An age old rivalry that has existed between gamers apart from the usual war between consoles and PC is of the preferred medium of interface to interact and play games with. Consoles have been popular with the consumers with its portable and handy controller setup whereas PCs have always used the Keyboard/Mouse (herein referred to as KB/M) setup even apart from the gaming scene for its input interface. 10-15 years ago we couldn’t have imagined PCs being used with any other combination to get around, right now we also have touch interface to interact with PCs but still not as popular as the KB/M combo.
Whenever KB/M vs Controller is mentioned, it is quickly assumed and stated that KB/M combo takes over controllers any day in regarding to shooters, mainly First Person Shooters. Although many also say that KB/M combo triumph the traditional Gamepad/Controller in Third Person Shooters as well. First Person Shooters have mainly been dominant on PCs with the KB/M combo but now ever since the first Halo came out on the original Xbox, revolutionizing FPS genre on consoles and other titles building on upon the concept and even surpassing the original concept in many ways, it can be easily said that the Controller is no slouch when compared to KB/M after seeing the results of the increasing online gamers on the console platform.
Many state that the Controller is only better for Fighting/Beat ‘Em Up genre and platform titles and even Third Person Shooters but many still continue to believe that First Person Shooters are still better suited to the KB/M combo. They are not entirely wrong when they say that, given how you can be extremely precise with the Mouse when aiming whereas on Controllers you may hit a dead zone or you can’t achieve better sensitivity settings when aiming with the analog stick. But ever since Halo, developers of FPS titles on consoles have been optimizing and adapting well to the Controllers so that the gamer who chooses to game on console can have the same smooth experience whether aiming, firing a weapon or driving a vehicle.
Another such debate that arises when KB/M vs Controller is mentioned is of the buttons. Granted that a Keyboard has the many buttons advantage and a player can also modify and map to his favourite keys, it can also serve as a double-edged sword, that is, too many buttons to remember which action they perform. To a causal gamer, they get pretty confused and have to spend a good few seconds by looking directly at the Keyboard and figuring out which button to hit. Sometimes even veteran gamers of the KB/M combo can be hit such confusion which ultimately lowers the reaction time of a gamer.
Controllers on the other hand have a few buttons on them with each button mapped by the developers, with many developers also presenting the option of mapping to the buttons you like, which in turn lets the players adapt easily with the buttons. Since the shape of the Controllers for their specific platform rarely change by the console manufactures, with the exception of third-party controllers, players can easily adapt onto a controller and its buttons whereas there are many types of Keyboards, with different shapes, some offering a bit of a different spacing than others, some donning big keys, some small, hence there is no specific shape or size standard with the Keyboards as it offers you a variety to be chosen from. There are specific gaming Keyboards and Mice available by many manufacturers but their cost also comes in the way for many gamers.
One of the dominating sections of KB/M combo is in Real-time Strategy games or RTS. This is where the many buttons or keys of the Keyboard come in handy along with the precision of the Mouse. With hotkeys set to select, attack or defend or some other type of action with just a press of the key along with the option of mapping to the keys suited for a player’s own taste makes KB/M combo a greater one than that of a Controller. With the Scroll Wheel also present on the Mouse for faster navigation of menus and items, RTS games are best suited with the KB/M combo although developers have tried bringing the experience to Controllers as well but compared to KB/M it does fall short. KB/M however do under perform with Fighting/Beat ‘Em Up games. With certain moves suited with the input of an analog stick, it becomes easier and faster to achieve the desired results.
With the recent increase of FPS titles on the console platform with the most popular online FPS title, Call of Duty, it is seen that Controllers can handle FPS well. With a little practice and dedication one can be as efficient as a person with a KB/M setup. However many of these FPS titles do tend to incorporate Aim Assists by default but also do present the option to turn it off in order to really push the limits of the player to show his talent using a Controller.
Other than that it also boils down to one’s own preference and how much time a person has spent gaming with a specific interface medium. For example, a person who has gamed his whole gaming life on a Controller playing all sorts of genres will definitely prefer Controller over the KB/M combo and will face a bit of a struggle to adapt to the KB/M combo and vice versa, a person who has put down countless hours using KB/M combo will also feel a bit of a struggle adapting to the Controller, its weight and size along with other aspects such as complete control over analog sticks.
With new ways of interacting with the game world also present such as motion controllers and touch screens, at its core, KB/M and Controllers will always stay a default but who’s to say for how long. Till then the rivalry between Keyboard/Mouse VS Controllers will remain.
What’s your preferred choice for playing games? Let us know via the comments below.