Using controllers, mostly gamepads, or a mouse and keyboard while playing video games can be a very subjective choice.
Many gamers rely on only one type of equipment and are ardently defending their choice.Typically, PC games are played with a mouse-keyboard combo, however they commonly and widely support controllers.
That means you can play video games with a gamepad, joystick, PS4, or Xbox controller. Is it worth to give them a try? Well, depends on type of the game, its features and type of gameplay.
There are a plenty of PC games with controller support that work quite good with a gamepad or other controller and some that even are better when played with controllers than with a mouse-keyboard set.
FPP versus TTP
One of the most popular types of games are first person and third person perspective shooter games. In FPP, as the name suggests, the player acts from a first person perspective, seeing through the eyes of the character. In third person perspective the entire or most of the silhouette of the character is visible, and the player moves the camera around the protagonist’s model.
FPP games are easier to play with a mouse and keyboard as the player can take better aim with less effort. Controllers don’t have the ability to stimulate the aiming process so well and often rely on some degree of aim assist.
With TPP though, the opposite is the case – coordinating attacking, moving around, and controlling the camera position is usually much easier with a gamepad.
Controllers are smoother to operate, and the player can make more elaborate moves, and they were designed specifically to fit in a hand, while keyboards were designed as a typing implement.
So, if you have a controller compatible with PC games that are third person perspective – try ditching a mouse-keyboard combo for a gamepad, joystick, steering wheel or Xbox, PS4 controller (depending on the genre) and see if it suits you better.
|Game||Release||Genre||Why you need a controller?||Sale|
|Yakuza 0||2018-08-01||Adventure||Combat is button-intensive; QTEs are much easier on a gamepad||64%||Read more|
|Monster Hunter World||2018-08-09||Action||It’s a TPP melee-focused game, and camera isn’t fixed behind you||81%||Read more|
|Monster Hunter Rise||2022-01-12||Action||-||67%||Read more|
|Graveyard Keeper||2018-08-15||Adventure||Doesn’t benefit from KB M at all, so you might as well sit back and relax||83%||Read more|
|Devil May Cry 5 Standard Edition||2019-03-08||Action||Good luck smoothly chaining attacks and changing styles on a keyboard||87%||Read more|
|Batman Arkham Asylum Goty||2010-03-26||Adventure||Deploying bat-gadgets quickly and reliably can be clunky on KB M||84%||Read more|
|Batman Arkham City Goty Edition||2012-09-07||Adventure||-||86%||Read more|
|Batman Arkham Knight||2015-06-23||Adventure||-||85%||Read more|
|Batman Arkham Origins||2013-10-24||Adventure||-||81%||Read more|
|Hades||2019-12-10||Indie||There’s little need for precision, and gamepad’s face buttons make combat more intuitive||Read more|
|Dragon Age Inquisition||2014-11-20||RPG||Active pause and using abilities is so much easier on a gamepad||78%||Read more|
|Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order||2019-11-15||Adventure||It’s a TPP action game with tight combat and platforming. Of course it’s better with a gamepad||82%||Read more|
|Bayonetta||2017-04-11||Action & Shooter||The action is lighting fast, using a keyboard is too slow||53%||Read more|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2015-04-14||Adventure||It lets you sit back and immerse yourself in the world||65%||Read more|
|Tomb Raider Goty Edition||2013-03-04||Adventure||Quick-Time Events are easier to complete, and melee combat feels better with a gamepad||72%||Read more|
|Middle Earth Shadow Of War Definitive Edition||2017-10-10||Adventure||Combat is smoother and more manageable on a gamepad||87%||Read more|
|Dark Souls 3 Deluxe Edition||2016-04-11||RPG||More precise control and button presses are faster: all in the thumbs||7%||Read more|
|Assassin's Creed Odyssey||2018-10-05||Action||Better control across the board… or rather: pad||80%||Read more|
|Mortal Kombat Xl||2015-07-22||Fighting||Playing on a controller has a much lower entry threshold||78%||Read more|
|The Binding Of Isaac Rebirth||2014-11-04||Action & Shooter||It’s pretty much a twin-stick shooter, so using twin sticks makes sense||Read more|
|FIFA 21||2020-10-09||Sport||Fine direction control, and multi-button manoeuvres||83%||Read more|
|FIFA 22||2021-10-01||Sports||Fine direction control, and multi-button manoeuvres||65%||Read more|
|The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt GOTY||2015-05-18||RPG||Geralt moves semi-independently from the camera, which makes gamepad more intuitive||68%||Read more|
|Street Fighter V||2016-02-15||Fighting||Multi-button inputs make it better suited for a gamepad||89%||Read more|
What About Specific Genres?
