Would you play an FPS with a controller if aim assist helped you win more?

Xbox and Switch controllers arranged in a sort of "gamepad pentagram"
(Image credit: Future)

More and more, devs have had to balance shooters where some players use gamepads, and others rock mouse and keyboard. The latter's dominance in FPSes used to be unquestioned, with some PS4 players apparently turning to absurdities like the HORI Tactical Assault Commander for that m&k edge. Now though? Overwatch's controller aim assist is so good that they disabled it in PC-console crossplay matches, while some players in Destiny or Apex Legends proactively make the switch for a competitive advantage. 

Would you play an FPS with a controller if aim assist helped you win more?

Here are our answers, as well as some from our forum.

Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: I'm not a real competitive person, though I do like to win—there's a Magic: The Gathering card called Meathook Massacre that just got banned from Standard for being too overpowered, and I had two of them in my deck at the time. What I am is an incredibly lazy person, and the effort of having to adapt to a controller would stop me from bothering. 

The other day I launched a new game, saw one of those "this game is better experienced with a controller" messages, looked across the room to where a wired 360 controller was sitting, and then played something else instead of walking over to get it. So no, I wouldn't play an FPS with a controller for the sake of racking up some wins, not out of a sense of nobility and fair play, but because I just couldn't be arsed.

close up of WASD keys on classic beige keyboard, the four are clearly more smudged and worn than their neighbors

(Image credit: Future)

Andy Chalk, NA News Lead: I would take my PC outside, stack up the components in a nice pile, pour lighter fluid on it, and set it on fire before I played an FPS with a controller. The whole idea of having a PC is that you don't have to use a controller. Kinda like how having a car means you don't have to use a horse. I mean, if I ever actually considered using a controller to take advantage of aim assist⁠—and to be perfectly clear, I would not—why wouldn't I just download a bot and let it do all the work? "Hey, look at me, I'm a videogame superstar, woooooo! A winner is me! My mom says I'm a handsome boy!"

And to expand a little bit on what Jody said, any game that claims it's "better experienced with a controller" is lying.

Splash screen in Super Meat boy advising players to use a gamepad instead of a keyboard.

(Image credit: Team Meat)

Phil Savage, UK Editor-in-Chief: I wouldn't, but not because of any grand, noble gesture. The simple fact is that decades of playing FPSes on mouse and keyboard means I don't have the muscle memory to easily switch to a controller. Yes, shotgunning in Apex is much more effective on a pad. Yes, handling The Last Word in Destiny 2 is way harder with a mouse. The aim assist bonuses undoubtedly give specific advantages in those games, in those situations. But what I'd lose out on is basically everything else. My movement, positioning, and, yes, even aiming would be worse for having to learn a new control method. And I'm not prepared to go through months of relearning all those skills, being demonstrably worse overall for game after game, just to end up in a place where—maybe—I am marginally more effective in very specific scenarios.

Destiny 2

(Image credit: Bungie)

Chris Livingston, Features Producer: I wouldn't go as far as Andy does, but I'm a little baffled at how people manage to play an FPS with a controller, the same way I have no idea how people manage to play Fortnite or PUBG on a phone. I just don't have that kind of talent. I haven't used a controller regularly since I had an N64 in the late '90s and have lost any controller skills I may have had in the 20+ years since. There's no amount of aim assist that could help me in an FPS other than "total."

Luigi as Alec Trevelyan in the GoldenEye With Mario Characters mod

(Image credit: StupidMarioBros1Fan)

Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: I'm only here because Andy thinks that no games are better on controller, but we all know that Real Yakuza Use A Gamepad, actually. The truth is that I play most games with a controller if possible and I really don't play shooters that often, even less FPSes specifically. I suppose I did play PUBG with a mouse and keyboard for quite a while at its peak. If it had proper controller support and aim assist yeah, I'd for sure have used my preferred input device if it helped me be less shit at shooters. But it's not like the gunplay was my focus. I just like creeping to the final circle as if it were a PvP stealth game.

Over the shoulder PUBG gameplay with tactically armed protagonist looking at typically beige PUBG field of wheat with trees in background

(Image credit: KRAFTON)

From our forum

Zloth: No. Aim assist really bugs me. I don't like missing, but when I do miss and it hits anyway, it's even worse. That makes me wonder how much I've been missing and scoring hits anyway, which makes me think I don't really deserve to be doing as well as I am. Blah.

I'll still turn it on if the game is one where mouse/keyboard doesn't work out well, but I'll grumble as I do it.

DXCHASE: Today, no. I started off using one when I first switched to PC and hadn't fully embraced playing with a KB+M. Certain games (Destiny 2) were just so much easier to get a better K/D against other players because of the aim assist but after a few years of getting better and better with a KB+M in PvP I now loathe the ability one gets with a controller in PvP.

Crapulence1337: The only game I've ever played with a mouse and keyboard is Phasmophobia. For whatever reason it's the only game I can't sufficiently play with a controller. I play everything else, FPS games included, with a controller (or steering wheel and pedal setup if applicable). My wife has made it clear to me that I already won the game/life with her, so no need to in a video game.

The Fanatec GT DD Pro racing wheel and wheelbase on a desk with monitor playing Assetto Corsa behind.

Pictured: the next forbidden technique pursued by esports superstars. (Image credit: Future)

ZedClampet: Yeah, I love the idea of handing over control of my character to algorithms. Can I have movement assist and "look in the right direction" assist, too? Really, I don't see why I have to do anything. Can't I just log in and have the assist play while I alt-tab out and watch funny animal videos on reddit?

WoodenSaucer: I just want to mention that there are two main types of aim assist. One kind attracts your reticle to the target when you get close, like a magnet. The other kind just lets you shoot in the general direction, and your bullets are attracted to the target. Horizon: Zero Dawn uses the second type, and I hated it. I much prefer the kind where your reticle gets attracted to the target.

Horizon protagonist viewed from behind approaching a robot monster.

(Image credit: Sony)

But I agree with Kaamos in that it needs to be subtle and not extremely noticeable. The magnetic zone around a target needs to not be too big, and it shouldn't be really quick and jarring to snap to the target. If it's done right, it's great in my opinion. But it's easy to do it wrong.

Shodan_: I'm fluent in both. So I have, I would, and I'd do it again. Although I usually turn off auto aim, I enjoy playing FPS games with a controller very much. Matter of fact I used Joy2Key to make Dark Forces 1 playable on an Xbone gamepad and twin sticked it on hard. It was honestly fantastic and the fiddling around with settings was 100% worth it.

Dark Forces gameplay blaster rifle shooting at storm trooper

(Image credit: LucasArts)

My PC is plugged into a big ass TV through HDMI and I usually game 7 feet away from it, slouched in a La-Z-Boy. I work at a desk all day, I'm not gaming at one. I'm that guy. I can absolutely M&K with the keyboard in my lap no problem (you're not twin sticking Apex Legends) but if it's a slightly slower paced game or the emphasis isn't necessarily on combat (Things like the Long Dark) I'll go for a gamepad and regret nothing. When I play multiplayer with friends I will go M&K. Mechwarrior 5, Ready or Not, 7 Days to Die, ARMA 3, etc., I'm using M&K.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.