Generally speaking, PC gaming is synonymous with a keyboard and mouse, and for good reason. Genres like first-person shooters and strategy benefit greatly from the improved accuracy provided by this control scheme, and it can be difficult to grow accustomed to using anything else for games that fall within these categories. Grand and real-time strategy projects spent decades ignoring consoles since the thought of adapting their controls for gamepads seemed futile; nowadays, this genre is no stranger to PlayStation and Xbox ports, although its representatives tend to be at their best on PC.
While most releases try to include proper support for keyboard and mouse setups, a few PC Games are better with controllers. Titles that focus on reflex-based movement or high-octane melee action tend to be perfect fits for gamepads. Similar to keyboard and mouse, a few genres are associated with controllers, especially if their main franchises started on consoles and eventually made their way to computers. What are the best controller games on PC?
Lords Of The Fallen
Soulslike Controls Perfected (On Controllers)
Lords of the Fallen (2023)
- October 13, 2023
- Action RPG
A few exceptions aside, most Soulslikes should be played with a controller. In recent years, the subgenre’s offerings have gradually started to do a better job of catering to keyboard + mouse purists, reaching the point where most projects are more than playable in this state. The same extends to Lords of the Fallen, which does not treat the traditional PC control scheme as an afterthought. Players can rebind their keys as they like, allowing them to craft an experience that suits their fancy. And, they will likely need to do some tweaking since the default setup can be overwhelming.
In comparison, Lords of the Fallen‘s controller setup should be ready to go right out of the gate. Everything makes sense and feels perfectly optimized for the combat system, ensuring players do not have to waste too much time trying to find something that works for them.
Forza Horizon 5
Sit Back & Relax
Forza Horizon 5
- November 9, 2021
Most racing games generally play better with a controller than a keyboard or mouse. For racing sims, a quality wheel is the way to go, but the same doesn’t always hold true for arcade racers. When driving the fastest cars in Forza Horizon 5, players might find themselves most comfortable with a controller as the vehicles tend to be easier to direct.
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Forza Horizon 5 is a relaxing game with quite a bit of downtime as players will spend a significant amount of time driving through Mexico while admiring the vistas. A controller fits the tone and pacing of the game well since it allows users to sit back and chill more readily.
More Intuitive On A Gamepad
- September 28, 2023
- Action RPG , Hack and Slash
A stand-in for basically every Musou project, Fate/Samurai Remnant is clearly designed with controllers in mind. Now, to be clear, the game is perfectly playable using a keyboard + mouse setup, and players can remap key bindings as needed. Therefore, die-hard Fate fans who are interested in trying this very good entry in the franchise should be fine even if they don’t own a gamepad; however, that does not mean both control schemes are equal. Switching stances or picking arts/special attacks are more intuitive on a controller, which is usually the case for these types of releases.
Fate/Samurai Remnant is arguably the most ambitious game in the license so far. Featuring a surprisingly large (albeit segmented) open-world, the title casts players as Miyamoto Iori, a ronin who suddenly finds himself in a Holy Grail War. Alongside his servant, Saber, he must defeat six other masters, a process that involves building connections with other competitors and rogue warriors.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Closer To An Arcade Stick & Better For Local Co-Op
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
- June 16, 2022
- Tribute Games Inc.
- Beat ‘Em Up
The best way to play a beat ’em up that is a clear throwback to the ’90s arcade scene is to get a fight stick, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is no exception. However, it is not worth buying a new peripheral for just one game, so most players will likely make do with either a controller or keyboard. The latter’s bindings can be remapped, but there is a reason keyboards are not typically associated with beat ’em ups – they don’t quite feel right.
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Shredder’s Revenge is at home on a controller, especially if the game’s local co-op feature is utilized. The game really comes alive when more than one player is participating, and this process will almost certainly require a few people to pick up gamepads.
Real Yakuza Use A Gamepad
- January 24, 2017
Yakuza 0 doesn’t hide the fact that it is meant to be experienced with a controller as one of the first things the game does is throw out a disclaimer suggesting as much. A keyboard and mouse set-up should work fine for exploration and most of the mini-games, but controllers are better suited to the beat-’em-up combat.
Yakuza 0 is a delightfully quirky open-world game with a gripping storyline that serves as a strong introduction to this long-running series. So, pick up a controller and step into Kiryu and Majima’s shoes.
3D Platformers Are Perfect For Controllers
- August 25, 2021
Psychonauts 2 can be seen as a stand-in for platformers in general, particularly 3D ones. For the most part, these games benefit from the more precise movement provided by an analog stick, while they are usually designed to utilize a controller’s buttons as intuitively as possible.
