Like many things in gaming, the choice of controllers can be quite a contentious topic, and many a forum has endured discussions between the factions of devout keyboard users and embracers of gamepads, with a small faction of joystick wielders just enjoying their games in peace and quiet.
These days many game are just equally good on either control scheme. Once they come to PC, games that use controllers like a gamepad are adjusted for keyboard and mouse anyway, so the choice is both subjective, and not really essential to the experience. Heck, even in edge cases where KB M has awful inputs, you can usually config the controls to your liking.
Sometimes, however, the choice can improve the game significantly, especially where fluid movement is important, or there are wheel menus.
With that in mind, below we present a short list of games, which are great on keyboard and mouse, but going for a gamepad (or a joystick) makes the experience significantly better. So plug your wireless or usb gamepad and experience the world of dual sticks!
|Elden Ring||2022-02-22||Action RPG||FromSoftware||63%|
|Hogwarts Legacy||2023-02-10||RPG||Avalanche Studios||22%|
|Resident Evil 4 Remake||2023-03-24||Horror||CAPCOM CO., LTD.||29%|
|FIFA 23||2022-09-30||Sports||EA Canada||68%|
|Sifu||2022-02-08||Beat 'em up||Sloclap||56%|
|Persona 5 Royal||2022-10-21||RPG||Atlus||25%|
|Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered||2022-08-12||Action||Insomniac Games||44%|
|Overcooked||2016-08-03||Action & Shooter||Ghost Town Games Ltd.||79%|
|Monster Hunter World||2018-08-09||Action||CAPCOM CO., LTD.||80%|
|Monster Hunter Rise||2022-01-12||Action||CAPCOM CO., LTD.||76%|
|Graveyard Keeper||2018-08-15||Adventure||Lazy Bear Games||77%|
|Devil May Cry 5 Standard Edition||2019-03-08||Action||CAPCOM||87%|
|Batman Arkham Asylum Goty||2010-03-26||Adventure||Feral Interactive (Mac)||88%|
|Batman Arkham City Goty Edition||2012-09-07||Adventure||Feral Interactive (Mac)||88%|
|Batman Arkham Knight||2015-06-23||Adventure||Rocksteady Studios||90%|
|Batman Arkham Origins||2013-10-24||Adventure||Splash Damage||82%|
|Dragon Age Inquisition||2014-11-20||RPG||BioWare||77%|
|Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order||2019-11-15||Adventure||Respawn Entertainment||74%|
|Bayonetta||2017-04-11||Action & Shooter||PlatinumGames||70%|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2015-04-14||Adventure||Rockstar North||60%|
|Tomb Raider Goty Edition||2013-03-04||Adventure||Feral Interactive (Linux)||70%|
|Middle Earth Shadow Of War Definitive Edition||2017-10-10||Adventure||Monolith Productions||88%|
|Dark Souls 3 Deluxe Edition||2016-04-11||RPG||FromSoftware, Inc.|
|Assassin's Creed Odyssey||2018-10-05||Action||Ubisoft Quebec||83%|
|Mortal Kombat Xl||2015-07-22||Fighting||High Voltage Software||76%|
|The Binding Of Isaac Rebirth||2014-11-04||Action & Shooter||Nicalis, Inc.|
|The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt GOTY||2015-05-18||RPG||CD PROJEKT RED||66%|
|Street Fighter V||2016-02-15||Fighting||CAPCOM||87%|
It shouldn’t be a surprise that FromSoftware’s open-world, third-person, mostly melee-oriented game is here, especially since its cousin Dark Souls 3 and remote relative Monster Hunter World appear further down the list in the “previously on” section. Keeping your unlucky Tarnished alive is much easier, if you can access a whole bunch of buttons without weird hand contortions.
