Hardware Review: Steam Controller
The Steam Controller has been out for quite some time now and it’s gained it’s fair share of supporters and critics alike. From those who are hardcore into their gamepads, to those who are just looking for something new, this controller is a bit different from other ones on the market – But how well does this translate into gaming? Well, I recently got my hands on one and have had a good amount of time playing a variety of games on it. Read on for our full review of Valve’s controller of choice for Steam.
|Platforms||PC(Windows, OSX, Linux)|
|Price||£39.99 (On Steam)
The Steam Controller has a variety of gimmicks attached to it, making it ideal for someone who wants a good amount of control over a game with customisable inputs. The variety of functions included in the Steam Controller probably makes it one of the more versatile gamepads on the market. These functions include:
- A d-pad
- An analogue stick
- Start and select buttons
- Triggers and bumpers
- Two handle triggers
- A track pad (2 if you count the D-Pad, which is also one)
- Four face buttons (A, B, X, Y)
- And fully customisable sounds and profiles
That’s a lot of bells and whistles, which comes in handy in separating this gamepad from so many others. It’s an all-purpose gaming pad, which has taken Steams PC experience into account. This might be a controller a little closer to home for PC gamers, but this vast array of features comes at a cost. The cost we’re on about is the placement of the ABXY face buttons, which feel like they’re positioned quite differently from a normal gamepads position.
Okay, I wasn’t going to make this a whole section before, but the more I played with it, the more I realised that the Steam Controller begs for your attention. The D-Pad clicks and clacks, which oddly is a great thing for fighting games. Having been playing so much Tekken 7 recently, it was nicely fitting. It taught me when my inputs hit and when I just sorta was too soft. As well as this, when the controller boots up, you have it set to a boot-up and shut down noise – Cute, but hugely useless.
As an amusing aside, holy crap the vibrations are insanely loud! They’re really rather crazy and the vibrations feel strong. If you don’t mind a noisy controller, then this pad will be fine, but if silence is paramount to you, I will suggest you’ll dislike the Steam Controller. It’s loud, it knows it, but it then gets louder still! So, take this as a warning to all of you gaming in silence, you strong stoic types – This is like having a friend over constantly going “HEY! I DID A THING!” Pay attention to it, as it’s hard not to. For me personally, I saw it as an amusing addition to the already quirky pad.
On the plus side, you can turn off the vibrations.
Feeling / Grip
Let’s start with the only real negative: the ABXY face buttons are really far away from the right hand thumb. As someone with relatively small hands, it’s a little bit fiddly, but not unwieldy. I can (and do) play games fine on it, but it gets fiddly in fighting games. Fortunately, the face buttons are small, which makes up for the stretch. This means you can literally rest your thumb in the middle of them and control it all with the ball of your thumb. If you prefer claw grip, this controller can work nicely, as the strange face button placements are in an interesting alignment to the bumpers.
The controller feels of a high quality, allowing a tight grip. One thing I didn’t account for was the sturdiness of the D-Pad. This is good in some cases, but not all – For instance, if you rely heavily on D-Pad movement for your games, the hard pushes may take its toll on you. Having said that, the worst part about the D-Pad is the lack of diagonals. Up, down, left and right are nicely marked, but since the D-Pad is also a trackpad, it isn’t the greatest for diagonal placement. It could have done with clicks into individual zones on the D-Pad, however if you just use it for menu navigation or what not, it’s a perfectly serviceable pad.
Weirdly, since I started using the Steam Controller, I have had more frequent wins on The Binding of Isaac… but I can’t attribute if that’s down to the controller or if I just ‘got gud’. The controller itself has enough of interest, to where your fingers are always sure to be on a gizmo of some kind. Having the editable interface for the Steam Controller is also a blessing in disguise, although not all games allow you to bind the handle triggers. It’s a strange place for triggers, but it’s so damn comfortable that it’s worth playing with them where possible.
Before I go on to give my overall opinion, it’s fair to say that with time, getting used to the controller is pretty easy and the same can be said of all hardware. The hardware I received felt of a high quality, with a lot of customisable options. It’s genuinely a fun, quirky controller.
It’s a big win from me – A highly customisable controller with lots of bells and whistles to keep you interested, entertained and yet also occasionally frustrated. One time, I was playing a game, when I went to the Big Picture mode overlay and it decided to call a stranger on my list. The person I barely knew was then removed from my list, so if you’re out there, reading this and upset that I said I barely knew you, I apologise – I didn’t mean to call! But now it’s over to you! What do you think of all of the features of the Steam Controller? Would you get one? Let us know in the comments below or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.