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Psychonauts 2 goes one step further by including a combat system that requires quick reflexes and the incorporation of a Psi-Powers wheel, both things that feel better through a controller.
Xbox Origins Shines Through
- The Behemoth
- Hack and Slash
Castle Crashers debuted in 2008 on the Xbox 360, and it did not come to PC until more than four years later. Unsurprisingly, the game’s console origins can be seen in its controls as they are more intuitive with a controller. That’s not to say that a keyboard and mouse cannot get the job done, but it will take some getting used to; meanwhile, Castle Crashers just feels right on a gamepad.
Castle Crashers casts players as knights who are tasked with saving four princesses. While enjoyable solo, the side-scroller also supports co-op; in fact, it is arguably the ideal way to experience the title. Although playing out like a hack and slash beat ’em up, Castle Crashers is also a light RPG that allows players to level up their characters, unlocking new attacks along the way.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
A PC Port Of A PS5 Game, And It Shows
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade
- June 10, 2021
Released on PC in December 2021, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a polarizing port. Putting aside its other issues, the JRPG works well enough with a keyboard and mouse, in the sense that there isn’t input delay and the characters feel responsive. However, reaching this level requires remapping the keyboard and mouse layout since the default settings are quite unusual. Permitting someone is willing to take a few minutes to remap the buttons, FF7 Remake is entirely manageable without a controller.
That said, it is still slightly better with a controller. The action RPG was designed for the PS4, and it shows. The combat is tailor-made for a controller’s button layout, and it just feels “right.” Most JRPGs that are ported to PC are usually better with a controller.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Lackluster K+M Options At Launch
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
- April 28, 2023
- Action-Adventure , Soulslike
PC players got the short end of the stick when it came to EA’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. While not unplayable, the Soulslike title launched with performance and optimization issues that soured what was otherwise a strong core experience. Also, Survivor dropped the ball in terms of keyboard and mouse support by not including the option to rebind the WASD arrow keys, something that was possible in its predecessor, Fallen Order. The omission of this feature was a strange backward step, especially since the game otherwise had decent accessibility options.
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Jedi: Survivor encourages the use of a controller, and most PC people will likely have to turn to that option or utilize mods. These types of games tend to be intended for gamepads, but a keyboard and mouse setup should still be a valid alternative that does not come across as an afterthought.
Deck13’s Games Are Generally Better With Controllers
- August 10, 2023
- Action RPG
Deck13 has spent the last decade specializing in action RPGs with Soulslike combat. Unsurprisingly, both The Surge games are better fits for controllers, and the same could be said for 2014’s Lords of the Fallen, although that release is difficult to recommend in any form. Although not a massive departure from the developer’s previous projects, 2023’s Atlas Fallen still covers new territory, offering a combat system that is closer to the hack and slash genre than Dark Souls. However, the game retains some elements from Deck13’s previous releases, including an emphasis on reading the enemy’s moveset and loadout variety in the form of a momentum system that allows players to unlock new abilities and skills as a reward for performing well in battle.
Atlas Fallen is a mixed bag. The story has potential but is let down by a bland presentation. While quite beautiful at times, the semi-open-world gets repetitive since most of the areas are deserts. The enemies are generally fun to fight, but they are recycled a bit too often during the second half of the campaign. The combat is fast-paced and satisfying, and the momentum system adds a lot of replay value; however, the camera can get in the way during battles. Atlas Fallen has plenty of good ideas that do not fully come together, creating a whole that is decent rather than great. Still, this title could hit the spot with anyone looking for a hack and slash AA game, although PC players should ideally have a controller available.
No Need To Make The Game Even Harder
- February 24, 2017
- Team Cherry
Hollow Knight is a masterpiece that should be played in any form. If someone is hesitant to try the game because they don’t have access to a controller, they should consider taking the plunge anyway since it is perfectly playable with a keyboard and mouse. It is just not ideal, as tends to be the case with most 2D Metroidvanias that prioritize platforming and reflex-based combat.
Hollow Knight is fairly difficult at its easiest, and the lengthy campaign is packed with aggressive bosses who punish even the slightest of mistakes. A controller can make these sections slightly more manageable, and these moments add up over the long, long campaign.
