The Controls Matter

Assassin’s Creed Origins ended up in my Steam library at some point. It’s hard to say when I picked it up exactly. It may have been last years Steam Summer Sale or maybe one a one off weekly sale. But it was definitely sometime last year that I bought it with full intentions of playing it.

According to Steam, up until recently I had played about 3 hours of the game. I think I’ve started it up a few times and tried to play it but disliked the keyboard and mouse controls and lost interest pretty fast. It’s got some weirdly layed out buttons by default. So on the virtual shelf it sat until a few weeks ago.

Honestly, I have no idea why I started playing it again. Like most things I took a bit too long to write about it to capture those initial moments but it was probably along the lines of: I had an itch to play an open world game so I fired it up. I don’t think I had intentions of latching on to it as much as I have. I’m fully attributing that to playing with a controller this time around.

I bought a PS4 in late 2014. It was my first big purchase after I graduated college that was not rent, food, or student loan payments. The PS3 was still going strong but it was getting to that point where less and less new games were coming out for it. So I made the switch and it was my primary gaming device until I built a gaming PC in 2017. I still have the original controller that came with it but sadly it doesn’t work as well as it used to.

In general, the PS4 controller can be finicky when used for PC gaming. Some games will have trouble recognizing it and some won’t recognize it at all. Even with third party tools to turn it into a “virtual” Xbox controller it could be a pain to use. A few years ago, Steam released an update that helped more games recognize the controller which solved some issues but not all. And while it’s a sleight in convenience, it always through me off to see the Xbox button prompts on screen and have to figure out which button on the PS4 controller that was supposed to be.

The big reason I don’t use it as much as I once did is because the physical hardware it failing. It turns out, after 7 years of connecting and disconnecting micro usb cables to the controller, the port is starting to come loose. Slight movements will cause the controller to disconnect and reconnect quite frequently which can be really annoying when trying to use it.

Now, I’m not sure why I tried to use the keyboard and mouse controls for AC Origins the first time around, I really don’t, but this time I tried the controller and found it played so much better. But that disconnects from the controller were getting unbearable. So it was finally time to go out and get a new controller.

I’ve put this off for a long time because controllers are expensive. A new PS4 controller still runs around $60. Switch joy-cons go for $80! Of course, I could buy a used controller but you never know how often it’s been thrown across a roo before it’s gotten in to your hands. I figured, if I was going to purchase a new controller I might as well buy one that would work better with my PC. So I went searching for a reasonably priced Xbox controller.

For the first time in years, I actually had a reason to visit a brick and mortar Gamestop. It was one of those rare times where I didn’t want to wait for shipping and remembered I could go to an actual store and pick up something that day. As it turns out, my local Gamestop was having a sale on controllers and I had an unused gift card still in my wallet from who knows how long ago. I ended up getting the controller for under $20 which was nice.

I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t like the layout of the Xbox One controller. After all, I’d been using the Dual Shock layout for almost a decade. Once I’d played on it I realized I actually liked the feel of the controller better than my old PS4 controller. Plus, it’s red which adds character. I’ve played a few games with my new controller and they all just work without fiddling around with Steam or usb cables which has been great.

I was a bit surprised to find that it cam with a set of double A batteries. Microsoft is still selling rechargeable battery packs still. It’s not really a concern since my PC lacks Bluetooth to connect the controller wirelessly

The difference between keyboard and mouse and the Xbox controller is night and day with AC Origins. It’s so much easier to play and interact with the world. The game even has aim assist for the bow so aiming isn’t too much trouble with the controller. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, Assassins’ Creed is a quintessential console franchise, it makes sense that it would play better on a controller. One of things I like the most about PC gaming is the options. Not just the options of what to play but how to play them.

One thought on “The Controls Matter

  1. Naithin July 6, 2021 / 6:27 am

    I didn’t mind the latest AC games on M+KB. I don’t recall changing any binds, although I may have. I still need to go back and play Valhalla at some point. I own it, just never ended up playing it since it came out in November when I was limiting myself to just 5 games for the month. Hehe.

    Nice on the new controller though! I got myself an Xbox Elite controller for the PC (although I detached the paddle thingos, couldn’t stand them) and I love it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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