When it comes to games, some genres basicaly require a mouse and keyboard usage, others are working better with controllers. Usually it depends on the input complexity: keyboards are great for games which benefit from hotkeys, mice are better for games which require preciosn and speed, and controllers are better from games which require smooth gradation of movement, multi-button actions, and snap actions. QTEs are a thing, and they usually work better on controllers, with everything under your thumb.
Generally speaking, racing, sport, combat and action games are perfect for controllers. Racing is much better when the player has a steering wheel or at least a gamepad, because even a simple analog stick offers gradual control over speed or turn angle.
When it comes to sports games, like football or basketball, shooting and aiming for a goal is much more straightforward with a controller. Also, you can do some advanced moves with the ball. There are more keys on a keyboard than buttons on a pad, but when a motion requires pressing a few buttons or moving a joystick together with pressing buttons, controllers are irreplaceable. The 360° movement provided by an analog stick is also a major boon, compared to the eight directions available on a keyboard.
Fighting games work fine with a keyboard-mouse set, but controllers offer easier operation as buttons are closely located – when deadly fights required complicated moves, a gamepad beats traditional PC equipment. A good rule of thumb is that if a fighting game maps some of its controls to triggers and shoulder buttons, it’s probably not going to be very easy to play on keyboard.
As for RPG games, it depends on the specific title. Some RPGs are hard to play with a gamepad or other controller, often you need to select units, or your actions are mapped to a dozen hotkeys. With a keyboard, options broaden. When it comes to other RPGs – especially action RPGs – controllers might be of use. In some of them, a gamepad can make things simpler, so you’re only challenged by the game, not the device you control it with..
What genres are bad for or can’t be played with a controller?
- Strategies – esp. real time – can be a pickle on a gamepad (although Halo Wars series does just fine),
- Point-and-click adventure games can be awkward,
- First person shooting games are fine on a gamepad, but you’re going to be at a disadvantage if you end up going against a mouse-using opponent.
Simply put: some games were specifically designed for controller support, others were created with a mouse and keyboard in mind. Sometimes there’s an overlap, but just as often one device offers the superior control experience.
But, and it can’t be overstated, if a game CAN be played with KB+M, a gamepad and, say, a joystick, ultimately, and always it will be down to personal preference, and perhaps a bit of creative remapping the controls.
|Why you need a controller?||Combat is button-intensive; QTEs are much easier on a gamepad|
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 minigames. The two core maps, Kamurocho and Sotenbori, are also detailed, populated, colourful and lived-in.
Monster Hunter: World
|Developer:||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
|Why you need a controller?||It’s a TPP melee-focused game, and camera isn’t fixed behind you|
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|
|Why you need a controller?||Doesn’t benefit from KB M at all, so you might as well sit back and relax|
In Graveyard Keeper you’re, perhaps somewhat predictably, play 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
|Why you need a controller?||Good luck smoothly chaining attacks and changing styles on a keyboard|
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
|Why you need a controller?||Deploying bat-gadgets quickly and reliably can be clunky on KB M|
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 KB M 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.
|Why you need a controller?||There’s little need for precision, and gamepad’s face buttons make combat more intuitive|
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
|Why you need a controller?||Active pause and using abilities is so much easier on a gamepad|
Dragon Age: Inquisition features a lot (a lot) of real time with pause combat, which, honestly, just doesn’t work too well with a KB M 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, some exciting sequences, and a chance to prover your character is the coolest person in the room. Just don’t get stuck in Hinterlands.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
|Why you need a controller?||It’s a TPP action game with tight combat and platforming. Of course it’s better with a gamepad|
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.
|Why you need a controller?||the action is lighting fast, using a keyboard is too slow|
The action game that was specifically designed for a controller.
Its producers recommend using it with a controller, as this allows taking advantage of all the features of this game of extravagant fights, supernatural operations, fantastic world.
Bayonetta is the last one standing of the witch clan that comes back to life after hundreds of years, which has vast repercussions of a deadly and catastrophic character. Fighting and unleashing cruel attacks and graceful maneouvres works better with a use of a controller. Twin sticks and face buittons are a hard-to-dismiss config for gamesl like this.
