Sunset Overdrive's mouse controls are terrible

TFW the best option for a PC shooter is a gamepad. 
Tested on:

Since we're talking about a years-old port, we're not going to run complete benchmarks, but here's what I did my brief testing on. 

CPU: Intel i7-5960X
GPU: Nvidia GeForce 980 Ti
RAM: 32 GB
OS: Windows 10

Sunset Overdrive should be the perfect PC game. First released on Xbox One in 2014, it's a blissed-out take on open world parkour that mashes up Jet Set Radio's exaggerated near-future aesthetic and trick-based movement system with a shitload of weird guns. 

As a noisy meme-ing shooter that throws hordes of enemies at the player from every direction, the ability to aim precisely while grinding, wall-running, bouncing, or any absurd combination of the above is 100-percent required. Perfect. Easy. The mouse was made for exactly that. A generous auto-aim system was included with the original Xbox One release to make up for the speed and precision joysticks lack, which fueled hope for an eventual PC version with the perfect, eternal mouse aim we love so much.

Bummer, because mouse control is totally busted in the PC version. I'm sorry to say that a gamepad is currently the best way to play Sunset Overdrive, a PC shooter.


Mouse aim seems to be tied to a virtual joystick rather than the raw 1:1 pixel-perfect aim we consider the standard. It's hard to say exactly how mouse inputs are read and interpreted without a peek under the hood, but it's pretty obvious something isn't right. The direction I move my mouse suggests a direction in-game, resulting in rigid, jerky movements. And since mouse input is likely filtered through an emulated stick, cursor aim speed is also limited. Move your mouse as fast as you want but that cursor can only crawl as fast as the max look speed was programmed to allow. Turning mouse sensitivity up helps a bit, but exacerbates the skips and jumps. Try not to puke. 

This isn't to disparage players that prefer a gamepad, but accessibility goes both ways. Mouse control is the preferred method for plenty of people, and so it stands to reason that a PC release of any game that includes and would benefit from mouse aim shouldn't shit the bed in that regard. Take a look at the video below to see what I mean.

VIDEO: Footage of mouse control with capped and uncapped framerates.

I started with an uncapped framerate, because it's an old game that launched on dated hardware, so I figured if the option was included that meant I'd be able to break 60 fps easily. Not so.

There might be something wrong with the uncapped framerate settings right now, since I have a decent rig and the framerate is still stuck around 60 without many notable dips. With the framerate set free, I expect to see fluctuations, but that hasn't been the case. Mouse aim seems to be affected by the framerate too, because the skips are especially bad without a cap.

During the second half of the video I capped the framerate at 60 fps in the in-game settings, and while mouse aim still felt rigid and unnatural, cursor movement was much smoother overall. If you absolutely have to play with a mouse and can't wait for a potential fix that allows for raw mouse input, cap it at 60. 

Just to make sure I wasn't seeing things, I tried out mouse control on another PC with a better GPU and CPU and had the exact same issues. Uncapped framerates were still stuck around 60 fps and led to the same choppy mouse aim.

Early Steam reviews echo my problems, though some players have been more willing to deal with the dizzies than me. 

It's a huge bummer because this is Insomniac Games we're talking about. These are the developers of the Ratchet and Clank games, a series known for creative weapon types and this is our first chance to use a mouse to play with them.

One of the first guns you get fires off a stream of records that ricochet off surfaces and bounce between bad guys. Later, you get a bowling ball launcher named The Dude and another that deploys corrosive acid sprinklers. 

The irreverence carries through the rest of the presentation, too. The bad guys are party-goers that drink evil soda made by an idiot corporation that turns them into zombies. Characters are introduced with dramatic splash screens and jokey taglines. Brash guitar riffs accompany nearly every action. 

Sunset Overdrive is one of those games, a Borderlands-like and surface-level pop culture satire that invokes street art and self-deprecating memes to establish its blinding identity, love it or hate it. It's so self-indulgent that I can't help but feel the former. 

My stupid desire to take a bath in bad jokes and crude colors makes the mouse control problems all the more tragic. How can I truly appreciate dated Breaking Bad references if I'm already feeling queasy from poor mouse controls? Hopefully a fix arrives soon. 

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.