This thing feels alien in your hands for about 10 minutes, I really felt like I had made a huge mistake buying two of these AND a steam link. Once you start playing something though, things your brain starts to adapt to the new environment and it gets really comfortable.
The 360 controller I tend to hold onto with some kind of death grip, as if someone is trying to take it away. The shape of the 360 controller just makes me do that. I’m not saying this is bad, it's just the way it works for me.
The Steam Controller on the other hand forces me to relax just a little bit, once you stop trying to bend the world to your will, the controller feels very comfortable.
Build quality is really great, I like the textured look, but because some parts are shiny and others are flat, it looks slightly different in person than it does in photographs.
This is the hardest part to explain, but also probably the most important.
The controller is always giving you feedback through taps click vibrations, and they all feel different.
somehow they have made the pads feel like something is under them pushing back at you when you use them. It is very difficult to explain, and really has to be experienced to understand what it is like.
Valve may have actually made a good choice when getting a section in Gamestop. People NEED to get their hands on this to understand the haptics
Has a small indentation in the shape of a cross, so your thumb knows where you can press.
You can set it up in two ways.
I tried a d-pad style games (Cave story plus / Super Mario Bros. 2) with it
I didn’t really like using it for directional control, I always felt like my thumb was gravitating to the left stick instead.
I decided to try it without clicking, just having my thumb in the right spot. No pressure on the pad.
This didn’t feel right either.
It was too easy to go from horizontal to vertical movement.
This however could be all on me. You can adjust everything about the D-Pad, you can set a bigger dead zone so your thumb has to do more traveling, cutting back on the amount of spurious inputs.
I didn’t mess around with that too much, I have SNES controllers for that kind of game. and a thumbstick ALMOST always works just as well for D-pad style games.
Find myself not using the left pad for very much.
What will I use the left pad for.
Mostly I think clicking it as extra buttons. Kind of like weapon selection in a FPS kind of thing.
The great thing about it is you can set those up as taps or clicks.
You can also set it up so that when you click it, it inputs the corresponding direction along with the click, giving you a lot of combinations in a very small area. Not to mention the mode shifting.
as if there weren’t already enough inputs and options under the left pad, you can also set it so that if you hit another button you shift into a different mode, giving your left pad all new inputs. This sounds like a great idea, but I think that would probably overcomplicate gameplay, and any game where you REALLY NEED that many inputs, I think you’re probably better off with a mouse / keyboard anyway.
Smooth, at first I thought oh no I can’t tell where I am on the pad, but when using it, you just seem to know. I’m not sure how, but they have put the trackpad at the perfect angle, and for some reason my brain just knows where I am. I works very well.
Right pad can be clicked in for a button use.
My first instinct here was going to be mouse click, but you end up moving your thumb just a bit when depressing the button, so I ended up moving mouse clicking to some other button.
Can also be double tapped like a trackpad on a laptop. for ANOTHER button.
This is really great, it feels perfectly natural, and works fantastically.
Going forward these need to be on just about every controller there is. Adds more buttons, your thumbs can stay where they are, and you don’t have to move them to the face buttons.
Looking at a picture of the controller I was worried that these couldn’t be depressed at the same time. As if when I pushed down on one, the other side pops up. This is thankfully not the case.
For a company that was going to ship a controller with no stick at all, Valve really brought home the bacon on this thumbstick. This thing is awesome. It feels like the perfect design for a stick. I’ll compare it to what I’m most familiar with, again the 360.
The stick is a bit smaller than the 360 sticks your thumb doens’t fall into the middle of the stick either. I always liked the concave stick of the 360 stick, that little indent really made it easy to use.
Steam controller stick is convex, which when I saw had me concerned. I’ve used controllers with convex shapes before and my thumb would tend to slip off of them or they would slightly slide back to center unless I pressed down on them with the weight of a millions suns.
The top of the stick has the perfect rubbery grip to it, around the center is a raised circle surrounded by whatever the opposite of dimples is called. This feels really great on the thumb, and the stick doesn't slip at all.
Even though the stick doesn't slip that doesn’t mean it isn’t stiff. This feels a lot stiffer than a 360 controller. One of the things I loved about 360 controllers over playstation controllers was the stiffness, the PS3 controller always felt a little too loose and muddy. This takes it to a whole new level This stick is stiff (insert sophomoric chuckles here) There is a degree of resistance to this that feels great, and for me. It is hands down the best thumbstick on the market.
The triggers have a two stage pull, which I thought meant that they were like the GameCube triggers, but they feel very different from that. This is due to the haptic feedback, you’re constantly getting information back from the controller via small clicks and ticks, it really lets you know how far you have until the click, and it's great.
You can set it up so that one pull will do two thing, pull a little and you do one thing, pull it all the way in and you’ll do both.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Yes, you have more inputs, but that also means that these inputs need to be related, otherwise you’re going to do something that you don’t want.
I tried putting dodge and jump on one trigger for Guild Wars 2, this wouldn’t work for me, as every time I tried to jump, I would also dodge.
I can see how this will be very useful in certain situations, but for the most part I don’t know that I’ll use this feature.
When using any controller I’ve never been one to have my index fingers on the shoulder buttons, and my middle fingers on the triggers, I always just use my index fingers and switch as needed.
On the steam controller this feels even harder for me to do.
The button placement is fine, for ME. But anyone that wants to use the shoulder buttons and triggers at the same time might find it a tad uncomfortable.
They are smaller than 360 buttons, I feel like there is more room between them. I thought this would be a problem but after about 10 minutes it felt totally natural.
Loading up Portal 2, the game asked if I wanted to use the gyroscope. I didn’t even know it had this! Or I did, and I forgot, I’m not sure which is true. This allows you to use the controller like in Splatoon for the Wii U, where you can aim as normal, but use tilting for slight adjustments to your aim. When Splatoon first came out I was totally against this method of control, but I’ve come to love it, and I’m happy to see that I’ll be able to use it in more games.
Design and Build
Really well designed, back cover which incorporates the grip levers has a small switch that pops it off, batteries go into the palmrests of the controller, this makes the controller feel really well balanced. It’s heavy on the sides, not in the middle.