The Controller vs. Mouse and Keyboard Debate Explained


by in General | Sep, 22nd 2021

The debate of “controller vs. keyboard and mouse” will probably never end when it comes to gaming. Heck, we’ve talked about it here before. Each side has its own pros and cons, and let’s be honest: these are gamers. Only one side can really be right, correct? Remember the days of the Nintendo vs. SEGA arguments? It’s a pretty similar thing. Both sides are great, but we don’t want to hear that. In particular, the controller vs. mouse and keyboard debate comes up when we’re talking about FPS titles. Dr Disrespect and TSM’s Ali “Myth” Kabbani brought it back to life recently with some hot takes on controller players.

Some players are like me, who don’t really have a true preference. OpTic’s Dashy had a very measured take, with “Controller or MnK don’t matter…I’m challing”. That’s not what we’re talking about yet though. TSM Myth said that a controller player could never be in his top 10 for greatest FPS players of all time. That definitely riled people up. This came as a quote retweet of a Dr Disrespect tweet, “Without your aim assist, you ain’t nothin’”. But the real question is, “Is either side really right?”

The short answer is “No.” The long answer, however, we’re going to get into now.

Two Sides of the Coin:


As long as we’ve had both input options for gaming, this has been an issue. The idea behind the controller vs. mouse and keyboard debate is that one input option is clearly better than the other. Each again has its good points and downsides. Both sides have defenders, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Now that we’re reaching a point where esports will mix keyboard and mouse players with controllers (Halo Infinite), it’s something worth discussing. 

Keyboard and Mouse:


The great thing about a keyboard is you have about 104 keys (on a full board) with which to work with. You don’t have to hit intricate button combinations to do certain things in an FPS. Not to mention, you can set macros without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a SCUF or something. That is, of course, providing your esport allows for macros. As long as it’s not against the rules of the game, you’ll get no argument here. Macros allow for several button presses to happen through a single key on your board and are incredibly advantageous. It’s also really convenient just in general. 

The first shooters used a keyboard and mouse, after all. Doom? Until it came to consoles and controllers were easier to connect to a PC, we used a keyboard. The mouse is the real powerhouse behind this combo though. There is no tool you can use that offers more precision when aiming and shooting than a mouse. You have faster, more responsive movement with a mouse, too. Depending on the DPI (Dots Per Inch) of your mouse, you can move and respond faster to any threat. This also comes down to your own reaction time, but having a high-powered mouse sure makes it easier.

You also can typically customize the DPI/misc settings on your mouse to make it comfortable for you. You can also adjust the inputs (which controllers can also admittedly do). Flicking/Flickshot is also overwhelmingly easier (while also very hard) with a mouse. A flickshot is a type of snap where you make a very fast crosshair movement onto your target and fire. It looks like you just briefly highlight the target and drop them. 

This is such a powerful style of targeting tech, that it’s the reason most shooters that feature controllers/are on console have Aim Assist. It will feel like your crosshair magnetizes/locks onto your target in a very similar manner. This is why many keyboard and mouse players feel slighted or robbed. The console player has to do way less work it seems, to get the same effect. 

Controller:


Why would you use a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse? Well, it’s often for convenience. Not all consoles make it easy to use those on their machine. Then you have to have the set up to hold the keyboard/mouse. Controllers are incredibly easy to set up and are often more comfortable. Several hours of playing an FPS on a controller can really cause pain in some users. There are also shooter fans who type all day for a living and don’t want to type and use a keyboard/mouse at the end of the day – like yours truly. 

Comfort and ease of use/access is a serious boon for a controller. You could use wireless mice and a keyboard, but that can also come with dropped inputs/input delay. A wired controller won’t have as much of that. Most games that allow a controller again, tend to have Aim Assist of some fashion. Your controller’s stick isn’t as precise as a mouse, but there are benefits. Not having to hold an awkward button like Shift/Control/Alt to run is a beautiful thing. Instead, most controller uses just hold L3 (Push down Left Stick).

Motion with a controller is easier – whether rotating the camera or looking up and down. A controller isn’t as precise or fast as a keyboard and mouse, but it’s far more comfortable, and it makes up for the lack of precision with a little bit of assistance when it comes to lining up shots. 

What Side is Right?


Neither side is right, truth be told. There’s nothing wrong with preferring one or another, but Nadeshot made one of the more salient points in this latest argument. It’s not EZ MODE all day on a controller. There’s a lot to consider, and a lot of hard work put in when you’re playing at a pro-level. 100 Thieves’ own Nadeshot made it clear when he replied to Myth:

Your opinion went out the door when you slandered some of the best players in the world just because they play on controller. If you didn’t match up on mainstage against them, you don’t know what it takes. Plain and simple. On top of that, you haven’t been around long enough.

It was enough to have Myth walk it back, agreeing with Nadeshot’s “perfect point”. We don’t need to bully people over these kinds of arguments though. My personal favorite point comes from TimtheTatMan though; it’s the thing I’ve responded with forever now, it seems like it:

If controller is so broken then play controller

It’s as simple as that. If you think it’s so easy and there’s no skill in it, just go use it! Some players will succeed no matter what tools they use, and that’s okay. There’s no reason to shame someone for what they play on. Frankly, I don’t care if your Street Fighter V fight stick is a plastic box with the buttons pushed into it. If you want to use a DDR pad to play CoD: Vanguard? By all means, go for it. Neither side is right, and whatever you use is absolutely fine. Controller players don’t have infinitely better movement and response times, and Keyboard and Mouse players lack the comfort and Aim Assist offered by a controller. 

If you complain about a pro player using a controller because of “aim assist”, remember they could have likely made that shot anyway on a keyboard and mouse. Scump and Karma are great examples. There’s no shame in using what works for you. The controller vs. keyboard and mouse argument will never end, but at the end of the day, use what’s best for you. 

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