The Steam Controller - Evan Chaisson
After years of waiting and countless delays, Valve has finally released its controller. Now that it’s been out for about a month, reviewers have a better picture of how the controller holds up.
The Steam controller is actually cheaper than its more popular Microsoft counterpart. If you plan on buying this new gadget, get ready on being set back $49. The controller also comes with some major differences than the industry standard in terms of design. For example, where one would expect a right joystick is a matte trackpad. Valve also made an unexpected move by adding two extra buttons on the back of the controller where you rest your fingers, something unheard of in the industry. The two trackpads are made of rugged plastic to ensure a steady grip. Both also rumble to give the user an idea of where their fingers are using a new mechanism called “haptic feedback”. The triggers on the back of the controller are now two-staged, giving the user the ability to choose the responsiveness of the input.
All these hardware changes are geared towards making the controller more comfortable in the hands of gamers, but does it really succeed in doing so? Those who have used the controller say that the bulbous ends of the controller make it fit well in their hands, although many reviewers claim that it does take some getting used to.
One of the newer features of the Steam controller that makes it stand out is the crowdsourcing of button configurations. Valve has given the ability of creating game specific custom button configs and uploading them for others to download. These configs are then rated by popularity, so that the ones that are liked and used the most by other members of the community show up first. The idea behind this is to save gamers time and give them the best experience possible as soon as possible. Users are also able to customize a variety of aspects of their controller, from button layout, to haptic feedback intensity, to responsiveness of the triggers, to the sensitivity and acceleration of the trackpad.
Choosing Your Game
Many people will be surprised to hear that some games which previously were only playable with a mouse and keyboard are now easily playable with the Steam controller. This breakthrough could allow for gamers to play virtually any computer game from the comfort of their living room. Take Civilization V for example: a turn-based strategy game that would normally be unplayable on a controller. Valve’s newest gadget doesn’t have this problem. In fact, a reviewer on Kotaku claims that playing slow-paced games allowed him to get better acclimated to the controller than when he played fast-paced games like Shadow Warrior or Bedlam. Driving games which have been notoriously uncomfortable to play with keyboard and mouse work especially well with the Steam Controller.
Is the Steam Controller worth it?
As of now, I would say that it isn’t worth it unless you enjoy leaving your comfort zone and trying out new things. It does work especially well with the Steam Link if you are interested in gaming on the couch and aren’t willing to purchase a console. It does take quite some time to get used to, and the plastic hardware is does feel a bit cheap compared to its more expensive competitors. All that being said, you shouldn’t let the Steam controller off your radar just yet. As with most Valve products, it will probably pay off sometime next year as more games come out with support for it. All of Valve’s products are constantly adapting to demand, and the Steam controller is no different.
The Steam controller is an innovative piece of technology that holds a lot of promise for the next few years to come. Sure, it has its fair share of limitations, but that doesn’t stop it from bringing something new to the market. If I were you, I would hold off on buying it until later and wait to see in what direction does Valve take its latest piece of hardware.