Guarding, skill use, attacks, weapon switching, all easy as pie. For a game which requires reflexes and precision, a controller is clearly a more convenient option than keyboard and mouse. Controllers are also slightly more resistant to being crushed in frustration after you were two frames too slow to dodge and lost the boss fight again. Still not recommended to throw them at the wall.
|Genre:||Beat 'em up|
Another tough-as-nails game on the list (and not the last one by any measure), Sifu puts you in the shoes of a young Bak Mei adept who sets out to avenge the death of their (the protagonist can be male or female) family. It’s not going to be an easy revenge quest, however, since the combat system is challenging, the bosses supernaturally empowered, and every death makes you older.
While Sifu is quite playable without it, a controller makes action and movement smoother, and you’ll need all the help you can get. The reward for that is quite satisfying, too, since Sifu played with skill looks absolutely incredible in motion, with realistic animations and brutal finishing moves. Without controller support, Sifu would be even harder than it already is.
Persona 5 Royal
Seeing how the Persona games are native to PlayStation, it’s no wonder they work best with a controller. It’s no different for Person 5 Royal, the most recent mainline installment of the renown jRPG series. From navigating the menus to moving around mind dungeons, controller offers a better-integrated experience than the classic PC combo.
The story follows a group of teens calling themselves Phantom Thieves of Hearts, who are able to go into a psychic metaverse to steal evil ambitions from adults. They use the eponymous Personas, powerful avatars of their own psyches, to fight against dangers lurking in the mind-dungeons. If you’d love to help stylish teens fight evil to some smooth jazz, give Persona 5 a shot.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
Can you imagine playing a Spider-Man-themed action game without the analog sticks? WSAD has many advantages, but it isn’t great for dealing with TPP games which don’t have a camera fixed behind your back. As a result, Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man, which made its way to PC in 2022, works much better if you have a controller on hand.
Insomniac’s game also happens to be probably the best Spider-Man game in ages. It features a great story, a satisfying gallery of Webhead’s villains, and great open world gameplay punctuated with exciting fights showcasing Spidey’s full mobility and web-tricks. The game was welcomed so warmly that it got a sequel-spin-off focused on Miles Morales, which is also playable on PC.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
|Developer:||Ghost Town Games Ltd.|
Overcooked’s control scheme is very simple and the gameplay takes more teamwork than precise input. However, due to a neat gimmick, Overcooked is just plain more FUN if you use a gamepad, especially if you play with your significant other. See, the thing is that two people can play on one gamepad, each having half a gamepad, which might be odd on an Xbox controller due to its skewed symmetry.
The game itself is a half-puzzle, half-platformer, and half-team-management game, which comes up to a total of 150% fun. A number of cooks is put on a mobile, often dynamically rearranging kitchen and have to complete as many orders as possible. You need good communications, because ingredients must be cut, plates washed, dishes served… it can quickly become quite chaotic.
Since Yakuza 0 originated on consoles (PlayStation 3, specifically) it was obviously developed with a gamepad in mind. Combat, a major part of the game, uses every button, and all directional inputs: sticks move the character and the camera, while directional pad changes combat styles. That said, even with a sub-optimal controls Yakuza 0 is a fantastic game just by the virtue of its story and characters.
It follows two young men: Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, both involved in a conflict over a patch of real estate that’s a key to incredible amounts of money. The main storyline is a highly engaging crime drama, but there are also many side stories, fun minigames, and two different business subsystems. The two core maps, Kamurocho and Sotenbori, are also fascinating: detailed, populated, colourful, and feeling lived-in.
Monster Hunter: World
|Developer:||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
You can play Monster Hunter: World with a mouse and keyboard, if you really want. If you don’t like aiming with a gamepad, this might even be a better combo if you want to play one of the ranged weapons. But most of the game is melee focused, positioning and keeping an eye on the target are important, and you often need to press two buttons at once, which is much easier on a gamepad.
