My Week with the Steam Controller
First a little background. I bought the Steam Controller on September 20th. I then had to wait,
patiently playing Rocket League (which came free) until my controller arrived last Tuesday (November 10th).
One thing I think I can say is this: the worst part about this whole experience has been the waiting. But not to be over shadowed, the second worst part has been learning how to play Rocket League, and then having to relearn it with a new controller after I’m used to playing it with my wired X-box 360 controller. Negative transfer is kicking my ass.
Ultimately, the question of ‘should I, personally, buy a Steam Controller?’ boils down to two questions:
- “Are you really excited about playing mouse and keyboard games on your TV?”
- “Are you willing to retrain your muscle memory to learn a new controller?”
If you answered no to either of these questions, you’re probably better off sticking with what you’re used to. In fact, I would suggest Rock Candy’s knockoff Xbox 360 controller if you want something cheap and good. (It’s a bit small side which might not make it ideal for those people with large hands, but that also makes it a great fit for some more compact dudes and lady gamers like my wife who have slighter digits. Plus they come in a couple colors, which my wife tells me is very exciting. You can find them for $20, I’ve ssen them at Target and Gamestop)
However, if you answered yes, here’s the good news: After a week I can tell you yes this controller can play keyboard and mouse games adequately. In the last week I have used it to play Rocket League, They Bleed Pixels, and Torchlight 2. Three very different games resulting in three very different experiences.
The feature to download someone else’s controller setup for Torchlight 2 worked well – the only negative thing I can say about playing Torchlight with the controller is using the haptic feedback for this was as frustrating as using a touch-pad for the first time; I felt clumsy and slow. Once I started getting more mana and powers though I needed to be less precise and I started getting used to the pads a little more.
They Bleed Pixels is almost identical to playing it on a 360 controller. Platformers seem mostly unchanged between my two controllers. The Steam controller maybe feels a little looser, however again this could just be negative transfer I have been playing PC games on a 360 controller since Christmas 2012.
Rocket League reinforced the difference in the two controllers having to relearn hand placement as the Steam Controllers ABXY buttons and joystick are lower and more towards the middle. My muscle memory kept trying to tell me my hands were in the wrong place. But eventually I adjusted.
Biggest and somewhat nitpicky complaint: Seriously Steam can you not hide pieces of the controller in the bottom of the box in a another unmarked dark black box under the main packaging? I might have thrown that away if I hadn’t read the packing list. The other odd issue I had was that the batteries in the handles wiggled free of the housing and caused me to think that my controller had broke within a few days of it’s delivery. Luckily that was not the case, and hopefully this was just a one off type of thing as I could see this being a problem with prolonged game play if it’s a constant issue.
Final thoughts? There is a definite and somewhat frustrating learning curve, but I think you have that with any new controller. This one being so different that others before it, it’s not very surprising that there would be a bit more of a “breaking in” period. In the long run I think it will be a great controller, I don’t think it’s going to set the world on fire.
I wish I could either love or hate this controller, but as it stands it’s a solution to a niche problem, so if your not looking to play all your PC games on a couch and with a controller, you probably don’t need this controller. However if this is a problem you have then this controller will be the solution and an excellent investment.