We’re going to answer the hardest question to ask in this generation of video games. Is a controller or mouse and keyboard better for gaming? As more games like Call of Duty and Fortnite support cross-platform play, we are finally entering the era of the mixed-platform lobby, so this issue is more important than ever.
PC gaming is undoubtedly better in terms of frame rates, graphics, and overall experience. Many esports competitions, such as the new $ 3 million Apex Legends, are also held for PC only. The problem is that leaving the console behind means making a difficult choice between trying to master the mouse and keyboard, or using the sticks on the controller, which can limit your potential as a player.
Obviously, nothing beats a controller when it comes to relaxing on the couch, but what about competitive play? Let’s get it as simple as possible. To do this, we will identify the differences by examining the play styles of professional players for aiming and pressing buttons on the mouse / keyboard and controller.
The keyboard and mouse are better, but harder to master
Let’s start with the inputs – typically a controller has about 20 different inputs. Meanwhile, the keyboard has 80-100 inputs. But ergonomics is important.
The ergonomics of the controller make it difficult to press many different buttons simultaneously or quickly. This means that you will be able to understand the basics in most games, but more complex movements will not be as easy.
Let’s take a look at how using the keyboard in the best games (Fortnite and Apex Legends) will allow you to achieve better results.
In Fortnite, building is everything, so it is very important to be able to bind your keys or buttons to speed up building. Sure, you can build a console well, but hitting all those different buttons on your keyboard is much easier.
Let’s take a look at how several popular gamers customize build controls on each platform to understand their key bindings.
Nickmercs – Controller Player (FaZe)
Nikmerckx customized his keybindings so that he could fit all four building pieces along with the bumpers. But pay attention to its edit button. It’s on the triangle, which means it needs to take its thumb off the right stick to edit. However, he loses the ability to aim.
This small example is one of many that demonstrate the weaknesses of playing on a controller. For comparison, below you can see how the keyboard play is completely different.
Ninja – Keyboard / Mouse Player
Before we look at his key combinations, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t matter which button the Ninja presses. He will never have to lose control of his goal. One hand of the Ninja is dedicated to the gaming mouse for aiming, and the other hand is dedicated to all the other controls on the keyboard.
But for a good comparison, Ninja’s edit key is F. If he hits it, he can still have full control over his movement. His index finger can be used to press the F key, while the rest of his fingers are free to move, squat and select their structure.
At first glance, Apex Legends is much simpler in terms of the required buttons. However, Apex Legends’ high level gameplay is all about movement. So let’s analyze something as simple as shooting and hitting the squat button repeatedly, which can be useful for dodging bullets.
Daltoosh – Controller Player (SoaR)
Daltoosh uses Button Jumper, which means he has to right-click to crouch. This is the same aiming stick. Flicking the joystick while aiming is not an easy task.
Viss – Keyboard / Mouse Player (TSM)
Viss has controls very similar to the default keyboard settings, with the squat switch set to Ctrl. With this setup, Viss can very easily move left and right with the A and D keys while constantly pressing the control. Wyss can easily maintain movement, and most importantly, his right arm can still aim without losing control.
Key inputs – keyboard wins
Without a doubt, playing with a mouse and keyboard opens up a lot more freedom to control yourself in all games, so there is no doubt that players with a keyboard and mouse have a clear advantage. What about aiming? Let’s look at this further.
The controller versus the mouse and keyboard to aim
The next question is controversial, but the answer is pretty simple. Which is better for aiming: a controller or a mouse?
The controller uses a thumb-operated joystick, allowing you to push the target in any direction 360 degrees. As your target gets closer to the target, you should give small, gentle thrusts to get closer to the target.
Imagine that at the end of a pin, you are pushing a piece with your fingertip into the gate. The counter is the handle here.
Each time you move with your mouse, aiming is more like tapping your finger on that counter and moving it without a pin. You can move the counter freely anywhere on the 2D plane without any restrictions. On the controller, you are forced to change the tilt angle or press in the desired direction to move the target.
Simply put, the mouse has infinite freedom of movement around the controller’s joystick.
How do Controller Pro players keep playing well?
If the keyboard is better for controlling button presses and the mouse is better for aiming, why are so many pro gamers sticking to the controller? And more importantly, how do controller players still manage to compete among the best in their leagues?
It all comes down to the so-called aiming aid. Aim Assist on the controller helps guide your target towards opponents, making it easier to hit targets. It has been added to almost every game to help control players, because without it it would be incredibly difficult to aim or control.
Many controller players find it easier to stick to the aim assist system rather than trying to learn a whole new input method.
Let’s go back to our analogy. It will be like pushing a chip with a pin, but as it gets closer to the target, it will hit the target itself. Aiming assistance will help make these final adjustments. As long as the controller player can aim close enough to the target, his aim will slow down, making it easier to adjust hits.
However, aiming assistance will not be as good as aiming and clicking, which does not help with aiming. But for many controller gamers who have played consoles all their lives, it is easier to settle for what they know best than trying to learn a whole new input method.
For the same reasons, it will be difficult to play video games with a mouse for the first time. It takes a while to form good enough muscle memory to actually point and click where your brain tells your hand to.
And for many, getting accurate aiming can take thousands of hours of practice. This is why many pros still use a controller today – taking the time to play around with a bad aim to learn how to use a mouse can reduce their chances of competing at a high level.
However, many took the leap and did not look back – Ninja, the former halo pro, is a prime example of this.
A mouse and keyboard can be much better if you take the time to learn. If you can’t learn to aim with your mouse, the controller might be better for you.
You can still practice game elements like team strategy, positioning, or other little things that help define the competitive meta of a particular game.