I had a chat with Felix this morning about Fallout 4, which has already occupied a huge chunk of my life, and I said aiming was sometimes a bit difficult with the gamepad. To which Felix was pretty incredulous I was using a controller at all, particularly for a PC-focused series like Fallout.
In truth, it’s how I do the vast majority of my gaming these days. There’s nowhere decent for me to set up a desk, so comfy couch gaming it is. I didn’t even contemplate using a mouse & keyboard for Fallout 4, but logically you’d expect the PC-enamoured folks at Bethesda to make this the best setup.
My first impression when playing Fallout 4 was that this was a game built for gamepad control from the ground up, however. From the poor mouse support to the strange FOV and a UI geared to a controller, everything screamed console - and console controls - focused. Which is a little bit strange for a massive RPG like this which made its name on PC.
To put it to the test I abandoned ship and had a go with a mouse and keyboard. First things first, aiming is a damn sight easier on PC obviously. You can pop off more accurate shots and aim much quicker. Get VATS on the go however and there’s no discernable difference.
There are some oddities to the control layout though which it feels strange Bethesda overlooked. Primary to this is weapon switching. On a gamepad you can have three weapons assigned to each direction on the gamepad, like you can see when you assign them a favourite slot in your Pip-Boy. So tap left twice to get the second weapon, for example. This means I can have a big pile of weapons sorted into melee, ranged, explosive, etc. With M&KB I’ve got to try and remember where they’re assigned on the top row from 1-0. When I’m constantly switching them out this is a bit of a headache. It would certainly have been nice to use the scroll wheel to change weapons, but that feature is conspicuous by its absence.
Lastly there’s the design of the UI and the Pip-Boy. Look at the size of it and you can tell it’s been designed for someone who’s sat about 80 feet away, gawping at television screen. Everything’s massive and split off into bite-sized sections. Designed strictly for PC the Fallout 4 Pip-Boy features could have probably been crammed into one or two screens. Instead you’re constantly tabbing between menus, a feature basically designed for gamepad triggers.
Which leaves us with a quandary. Is Fallout 4 better on gamepad or keyboard & mouse? Has Bethesda sacrificed some UI functionality to cater for console players? Let us know what you think!