We’ve heard tell of the Steam controller‘s ins and outs (and ups and downs and lefts and rights and Bs and As and starts) from many a developer, but still skepticism reigns. And with good reason: Valve’s haptics-powered Franken-pad is kinda bonkers. But now, at the very least, we can see – with eyes or echolocation – how it functions moment-to-moment. Go below to see it power through Portal 2, Civilization V, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Papers Please.
Seems solid, no? It’s definitely versatile. I’ll give Valve that much. It’ll definitely take some getting used to, but I could see myself piloting my way through the future with one of those if a mouse-and-keyboard setup isn’t readily available. That’s my big concern, really: this all looks nice enough, but each demonstration made my brain scream, “YEAH, BUT MOUSE AND KEYBOARD WOULD FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.” Sorry about the caps. It’s all screaming up there.
Then again, these are legacy mode games, so of course mouse-and-keyboard is preferable over thumb-warring them into submission. But then, the Steam controller is supposed to be a substitute for our setup of choice, so I don’t really see it getting the upper hand in many genres. Does it look better than a standard gamepad? Definitely. I’m still skeptical about the effectiveness of haptic feedback, but you can’t argue with that precisio, and we haven’t even what the touch screen’s capable of yet. My issue is that Valve’s pretty obviously trying to get dyed-in-the-wool PC gamers aboard its living room Steam engine first, but I don’t really see any compelling reason to modify my current setup. Not yet, anyway.
I suppose I might be interested if I played more games that tangibly benefited from a drive-in-movie-theater-worthy screen and – yuck – other nearby humans, but there aren’t many of those on PC these days. That said, Valve plans to release videos like this regularly, so I’d love to see one that includes, say, TowerFall and Samurai Gunn. Or Nidhogg. Or Divekick. Or or or… OK, maybe we’ve got some good living room games after all. But I would argue that Steam’s living room conquest still lacks a mighty leader – a killer app to stand at the head of the charge – so it’s a tough sell for me. Does Valve have something else up its sleeve? Time will tell. (And also it’s probably Half-Life.)