Update: DrLupo reached out to clarify some of the points he made in his analysis, and specifically to emphasize that he wasn't stating that the XIM4 is a problem. "In reality, with how the aim assist has always felt to me within Destiny specifically, I don't see XIM or a controller as different from each other. The XIM still involves translation, which means it will never be as precise as a native mouse," he explained.
"The point of my write-up was to express that, in my opinion, in Destiny’s sandbox, because of how the AA has functioned, a controller with AA is on-par with a mouse with AA via the XIM. The problem I was stating was regarding AA in general in a shooter where native mouse aim (no AA) and any [assisted] aim type (controller or XIM) going against each other would cause issues."
DrLupo said he'd have to do more testing before he could comment on whether an "average" player with a mouse and keyboard running through a XIM would have an edge over someone of similar skill using native inputs. But any auto aim system, he noted, could potentially be a source of trouble, even if only because of the perception of an unfair advantage.
"People will look for anything to blame. The XIM is a usual suspect, depending on opinion, so people will point fingers without any personal experience of their own," he said. In fact, he's already seeing it happen on Twitter, Reddit, and in his own Twitch chat. "Players are shaming others for using a controller. This means the 'ego' issue is already at play. And we're not even done with the beta."
He agreed that having aim assist in a competitive shooter is "silly," but added that it's not yet clear whether that's what Bungie and Activision have in mind. "At this point, based on what I've read from Bungie, it appears the game is designed to be as widely accessible as possible, which means potentially sacrificing some of the things that gamers expect when it comes to competitive shooters. The inclusion of AA is part of that," he said.
However it ultimately plays out, DrLupo made it clear that he is thoroughly impressed with what he's seen so far in the beta. "The PC version is amazing," he said. "I feel at home. It's more comfortable than any shooter I've ever played."
With the Destiny 2 PC beta now underway for everyone (and apparently going very well), Twitch streamer DrLupo decided to dig a little deeper into how the game's aim assist will work on the PC as compared to consoles. Simply put, aim assist is disabled when you're playing with a mouse and keyboard, but enabled for controllers—and when you connect your mouse and keyboard through a XIM4 module, the game thinks you're playing with a controller, and so it's enabled.
(The XIM4, you might recall, was at the heart of an Overwatch controversy earlier this year.)
DrLupo said in the stream that mouse and keyboard with aim assist enabled isn't necessarily overpowered, but it "might be a problem" under some circumstances, a point he elaborated on in a written summary. "At the very top end of skill, we'll say the top 1%, 5%, 10%—whatever—native mouse aim will dominate. Controller players will get outgunned in the extremely competitive spaces simply because native mouse aim is more precise," he wrote. "The mechanics of having highly customizable, very precise mice, combined with the mechanics around wrist/arm movement give a native mouse the ability to outgun a controller with AA."
But outside of that "highly competitive, mouse-only competition," he thinks it could lead to trouble. "The remaining % of the player base that falls outside of the above will experience frustration, and express said frustration in community damaging ways," he continued. "We've seen it before in Destiny."
Interestingly, he pointed out that Overwatch faced the same issue when it went into beta on the PC. In that case, Blizzard elected to completely eliminate aim assist from the PC edition of the game, because it specifically intended for Overwatch to become a professional esport. Activision and Bungie, he said, must make the same decision about Destiny 2.
"If the PvP portion of the game is intended, by Bungie/VV [Vicarious Visions], to be perceived from a competitive point of view—remove AA from PvP on PC," he concluded. "However, if that is not the case—keep the AA as is. It didn't feel any more powerful than on console. It opens the game up to a larger audience. And I will still be able to outgun 99% of players, as I have repeatedly on stream thus far. It creates an environment for everyone to do what they've done up to this point with the PC version of D2—enjoy a really, REALLY well built game on a platform that can hit a much larger audience than if it were just on console."
It's worth bearing in mind that there are some limiting factors here. XIM4 modules go for $160 on Amazon (opens in new tab), for one thing, which is a lot of coin to drop to get an edge in an online shooter. And its value may be limited, as DrLupo said the effect is most pronounced when using "medium to high rate-of-fire guns." There's also the possibility that Bungie could take a middle-of-the-road approach by leaving aim assist enabled for PvE but killing it in PvP—although the changed gun characteristics between the two modes would probably just make people even angrier.
Bottom line, I think DrLupo has the right of it: You can't have a serious esport with aim assist, but if that's not what you're after, then let it go. I've reached out to Activision for comment, and will update if I receive a reply. The full XIM4 testing video is at the top of the page, with relevant commentary starting around the 40:00 mark.