Most of the monsters can eat you alive, especially before you make a dedicated set of armour and weapons to counter them. Which means you shouldn’t fight the controls too. Even outside of combat MHW is just more pleasant when you can kick back in an armchair or a couch with a gamepad and explore locations, watch the wildlife, and feel like fantasy–David Attenborough.
|Developer:||Lazy Bear Games|
In Graveyard Keeper you’re, perhaps somewhat predictably, playing the role of a local graveyard keeper in a fantasy world. That means a lot of work involving holding down some buttons to fill a progress bar, and walking around to complete regular tasks and unique quests. There’s no need for precision, and the game is rather slow-paced, so it might well be a more chill experience if you have a gamepad.
Thankfully, slow-paced though Graveyard Keeper might be, there’s a lot to do. You have to tend to corpses and bury them appropriately. You have to write sermons which can provide different bonuses. And you might have to sell some meat to the innkeep for quick cash, he won’t ask questions. You also should work on finding a way back to your own world, which you abruptly and unwillingly left.
Devil May Cry 5
In this kind of game there’s really no way to replace a gamepad without sacrificing a chunk of your effectiveness. Nothing that can’t be overcome, but like with Monster Hunter above you should focus on fighting your enemies, not the controls. Especially since certain attacks require specific directional input, which would be a bit of a pain in the neck to execute without an analogue stick.
However when you have a controller DMC5 really shines and flourishes as an intense, stylish action game with a bunch of cool weirdos on the cast. Three of them, Dante, Nero, and newcomer V are playable, and each has a different playstyle: Dante changes weapons and fighting styles on a whim, Nero uses a sword, a gun, and a range of cyber prosthetics, while V has three demons to fight for him.
Batman Arkham series
The Batman Arkham games have become famous for many reasons, one of them being their fluid, dynamic combat system which makes Bats (and friends, occasionally) look like the martial arts master that he is. It is also surprisingly pleasant to play on KB M, even if using gadgets in combat can break your pace a bit. It’s still a much smoother experience on a gamepad, as many such games are.
Whether you play on the ol’ reliable KBM or a gamepad, Batman Arkham games let you feel like Batman, fighting villains, smashing goon heads into pavements, using gadgets with a Bat-logo on them, as well as solving crimes and Riddler’s puzzles. The stealth system is also satisfying, especially since you can see how terrified your enemies become. Batman Arkham is a complete Batman experience.
Hades doesn’t have a very complicated control scheme, but there’s a lot of diagonal movement, which is famously a problem for keyboards to handle, and precise movement suffers without a gamepad. On the other hand if you go for targeted ranged weapons and attacks, then mouse will make things easier than moving the right stick around. Arguably, using a controller is overall smoother.
Either way, Hades is a Greek mythology-themed roguelite which gives you control of Zagreus, Hades’ son, trying to run from home. On the way to the surface you’ll pass several underworld realms, battle several bosses, meet loveable NPCs, and get stronger with every run, until eventually you manage to escape. It’s an exceptional game, with distinct art style and satisfying gameplay. Go get it.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition features a lot (a lot) of real time with pause combat, which, honestly, just doesn’t work too well with a KBM combo. It does, however, work like a wonder with a gamepad, and switching to a controller makes controlling your team much, much more comfortable and intuitive. Even manipulating the camera is easier. Just play the game with a gamepad, it’s worth it.
DAI is a solid, epic-scale fantasy RPG in a setting introduced in DA: Origins. Your protagonist happens to be in possession of a magical… talent which can save the continent from a mystical disaster. As usual in a BioWare RPG, there are memorable companions, exciting sequences, and a chance to prove your character is the coolest person in the room. Just don’t get stuck in Hinterlands.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Jedi Fallen Order features a ton of platforming and tense fighting, which means it’s going to feel more comfortable if you play with a controller. 360 degree movement and having a quick access to every button at once certainly makes things easier than it would be with keyboard and mouse. Of course, as always, it’s ultimately down to your preference.
