Steam Controller Review: How Good Is It?

Editor rating

4/5 on October 25, 2017

User's rating

2,568 reviews

PROS

  • Touchpads. The innovative touchpads make your gamepad control experience great, particularly when playing mouse-heavy games. While it may take you some time to be completely accustomed to them, you’ll see potential in the touchpads. Initially, the missing component was haptic feedback. Now that it’s included, and the pad will feel natural and complete. The accuracy of the touchpad is something that will depend on you, the user.
  • Customizable software. It allows you to customize other users if you would like to try what they are doing. Getting customizable software will let you emulate a mouse, keyboard, gamepad, and more.
  • Batteries. Because the steam controller uses regular AA batteries, you don’t have to worry if its internal battery doesn’t hold the charge anymore. You can compete as long as you want.
  • Compatibility. The steam controller works well with Mac, Linux, and Windows.
  • Weight. The device feels great in hand, thanks to its design. The weight is good too; it’s neither light nor heavy.
  • Configuration. Through the community profiles, it will be easy to get a default controller configuration that suits your needs.

CONS

  • Design. The entire design of the steam controller seems awkward. There isn’t a way to get around it. The bulbous wings make it uncomfortable to hold the device, and worse still, it’s not easy to reach the face buttons A, B, X, Y if your hands are small. Although the concept for the two-stage triggers is good, they are ultimately mushy, lacking excellent ergonomics.
  • Non-steam games. While the steam controller can be used in Big Picture Mode and standard games, it is difficult to use with non-Steam games.
  • Novelty. Another problem is that this controller will feel like a novelty instead of a potentially dangerous game accessory. You may find yourself trying to do weird and wacky things with it rather than competing.
  • Steep learning curve. It may take time for you to get used to using the steam controller

VERDICT

The Steam Controller is a great gaming tool and a changing peripheral that will probably revolutionize and improve the way users play games. The chances are that you’ll get frustrated when using it at first because it’s different from other controllers, but things will get easier over time. At the moment, the different features means the controller is less of a practical, battle-ready gamepad. For a better experience, it would be wise to opt for Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, especially if you are an experienced gamer. Nevertheless, you will still have good moments with the Steam Controller when exploring the control schemes cooked up by the community.

One thing that Valve has done is to build a new gaming platform. You can choose to give the controller and community more time so they can build out the functionality. Before you know it, the Steam ecosystem will improve, taking you to new heights. Until you are sure that you can withstand the incompatibilities and glitches, including the overall lack of competitiveness, it’s better to stick to what you know best – whether it’s another kind of controller or a mouse and keyboard.

But, if you like the design and features and you are willing to see what this platform has in store, this controller could be the one thing your fingers have been aching for. We recommend the Steam Controller for mid-level and beginner gamers.

Valve Corporation developed a new game controller referred to as the Steam Controller for computers running Steam on Linux, Steam OS, Microsoft Windows, or MacOS. This controller is designed for games created for controller users as well as games traditionally played with mouse and keyboard controls. Should you buy the Steam Controller? How good is it? And is it worth it? We shall be answering all these questions in this detailed review. We will discuss the design, features, usability, specs, pros and cons, and give our sincere verdict.

Steam Controller Front and BackSteam Controller Specs:

  • Analog stick
  • Dual trackpads
  • Configurable controls
  • HD haptics
  • Dual-stage triggers
  • Accelerometer and gyroscope sensors
  • Local multiplayer capability
  • USB 2.0 through Micro USB port
  • Wireless or wired (dual mode)

The controller set comes with the following accessories:

  • The steam controller
  • USB wireless combination dongle
  • Dongle extension dock
  • 2 AA batteries

Features

This gadget features two high-resolution clickable trackpads and thirteen buttons, including shoulder, face, and under grip buttons. The trackpads have been designed to replace the typical thumbsticks found on modern standard controllers. They include haptic feedback that sends tactile feedback to players as per the game events. While this controller is designed for a Steam Machine platform, you can still use it with Steam on existing personal computers. The controller includes gyroscopic sensors for detecting the relative orientation of a controller.

Presently, the controller is created to be operated within the Big Picture mode; this allows a player to access comprehensive options for setting different controller features on a per-game basis including button/trackpad mapping. Outside the Big Picture mode, the steam controller will operate like a standard 2-stick controller.

Design

The original version only had four center buttons, and it lacked face buttons, but the final product offers more. Steam Controller’s gamepad has thirteen buttons, with six in the rear and seven front face buttons.

At the front left, you will find a control stick, including a haptic touchpad which is feedback enabled. On the right side are four familiar face buttons – A, B, X and Y, including another touchpad.  The Steam start and back buttons are placed in the middle.

A big part of the face is dominated by twofold circular pads that are wired for haptic feedback. You can use the left pad (it’s inscribed with a d-pad) for custom commands. The right one is solely used for controlling the camera and looking around. Pads are made using plastic, just like the entire controller’s body, although the smooth matte finish makes the pads comfortable for the fingers.

Spin the controller around, and you will see two-stage triggers, two bumpers, as well as hidden buttons where your fingers can rest on the inside of the wings. The latter is a feature you will find in most aftermarket controllers from Mad Catz or PDP.

Controller bumpers sit on a plate which you can remove to put the batteries in their designated area, making the design more unique. Bumpers and analog triggers sit exactly where they are expected to be – where your middle and index fingers can reach comfortably. You will not get that kind of travel in analog triggers in other gamepads, but the ‘useful click’ will inform you that you have maxed out.

It’s wings are bulbous and concave in the middle. This element is a major departure from any standard controller design, making it a polarizing decision. You may or may not find it easier to use the touchpad because of the way the wings raise your palms above your thumbs. You may also find it hard to press the controller’s face button due to its design.

The gyroscope and accelerometer are placed inside the controller. Valve claims that they will help you steer in some games. Although there may be no games that support accelerometer or gyroscope, soon someone is bound to capitalize on this functionality.

Should you purchase the Steam Controller?

  • If you plan on streaming to a TV, the Steam controller will offer more benefits compared to a traditional gamepad.
  • The touchpads have an input method which is almost as great as a mouse. There are many buttons too, meaning you can go even without a keyboard.
  • You need to be cautious if you want to use this controller on your desktop personal computer. Xbox controllers are more comfortable since the primary buttons are large. The Steam Controller provides fewer benefits to 3rd person action games instead of slightly enhanced aiming.
  • If you are a hardcore 1st person shooter or you play strategy games, you’ll long for your old good mouse and keyboard.
  • The longer you use the Steam Controller, and access games with optimized settings, the more you will enjoy your experience. You might want to begin practicing as soon as possible. Hopefully, your hands can fit.

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