- Solid buttons, analogue stick;
- Touchpads add a new dimension;
- Can play strategy games with it.
- Small buttons;
- Not as precise as a keyboard and mouse;
- Lack of community-made control schemes;
- Tiring during stints of long gaming.
With no doubt, Steam Controller is a feature-packed and successful gamepad, but it just doesn’t excel in any arena, as well as is a bit bulky and awkward to be comfortable in hands.
Steam Controller is undoubtedly an interesting product! It attempts to bridge the gap between console gaming and PC with an aim to be the gamepad that’s a jack-of-all-trades.
Thankfully setting up is a very easy task to do. Slot the two batteries in, plug in the USB Bluetooth receiver, turn it on and voila - you can start using it right away!
Talking about design, there’s nothing sleek or delicate about the Steam Controller. To be honest, it’s a bit of a brute. It’s not as wide or tall as the DualShock 4 or Xbox One controllers, but it’s definitely fatter. The handgrips are the main culprits that curve into your palm rather than away from it and take a while to get used to. Also, the size of the grips means it’s quite a stretch to reach the one and only left analogue stick. In order to feel anywhere near as natural as Microsoft’s or Sony efforts, you will need to adjust a little.
The Steam Controller headline features are its two touchpad surfaces. One of them is where you would expect a normal D-Pad to be, while the other replaces the secondary analogue stick normally found on console controllers. However, they’re not identical: the one on the left is more like a D-pad, but when it comes to gaming, the right pad will act more as the cursor of the mouse.
Something untraditional you won’t be used to are two additional paddles beneath the controller. Of course, it’s nice to have a couple of extra buttons that are easy to use, but you might find yourself pressing them accidentally because of the unusual location.
Steam Big Picture Mode
This mode is a layer that takes over Windows and creates your PC all about gaming. It has its own browser and YouTube app but the main purpose is to get you into a game with a minimum of fuss.
In addition, Steam Big Picture mode is the place where you get to set up the controller for every game. You are not able to do it in a game like you may be used to with other gamepads. It’s a great way to get an overview of all the custom set-up even if it might feel a little strange at first.
So, should you buy the Steam Controller?
First of all, it really depends on the way you wish to use it. If you desire to stream to a TV then the Steam Controller gives significant benefits over traditional gamepads. In fact, the touchpads really do add an input method that’s almost as good as a mouse. And there are a lot of buttons as well, so you are can almost go without a keyboard!
But if you intend to use the Steam Controller on your desktop PC I’d want to warn you. Steam Controller’s touchpads are not that large and comfortable as Xbox controller and offer only a few benefits to third-person action games. As for strategy games and hardcore first-person shooters you’ll start to miss your mouse and keyboard.
The Steam Controller take some time to get used to, but the longer you spend with it, and the more games that have optimised settings, the better experience will become. You might wish to start on this learning process now, I just wish it wasn’t that hard on the thumbs.