Press To The Rhythm
- January 25, 2023
Tango Gameworks’ Hi-Fi Rush came out of literal nowhere, and the third-person action game instantly cemented itself as one of 2023’s nicest surprises. Blending hack and slash combat with a sense of rhythm, Hi-Fi Rush‘s brilliance lies in its clever implementation of music. If players are rewarded for moving along with the beat in the form of more attack damage or even an additional combo. Even enemies strike to match the soundtrack, so someone could genuinely master the combat by growing familiar with the music. It is a great system that complements the game’s story, visual style, and sense of humor.
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Now, third-person melee action games tend to be great fits for controllers, even if quite a few of them are perfectly fine with a keyboard and mouse. Although certainly playable using the latter, Hi-Fi Rush receives some unique benefits from the former. As such, a controller is the way to go if someone plans to play Tango’s delightful title.
Both Are Fine, But Controller Is Better For Casual Play
With enough practice, any person can master a control scheme; however, some require fewer hours. Rocket League is fine with either a keyboard and mouse or a controller, but most people tend to lean towards the latter due to the game’s legacy as a console title.
Beyond that, Rocket League‘s driving is unlocked entirely with a controller as, ultimately, a keyboard can’t quite match an analog stick’s 360° freedom. The controller is also superior for aerial play, which is a pretty big deal in Rocket League. Still, there are plenty of RL pros who prefer a keyboard and mouse, so an argument could be made for that control scheme.
Monster Hunter World (Melee)
K+M For Ranged, Controller For Everything Else
Monster Hunter World
- January 26, 2018
- Action RPG
When playing Monster Hunter World on PC, the best control option is dependent on a character’s build. If playing as a ranged fighter, the keyboard and mouse are generally better since they provide more precise aiming. Conversely, the controller shines when utilizing a melee build, particularly when it comes to dishing out combos.
Monster Hunter started life on consoles, and this legacy influenced World. These are games designed with controllers in mind, although Capcom did a satisfactory job of making the keyboard and mouse a valid alternative.
The same holds true for Monster Hunter Rise.
Most Weapon Builds Are Better With A Controller
- September 17, 2020
- Action RPG
In another somewhat situational case, Hades is better with a controller most of the time. Certain weapons (Adamant Rail) are much better with a keyboard and mouse, especially for those players who wish to remove auto-aim.
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When not using ranged weapons in Hades, a controller is the most reliable way to go. Movement and reflexes are critical for survival in Supergiant’s game, and Zagreus’ odds go up when utilizing a controller. Luckily, Hades is awesome with either control method.
Controller First, K+M Second
- November 8, 2022
Sonic Frontiers represents Sega’s franchise as a whole since nearly all the games are better with a gamepad, particularly the 3D entries. Platformers, in general, benefit from the flexibility provided by a thumbstick, and this is especially the case with Sonic the Hedgehog. These games move at an absolutely blistering pace, and actions like boosting are simpler to execute with a controller.
Beyond gamepads seeming like a more natural fit, some Sonic games, including Frontiers, treat keyboard and mouse like an afterthought, which does little to incentivize people to take that control scheme out for a spin.
Batman: Arkham Series
Batman Arkham City
- October 18, 2011
While playing the Arkham games with a keyboard and mouse is possible (and perfectly fine), it does fall short of a controller in a few key areas. The game relies heavily on auto-targeting mechanics which makes controllers a natural fit for the gameplay, but that’s not all.
Where a controller truly shines is during combat sequences. The free-flowing fighting system relies on memory and reflexes best served by the close-knit components of a controller. It’s a bit harder to pull off complex and elongated combos with a keyboard and mouse.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force
Keyboard + Mouse Support Seems Like An Afterthought
Star Ocean: The Divine Force
- October 27, 2022
Steam has several Star Ocean games, all of which are better with controllers. The series’ keyboard and mouse support tends to be so lacking, a gamepad is essentially required, at least if a player does not want to spend a lot of time playing around with the settings. The Second Story R is the best Star Ocean project on Steam, but the franchise’s most recent “big” entry was The Divine Force.
An action RPG with a great combat system that offers quite a lot of combo customization opportunities, the 2022 game was a step in the right direction after the franchise fell on its face a few times. The campaign is still far from perfect and suffers from a slow and repetitive start that can be hard to get through, but things do get better as the story moves along.
Halo: Spartan Assault & Spartan Strike
Twin-Stick Shooters Need A Controller’s Joystick
Halo: Spartan Assault
- July 18, 2018
- 343 Industries, Vanguard Entertainment
- Twin-Stick Shooter
Having Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo Infinite on PC has been a blessing, if for no other reason than for gamers to take advantage of the coveted mouse and keyboard combo. However, other games in the franchise fare much better on the controller, including both Spartan Assault and Strike.