Jedi Fallen Order follows young man, Cal Kestis, who managed to survive Order 66 as a young Jedi Padawan. Now he’s being pulled into events which force him to regain lost abilities and develop new ones. The game features several large, complex maps, which open up more and more as you get new Force powers, and the combat system will appeal to fans of parrying and timely dodging.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Bayonetta shares it lineage with Devil May Cry, so it’s absolutely no surprise that it benefits from using the controller in the same way DMC does. Bayo’s moves are infinitely easier to execute using a gamepad, and it’s easier to keep up with the hectic pace if you use a device designed specifically for gaming. In the words of the prophet “it just works”.
As for the story, you play as a newly reawakened Bayonetta, an Umbral Witch, who literally woke up one day and chose violence, because many powerful people and creatures in her world decided to be huge holy jerks about a lot of stuff. Thankfully, she finds some reliable allies, including some who supply her with stiletto guns, because if you have to kill angels, then do it with style.
Grand Theft Auto V
GTA V was originally designed for consoles, which means an obvious focus on making controllers work like wonder. Driving has always been much better on an analogue controller thanks to finer speed and direction controls, and the game’s simple on-foot controls map neatly to the gamepad. Being able to tune out the control scheme to focus on the world works wonders for immersion.
And there’s a lot to get immersed in. Los Santos and the surrounding area is huge and full of activities. The criminal protagonist trio of Michael, Trevor, and Franklin each have their peculiarities, and switching between them every so often lets you find them in potentially interesting situations. GTA offers hours of great gameplay, no matter the control scheme you go for.
Tomb Raider (2013)
The Tomb Raider games can go either way, but there definitely is a strong argument to be made about them working better with a gamepad, ever since the first in the series. Once Quick Time Events came it, ditching the KBM mix became an obvious direction, and as of the latest installments, gamepad is the best choice, especially if you’re determined to go melee, rather than ranged.
The 2013 reboot is a three-part Lara origin story, taking her from a frightened young woman trying to survive, to a determined adventurer trying to raid some tombs and prevent evil mercs from accomplishing their objectives. Great graphics, polished gameplay, and interesting stories are what you’re in for if you choose to give the new TRs a shot.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (and its predecessor, Shadow of Mordor) are based on the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, but present it in a way closer to Peter Jackson’s adaptations, and carve their own little slice of alternative history. As Talion, an accidentally immortal ranger, you’ll face many dangers mundane and magical alike on a quest for vengeance for the death of his family.
Shadow of War is much like Assassin’s Creed and Batman Arkham, with third-person movement, omnidirectional combat, and parkour-ish traversal. As a result, gamepad is advisable, especially if you really want to get good at using various tricks in your arsenal while fighting buffed-up orcs. You could use KBM, but it won’t be as intuitive.
Dark Souls III
As an action RPG franchise, the whole series, not only its third installment, works best with a controller. FromSoftware’s games are notorious for their difficulty levels. Death comes easily in all the Soulsborne (and the later Sekiro, which doesn’t have a syllable in the portmanteau) games, but let’s make an example of Dark Souls III.
You will find it takes much less effort to control your motions in this dark fantasy world, when you will have a controller in your hands. In a game where making a mistake at a bad time can send you back to the last bonfire, bereft of your souls, it’s important to have comfortable controls, so you can focus on analyzing your enemy’s attack pattern and exploiting any openings.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The Assassin’s Creed games, with their reliance on parkour and melee combat with several enemies at once sure benefit from a gamepad. Having several buttons pressed at the same time in addition to free control of camera and direction make the game much easier, and this remain true in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, one of the latest main chapters in the series.
This time, the story takes you to the Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian war. As the Misthios, a mercenary with a complicated family history, you’ll uncover your own legacy, deal with the remnants left behind a forgotten civilization, and rub elbows with a few famous historical figures from the period. So pretty much the gold standard experience for an AC game.
Mortal Kombat XL
|Developer:||High Voltage Software|
Known as one of the best games in the fighting genre, Mortal Kombat offers brutal, spectacular duels, and more than 30 characters, each with different quirks and abilities. Of course, you also get to test your might against online competitors, being part of a faction war. You certainly shouldn’t ignore the story mode either, because it’s a delightful, cheesy, deeply enjoyable experience.
