It’s no secret that most PC gamers have come over from console gaming, or at least have played a console game somewhere along the line. Each new generation of console has seen a new version of controllers that ship with the console, with lots of research and development going into the design, technology, ergonomics, battery capacity, and end usability for all ages, genders, and hand sizes.
A lot of games are made for a controller of some type; with the gradual and precise movements that a keyboard or mouse button just cannot provide, allowing your character/vehicle to walk or move slowly (instead of the usual jog/run) or turn slightly (instead of the keyboard which results in full-lock turning until key release). For games with a big focus on shooting and accuracy of shooting I will always prefer a keyboard and mouse, but for just about any racing game I’d prefer sitting back and using a controller. Thanks to PCs not being subject to the confines like PlayStation and Xbox, anyone with the will and know-how can develop programs that achieve all sorts of different things. Relating that to this write-up, groups/individuals have taken the time to enable the use of console controllers on PC, with or without official support from the manufacturers involved.
Microsoft has done us all a big favour (and probably themselves we guess) by letting us use Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers with a PC running Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 with little to no effort at all. Pretty much every major title released in the last 5 years at least will automatically support a detected Xbox controller (once drivers are installed, if needed), and if you don’t want to customise the controls for the game, you can launch straight in and start playing right away.
Xbox 360 Controllers on Windows
The good people at Microsoft have a pretty detailed page on how to set up a 360 controller for Windows: https://support.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-on-windows/accessories/xbox-controller-for-windows-setup
The easiest way is obviously going to be using a wired connection between the PC and controller, but that doesn’t give you much flexibility if you don’t have a long cable, and even then there’s the issue of a long cable to worry about.
Luckily, wireless support can come in two forms.
- Requires an Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver: White or Black (these items are untested by staff – research and purchase at your own risk)
- Buy a Microsoft Xbox 360 controller designed for use with a PC: http://evatech.com.au/291-input-devices (there is a wired version and wireless version at the time of writing)
Xbox One Controllers on Windows
Again, Microsoft has provided us with a detailed page on how to get going, and you’ll be pleased to know the steps are far less involved than they are for the 360 controller. In fact, if you have Windows 10, it’s plug and play. For everyone else: http://support.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-on-windows/accessories/connect-xbox-one-controller-to-pc
Additionally, there is a wired PC version of the Xbox One controller available for purchase, for any of you who may not already have an Xbox One/controller.
Here’s where things begin to get interesting. Microsoft really doesn’t want you to enjoy your PlayStation accessories with their Windows operating systems, and with each major release of Windows OS the process gets a bit harder, with individuals having to come up with more workarounds to get it working.
PlayStation 3 Controllers on Windows
Getting a PS3 controller to work with any version of Windows seems to be a lot of work: downloading multiple files/programs, changing settings in Windows, changing the date/time on Windows so that you can get a program to install, etc. Without having access to a PlayStation 3 controller myself, I can’t try any methods, but this page appeared the most straight forward and the first thing I would try personally: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-use-PS3-controllers-on-PC-through-Xinput/?ALLSTEPS
If that doesn’t work, try Googling “PS3 controllers on Windows (your version of Windows)” and see what the up-to-date information says. Please use caution when downloading from unknown/random websites.
PlayStation 4 Controllers on Windows
DS4Windows works a treat (personal experience with Windows 10 and a bluetooth adapter). Well, it worked the first time, then games would not take any input from the controller ever again, but worked fine in Windows. Not sure why, but I found an alternative:
Input Mapper works just as well, if not better, for me at least… since it actually works every time!
DS4Windows seems slightly better maintained in that it gets updates regularly, which means any issues that arise are likely to get fixed. At the time of writing this, the last update was 4 days ago for DS4Windows, versus Input Mapper’s last update which was 6 months ago.
Both programs are capable of connecting multiple controllers, so you can play multiplayer on PC just as you would on console.
Both basically emulate an Xbox 360 controller and games recognise it and will show you the corresponding buttons to press when. It’s a bit confusing at first, but the joysticks are the same, D-pad same, triggers and R1/RT & L1/LT pretty much the same, the only struggle is when a quick-time event in game says press “A” and you can’t find an “A” button to press!
Here’s a cheat sheet that I’ll need to get familiar with:
- A = X
- B = O
- Y = △
- X = ⃞
The hardest one being that the Xbox X =/= a PlayStation X.
That just about wraps up this how-to article. There are of course a great number of PC controllers made by various companies that function a lot like console controllers, often for less money, and no connectivity messing about. But, since you’re reading this, if you already have a console controller around, you may as well try, plus you’re already familiar with the feel of it.
We hope you enjoy the better graphics and frame-rate on PC with your console controller!