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The top-down isometric view of the game means precision shooting isn’t nearly as necessary as it would be in an FPS title. A controller is a perfect mechanism by which to control the character while taking advantage of its excellent move/shoot system. While a keyboard/mouse combo isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s also not as good as a gamepad.
Controller Makes The Game More Accessible
Generally speaking, wrestling games are better played using a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse. Now, it should be said that Visual Concepts’ recent WWE 2K entries offer improved support for PC’s traditional peripherals, and they are largely usable, even if they come with a learning curve. That said, gamepads are still the way to go, and that seems unlikely to change in the near future.
This recommendation goes beyond just the official WWE projects, as a controller is also better suited for AEW Fight Forever. In the fighting genre, wrestling games are generally exceptions to the rule since a keyboard and mouse setup can result in a superior experience in quite a few classic fighters.
- February 26, 2019
Ubisoft’s Trials series revolves around motorcycle stunts, with each game challenging players to carefully make their way through platforming courses while on a two-wheeler. Despite having origins in Java, the franchise rose to prominence on the Xbox 360, although it eventually expanded to other platforms (including PC). Generally speaking, every Trials game is superior with a controller since analog triggers provide an important level of control over a vehicle’s acceleration. Keyboards and mice struggle to replicate this style of input (although it is still somewhat possible), which puts them at a notable disadvantage compared to gamepads.
Just to be clear, the Trials games are generally very good on PC, they just are not the best fit for the platform’s default peripherals. However, unlike consoles, PC players can also pick and choose their preferred controller, which can make a difference in Trials.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
K+M Provide No Real Improvements Over A Controller
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
- November 12, 2020
Most of the PlayStation games that have made their way to PC are superior with a controller. That’s not to say they are unplayable with a keyboard and mouse, but it is obvious these are controller games that have been adapted for those inputs. Out of all the ports, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered might benefit the most from the use of a gamepad.
Or, to be more exact, players gain nothing from using a keyboard and mouse. In the case of Horizon Zero Dawn and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, the mouse provides more precise aiming while using a bow or a gun respectively. There is nothing like that in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered.
Better Fit On Controller, Although K+M Is Fine
- September 29, 2017
- Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc.
As one of the most difficult 2D games of the last decade, Cuphead is a challenge because of its speedy animations and grueling boss fights. Inspired by 1930s cartoons, this run-and-gun game is unforgiving, which is part of its charm.
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This game may have an antiquated appearance, but it does use modern controls. Parrying, dashing, locking in place, and using Super Art have assigned buttons. Cuphead‘s controls aren’t that complicated, and they feel more natural on a gamepad.
Dark Souls Series
Designed For Controllers, Especially Dodging
Dark Souls 3
- March 24, 2016
- Action RPG
Generally speaking, most of FromSoftware’s Soulslike games are intended to be played with a controller. That’s not to say they are impossible with a keyboard and mouse, just that switching to that control scheme takes some getting used to. Even after putting in all that effort, the experience is likely to still feel inferior to a gamepad.
Arguably, the original Dark Souls is the best pick for a keyboard since players can only roll in four directions. The sequels expand the range to eight, a change that complements controllers but not keyboards. That said, FromSoftware has slowly gotten better at embracing the PC scene’s default input devices, with Sekiro and Elden Ring both faring better in this area than any of the Dark Souls games.
Devil May Cry 5
A Franchise Born On Consoles
For the most part, Capcom did a decent job mapping Devil May Cry 5 to the keyboard and mouse. The hack and slash game works pretty well using those input devices, although it would depend on whether the user has a gaming mouse with side buttons.
Regardless of that fact, most players will probably feel more comfortable using a controller, particularly if they grew up with Devil May Cry on the PS2. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and familiarity, which extends to most of the best games to play with a controller.
Armored Core 6: Fires Of Rubicon
Slightly More Natural On Controller (Especially For Long-Time Fans)
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon
Another FromSoftware project, Armored Core 6 is the franchise’s first entry to debut on PC, and it supports keyboard and mouse. In fact, the game is probably the developer’s most natural fit for the peripherals since it shares quite a lot in common with third-person shooters, albeit with movement being prioritized above accuracy.
However, this distinction is also the main reason that a controller comes out on top for Armored Core 6. The gameplay feels slightly more natural using analog sticks, although it still works with a keyboard and mouse. Long-time fans who have been following Armored Core since the PS1 era will also likely feel more at home with a controller regardless of whether they are playing on a PS5 or PC.
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