Engaging in violent combat, whether against AI rival or other players, requires quick and smooth moves – playing with a gamepad reduces the barrier of entry and makes controls feel more intuitive. Do mind thought, that playing on a keyboard is possible and some people may even find it preferrable. Gamepad simply makes the game easier to get into.
Mortal Kombat XL includes:
- Mortal Kombat X
- Kombat Pack
- Kombat Pack 2
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
A perfect example of a rogue-like game that works better with a controller which makes it easier to move in one direction, and shoot in another. Sometimes this kind of manoeuvre is awkward on keyboard and mouse setups.The storyline follows a protagonist who must get through a gruesome dungeon he escaped into to run away from his mother following a mysterious and murderous voice.
On top of that, the Binding of Isaac has a very distinctive aesthetic, which makes some of the utterly horrible, nightmare-inducing things happening to the protagonist a little more bearable. It’s a great game over all, and if you’re struggling on a keyboard mouse combo, give a gamepad a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
It’s doubtful anyone needs explanation on what this game is about: it is the best-known sport game series available on the market and has legions of fans. FIFA 21, like other titles in the series, certainly can be played with a mouse-keyboard set. They would definitely be enough for basic movements and actions on the pitch.
However, if you want to show some tricks like Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo do in the real world – better switch to a controller. With a gamepad it is much less difficult to run with the ball, aim at the goal, or fool the opponents with quick dribbling. The 360 degree range of movement is really, really useful. Twin analog sticks are indispensable in a game like this.
The Witcher 3
|Developer:||CD PROJEKT RED|
This RPG filled with action, combat and drama is a wildly acclaimed game with millions of fans worldwide. The Witcher 3 (with expansions) is the final chapter in the story of Geralt of Rivia, a professional solver of monstrous and magical problems. The unlatched TPP camera means that moving the protagonist around and steering him during fights with monsters is much handier with a controller.
In addition to the mechanics of movement and perspective, The Witcher 3’s control scheme is simple enough to be easily mappable to a gamepad with no loss of fucntion. Changing and using signs, for instance, is quite simple and convenient. Sustained abilities, like the Igni sign are much easier to manage on a gamepad, but if you want to go wild with a crossbow, keep a mouse handy.
This car-sport game offers players quick matches in various modes like hockey-styled one, basketball-alike, football-themed etc. Matches are really fast-paced and lasting mere minutes. Before you realize, your opponent can grab the ball and score. The high-level play of Rocket League relies to a large degree on aerial evolutions, which are much easier to manage using a gamepad’s twin sticks.
The game has a very high skill ceiling, limited only by the moderately high actual ceiling placed over the stadium. You can move completely independently from the direction the camera is pointing, and the eight directions available on a keyboard are woefully insufficient for a game about cars which move in 360° in every axis.
Street Fighter V
Almost a gold-standard for fighting gamed, though it’s definitely not a simple one. It takes more than hitting a key on a keyboard – some moves requires complicated combo of buttons. A controller is almost a must if you want to show off more sophisticated moves and enjoy the fight more. Certain complex inputs can choke your keyboard and break your fingers, but a gamepad makes it super easy.
With the arrival of the tag-team mechanics, advanced reversals, counters, or all kinds of upgraded attacks, it’s simply easier to figure them out by playing on a gamepad. Unless you have a good mechanical keyboard just get a gamepad, your experience will improve, and so will your performance. You can go back to keyboard later, once you’ve cleared the entry threshold.
Twin sticks of success
That concludes our list of games which are great and worth playing on their own, but get even better if you have a gamepad to play them.
Controllers were designed specifically to fit comfortably in human hands, so if your favourite games don’t really benefit from the large number of keys of a keyboard, or the precision and speed of a mouse, give controllers a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Ultimately, of course, the victor of the Mouse and Keyboard vs Controller battle is decided by personal preference, which trumps all advantages and features. And that’s perfectly okay. For all our trying to explain why you should use a controller for this or another game, you actually should just play in the way that makes you happy!