The Steam Controller – The Multi-Role Game Pad for PC Gamers
The Quick Review:
+Can work with every steam game & controller supporting non-Steam games
+15 programmable buttons, D-pad and tracking pad
+Can be programmed with pressure sensitive actions
+Can be programmed to switch controller schemes on the fly
+Steam community can post controller schemes
-Its big/ awkward shape
-Programming your controller can be a hassle
-Steep learning curve
Other Stuff of Note:
– It clicks/ticks when you run your finger across the tracking pad
– Rumble feature
– Easy hardware setup
– Can be used Wired or Wirelessly
With 15 different buttons, plus a D-Pad, and tracking pad, the steam controller screams customization and versatility when it comes to gaming. On top of the physical elements offered by the game pad, the steam application takes it to a whole new level of detailed assignment, offering pressure sensitive actions with the triggers, motions when sliding across the track pad, and, my personal favorite, the ability to change to an alternate scheme on the fly while in-game. The initial set-up is a basic plug and play, but assigning your ideal customization can become a long and tedious process. Luckily, the developers realized that for some people this may be an issue; that’s where the Steam community steps in. Anyone with a steam controller can post their personal schematic to the games controller workshop page found in Steam’s Big Picture Mode.
First off, I suck with this thing. The tracking pad has a spot on precision that I’m just not used to. Although, once I had a few hours of practice under my belt, things started getting interesting. It’s like using the mouse with your thumb, but it’s really sensitive. It requires finesse paired with small movements, unlike the large sweeping actions of the typical joystick. It reminds me a lot of when I made my transition from the N64’s single analog controller over to the xbox and playstation’s duel analog design which pretty much set the new standard for next gen consoles.
Another thing to mention is its size. It’s noticeably different than the 360, but with all the features the Steam controller brings to the table, it’s a reasonable trade off. It does get a little frustrating though trying to reach my thumb all the way over to that “X” button, but I suppose that’ll get easier with time… or if I had been blessed with bigger hands 🙁
Should I switch?
The steam controller is impressive with its high level of in-depth customization available, but overall is it worth the switch from what your used to ? My conclusion is, that depends on what kind of games you like to play? RTS’s may wanna stick to the old keyboard and mouse, seeing as grabbing and highlighting units while simultaneously scrolling across the board to nuke that a**hole in the corner of the map, who keeps zerging you, might prove to be a bit tricky. However, in the hands of a seasoned veteran, there is a large potential for an increase in performance for genre’s such as racing, flight sims, side-scrollers, 3rd person/FPS’s, puzzlers, voxel builders, mmo rpg’s, and pretty much every other genre I can’t think of at the moment. The key word here is veteran, by which I mean, a lot of practice using this controller.
The Steam Controller can be purchased off the Steam platform or Amazon for $50. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but for those who are meticulous in the way they play their games and want a deep level of personalized control, I have yet to experience a game pad that can match it.