Grand Theft Auto V
|Why you need a controller?||it lets you sit back and immerse yourself in the world|
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 and focus on the world instead 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. Where will this crime story go?
Tomb Raider (2013)
|Developer:||Eidos, Feral Interactive, more..|
|Why you need a controller?||Quick-Time Events are easier to complete, and melee combat feels better with a gamepad|
An oldie that never gets old; an action game series known to almost every player.
Packed with elaborate moves, combat, and an intense storyline, it is much more enjoyable while using a controller like a pad. It is also a third person perspective game. Small caveat: shooting still works better if you use a mouse for it.
This instalment of the long-running franchise puts us in the shoe of a younger Lara than most of us are used to. A lass just out of university, pursuing the truth about her father’s research to a mysterious island. There are many quick-time events, failing which means Lara fails to survive in an often oddly graphic way.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
|Why you need a controller?||combat is smoother and more manageable on a gamepad|
Another action game. It is loosely based on Tolkien’s fantasy books and offers an adventure in a dark and dangerous world that is overshadowed by malevolent powers.
The player prepares for battles, fights enemies, conquers lands, changes the surroundings, engages in combat, and much more. All this in third person mode, which is much simpler to operate with a controller.
Much like the Batman: Arkham… and the Assassin’s Creed franchises from which they take gameplay inspiration, the Shadow of… games work much better if you have more control over the direction your character is facing, and you can easily press several button without breaking your fingers. There are also mild QTEs and a lot of parkour. Your bow works better with a mouse, but shooting isn’t a huge part of the Shadow of MorWar series.
Dark Souls III
|Why you need a controller?||more precise control and button presses are faster: all in the thumbs|
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 the Soulsborne (and the later Sekiro, which doesn’t have a syllable in the portmanteau) games, but seeing how the (Dark) Souls are to be thanked for this, 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
|Why you need a controller?||better control across the board… or rather: pad|
One of the best-known game franchises, the newest title offers players an adventure as the legendary hero who sails, fights battles, and discovers the rich world of ancient Greece.
As in every other part of the series, it is better to take on this fascinating path of myths, hidden treasures, and epic naval and land battles during the Peloponnesian War with a controller.
Thanks to this, your movement will be smoother, and you will have better chances in combat. However, on Steam the game comes with partial controller support, which means a mouse or keyboard could be required at some point. In spite of that if you have a gamepad you can relax on your couch and comfortably run around, climb, and stab people.
Mortal Kombat XL
|Developer:||High Voltage Software|
|Why you need a controller?||playing on a controller has a much lower entry threshold|
Known as one of the best games in fighting genre, Mortal Kombat offers brutal, spectacular duels, and 33 characters, each with different quirks and abilities.
The players have also the ability to fight against online competitors, being part of a faction war. You certainly shouldn’t ignore the story mode, 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 Combat XL includes
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
|Why you need a controller?||It’s pretty much a twin-stick shooter, so using twin sticks makes sense|
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 escape from a gruesome dungeon he was put in by his own mother.
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 controller a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
|Why you need a controller?||fine direction control, and multi-button manoeuvres|
I guess no-one needs explanation on what this game is about as it is the best-known sport game available on the market that 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 directions is really, really useful. Twin sticks are indispensable in a game like this.
The Witcher 3
|Developer:||CD PROJEKT RED|
|Why you need a controller?||Geralt moves semi-independently from the camera, which makes gamepad more intuitive|
Following a storyline of Geralt of Rivia, a hunter of monsters and other creatures, this RPG is a wildly acclaimed game with millions of fans worldwide.
It is filled with action, combat and drama. The third person perspective means moving the protagonist around and steering him during fights with monsters is handier with a controller.
Regardless of the mechanics of movement and combat, The Witcher 3’s control scheme is simple enough to be easily mappable to a gamepad. 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..
|Why you need a controller?||All manoeuvres are easier to perform|
This 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 kayboard are woefully insufficient for a game about cars which move in 360° in every axis.
Rocket league is free to play on Epic Games (PC) and Xbox Live (Xbox One) platform
Street Fighter V
|Why you need a controller?||Multi-button inputs make it better suited for a gamepad|
A standard fighting game, though 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. Input like a rotation or partial circle is quite a bit harder a keyboard – a gamepad makes it super easy.
With the arrival of the tag-team mechanics, advanced reversal, 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 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, if your favourite games don’t really benefit from the 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 okay.