aim just felt so imprecise. I fiddled with joystick sensitivity to see if things improved, but nope. No going back. Void Bastards isn’t exactly a difficult shooter, either. The enemies don’t strafe or dodge much—they mostly just stand there and soak up your bullets. I could land body shots easily enough, but it was damn near impossible to move the stick precisely enough to score a headshot. And how the hell do you spin around to quickly pick off that enemy shooting you in the back? I don’t know how controller players do it.
Is this just how it always was for me with a controller? Sure I’m a bit out of practice, but I think it’s more than that. It’s like I unlearned how to aim with my thumb the better I got with a mouse.
Or maybe mouse and keyboard control is just so much better, that the controller’s shortcomings are all the more glaring by comparison. Needless to say, I quickly put down the controller and went back to my trusty mouse and keyboard. I’ll never look back.